ProAdvisor Profile of the Month: Corinna May

The QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Program equips accounting professionals with the tools they need to fuel small business success. Over the past year, Corinna May, CPA, along with her associates, helped Williams, Pitts & Beard, PLLC’s clients transition to the cloud. In this profile, learn how she led explosive growth of QuickBooks® Online.

Sheila Kilbride: Hello, Corinna. Let’s get started with some background information on you and Williams, Pitts & Beard, PLLC.

Corinna May: Along with being a CPA, I work at Williams, Pitts & Beard, PLLC, one of the largest regional firms in Northern Mississippi. There are about 20 employees, including four partners and three additional CPAs. The firm’s clients include farmers, construction businesses and nonprofits, as well as local small businesses, such as plumbers, manufacturers and retailers.

SK: One of the reasons we wanted to share your story Is because of your firm’s incredible growth. Can you tell me more about that?

CM: In the last year, we’ve converted, or assisted with conversion training, for 105 clients to QuickBooks Online, and these clients are very, very happy. We're hoping to have 250 to 300 clients on QuickBooks Online by this time next year.

SK: That’s amazing. How did this start?

CM: After returning from Scaling New Heights in May 2016, I shared with one of our firm’s partners that the industry was moving to the cloud; converting our clients to QuickBooks Online would benefit our firm and lead to growth.

SK: What happened next?

CM: I sat down with the entire staff and partners, and explained where we were heading and why. I shared QuickBooks Online demos and third-party app offerings, such as TSheets, for employee time tracking, Bill.com for payment processing, and SOS Inventory for inventory and order management.

Once everyone was on board, the resources were made available to build a dedicated QuickBooks department that today has one partner, two managers and three bookkeepers. The group handles QuickBooks Online setups and conversions, third-party app integrations, and complex setups for QuickBooks Enterprise inventory. This infrastructure gave us the foundation for tremendous growth. Without the hard work from this team, we would not have been able to be successful.

SK: Who moved to QuickBooks Online?

CM: Existing clients make up 80 percent of our conversions, and of those, 60 percent are bookkeeping clients and 40 percent are tax clients. When clients convert from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, the time savings for our firm are huge. For example, one of our bookkeepers was busy with client books from the first day of the month to the 29th day. Thanks to QuickBooks Online, now she is finished with all of her bookkeeping responsibilities by the 20th day of the month. With those extra 10 days, she is able to focus on QuickBooks Online conversions.

SK: How did you get your clients interested in moving to the cloud?

CM: We explained the benefits. For example, bank feeds eliminate manual data entry and could save them two to five hours a month of accounting, invoices can be emailed automatically, and Intuit® Merchant Services transactions sync and post automatically.

We also showed them the functionality at our monthly training programs, power breakfasts, and lunch and learns. Existing and potential clients learned how to use QuickBooks Online, as well QuickBooks Payroll and third-party apps. Providing learning opportunities has been really well received.

We live in a small community and business owners talk to each other. When one business is having success with QuickBooks Online, that business shares the success with its neighbors. Now, we’re getting calls left and right from businesses in our community who want to convert to QuickBooks Online or come in for training.

SK: What types of clients really benefit from QuickBooks Online?

CM: Many of our clients spend a lot of time in the field where they need to access their inventory and ordering system, and process payments. Since converting to QuickBooks Online, they have access to their data in real time. It’s increased efficiency and eliminated problems, such as double selling inventory.

SK:  How did you roll this out?

CM: First, we created a standard onboarding procedure that has evolved and improved over time. Second, we ensured that the team’s managers and bookkeepers had all the training they needed. Everyone got their ProAdvisor certification for QuickBooks Online and Desktop, as well as training on third-party apps.

SK: How did you discover the ProAdvisor program, and why did you join?

CM: Many years ago, I called Intuit support and asked about QuickBooks training. Support told me about the ProAdvisor program that provided training and software discounts. I decided to try it and once I logged on, I was hooked. I joined to get trained and certified on QuickBooks, as well as stay current on the technology that changes every year.

SK: Has the online education helped you?

CM: Yes, definitely. We had a client who used QuickBooks Point of Sale; my colleague who managed that relationship had to take medical leave unexpectedly. The managing partner asked me if I knew how to use QuickBooks Point of Sale. I said no. He said, well, you have until Monday morning to figure it out because we are sending you out to the client. I immediately logged onto the ProAdvisor website and went through all the Point of Sale training. By Monday, I was well prepared and the client meeting went great.

Every year, we go through all the training modules as a refresher and to learn what’s new. This keeps us current on all the product and technology changes.

SK: What’s the benefit to being a ProAdvisor?

CM: First, since we have five ProAdvisors at our firm, we have five profiles listed on the Find a ProAdvisor website. This has generated a lot of referrals for us. Second, in our profession, we have continuing education requirements. The ProAdvisor program allows everyone to fulfill these requirements, while learning at their own pace and earning QuickBooks certifications.

SK: Who are the ProAdvisors you admire?

CM: Joe Woodard, Hector Garcia, Stacy Kildal, Dawn Brolin and Michelle Long. I have participated in their classes at Scaling New Heights. They are very down-to-earth, knowledgeable and well respected in the Intuit community. When I have reached out to them, they have always replied promptly.

SK: Why do you keep coming back to Scaling New Heights?

CM: In a word, relationships. I have been to Scaling New Heights five times and I utilize the contacts I make each year. What’s great about these conventions is you get to meet other accountants and third-party app developers. You can take an online training class or read a book, but there is something different about going to a convention and being able to talk to people in person. You learn others have the same problems, and together, you can come up with a solution. I have met people who have become lifelong friends. We may only see each other once a year, but we stay in touch and help each other if we run into issues or have questions.

SK: What piece of advice would you offer to other accountants?

CM: It’s okay to not know everything. You just need to reach out and ask.