It’s no mystery these days how technology has permeated nearly every aspect of business life, accounting firm staff and owners included. But has it really improved what they do or create more challenges?
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 Mark Magel Chief Technology Officer at SD Mayer & Associates about the technology moves they made and how it impacted the firm’s internal functions, as well as work with clients and overall growth.
Korst: Has technology changed the way your firm operates?
Magel: Absolutely. With technology automating the more routine tasks, we’ve moved away from simple bookkeeping engagements toward more specialized, value-added engagements that require us to know the client at a higher level.
Korst: Has it changed your client base too?
Magel: Yes, we try to engage with younger clients and companies. With individuals, we engage early with an emphasis on financial planning and security. With companies, we try to come on board right as they start to grow. That way we can retain them over time and advise them over the entire business lifecycle.
Korst: How should other firms approach their own technological evolutions?
Magel: Technology can be a game changer, and small companies can leverage it just as much as large ones. The challenge is to take the best technologies available that align with the strengths of your practice and integrate them into the core of your business.
Korst: What other factors drive success?
Magel: Firms that want to compete using automation to reach a wider audience need a more mainstream marketing model, using measurement tactics borrowed from sales organizations. Most accounting firms don’t operate this way yet.
Korst: How do you measure marketing success?
Magel: We use analytic tools to provide key metrics about our marketing, sales, and market penetration. With this knowledge, we can stay focused on the ups and downs of client acquisition.
Korst: What’s the key takeaway for firms that want to grow?
Magel: Do more than just bookkeeping, which is becoming more commoditized. Add services like outsourced AR/AP, managed consulting, tax audit, and wealth management to help you stand out and drive profits. Also, specializing in a specific vertical, such as nonprofit, healthcare, or startup, can help you find the right clients.
About Jeremy Korst
Jeremy Korst is Chief Marketing Officer at Avalara.