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 the next in a series of 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 Jeremy Korst, CMO of Avalara.
He recently spoke with Denise Loter-Koch, founder and CEO of EBS Associates, a small business accounting and QuickBooks consulting firm, about how they differentiate themselves from other firms, manage client relationships, pricing structures and gaining new business.
Korst: What’s your firm’s niche?
Loter-Koch: I have some very large clients that outsource their bookkeeping to us, and I am able to support that demand with 27 bookkeepers on staff. Other firms may look down on bookkeeping, and so they miss a great opportunity. Through our Learning Center, we also train bookkeepers in the community on QuickBooks, accounting fundamentals, and more.
Korst: How do you benefit from conducting bookkeeping classes?
Loter-Koch: It is more than practical training. It creates a pool of potential clients and staff for my firm. After the students get some work experience I may hire them back. Or they may end up at a company that could benefit from our services.
Korst: What’s your approach to managing clients?
Loter-Koch: We break their needs into three tiers: First is reoccurring work like payroll and accounting. We have about 400 accounts here. Second is projects — one-off interactions like data conversions. Third is consulting and training, where we handle process and procedure, helping them grow the business. This includes writing business plans, helping them learn how to budget, etc.
Korst: You’re switching to subscription-based pricing — why?
Loter-Koch: I believe that bundling client services increases client retention, so I’ve created a team to move all hourly clients to value-added pricing. By the end of the year, every client with recurring services will be converted to subscription pricing, bundled with partner software solutions.
Korst: How do you engage prospects?
Loter-Koch: I am outsourcing my marketing, adding 11 marketing staff through an outside group. This team will do drip campaigns, CRM, branding, and outreach campaigns. We use HubSpot consulting to create and manage the campaigns for us.
Korst: What’s next?
Loter-Koch: We are focusing now on building out a sales division to prospect for new accounts, and we are buying lists to support their efforts. At the same time we are adding on to our service team.
About Jeremy Korst
Jeremy Korst is Chief Marketing Officer at Avalara.