In the last few weeks I have received not one, not two, but three phone calls from actors who are looking for a Los Angeles Entertainment CPA. Two of the calls actually were the parents of child actors. The services they requested varied a little, but the one thing that they did not like was the fact that they could not find a Los Angeles Entertainment CPA who prepared tax returns. What they usually found were Entertainment Business Managers who wanted to charge 5% of their income to handle their financial affairs(including tax returns). As one father told the business manager, “What could you possibly do to justify taking 5% of my daughter’s income? She doesn’t own a house, or require any more than a few bills to be paid a month.
I told each of the prospects, as entertainment CPA business managers, that we have never gauged services by billing a percentage of a client’s income. Over twenty years ago, I had worked for firms that billed that way. But, I believed it to be an inaccurate way of gauging a business manager’s value of service. Sure agents, personal managers, and some attorneys who help “create” the wealth. They have a legitimate reason to charge in such a way, but not entertainment CPA business managers and accountants. It’s true at times, that I am involved with contract negotiations, but my function is not to promote the client and create the opportunities.
A year ago I heard that entertainment CPA business managers and accountants are shying away from this practice, possibly because of the economy. But these last phone calls seemed to say otherwise.
So, what’s the point? If you are reading this, you are probably not an entertainment CPA business management firm like us. The point is whatever business you are in, you must always, always , always focus on the value you are providing the client and customer. Just because you think you are worth your fees or price doesn’t mean you have convinced the client that you are.
Whenever you are fortunate to get a phone call from a prospect who tells you that your billing structure is obsolete, you should re-evaluate your business strategy and billing practices.
Now some entertainment CPA business managers and accountants may say, ” Fine, you take the little guys and we’ll concentrate on the A+ level actors and musicians.” This attitude is what drove US Steel and Bethlehem Steel out of business. Micro mills slowly chipped away from the bottom up with a better strategy starting with the lowest grade of steel. Eventually, the smaller mills moved up to take the high grade steel, too, driving the big companies out of business.
As entertainment CPA business managers, our company promotes good business strategies, not just for our CPA firm, but for our clients. The small flame client you have today could be the big shining star tomorrow. And the shining star of today may be just a little brighter than what you think.