Recently I was contacted by a QuickBooks (Desktop) for Mac user that wants to understand their numbers better and buy some property; however, their bank denied them, though they are profitable and growing. They have 3 users in Desktop, and have been told by their current accountant not to move to QuickBooks Online because it won’t have the functionality they need, and yet other businesses they know are thriving on it. The client found us on the Find a ProAdvisor website and we met. We started asking questions like- where are your Accounts Receivable? Answer: spreadsheets. How do you pay your bills? Answer: paper checks. How do you know profit per project? Answer: <silence> How do you know which line of business is more profitable? Answer: <silence> How often do you speak with your accounting professional? Answer: when we give them our info for tax preparation once per year.
After a demo, we set up Projects, using progress billing and online bill payments, and reduced their AR significantly, provided profitability analysis by job, and also made their accounting team at least 35% more efficient than before. Our team collaborates with them at least monthly, helps them improve processes, eliminate paper and focus on the areas that have needed attention that they simply didn’t have time to address due to their manual spreadsheet system. They are heroes- employing dozens of employees, serving their customers well, and now, understanding the impact they are making through their piece of the American dream. We get to be a small part of this journey with them, and a front row seat to watch their success.
As you consider moving to an online model with your clients, here are three major benefits. First, being online allows your firm to collaborate closer with your clients with more up-to-date information- from tax liabilities to updated profitability to cash flow analysis- and have access to their updated information throughout the year. This gives you great opportunities to provide even more value to your clients, and, of course, to bill more for these services. Second, labor markets have changed for both clients and our firms. Remote work is here to stay to some degree or another, so embracing this only makes us better- and smarter. Now, the talent pool expands to move beyond your immediate geography, and for many firms can reduce their employee acquisition costs. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the move to online enables firms to plan for and embrace the future of their firm. Not only will future-ready firms be charging for more valuable services, but as more accountants retire and firms plan for succession, they will be asking a higher price when they get ready to sell.
Clients need information throughout the year, not just during tax season. Helping a business owner understand the effect of their decisions on cash flow and tax liabilities is a value that can be provided to a client only with good, up-to-date information. Artificial intelligence, ChatGPT and even something as basic as bringing in bank transactions into the accounting system, all can be considered threats to bookkeepers and accountants; however, what we are seeing is that while it may eliminate some data entry, our clients still need our guidance and advice- and they are willing to pay for it. (In fact, we had one client that was paying $300/month for basic bookkeeping, and then moved to our firm’s advisory services and paid 10x/month!) Just like a great team of basketball players still needs coaches, the businesses we work with need an outside perspective that is studying the big picture, evaluating strategy and helping to implement improvements and provide feedback when necessary. When we have access to our clients data throughout the year, easily jumping in to analyze what’s going on, make tweaks and updates, and assure them that we are there when they need us, clients thrive. In fact, 95% of accountants surveyed say that they are able to give better advice to their clients when they use QuickBooks Online*, and 90% of small business owners found that this type of collaboration using QuickBooks Online helps them to meet their company’s goals**.
Labor Market Changes
When I started my firm 8+ years ago, saying we were a fully remote team was avant garde. Then the pandemic hit and it became necessary for most firms, and has now become an expectation by many professionals. Clients of all demographics are more willing to join a video conference, and many firms, like mine, have never actually met all their clients face to face. And clients are experiencing the same changes, managing remote workers and systems as well. According to SHRM, remote work is here for good. From the federal government to the private sector, we need to not only expect this as a permanent part of our work but also to prepare technologically for this shift. This opens up a larger pool of candidates, actually increases productivity and allows for a work-life balance that accountants could only dream of just a few years ago. Which leads us to the most critical reason we need to embrace an online model…
Firm of the Future
As we continue to see record numbers of accountants retire or leave the profession, firms are selling or actively planning for succession in the not-too-distant future. Having a profitable firm, using modern technology, and not completely reliant on the owner are top priorities to focus on, according to Poe Group Advisors, who facilitate accounting firm transitions. This confirms what we see in the next generation of accounting professionals, who want to have work-life balance, and make an impact in the world. Using online tools allows flexibility for owners and team members, as well as the ability to collaborate with clients more efficiently. These are not only valuable to clients, but due to their impact on team members and owners, it is factored into the worth of a firm. Additionally, the continued impact of technology on routine processes and compliance work will further drive the need to embrace advisory services to better position the firm with clients, and future owners.
It is truly an exciting time to be in our industry. Of course there are challenges, but the opportunities for growth, better service and collaboration with our clients, and the ability to positively impact our teams and future professionals makes me more enthusiastic than ever. Watching this client- and many more before them- realize their dream of growing a successful small business, really understand their numbers and make better decisions- is perhaps the most rewarding feeling ever. And when I think about, and hear from others in our profession, I realize that’s actually the reason we are here doing what we do.
For more information on how your firm can move online, here’s another reason that can help you determine who is a “right fit” for QuickBooks Online. Let me know in the comments what you think!
*Based on Intuit survey Jan 2022, amongst remunerated QuickBooks Online users who expressed an opinion, when they compared QuickBooks Online to their prior QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Pro Plus, Premier, Premier Plus or Mac Plus products. Survey did not include Enterprise customers.
** Based on Intuit survey Jan 2022, amongst remunerated QuickBooks Online users who expressed an opinion, when they compared QuickBooks Online to their prior QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Pro Plus, Premier, Premier Plus or Mac Plus products. Survey did not include Enterprise customers.
Paid partnership with Intuit