Firm of the Future spotlight on larger firms: ASAP Accounting & Payroll, Inc.
Welcome to the next in a series about firms benefitting from the cloud to better serve clients and find new revenue opportunities. In this new article, we spotlight Diana Murray, vice president of operations at ASAP Accounting & Payroll, Inc., a Colorado-based firm of payroll and accounting experts.
Mindy King: Tell us a little bit about you and your firm.
Diana Murray: We love working with small businesses. Our goal is to streamline processes, eliminate the hassles of bookkeeping, and mitigate risk so our clients can spend more time doing what they love. We say, “Business is as Simple as Possible with ASAP!”
ASAP provides outsourced payroll processing and bookkeeping services. We specialize in small business because we are a small business. We were born in 1990 in the small mountain town of Telluride, Colo. (population 2,500). As we reach our 30-year anniversary, we’ve grown beyond the box canyon with offices in Durango, Denver, and Telluride.
Having grown up on Main Street within walking distance to our customers, it’s engrained in our culture to go the extra mile to take care of our customers because they are also our friends. Although we have customers across 42 states, we bring that same small-town approach we learned from our mountain roots. For me, having been with ASAP 12 years, and now helping run the organization, it’s these connections that keep me excited to come to work every day. Each of us takes a personal and vested interest in working alongside our clients and in our communities to help them succeed.
Eighty percent of our clients come to us from referrals; that’s a true testament to a job well-done. Our people are what make us great. We have 30 professionals, many of which are QuickBooks ProAdvisors®. Furthermore, they come from a variety of backgrounds and can really be hands-on in terms of providing insight and guidance to everyday challenges for any type of small business, from restaurant and retail, to construction, manufacturing, nonprofits, real estate, and hospitality – the typical makeup of any small resort community). And, because we work so closely with CPAs, by collaborating and providing direct access, they’re our biggest source of referrals.
MK: What prompted your firm to switch to QuickBooks® Online? What has surprised you the most about QuickBooks’ capabilities?
DM: Technology is changing the way we all do business. We aim to be on the leading edge of utilizing technology to provide services as efficiently and streamlined as possible. Part of that strategy is cultivating connections as a service provider, but also helping clients find the right mix of software and applications to help them streamline their operations. For us, QuickBooks Online helps do just that!
We grew tired of shuffling discs, having to track down data, and manually enter transactions. Today’s QuickBooks is a true breath of fresh air, and we are moving clients off of desktop versions, daily, to take advantage of the capabilities and features of QuickBooks Online. If there’s something that QuickBooks Online cannot do, its integration capabilities allow us to refer to the App Store to shop for an add-on solution that can meet a specific need.
MK: For your firm, what have been the biggest benefits and/or timesavers that you’ve seen after having switched to QuickBooks Online?
DM: We’d have to list the Bank Feeds & Reconciliations as the timesaver functions that rise to the top of our list. Being able to assign rules to common transactions, then having those transactions automatically selected in the reconciliation process, has saved countless hours. Sure, there’s a bit of setup involved, but not ever having to touch that transaction again, is amazing!
MK: For your clients, what have been the biggest benefits and/or timesavers? What do they like most about being in the cloud in comparison to their previous desktop experience?
DM: For our clients the most important thing is to be able to log into their account wherever they have an internet connection, be it from home, the office, or on their mobile devices. In addition, once we start talking about integration, the excitement becomes more and more evident. Timesavers such as bank synchronization are eye-openers for our clients, in terms of keeping a pulse on bank activity as it relates to their financials. We like to say that accounting helps you keep score. Automatic bank synchronization drastically reduces data entry and review time. Owners and managers get excited to log in to view their activity, and make financial and operational decisions based off this insight.
MK: How did you or your team get buy-in from key stakeholders at your firm to make a switch to QuickBooks Online?
DM: For our firm, it’s the cloud-based environment that sold us. While we waited a couple years after QuickBooks Online was released, we jumped on the bandwagon ready to go all in. It didn’t take long to convince our accounting staff, previously married to desktop, that QuickBooks Online was – and is – the way to go. Once they experienced QuickBooks Online firsthand, they were sold and helped sell our clients on QuickBooks Online.
MK: How did your firm get agreement from your desktop clients to move to cloud? If those clients voiced any concerns, how did you address them?
DM: QuickBooks Online is definitely our preferred solution for small business accounting, so the fact that we love it makes it easy to sell it to our clients. Convincing those clients who are married to desktop, however, has proven to be more challenging. At ASAP, we aim to be a resource for all our clients. With that goal in mind, we educated clients through seminars, webinars, and white papers on the key differences between desktop and QuickBooks Online. Furthermore, we offer hands-on assistance to migrate files to QuickBooks Online to ensure accuracy and data integrity, and to also give them peace of mind that someone is there to walk them through the new user interface personally.
The biggest concerns from clients are learning to use cloud-based products in general, especially those accustomed to a traditional hardware/software environment. There is also a fear of having to start over, losing data or the limitations they might run up against, but most of the time we are able to put them at ease with our knowledge and assistance.
We approach each inquiry as a chance to consult with them one-on-one about their specific needs and the differences they will face in QuickBooks Online, and then provide migration services to take them through the migration, transition, and access.
MK: What apps does your firm use to extend the power of QuickBooks Online?
DM: Some of our favorite apps are:
- Bill.com: We’re especially thankful this application is being baked into QuickBooks Online – thanks!
- Receipt Bank: This saves serious headaches in tracking down receipts from our clients. In just two clicks, they can submit receipts and our team can take it from there.
- LivePlan: This has been a popular one for our start-ups and expanding businesses to marry their business plan with their financials.
- MoreReporting: This reporting dashboard is showing great promise in providing a simple yet robust dashboard to help owners view their financials in ways they can understand, process and take action on.
Being in resort communities full of restaurants and retailers, we also value ANY point of sale system that integrates directly with QuickBooks Online to help save from paper piles and rigorous manual entry. Thanks to those POS systems that integrate!
MK: What piece of advice would you offer to other accountants or firms hesitant to move to the cloud?
DM: Just do it – rip off the band aid! For internal staff who don’t know what they’re missing, once they experience it firsthand and understand the automation and intelligence behind QuickBooks Online, they will buy into it. And, for those clients or even staff stuck in the dark ages and not willing to improve or change, then they are probably not the best clients or staff for your firm.
MK: Thanks Diana!