You Ask, We Answer – “Why do we charge for our first meeting?”

Did you ever wonder why you would be getting charged to go see an Accountant, that you’ve never met before, for the first time? Surely this is just a get to know you meeting……why would I get charged for this?

Sets the right tone at the start

When you call into your doctor because you have a headache or your dentist because you have a terrible toothache do you think they will give you their time for free. You don’t expect them to say “Well now Mrs Molloy thanks for calling in and it was really nice for me to spend time with you and fix your problem and as it was your first time here I am not going to charge you today but I will the next time” You would think that the said doctor or dentist had clearly gone off their rocker and would be calling the men or the women in the white coats. So why should we as accountants and tax advisers be any different? You the customer are coming to us with a problem. We take your initial enquiry and our office manager or one of our team has a conversation and an e-mail to find out a bit about your issue and arrange a time to meet. When we meet, that meeting will invariably take up to an hour in which we will get information from you and advise and help you with your problem so that you can rest assured we have got your back. So, in all, it is probably a minimum of 1 to 1 ½ hours’ time investment by us. Therefore as we have to pay the staff for the said time then we would be extremely foolish to give that away for free.  From a business perspective that would be extremely foolish because the prospect, which will hopefully become the client, wants to ensure they are getting advice from someone who understands business. If you are giving away your time or products for free then you don’t understand business. Therefore it’s important to set the right tone at the start and charge for your time.

Does something you get for free have the same value as something you pay for?

The simple answer is no. If you go into your local Super Valu this Christmas and a staff member comes up to you and gives you a free tin of chocolate Kimberley biscuits I would bet any money that your first reaction is “that’s great” and you smile at the person and thank them accordingly. However what you are really thinking is why are they giving them to me and there must be something wrong with them. When you get the tin of biscuits back home you are going to start looking for damage to the tin and then you will be checking out the best before date and whatever else you think could be wrong with the product.  If you get good advice you should be willing to pay for it and this is a win win situation for us and you in that we know we are getting paid for our time so we have no issue giving out whatever information is asked of us. You as a potential client get to call into our office [ of course meeting can be via Skype or Zoom], see the place, meet one of our team, get good information and you are then comfortable and more confident should you need further services.  From our point of view if someone has an issue with paying for an initial meeting then it is not a good sign and it is very likely there will be further issues down the line when it comes to paying more for a larger piece of work.

What do we charge?

It depends. Ok not exactly the answer you want to hear but it really does depend on the person you are seeing and that will depend on the nature or complexity of the issue that you have. The price will be in the range of €75 to €125 plus Vat. If someone had a rental property and they first started letting it out in 2018 and needed some general advice on tax registration, tax return dates  and what expenses they could offset etc then the charge would be €75 plus Vat whereas if the same person had a rental property that was let out since 2015 and they had been living abroad it would likely be €125 plus Vat on the basis that the second scenario is a more complicated situation than the first one as there would be outstanding returns for a few years, scope for USC planning, non-resident issues to be reviewed etc. In the second scenario it is more beneficial for the prospect to have a more senior tax advisor involved and we would expect them to get great value for the cost. If you are in business and are Vat registered then you will get the Vat back. We always try and offset our costs where possible so that you can get a tax write off for our fees. If you are in business and Vat registered and paying tax at the higher rate our €125 plus Vat cost will cost you about €60.

Our experience – We didn’t always charge but we do now

Yes we were foolish enough not to charge for many years.  After having a conversation with a London based accountant on our quarterly trip to the UK who said to me that “if somebody wants to come and see me then they have to pay me” we decided it was time to wake up and smell the roses! Our experience has been nothing but positive ever since and there has been no problem with any prospect that I can remember. We have clearly told our prospects, before a meeting, that there will be a charge and there have been no issues whatsoever. If at this stage there is an issue then the meeting doesn’t go ahead and you have lost very little time.

As a result you are meeting prospects that want to meet you, you are setting the right tone from the start, you are weeding out the timewasters you are getting paid for your time. Hopefully it will be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Contact us if you would like to find out more or to book your introductory meeting.