This past Tuesday, a day unusually warm and sunny for October, QuickBooks’ Firm of the Future Roadshow rolled into New York City and stayed for the day at the Grand Hyatt. It was a packed house, as CPAs and other accounting/tax professionals came for a full day of insights about the profession’s future, as well as networking and CPE credits (for those who needed them).
Session One: Industry & Technology
One of the Roadshow’s technology partners is Karbon, which produces practice managements and CRM softwares for accountants. Stuart McLeod, Karbon’s CEO and Co-Founder, was the first to address the crowd.
A full house at the Hyatt. (photo: Joe Carufe)
Some key insights from his portion:
-Retention of staff is the biggest obstacle to practice growth. This issue has been circulating around the profession over the past few years, which has forced firm leaders to look at how they not only keep talent at their firm, but also how the formation of a strong firm culture can contribute to acquisition of new talent, especially where millennials are concerned.
-“The best accountants are good storytellers.” Keeping with the notion of accountants providing proactive instead of reactive advice, Stuart stressed the idea of relating financial statements back to the client’s objectives and ambitions, not just within their business, but their lives, as well. Being a storyteller means going deeper than just the numbers, providing a holistic picture of the client’s situation, as it relates to everything they wish to achieve.
-He also discussed finding a niche speciality, which, as studies have shown, is conducive to strong growth. Some interesting niches that were thrown around were micro-law firms, film/entertainment, and foreign entities, but the important takeaway with niches was to find a pain point within those niches and identify a unique solution to it. Where there is uncertainty, any firm can provide value, and by identifying an industry that provides its best ROI, any firm can maximize their profit.
-Finally, he closed by saying, “Growth is hard, but it’s going to be compulsory for survival.” This should go without saying, but there is no reward without great risk. Firm leaders need to take measures for growth in order to ensure the longevity and well-being of their practices.
Session Two: QuickBooks Online
Next was a quick demonstration of QuickBooks Online by Stacy Kildal, QuickBooks Expert and all-around awesome human.
She took everyone through QuickBooks Online and its new features, as well as the ways it can be customized for each individual client. She really likes the product and the Intuit app that goes with it. At one point she said, “If I could snuggle with this app, I would. I would love it, hug it, and call it George.”
Session Three: Value Pricing
Then Jason Blumer, Founder of Thriveal CPA Network, Chief Innovation Officer at Blumer CPAs, and another all-around awesome human, took the stage to discuss value pricing.
Some insights from him:
-If accountants are trying to be unique and high-value, value pricing will help with that because it enables their service to be more than just a function of time and money. Further, it enhances the worth of the client-firm relationship.
-He did stress, however, that value pricing won’t come easy for many. His advice – “Embrace the suck.”
-Firm growth is really dependent upon finding, pricing, and working only with the right clients.
-To bill clients means they’re driving what they want you to do. Again, you as an accountant are confined by only time and money.
For more about his philosophies on value pricing, check out his blog on his firm’s website.
Session Four: Practice Efficiency
Ian Vacin, VP of Product Marketing at Karbon, then took the stage to share insights on practice management. Here are his 10 things that effective firms do.
- They have superior personal email habits.
- They have tools for team collaboration.
- They have a dedicated onboarding specialist – someone who gets the client acclimated within the firm.
- Documented, living processes.
- Everyone documents everything.
- Critical few cloud technology stack.
- They value-price services.
- They have the best-in-class operating mechanisms.
- They’re always training.
- They have a mindset for continuous improvement.
These are to be kept in mind in order to create a culture centered around team collaboration, client collaboration, and growing a specialized, visible, transparent, and successful practice.
Session Five – Practice Growth
I’m sorry to say that I had to leave early from the event, as I was attending an NJCPA event that evening in Ramsey, NJ, so I wasn’t in on this session. But they went over all the steps to effective marketing:
- Determine your unique selling point.
- Find and focus on your target audience
- Create your message for that target audience.
- Craft a focused marketing strategy.
- Double down on your referral marketing. This is especially important since it’s a great way to market without actually spending any dollars. If you do well enough by your clients, they will certainly send you new business.
- Build your presence with original content.
- Work your preferred channels in accordance with your marketing strategy.
- Iterate with focus.
It’s all quite basic, really – just focus on what you do better than anyone else and market that defining quality to the appropriate parties through the channels which will best reach them. Also, just be a good person. And smile. 🙂
The day ended with a roundtable discussion from all of the speakers, but at that point, I was on a train heading back to North Jersey. Overall, however, it was a wonderful event, full of rich insights, discussions, and networking opportunities. I would highly recommend attending the Roadshow if it’s coming anywhere near you this fall – here’s a list of upcoming dates.
And be sure to follow me on Twitter this fall as I attend more events and live-tweet them! My handle is back to @HeyNickNappo.
Ciao, ragazzi! (Bye, guys!)
My workbook from the event. When I introduced myself to Jason Blumer, he asked if “Marketing Pro” was the name of my firm. It’s really just short for “Marketing Professional”, since I’m not with a firm at the moment and they had to put something on my nametag. But maybe that could be my future firm’s name. Has a nice ring to it. It’s a nice thought, anyway.