Interview with Successful Bookkeeper Mary Longacre

At Custom Accounting Solutions LLC, Mary Longacre, a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, runs her own QuickBooks Setup, Training and Bookkeeping business in Alexandria, Va. She is becoming known as the “Million Dollar Bookkeeper” because she has earned more than a million dollars in revenue from her QuickBooks consulting & bookkeeping practice.

Scott Cytron: Why do you think you’re so successful?

Mary Longacre: Because I pay attention to what the client needs from their books, I stay plugged in to what’s going on with new technology and in my profession, and I’m honest with clients. I believe the accounting profession’s job is helping people understand what’s going on in their business, not just compiling numbers for a tax return. One of my clients recently said to me “You’re so much more than just a bookkeeper.”

In addition to my own practice, I’ve started a coaching program for other bookkeepers. I believe that if we have better bookkeepers, we’ll have better-run businesses, and that helps the entire economy. I have already helped put business in the hands of other bookkeepers and QuickBooks consultants. Most bookkeepers are not good at marketing or at pricing. It is mostly a mindset issue that bookkeepers and many business owners don’t believe they are worth a fair billing rate. However, there are lots of opportunities where QuickBooks consultants and bookkeepers can make a good living, especially in the D.C. area.

I am just getting started with the coaching, but one example of someone I’ve helped is a woman who had a baby, was laid off and then started a home bookkeeping business. I try to help others as much as possible. For example, I am the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. chapter leader for the National Advisor Network, an educational group of top-tier QuickBooks consultants that seeks to expand expert knowledge around QuickBooks consulting.

Scott Cytron: I understand you previously had employees, but now you’re on your own. Why make the change?

Mary Longacre: I originally hired employees because my clients said they wanted me to do all their bookkeeping, not just teach them how to do it. I had as many as five employees.  However, I found I was working more hours and not taking home as much money as compared to when I was working by myself – and the stress of managing the business was higher. I am now back to working solo, earning six figures and keeping it all.

Scott Cytron: What do you enjoy about what you do?

Mary Longacre: I was always good at math. In my first bookkeeping job 25 years ago, I learned how to keep the books using traditional paper ledger systems, and then I converted them to Great Plains software. Later, I worked at an accounting firm. I’ve now been on my own for the past decade.

I find teaching the client to use QuickBooks the right way it more satisfying than doing bookkeeping. Maintaining an organization’s books is the same job every day, yet by teaching individual clients, I’m doing a different job every day and I get use what I’m good at to help many people succeed.

Scott Cytron: Why do you maintain your ProAdvisor Program (PAP) certification?

Mary Longacre: I have been doing QuickBooks consulting since 1999. Early on, I didn’t see the value of the PAP because I didn’t need Intuit’s help with marketing. Since then, I’ve changed my mind. I joined last year because I wanted to understand more of what Intuit is doing and wanted to be open to all their channels of communication and training, and because the ProAdvisor designation had risen to the level of recognition that was commensurate with my reputation.