Firm of the Future Profile: Prevendel Business Solutions, Inc.
Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2016 Firm of the Future finalists. This edition features Elizabeth Sendel of Prevendel Business Solutions, Inc. Stay tuned in 2017 for details on how to enter our next Firm of the Future contest and continue visiting our blog often.
Kim Amsbaugh: Welcome, Elizabeth! Tell me a bit about your firm.
Elizabeth Sendel: Prevendel is based in Toronto, and we serve clients throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. We’re Diamond Advanced ProAdvisors® and certified partners, with more than 10 third-party apps.
We began as a management consulting firm in 1994, but started a boutique division in 2013 to house 10-15 bookkeeping clients that would ultimately feed our consulting practice. Our revenue grew by 263 percent year over year in 2016, and we moved from a single person department to three account executives and six bookkeepers. We have not physically met 85 percent of our clients, but client interactions are handled virtually via email, phone or Skype.
KA: What makes Prevendel a Firm of the Future?
ES: We are a Firm of the Future because we position ourselves as trusted advisors to our clients, fully embrace technology in our practice and establish workflows within proven ecosystems that we personally curate.
We also take a different approach with our associates. We do not have employees; we have contractors. We have now coined value costing and revenue sharing to vertically integrate with value pricing at the front end. This means that all revenue is completely shared on a percentage basis with our team members. We have been able to provide an annuity retirement plan for all team members, built right into our value pricing model. This model has actually started to attract sole practitioners to partner with Prevendel because they love our unique annuity earnings concept! Most importantly, our model is designed to allow our partners to take their North American income anywhere in the world.
KA: You mentioned personally customizing ecosystems – what are some of your favorite apps to use along with QuickBooks® Online?
ES: Our recommended ecosystem includes QuickBooks Online, Wagepoint for payroll, Plooto and Hubdoc. Should our clients have other industry specific needs, such as manufacturing or inventory, we use SOS Inventory or DEAR Inventory.
KA: How do you choose software and app partners before recommending to your clients?
ES: Apps empowers our clients with accessibility to company data anywhere, at anytime, at their convenience, and many have elected to employ our suite of apps to go paperless. We have a dedicated team committed to finding, reviewing, testing and implementing new apps that will streamline and enhance workflow efficiencies.
KA: What’s your best advice about getting online today and adopting online technologies?
ES: We only work with clients who embrace new technology and cloud-based solutions. Security, mobility and 24/7 access to information are key to achieving a competitive advantage in today’s global market. Information equals empowerment!
KA: How did you introduce value pricing to your clients? What was their reaction, and what changes have you seen in the way you collaborate with them?
ES: Prevendel has always used value pricing, and our model evolved out of our collective business backgrounds in diverse industries. Our model is based on a three-tier trusted advisor offering of Basic, Premium and Platinum options that encompasses a comprehensive suite of services, from full-cycle bookkeeping to a CFO on demand who handles analytics, variance reports, forecasting, liaison with financial stakeholders, contract interpretation and benchmarking.
KA: How has using wholesale billing benefited your practice?
ES: Wholesale billing for QuickBooks Online subscriptions has been a huge success for us, as we incorporate that fee into our value pricing structure. Clients like seeing one amount that encompasses everything. Additionally, should they initially question our fees, we immediately demonstrate that it is inclusive of third-party apps as well.
KA: How does your firm attract new clients, or how do they find you?
ES: Many of our clients come from referrals from other clients or accounting firms, as we position ourselves as partners. Prevendel does not do any corporate or personal taxes, so we do not compete with accounting firms, but instead, support and empower them to focus on what they do best – tax planning for their clients. By streaming regular financial data about their clients, they are better positioned to provide intelligent billable deliverables to their clients.
Ka: How do you use the ProAdvisor program, or social media channels, to connect with prospects and current clients?
ES: We leverage the ProAdvisor Program to ensure all associates have a minimum ProAdvisor certification. Our account executives must be Advanced ProAdvisor Certified.
Prevendel also maintains a corporate website, with a client portal that enables clients to share confidential documents with us securely and keep up to date on new features, technology and apps. It is a great way of maintaining communication with our clients, strategic partners and associates.
Additionally, we cross market on social media platforms with our clients by contributing content for their social media platforms. To reach new prospects, Prevendel also participates in community outreach programs with CPA Canada, Welcome Centres and StartUp Canada. We find that the best quality referrals come from CPA firms and our clients. We offer our clients an incentive program to nominate referrals.
KA: What’s Prevendel’s game plan for a successful 2017?
ES: We plan to continually sharpen our saw at events such as Thrive, QuickBooks Connect and Scaling New Heights. Attending these events empowers us to share the most current trends and advancements in cloud-based solutions with our associates and clients. Prevendel will remain cloud-focused and will continue to look for apps that form part of our baseline ecosystem that we offer to all clients.
Additionally, we will also continue to develop ecosystems to address specific market requirements, such as our backend e-commerce solution for an integration between Shopify and QuickBooks Online. We also look forward to finding and onboarding three more account executives and bookkeepers who enjoy autonomy, while working within a supportive network.