Build Your Firm — Website Development & Internet Marketing

From the Dec. 2007 Feature on Website Builders for Accountants

As a website development option for professional accountants, Build Your Firm is unique in many ways, not the least of which is that the company’s president is a CPA with an active practice. This surely keeps the needs of most practitioners in clear focus, since he encounters the same workflow processes and firm needs. Another differentiating point is that Build Your Firm’s offering is full-service, meaning that the vendor handles all of the website setup, editing and maintenance requirements. Working with the professional practice, Build Your Firm’s websites can include various calculators, calendars and online newsletter articles, along with several other tools for clients, including secure online transfer capabilities for large data files.

The company helps firms register their own unique web address and provides hosting and registration as a part of the service. Domain names remain the property of the accounting firm, which allows them to easily move hosting if they ever wish to. As noted, websites are completely created and customized by Build Your Firm staff, with the professional practice deciding themes, styles, navigation menus and other components but remaining hands-off on the work, although administrative functions like website visitor tracking tools can be accessed and used by firm staff. Websites of any size can be created and maintained through this service. Build Your Firm’s websites are very professional in appearance and have excellent design and navigation components.

All professional firm sites are unique and maintain the professional practice’s logo and other branding elements throughout. Build Your Firm provides many marketing services to professional practices, so its web services are also geared toward marketing goals of building client bases and cross-selling existing clients. The vendor submits sites to search engines and uses optimization techniques to help them get prominently listed in major search engines like Google and Yahoo! As noted, all website setup and maintenance tasks are performed by the staff at Build Your Firm, but the company also provides free technical support online and via phone.

Automated financial and tax articles and other content are included as a part of the website and Internet marketing package that Build Your Firm offers. This includes more than 10 new client-focused articles each month, which helps provide website visitors with useful information on tax and financial issues like tax and estate planning, retirement savings, college deductions and other issues. This can also drive the clients to seek additional firm services. All of the content is also archived, with the total library now housing more than 300 articles. Firms can also utilize the content for print or e-mail newsletters.

In addition to this content, Build Your Firm includes numerous calculators and has an online data transfer function, which simplifies the process of clients sending their accountant their financial data files, tax organizers or other information. The system also includes five e-mail accounts that can be locally managed with Microsoft Exchange or can be hosted and accessed online at any time. A PayPal option can also be integrated to allow practices to accept bankcard payments without setting up merchant accounts.

Build Your Firm is not a do-it-yourself template-based system for building websites. Rather, it offers professional accounting and tax practices a truly customized option using professional website developers who do all of the work, including setup and edits. This full-service option is comparable in price to self-maintained options and includes useful financial content and file transfer options. Websites are professional and designed specifically for accounting practices. Build Your Firm’s website development services have an initial setup charge of $250, with ongoing hosting and maintenance charges of $1,000 per year ($250 per quarter). This fee also includes the spam filtering program, which was recently added to the vendor’s website service. (Build Your Firm noted that the $250 setup fee is waived for accountants who attend the vendor’s One Day Accounting Marketing Workshop.) The secure client transfer option costs an additional $240 per year. Credit card processing and enhanced search engine placement services, including pay-per-click listings on Google, are also available for additional costs.

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