The QuickBooks ProAdvisor® Program equips accounting professionals with the tools they need to fuel small business success. This year, Crystal Temple transitioned to running her own accounting practice full time, CM Temple & Associates, specializing in small insurance agencies. In this profile, learn how she develops local talent and uses the ProAdvisor program to grow her business.
Sheila Kilbride: Hello, Crystal. Please tell me about your practice.
Crystal Temple: I’m located in New Bern, N.C., about a half hour from the beach. My customers are small, independent insurance agencies with 15 or fewer employees, and are located all over the country. I do their back-office management, which includes their bookkeeping and accounting.
I have been in the industry for 11 years and launched my own practice in January 2014. For three years, I balanced a full-time job at an accounting firm and running my own practice. Earlier this year, I was able to quit my day job and focus solely on my practice.
SK: One of the reasons we wanted to share your story was because of your unique approach to finding and training staff. Could you tell me more about this?
CT: In our region, most of the women either get out of here quickly, or they never leave and have children very young. We have an incredible community college system, but often it’s time prohibitive for single mothers to get out and take classes. As a result, they get stuck in entry level positions.
In response to this need, I set up a training program. I’ve held it at churches, in my own office and at other businesses. I offer training either during a time when their children are in school or, if it was in the evenings, we paid a teenager to babysit. I have trained single moms on QuickBooks® and general bookkeeping. Most of them walk away with a very solid knowledge of basic bookkeeping practices, and my program builds their resume and credibility. In interviews, they are able to present themselves well and get hired.
This training program also benefits me. Now, I have a really good pool of people to pull from when I need help on a project or I am feeling overwhelmed. Since I trained them, I know their bookkeeping will meet certain standards. In insurance, each state has very strict trust accounting laws. I know the people I’ve trained are familiar with it and the work will be done the right way.
SK: That’s awesome. What inspired you to do that?
CT: I was one of those women. I was a young single mother, and I was desperate to break the cycle.
My first motivation for creating this training program was to develop talent for my business, but over time, it evolved into a passion project for me because I realized that I developed a program that would have been perfect for what I needed when I was starting out. It works well because it’s what I’m good at, and I can really help women who are just like me. Now being in a position to help others, it’s such a blessing.
SK: How is it a blessing to you?
CT: One woman from my first training group works for me. She is a single parent of two kids. I saw her develop from someone who really didn’t have any idea what she was doing with her life and how she was going to take care of her family into a talented bookkeeper. Seeing her develop over time into someone who’s happy and confident in her abilities, and able to take care of her family financially, that’s really rewarding for me.
SK: How did you learn about the ProAdvisor Program?
CT: After I picked up a few bookkeeping clients, I moved from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online. I needed the mobility to access my clients’ books from my laptop or phone while I was on the go.
When I started using QuickBooks Online, I noticed the ProAdvisor tab. That’s how I discovered the ProAdvisor Program, but I didn’t take advantage of the ProAdvisor Program until I was ready to take my business to the next level. Then, I started the ProAdvisor certification process.
SK: Why did you become a ProAdvisor?
CT: I work in insurance and realized the more education I have, the better. I am a CISR elite insurance agent. That means I am a certified insurance agent with advanced training. When I approach insurance agencies for business, I am able to say I am an insurance agent, I know accounting and I also know QuickBooks. This differentiates me in the marketplace.
It’s easy to say, "Hey, I know QuickBooks." It’s quite different to say, "Hey, I know QuickBooks, and here’s the proof. I’m a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor. Here are the modules I’ve completed. This is what this means to you as the customer.” It gives me credibility.
SK: Has being a ProAdvisor helped you build your practice?
CT: Absolutely. When I go on sales calls, I demo QuickBooks Online for prospective insurance agency clients. When I am introduced to the client, they lead with, “This is Crystal Temple. She’s a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor.” This establishes me as a QuickBooks expert.
SK: Have you tapped into the ProAdvisor educational offerings?
CT: Yes! The self-paced videos have been a lifesaver for me. They’re highly informative, easy to follow, but still challenging. The supplemental guides have been fantastic. Sometimes I get specific questions from a client. I will comb through the materials, whether it’s a video or the supplemental guide, to find the answer.
Additionally, I build educational time into my schedule. A couple times a month I’ll go through the ProAdvisor forums or go back into the ProAdvisor modules. I am in the middle of my re-certification, so I am tapping into that information to prepare for my next test.
SK: How have the ProAdvisor support tools helped you?
CT: Training clients on QuickBooks is part of my job. When I am unable to answer a QuickBooks question, I reach out to ProAdvisor support. One time I couldn’t figure out how to clear out a customer’s balance. When a payment posted, it didn’t automatically apply against the open balance. I wondered, how do I close this out? I started chatting with ProAdvisor support, and the answer was so easy. It was a lifesaver, because then I could save face with my customer.
Chat Support allowed me to maintain my status as an expert to the customer, because I was able to provide an answer very quickly.
SK: Has being a ProAdvisor helped differentiate your business?
CT: Yes. One customer said, "If it had not been for the expertise of C. M. Temple & Associates, the sale would never have been made.” We helped them learn QuickBooks, and do a data conversion from their other software into QuickBooks.
SK: If you could tell an accounting pro, who is not a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, why they should join, what would you say?
CT: First, there is a lot of value in the information and education. Second, certification adds an additional level of professionalism and credibility. Yet the time investment is so minimal. Why wouldn’t you want to be the best that you could be for your customer?