ProAdvisor Profile of the Month: Bryce Forney
The QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Program equips accounting professionals with the tools they need to fuel small business success. For decades, Bryce Forney, a CPA in Northern California, has been on the forefront of technology in his accounting practice. In this profile, learn how he got started with QuickBooks®, transitioned to QuickBooks Online, and helps other accountants build and grow their practice in the cloud.
Sheila Kilbride: Hello, Bryce. Let’s get started with some background information on your practice.
Bryce Forney: My practice focuses on tax preparation. I work alone, but I partner with a few ProAdvisors I trust. The ProAdvisor works with the books at the transaction level and then I take the reports and prepare tax returns. My tax clients generate 75 percent of my revenue and 90 percent of the work I do outside of my work with Intuit.
Sheila: Tell me about your role at Intuit®.
Bryce: I’m a contractor doing external and internal training. Externally, I lead QuickBooks Online certification classes for accountants. I also do internal training on the five Intuit U.S. campuses to get engineers, product managers and marketers familiar with who we are as accountants and customers, and why we are important to Intuit’s overall strategy. Making a small business owner happy has a lot to do with them being connected with an accountant.
Sheila: How did you get started with accounting and QuickBooks?
Bryce: I started my accounting career at a large firm and was the designated QuickBooks expert. I was the only person fluent in QuickBooks because I learned it in college when it was starting to become popular. The firm would give me messed-up books and I would fix them. I knew how to work within QuickBooks and with the client. I was one of the first QuickBooks consultants.
At that time, accounting firms promoted other software solutions. However, business owners overwhelmingly chose QuickBooks because the value that it afforded them was extraordinary. As a result, accountants begrudgingly came to embrace QuickBooks.
Sheila: What specifically made QuickBooks extraordinary?
Bryce: QuickBooks offered everything in one box for less than $200. Prior to QuickBooks, every accounting application was sold in modules. You would need to buy general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable. By the time you’ve purchased the core set, you’ve spent $2,500.
In the accounting world, it is not an understatement to say what QuickBooks did for the small business owner is similar to what the printing press did for society. Within accounting productivity solutions, there is nothing more significant than QuickBooks. That’s why it’s such a popular brand today.
Sheila: What led you to become a ProAdvisor?
Bryce: When I decided to leave the big firm and work for myself, I looked for a way to get affiliated with QuickBooks. The business owners were using QuickBooks, and I was an accountant with expertise in it. The ProAdvisor program provided me with an introduction to potential clients back then and it still does today.
Sheila: Has your Find-a-ProAdvisor profile helped you build your practice?
Bryce: Yes, dramatically. Other than client referrals, the Find-a-ProAdvisor, as well as the messaging within QuickBooks Online, are two contributors of new clients for me. I do not advertise or do any other marketing. Business owners find me solely through my profile on Find-a-ProAdvisor.
Sheila: Does earning certifications increase your visibility on Find-a-ProAdvisor?
Bryce: Yes, definitely. I’ve drilled into all of the parameters that influence a profile being on page one and the top of the list. For example, reviews have a big impact on listing placement. In addition to being advanced certified and within a zip code, I’ve sought out a lot of reviews. This enables me to stay in the top position.
Sheila: Have ProAdvisor certifications helped you in any other ways?
Bryce: Yes, they provide outside validation of my expertise. Certification confirms to the business owner that I’ve gone through the right education and training to qualify as a QuickBooks expert.
Sheila: How has ProAdvisor Technical Support enabled you to better serve your clients?
Bryce: ProAdvisor Technical Support is critical in those moments where something happens that is not expected. My ability to contact Technical Support to solve the problem makes me more effective in my job. Additionally, the fact that I have a dedicated ProAdvisor support team elevates me in my clients’ eyes. As a solo, self-employed accountant, normally my only option would be to phone a friend for help. But, as a ProAdvisor, I have my own QuickBooks support team.
Sheila: Tell me how you price your services. Do you offer value pricing?
Bryce: Yes. Early on, I would guesstimate flat fee prices for tax returns. I came up with the flat fee so I didn’t have to track my own hours. It made billing a lot easier. Over time, I raised my fees to be value priced. Today, my tax practice is 25 to 30 percent more profitable with the same number of returns. Value pricing also allows me to focus on a dedicated group of clients. For transparency, I publish my pricing. I have found that business owners are not price sensitive, and I didn’t lose any clients when I switched to value pricing.
Sheila: Walk me through value pricing, so that other accountants can apply it to their own practice.
Bryce: A client with a schedule C will be priced differently than a client with just wages and interest. First, come up with a ballpark of what you will charge for these different groups. Then, take the total amount that you want to earn within a tax season, divide it by your number of clients within the different pricing buckets and that’s your price. It’s that easy.
Sheila: Why are you passionate about helping other ProAdvisors move to the cloud?
Bryce: The cloud allows ProAdvisors to differentiate themselves and be on the leading edge. Everyone knows QuickBooks Desktop. For ProAdvisors whose practice is entirely in QuickBooks Online, or they specialize in QuickBooks Online, this says to a business owner that they are on the forefront of technology.
Sheila: How do you encourage small businesses to move to the cloud?
Bryce: I don’t think there’s really a need to motivate the business owners to go to the cloud. I think that’s done. It’s the accounting professionals who need to be brought along that journey.
Sheila: Is there another ProAdvisor you admire, and if so, why?
Bryce: Stacy Kildal. She’s the reason I really started to embrace the cloud. I appreciate her because she’s unique and brings her whole self to her profession. She looks, dresses, behaves and practices differently. It’s refreshing. She also embraced QuickBooks Online before anyone else.
Sheila: What’s different about how she practices?
Bryce: Her mobility and ability to touch down on a project for two minutes in the middle of making dinner for her family or some other activity in her day. She personifies being able to do anything at any moment.
Sheila: In your opinion, what are the biggest opportunities for the accounting practice in the future?
Bryce: The continual drive toward transparency and timeliness. Being able to know that all of the client’s transactions from yesterday are in the books and recorded correctly today. Being able to say to a client, here is your tax return, here are your books and these are equal. There is no mystery or secret decoder needed from the accountant.