Firm of the Future Profile: Quick Bizness Bookkeeping Solutions
Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2016 Firm of the Future finalists. Our latest edition features Lauretta Finis of Quick Bizness Bookkeeping Solutions. Stay tuned for details on how to enter our next Firm of the Future contest and continue visiting our blog often.
Danielle Ernst: First, share a little bit about yourself. Where is Quick Bizness Bookkeeping Solutions based, how long have you been in business, and talk about your employees and clients.
Lauretta Finis: Working my way up the corporate ladder in one of Australia’s top five banks was rewarding, but my love was always in figures. I left banking in 2005 to commence my bookkeeping practice and enjoy what I do every day. As the old cliché goes, “Enjoy what you do and don’t work a day in your life.” Over the years, I had up to four casual employees, but spent more time chasing the employees than looking after our clients. I decided to move to a full-time person, and we have one casual that helps with the busy times of the year, such as BAS (business activity statements – tax reporting requirement for businesses issued by the Australian Government Taxation Office) times quarterly. This allowed me to focus on the training and consulting part of the business, as we moved into the cloud around 2012 or 2013, when QuickBooks® arrived in Australia.
DE: Share with us a little background about your firm. What type of clients do you serve – tax and accounting? What are the services you provide?
LF: We cater to all types of industry clients, ranging from a ballet school to the construction industry. We use 100% cloud software to run our practice. Additionally, we run training workshops to business owners and tailor trainings for individual businesses to show how they can make smarter decisions using their accounting software.
DE: What’s your best advice about getting online today and adopting online technologies?
LF: Do it sooner than later, or you will be left behind. There are some great choices out there; just find what works for your business. You can even go on holidays and still have access to your clients’ data, no matter where you are in the world!
DE: How do you choose software and app partners before recommending to your clients?
LF: We run our research, depending on what the client requires. We talk to the app partner to see if they are a good fit to our client, and then we recommend more than just the one, whenever possible, to allow our client to choose.
DE: What apps do you use for your firm, and are there any you recommend to clients most frequently?
LF: We use either Google Drive or Dropbox with clients to transfer larger documents. As a practice workflow management, we have been using Jetpack for quite a few years. It allows us to see the workflow we have coming up and, more importantly, if we are running behind with work and need to bring in our casual employee to help with the workload and ensure that we’re meeting our deadlines for our clients.
We also use GovReport to lodge all our Australian Taxation compliance, which allows us to ensure we meet those deadlines for our clients. To handle client’s engagement letters, we use Practice Ignition. It helps us get paid on time because it sets up a direct debit for payments, which helps with our cash flow.
Finally, QuickBooks Online Accountant is the portal for all our clients that allows us to access their books and progress of work completed within the month. We recommend QuickBooks Online for our clients because it is available 24/7, wherever I am. Lastly, access to the Internet: one has got to have good internet while travelling on holidays.
DE: You mentioned in your contest entry that your firm was one of Australia's first-ever Intuit® ProAdvisors® and an early adopter of QuickBooks Online. How did this affect your ability to better serve your clients?
LF: Being one of Australia’s firs ProAdvisors, a lot of my clients were already in my trust circle, so they did trust my judgment of moving to the cloud and on demonstration of QuickBooks Online. They could see how this was going to make their life easier when moving to the cloud. While they all had different reasons for moving to the cloud, because I knew my clients so well, it was easy for me to give them the benefit they required when moving away from their desktop accounting software.
DE: Were any of your clients hesitant to move to the cloud?
LF: I had one or two that were hesitant to move, and I just kept chipping away at them to show them what I was doing with QuickBooks Online, and eventually, they saw the benefit. One client did not want to sync his online banking to QuickBooks Online, but we just showed him how much easier it would be to run his books in the cloud, where he could send out invoices and statements to his clients directly from QuickBooks Online, while saving more than $70 per month in postage and spending no more time sending out statements via snail mail. Even though we processed his expenses manually, this was still saving us timem as opposed to his old desktop software. Happy client!
DE: As one of the first Australian firms to offer value pricing, what prompted you to switch from hourly fees, and what have been the biggest benefits?
LF: Being able to offer value pricing to clients made them happy that they could work out their cash flow each month from our billing. We reap the benefits as well, as all of my clients are on a direct debit, so each month we get paid automatically. We save time by not having to send out invoices and waiting for the payment to come through, or even having to chase them for our money.
DE: You mentioned in your entry that Quick Bizness’ branding and exposure has grown tremendously thanks to social media, including a digital footprint of over 1,800 followers regularly interacting with you online. How has this engagement helped you better serve your clients and find new ones?
LF: After running the practice in our home office, we are now about to move into an office in the suburbs of Melbourne. This will do two things: get me out of my home so that I will have a distinct home/work life, and also be visibly seen in an office for new clients to just walk in off the street, growing the business. Sharen and I have plans in the making about what we will offer to clients in a different way. Social media is fun, and we are always on our Business Facebook page, sharing and commenting. We also love to share our clients’ news, and use LinkedIn and Twitter because meeting people virtually really allows you to extend connections.
DE: Any favorite client stories worth sharing?
LF: We love all of our clients, so answering this question is like choosing your favorite child. They are all unique business owners, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds in store. Just five years ago, I wouldn’t believe that I would be able to visit the U.S. and still look after my clients, all from just one laptop or mobile device.
DE: What advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?
LF: Do it now! Don’t wait any longer; the longer you wait, the more behind as a practice you will become. Don’t be afraid of learning new practices; by looking after your clients, they will love you for it.