Firm of the Future Profile: Singletrack Bookkeeping

Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2016 Firm of the Future finalists. This edition features Singletrack Bookeeping, one of the U.S. contest finalists. Stay tuned for more information on how to enter this year’s Firm of the Future contest and continue visiting our blog often.

Danielle Ernst: Hi Kim! First, share a little bit about Singletrack Bookkeeping.

Kim Hornsby: Singletrack Bookkeeping was inspired by mountain biking and hiking on singletrack trails, where the mind focuses on one step at a time and one is forced to go with the flow through challenging climbs and exhilarating downhill. Based in Steamboat Springs, Colo., we’ve been in business for 10 years, with a team of six, which is composed of full-time employees and contractors.

We specialize in professional services and serve over 70 customers that operate globally, many of whom are in the world of travel and recreation. Our home base is a ski resort town, so we understand the life of an entrepreneur in recreational communities, as well as those who are traveling. Whether it’s a realtor serving the skier’s second home market, or it’s a public relations firm being run out of co-working space in Asia, we provide our customers with a singletrack workflow, using cloud accounting apps that save time, eliminate paper and allow for team collaboration from anywhere in the world.

DE: What apps do you use for your firm? How do you choose software and app partners before recommending to your clients?  

KH: Because we use the very tools that we offer our customers, we are able to train and support our clients with firsthand knowledge of best practices. The automated features within QuickBooks® Online save us time, allowing us to spend more time talking with customers, supporting them with software and advising them on their business.

One of our favorite apps is Bill.com because it automates the bill approval and e-payment process. We also like to use TSheets and Intuit Online Payroll, which make for a powerful employee management tool. For our internationally operating clients, we like to use Receipt Bank for its currency conversion feature. Hubdoc is also great for its excellent bank statement extraction feature – we can capture images of every receipt and attach them to transactions in QuickBooks Online. When we pair this with Fathom, we have a deeper understanding of our financials so that no one has to spend time sending statements to us.

DE: What’s your best advice about getting online today and adopting online technologies?

KH: Change is always hard, but find mentors and advisors that have already traveled this path to support you throughout the transition. Once you’re fully online, you will never want to go back to old school ways.

DE: How did you introduce value pricing to your clients? What advice would you give those thinking about transitioning from hourly fees to monthly fixed fees?

KH: Four years ago, we transitioned from hourly pricing to fixed pricing. While this can be a jolting change for many clients, our customers were very happy with the change because they knew exactly how to budget. As our knowledge and experience grew, we further transitioned from fixed pricing to value pricing.

Our value billing model begins with basic bookkeeping data entry and reconciling plans – all of which include QuickBooks Online software, thanks to our access to wholesale billing. We then add on apps and services with an a la carte approach, customizing each business system with the tools they need. Specializing in QuickBooks Online, and a core set of apps, has made us a team of experts and we are now seen as such.

If you haven’t switched to value pricing, find someone who has and do it! Our clients now see us as trusted advisors to maintain accurate usage of their tools, and we have more intimate insights with each account's day-to-day activity. Value pricing has saved us time, so we’re able to gain a deeper understanding of the financial story and spend more time guiding our clients.

DE: How do you find the balance between marketing and run-the-business type work? For accounting firms not yet using the ProAdvisor® Program or social media, what would your advice be for them to take that first step?

KH: It can be difficult to split time between marketing and running the business, no doubt! I’m a believer that if it doesn’t get scheduled on your calendar, it doesn’t get done. Scheduling it into your day is the first step. The second step is to take time to turn off email and social media for a few hours each day to focus on marketing your firm.

The folks we connect with are the ones who want something more. That’s who we look for and, more often than not, they come to us. I’ve personally found Facebook to be a powerful tool to spread our message – not necessarily just our business page, but also through my own personal branding. We are all about positivity, fun and living the good life – I think that resonates with folks, especially those who give up big houses to travel, or move to resort towns to ski and ride every day.

The ProAdvisor Program has also been a valuable resource for me and my firm – I would not be where I am without the ProAdvisor Program. The support, training, special pricing and discounts available to our firm have been invaluable.

DE: What future invention are you most looking forward to?

KH: In the cloud accounting world, I’m looking forward to an automated client onboarding app! On a personal level, the technology coming to mountain biking is insanely fun – my next purchase is an electronic seat dropper!

DE: Any favorite client stories worth sharing?

KH: One of the best moments was a visit to a home office about one month after onboarding a new client. She pointed to a three-inch high stack of receipts and invoices, and told me how much she dreaded having to enter everything (she didn’t yet fully realize what QuickBooks Online bank feeds were doing). When I explained that the expenses had already been entered, she nearly cried. That was cool moment to be a part of.

DE: What advice would you give to a firm trying to transition from their old ways to become a Firm of the Future?

KH: Do not hesitate and don’t give up. I read a lot about folks who tried QuickBooks Online for about five minutes, but couldn’t find something and gave up. Change is hard, but once this transition is done, your future will change! The sky is the limit.

DE: Tell us two to three ways how you are using technology to help your clients with tax prep and planning. What is your number one recommendation to your business or individual clients with regard to tax planning?

KH: We utilize automated QuickBooks transaction reports – a lot. We get reports into our customer’s hands and work with them to review the books long before January. By the time tax season arrives, our customers are ready to begin the conversation with their preparer. My #1 recommendation always will be to “do it before January!”