Grow Your Practice By Avoiding the One Size Fits All Mentality
One very common question asked by new and aspiring accountants/bookkeepers is, “how can I grow my business?” If you are interested in expanding your client base and entrenching your firm with existing clients, the primary objective should always be to match the appropriate "tool" with the client.
Although some accountants/bookkeepers have been successful at working specifically with a certain industry type or client profile, the reality is the greatest success can be achieved by providing resources that accommodate a larger client base without overextending your capabilities and capacity.
One of the most effective ways to optimize client support is through cloud-based solutions. Now, the reality is that there are numerous potential benefits of a cloud-based resource that cannot be overlooked, such as simplified sharing with remote users, reduced IT/software expenses, integration with other cloud based applications and more. For many of your clients, there is an incentive to migrate their data/software to the cloud based on the potential savings related to these benefits.
However, not everyone has the need for the aforementioned benefits and, in those cases, the cloud becomes an added expense where a business owner is now relying on an internet connection that is not necessarily consistent, and a cloud-based server that can be subject to delays. For that client, all they can see is that when they want to perform a process as simple as writing a check or creating an invoice, they are, in some cases, waiting for their internet to connect and the cloud-based server to respond before they can even begin their work.
This is also the case when a cloud-based screen sharing resource is used. Under the best of circumstances, the remote user is subject to the speed of both theirs and the host computer’s internet connection (often causing delayed keyboard/mouse responses and slower function completion) and the host has to surrender their computer for that interval of time. This process cannot even be initiated if the host computer is not turned on.
If the need for sharing a QuickBooks file with a remote user (accountant/bookkeeper/home office) is just for intermittent collaboration without the need for simultaneous remote access, the expense of a cloud-based solution is in most cases not warranted. The previously mentioned delays also include an expense to the business owner/accountant/bookkeeper related to lost time.
For some, there is also a substantial concern related to the security of their financial data if it is accessible in the cloud. Regardless of the encryption, security practices or SSL secured channels data is transmitted through, all the user knows are the horror stories heard in the media regarding big box stores and even credit card companies that are having to notify their clients that their information has been compromised.
Even though an accountant/bookkeeper can effectively describe the attributes of certain cloud based resources, an end user may determine, based on the specific needs of their industry or business type, that there is not a viable solution apart from desktop. If that is the case, the end user must be prepared to work with their client and implement resources to support that decision. Selecting a file sharing method/tool can also be a dicey proposition and, if not chosen correctly, they can potentially cause issues with conflicted file copies and even file corruption.
The good news is there are “application specific file sharing resources” designed for sharing database files such as QuickBooks. Accountants and bookkeepers can continue to work with their clients that are ready to make the jump to the cloud, as well as efficiently and affordably support their desktop clients.
At the end of the day, an accountant/bookkeeper should have standardized business practices that allow them to optimize their firm’s performance and maximize profitability. However, part of that equation is generating an appropriate client base and retaining them through their ability to support the business needs of their varied clients. “One Size DOES NOT Fit All” and respecting/supporting the needs of your clients will lead to your firm’s success.