You're worth more than you think.
Teresa Slack and Connie Smith learned this the hard way.
But, with the mentorship of Value Pricing expert, Mark Wickersham, he helped to get them to where they needed to be.
They worked hard to overcome their fear of losing clients by raising their prices and effectively communicating the value they provide.
Today, they leverage their decades of experience by providing bookkeeping and business development solutions to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
During this interview, you'll discover...
The importance of value pricing
The benefits of having a mentor
Why it's important to believe in your own worth
To learn more about Financly, visit here.
For its LinkedIn page, click here.
To learn more about Mark Wickersham, go here.
Michael Palmer: 01:10 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be an awesome one. Our guests are the talented people behind the virtual bookkeeping company. Financially they both have over 30 years experience in bookkeeping. And if you enjoyed success using the value pricing teachings of Mark Wickersham, Theresa Slack, and Connie Smith, welcome to the show.
Theresa Slack: 01:36 Hello. Hi Michael.
Connie Smith: 01:38 Hello. Glad to be here.
MP: 01:40 It's great to have you both and it's not often that we have two guests on the show, so it's a bonus. It's a bonus episode.
TS: 01:48 Awesome.
MP: 01:49 Beautiful. Well, I'm excited about sharing your journey in your business and especially around pricing. And I know this is going to be extremely valuable to our listener who likely could use the same kind of ideas, thoughts, and journey in their own business towards profitability. And so before we get into all of that, tell us a little bit about your journey leading up until now.
CS: 02:19 Well, um, originally we started our business in 2015 and we were charging by the hour and we realized and that we have any, this isn't the best way to go. It kind of puts a ceiling on how much you can make. So we recognize that something need to be done. So we started a change from that to a set monthly fee. The problem is we set our monthly fee by how many hours we thought we worked. So we were still thinking on the hour a day and it turned out we were undercharging all of our clients. Uh, we ended up with our staff getting paid because we were getting busy, we were undercharging, we got lots of, sorry I stuff was getting paid. Sometimes we even had to put money in to cover payroll. And the problem was Terry and I weren't getting paid. Some of our clients didn't value what we were doing and often argued with us overpricing. So we worked nonstop and still we're not making ends meet. We're wondering if we should give up close their business.
TS: 03:20 Yeah.
CS: 03:21 Oh, we saw other bookkeeping firms doing well. So we thought, well let's start looking at those business and what are they doing? And so we started asking a lot of questions and that's what brought us to where we are.
MP: 03:33 Well and lots of questions being asked and it's been quite, quite a journey. And Theresa Hearing Connie, tell the story a little bit. As you're reflecting on that, what, what comes up for you in terms of your looking back on, on that journey?
TS: 03:52 Yeah, it was tough. You know, it was really a hard time. Um, you know, I think anybody who starts a new business, you're not really sure, you know, when you're doing things the right way, are you, you know, making the right choices. And, you know, we made lots of mistakes and that's what I recall. But the, the great thing is we learned from our mistakes. It was tough. Um, it'd be like, okay, our staff are getting paid but nope, we're not getting paid again. Um, and that was tough cause it's hard to grow a business when there isn't enough funds available to do the things that you want to do.
TS: 04:26 And that sticks your, your business in a way when, when you encounter that.
CS: 04:32 Yeah, it did. It did. It kind of put us in a bit of a cycle, um, that at the time we didn't really know how to get out of, you know, so we started looking at, okay, do we need a coach? You know, do we need some kind of a business growth program? We need to find out what other people are doing. And you know, with the cash crunch it was hard. There was lots of great programs out there, but a lot of them were just, we just couldn't afford them. You know, we couldn't do them. So we were really struggling. We didn't know which way to go and we weren't really sure at that time, like, what exactly was the help we need it. Like what kind of coaching did we need to get us profitable and you know, building a good business and doing all the great things that we have plans for.
CS: 05:14 And we had the good fortune of just by happenstance, uh, meeting Mark Wickersham at the first, uh, QuickBooks thrive that we went to in Toronto and we went to his value pricing seminar. And honestly, we were hooked. We went out of that seminar, like so excited and then we followed them. We kind of stocked him for about a year while watching all of his freestyle, anything that he put out, we, we read it, we went to it. We listened to it. Anything that that was free. Oh, we did that for about a year and then we did learn. We did learn a lot from there and we made some really good steps, but then we decided, okay, you know what? There's so much more he could do to help us and at that point we actually signed up and that this is a judge just over a year ago now, we signed out for his bookkeeping nit mentoring program and I can honestly say, Michael, it's the best money we have ever spent. It has turned around our business completely.
MP: 06:10 Amazing. Tell me a little bit about that journey you, you got working with him just by consuming his information and that that might be a great step for many, but then there was a step where you, you actually thought, okay, I'm going to go and work with Mark. What was it that tipped you over from going from just consuming the information and trying to do it yourself to actually hiring the person that could help you?
CS: 06:36 Yeah, I think what tipped it was, there was a few things, a few things happen. One we had learned enough that we were, had started down the path. So we were starting to make a little bit more money. Nothing great, but at least we were not going under every month further and further. And then the other thing that was a real factor is recognizing that we couldn't do it ourselves. That we had kind of consumed everything that we could consume, but we needed more. We needed, you know, we needed actual mentoring from mark to help us get to the next level. And honestly, the hardest part was learning to communicate our value to our customers and our potential clients. We had to learn that getting really good at pricing is a journey and that it takes time, it takes commitment, it takes reiterations, you keep trying different things.
CS: 07:27 Mark's basic mentoring is one year long, you know, and so it takes you that time to just do the basic mentoring program to, to learn all of those things. And you know, every month he's giving you different resources and those resources really speed up your journey. So when you're doing it on your own and just consuming it, you're not getting all those resources. You're not getting the live mark, they're helping you and answering your questions and you know, dealing with the specific. So by getting the, the mentoring, it's bad ass up quite dramatically and it really, really helped us get where we needed to go.
MP: 08:10 Now you made mistakes along the way.
CS: 08:15 Yes, we did.
CS: 08:17 So many learnings come from mistakes. I'd love for you to share some of those mistakes that you eat that you both made.
TS: 08:24 Yeah, well I think we had to work hard to overcome our fear of losing our clients by raising our prices, knowing that we were going to value price and we were going to price higher. Of course, we had a fear of losing clients and we paled onto that too long. If we could allowed that go in an earlier stage, it wouldn't have taken so long. So that's one mistake we made was, you know, letting, not letting that go soon enough, we started doing the trial and error. So we thought, well, any new clients coming in, we'll just try it with them and they don't know how things are supposed to be. So we were able to just try it and see if it worked. And if it didn't, then we learned something from it. And we would go back to mark and saying, Hey, this didn't work.
TS: 09:13 And he would tell us why. And it was a great fast way of getting it going. Even while we were implementing it, we were still putting our prices too low. Um, and we had to work around how to get that correct. And learning to the right words to communicate are about you. So what are those words that the client wants to hear? Instead of just trying to say to myself, this is what I think I'm worth, what do they need to hear that I'm worth? And it's a different way of thinking. So that was one mistake we were making in the beginning and that we had to learn to overcome. The other thing is, you know, realizing that, uh, if a potential client does not realize our values, so we communicate our volume and everything and they're just not getting it, they're still trying to lower your price and it, that it's so easy to say we're not the right fit for you. You know, we're not going to work for you. So you know, and let them go.
MP: 10:16 It's bold and you know, what I hear in this conversation is that the destination is available to everyone, but the journey has many highs, many lows and end as well. You can get that. There are your own personal barriers that are tied in with all of this that, that make, that, that journey maybe the highs and lows of that journey. Even more extreme. Absolutely care to share a little bit of your own personal challenges in getting this to move forward and go in the right direction.
TS: 10:56 Sure. Connie, you go first and then I will.
CS: 10:59 Well for me the big challenge was accepting that I was worth more money to my clients because thinking of it myself is what do I feel that I'm worth? On an hourly basis is not the right way to think and making myself change the way I'm thinking to what do my clients value from me? What if they were to put a monetary value on me? What would it be? It was really hard to make that shift after years of always, you know, working for a lower wage as a woman in the workplace and realizing, no, we are worth this to our clients. That's a really, was a really hard one for me.
TS: 11:40 Yeah, I agree with yours, Connie. For sure. I definitely had to struggle with that one and I would say the other one for me was, you know, finding the right words as, I mean, I am our sales and person in our company. It's kind of my focus and finding the right words to use when you're used to communicating. Just features. You know, we reconcile your bank, we, you know, we enter your expenses, we record your bills to recognizing that those words actually mean absolutely nothing to a client. And what words do you have to learn to use instead to really help them understand the value that, that you are providing for them? Why do they care that you reconcile their bank? Why does this matter and what is the benefit to them? So kind of relearning how to do a sales pitch with value pricing was something that took a lot of trial and error for me. And I continue to work on that and you know, refine it.
MP: 12:39 Mm. It's uh, it's so interesting that the both takes on the, the personal journey. And I'd imagine there's listeners right now that are listening in that have done work with mark as well, and their journey would be a unique to them. It's not like there's one path to this destination. There's many. How did you bring your own take and your own customization to this work and make it your own?
TS: 13:08 Yeah. So one of the great things is he gives you all kinds of material, but you need to make that material your own. You have your own voice, you know, we have our own voice. We have our own way of communicating. We have our own clients that are important to us and kind of our own niche that, that we're trying to talk to. So yeah, we took all of his, his materials and we rewrote it. The first thing we did is we, of course, took it into our own look and feel, so the financial, the colors, the financially style, then look looking at how it was worded and changing the words to appeal to the clientele that we are trying to appeal to. And then the third thing, of course, is we had to then customize what was exactly in the packages because we offer specific search services that would be a little different than what mark would have put in just the package that he provided us. Um, so yeah, we looked at the, the physical look of it, the color that styles, the wording, and then the actual services that we were offering and customize them all to fit into who we are.
MP: 14:19 Wonderful.
TS: 14:20 Yeah. Anywhere you go, where it's more challenging. So in your business, pricing is one of those ones that it's chockablock full of emotion and, and could be fear. There's consequences if you get it wrong. If you, you know, upsetting the apple cart, right. Rocking the boats, uh, fixing something that ain't broke. I mean these are, these are thoughts in one's head could easily come up when thinking about taking on something as big as altering how you price in your business.
MP: 14:59 How did, what, what supports did you use to, to get over those blocks, those barriers?
TS: 15:08 I'm Connie, do you want me to, yeah. Okay. So we use a lot of supports. One was, of course, Mark himself. Um, another one is you, Michael, honestly and helped us a lot. Being able to have that Friday mentoring session with you has really helped us with our mindset, keeping us focused on where we should be going. And we have engaged another business coach in the past. We've done some, some work with and we're actually just starting another one now. You know, so you do have to go out and get the help you need. And sometimes you just need it reinforced again and again because it's very easy to fall back into your old patterns. Cause a lot of them, they come from, you know, a whole lifetime of who we are. And you know, the, the barriers that I will, I will face getting to where we want to be will be completely different than the ones Connie will face and the ones that anyone else will face. Cause everybody's life journey is that different. So we all have our own barriers to overcome for sure.
MP: 16:10 Absolutely. And, and that's, that's the exciting piece is that it is, anyone can do it, but it will look different and it's, the rewards are given to those who seek the rewards and are willing to open the doors, knock on the doors, uh, make it happen. Yeah. Which you've both done. I love to hear a little bit about the results. What's this been like on your business? What, what, what's showing up now for you? Having done the hard work, the lifting and the blood, the sweat, the tears, all of that. Yeah.
TS: 16:44 Yeah. Well there has been a lot, there has been a lot of those, Michael. So, uh, what I would love to say is that we are actually getting a paycheck now. Very long time. Connie, we didn't get that. You know, we're actually making money in our business in that is a wonderful thing. It also makes our husbands a little bit happier too. You know, they're wonderful and they support us, but then, you know, they'd like to see a little bit of income from it too. So, so that has been great. Mark really taught us to price our services. Some of them we were actually giving away for free things like cloud accounting set up. We would just, Oh, we'll set you up. We didn't charge for that. Or doing a discovery where we would go in and have a look at their books and analyze them.
TS: 17:28 We would just do that for free. So it really helped us see the value in a whole bunch of things that we were just giving away. And we are honestly now getting more yeses than nos because of the way we are talking to our clients and communicating with them. They're getting it and they're saying, yeah, we want to work with you. So that has been incredible. And we actually have the now to say no to some clients because they just don't fit where we are, not the ones to solve their problems. Being a hundred percent virtual is what we are and that is not the right fit for every single client. So being able to say, you know what, we are not the best people for you. You're not going to get the most out of it. So getting to the point where you can actually say, yeah, you know what?
TS: 18:11 We're not a good fit rather than okay, we can take, we'll take any business we can get is is quite a nice change for us. To give you some numbers though with our current clients, the ones that we had going into this whole process by what we learned from Mark, we were actually able to increase all of the rates by an average of 25% and we did lose some clients but they were clients we actually needed to lose. So that was really great. Um, and he's helped us to understand the value of, you know, being able to evaluate a good client versus a bad client so you don't have to keep the bad clients. And that's one of the things we learned that no, you know, we can work with the people we want to work with and that's really important. Um, we're getting better clients, we're still working crazy hours, but that's because we keep getting new clients and we are super excited because we just hired two awesome part-time bookkeepers to work with us.
TS: 19:06 And then earlier today, Connie and I were just reminiscing because thinking about coming on this podcast and we looked up, Connie looked up, what was our price when we started compared to what our price is today. And Michael, our price is five times what it was when we started. And we have happy clients who love working with us, who understand the value of what we're doing for them. So we're helping them, we're making a difference in their lives and we're making an income. So it feels revolutionary to me. You know, being able to do these things has just changed our lives. It really has.
MP: 19:48 It's fantastic. I love hearing this story and it's so, so great to see the rewards being raped from, from both of you. And it's been amazing to be a part of the journey as well. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than watching people win. And also your business, because you've tackled this in your business pricing, it opens up new pathways because without getting this right, there's many things that can happen. Hiring staff is, is one of those, if you, if you're not profitable and you're trying to bring on people, you're kind of just expanding on a bad thing.
CS: 20:27 Yeah. Yes. Yeah, exactly.
MP: 20:29 And so this is, this is great and it fits back with your journey. Now I want to say the actions of what you, the why, I guess of why you've done what you've done. I, I know what your big vision is and I'd love for you to share a little bit about, uh, your vision and, and the importance of having a big vision for your, your life and for your business because that's why you're doing this work.
TS: 20:56 Yeah. Connie, do you want to take that one or would you like, CS: 21:03 yeah, I know where our vision is. We want to be the go to company for anybody with an eCommerce store that needs bookkeeping and integration with their bookkeeping software. So we want to help eCommerce businesses succeed. So that's kind of the niche that we're going into. It's kind of fallen in our lap before we kind of took all clients, but this is what's kind of fallen into our lap and where we're going with it. And our vision, of course, is to be across Canada and we did just, we are getting some clients now out west that we didn't have before. We have one that we've just quoted in Quebec. So we are moving across the country, which is good, which was part of our vision. So I'm happy we're actually heading in the direction where we want it to go.
MP: 21:49 Beautiful. And Theresa, what's been your take on, on how your vision has, has brought you along?
TS: 21:58 Yeah, so our five year plan, like we want to be across Canada, the number one known for what we do. We want to have virtual bookkeepers working all across Canada, supporting small businesses, eCommerce, trying to really change the statistics because the statistics in Canada say that 50% of small businesses will fail in the first five years. And of that 50% over 80% of them will fail due to lack of financial management. And we really don't like that. We want to see much more success in that area for small business. It's the backbone of our economy, you know, it's, it deserves to be supported and that's really what we care about is making a difference in people's lives and knowing that we can help them in our small way to make their dreams come true. And we're getting there little bit by little bit. Yeah, you're getting there.
MP: 23:06 Well, little bit by little bit is really a big bit by big bet because helping one small business is, is, is worthy of a life. Anyone's lifetime. You're helping families, you're putting food on people's table, uh, you're creating harmony around the dinner table for those people. So it's, it's big, big business. Working for small business makes a big impact. And on behalf of all of the small businesses out there, we thank you and, and also the listener out there. Thanks you for sharing, uh, sharing this as well. Now before I let you go, I, I would like to jump back in the time machine a little bit and ask if looking back, if you could see the shortcuts and say, you know what, we should have zigged when the museum's AGD, what would those be? That would help our listener take a more direct path to where you are today.
TS: 24:02 Okay. Absolutely. So number one, let go of your fear. It's okay to be afraid, but just do it anyway. It's the biggest thing. If we had let ourselves get over our fear of faster, this would have all happened faster. So that's number one. Connie, step out of your comfort zone. This is what you're used to always doing, and it's okay to step outside on and try something new. And then I would say value pricing works. It takes time. It's a work in progress, but it works. Don't give up. If the first few times you try it, it fails. That's okay. Just do it again and give it a try. With some of your new clients that don't know any different, so you're just quoting them, they don't know what your price usually is. So see how you do. You know, if, if you priced it incorrectly and you don't get the job, the sky won't fall in, but you'll have learned something extremely valuable.
TS: 25:04 So then I did try, very sorry buddy. I would say watch all of Mark's free stuff. You know, he's got lots out there. Start there and join his Facebook group. It's got a lot of stuff on there too. That's true. That's true. I guess I would say my, my last kind of main point would be believe in yourself and your value. You are worth it. You change people's lives every day and you make businesses succeed. It's the hardest thing for us to realize that you think, oh, I'm just a bookkeeper. I just do bookkeeping. No, you are worth it. You have value. You changed their lives. It's like you said, Michael, you're putting food on the table. You're making life easier for them. Maybe you're giving them a little bit more time with their families, so just believe in your own value. Last thing I would like to say is remember to don't think, what am I worth hourly? Instead, ask yourself, what is my service worth to this client? Because quite often we undervalue ourselves and then we put that belief onto them and we think, well, they would never pay that, but that's just a belief system that you have to try and get over and the sooner you can get over that, the better.
MP: 26:21 Lovely. Well, I know that both of you are doing the work and you live in a place where you want to live. Your, you're not living in an urban center. You are successfully building a business that's virtual. Uh, you're, you're, you're on a journey. If you've making mistakes, but you're picking up, you're learning from them, you're taking new actions. It's very inspiring to see. And I'm sure many of our listeners are going to want to learn more from both of you about your secrets, because I know there's a lot more secrets to your success and we're only sharing a few of 'em today in this episode. And I know we'll have you back. Uh, but if they, if listeners wanted to Benji or get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that?
TS: 27:14 Um, probably the best way is for me. Uh, Theresa is email reach out by email. It's Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org. I love communicating and helping people. So that's the best way or message me on Facebook.
CS: 27:28 And for me it's the same thing. I'm not in on Facebook as much. So emails are always the best way to reach me and that Connie. Dot. Smith at finance today. Dot. Ca.
MP: 27:41 Beautiful. Well, this has been fantastic. On behalf of all of our listeners out there, I thank you greatly for generously giving us your time and as well you the secrets to some of your success. This is been hard work for you and lots of highs and lows, like I said earlier, so it did, does not, um, it does not get missed that this is a great service that you're giving all of us. And I thank you.
CS: 28:13 Thank you very much for having us on your show. We appreciate it.
TS: 28:16 Yeah. Thank you for having us. It's been a pleasure.
MP: 28:19 Absolutely. And there's been lots of links and lots of resources mentioned in this show and Mark Wickersham and go check out Mark. Start today. Start consuming this. This is so important for your business, whether it's Mark or somebody else. You must become a master in pricing. Uh, and this is, it's not like the road that will take you forever. Uh, you can do it just like Teresa and Connie have. It's possible for you as well, and life will be better on the other side. So with that, we wrap up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's both wonderful guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time,
MP: 29:07 goodbye.