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Case Study: Growing Your Accounting Practice (Part 1)

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Oct 2nd 2017
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Whether you are in growth-mode or not, accounting firms struggle with basic productivity issues and simply keeping pace with their colleagues and growing business needs of their clients.

We have found that they tend to benefit from hearing about what their colleagues went through and their shared success. As such, sales tax and compliance service provider Avalara produced a series of case studies of firms they have worked with that, like many, have had to overcome challenges with efficiency and updating technology in the right way.

Below is one of a few case studies we plan to run as part of our partnership with Avalara, as we have a shared belief in seeing the accounting profession move forward and address today’s business challenges in order to face tomorrow. These interviews were conducted by Balz Wyss, head of Avalara’s channel development & partner programs. He recently spoke with Matthew May, COO of Atlanta-based bookkeeping firm Acuity about how they have not only kept pace, but thrived as a modern firm. Here is a snapshot of that conversation:

Wyss: What was the first step in modernizing your firm?

May: We had to experiment to get to the right model, looking outside accounting to find best practices and a model for how to operate. We looked at SaaS firms for a sales model, B2C companies for agile marketing, and industry-leading, high-tech sources for customer success models.

Wyss: How does technology factor in?

May: Technology is a means to an end. In the traditional firm, CPAs have expertise in a particular accounting area and then, where possible, use tools and technology to deliver that expertise. We do the reverse. We start by selecting a technology and then bolt accounting/bookkeeping services around it.

Wyss: What does it take to reach your audience?

May: We’ve had to train sales staff to recognize prospects. Our sales manager oversees 13 sales people who make cold calls weekly. Business development reps set around 20 appointments a month for sales reps.

Wyss: How do you drive leads?

May: We do things like feature a partner in a monthly joint webinar. I am active on the Forbes financial council and with [accounting publications], which brings us broader visibility. Networking with vendors and partners is important, including co-branding and co-marketing with Gusto, Intuit, and Xero.

Wyss: What impacts your customers’ survival?

May: A regular cadence of communication with organized checkpoints allows clients to regularly see their current financial picture. Moving from annual to monthly financial updates has been shown to improve business survival rates from around 40 to up to 80 percent.

Wyss: What’s next?

May: We continuously look for new technologies to standardize our services around so we can grow our practice. The process of tuning up the business never stops.

In this series of case studies, accounting firms weigh in on what it takes to navigate the changing accountancy landscape.

Read more in the whitepaper: Growing your accounting practice

 

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