Episode Summary

Join Dawn Brolin and Shahram Zarshenas, CEO of Financial Cents, as they delve into the world of accounting workflow optimization. In this episode, Dawn discusses the top features that are transforming the accounting industry, including the Client Inbox and Workflow management. Discover how Financial Sense simplifies complex tasks, enhances client communication, and integrates seamlessly with other essential tools. Our guest, Shahram, shares insights into their vision for the future and how they’re empowering accounting firms to work smarter, not harder. Whether you’re a seasoned accountant or just starting in the field, this episode offers valuable insights into improving efficiency and client satisfaction in the world of finance.

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Episode Summary

In this episode of DM Disruption, host Dawn Brolin dives into the future of business bookkeeping with special guest Jason Richelson, CEO at Bookkeep. They explore how technology is changing the landscape of accounting, making it more efficient and accurate than ever before. Jason shares insights about his innovative tool, Bookkeep, which streamlines the process of posting sales information from various e-commerce platforms into accounting systems. This “set it and forget it” solution not only saves time but also ensures accurate revenue tracking, helping businesses make data-driven decisions. From integrating different platforms to automating sales tax management, the discussion highlights the transformative potential of embracing tech-driven bookkeeping solutions. Join them as they unveil the exciting possibilities and benefits that automation brings to accounting professionals and their clients.



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Episode Summary

In this podcast, join host Dawn Brolin and guest Eric from Corpay One as they delve into the world of fraud protection and the importance of safeguarding cash in businesses. As a Certified Fraud Examiner and CPA, Dawn shares insights on the fraud triangle and the three crucial elements that contribute to fraudulent activities: pressure, rationalization, and opportunity. Through engaging anecdotes and real-life examples, they shed light on the challenges faced by small business owners and the potential risks they encounter. From subcontractors misusing credit card information to friends betraying trust, the podcast explores how trusted advisors can help mitigate these risks and protect businesses from financial fraud. Gain valuable knowledge and strategies to minimize the opportunity for embezzlement and fraud in this eye-opening episode.



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Episode Summary

In this episode, Dawn and Eric from Corpay One discuss the concept of app advisory as a service and its role in subscription pricing. They highlight the importance of technology in client conversations and how implementing the right solutions can bring additional revenue to accounting firms while making everyone’s life easier. They also explore the challenges of pricing models and the need to cover costs for app implementation and ongoing support. The conversation emphasizes the value of app advisory in minimizing risk, enhancing security, and maximizing the benefits of technology for both accountants and clients. The episode concludes with a reflection on the significance of app advisory alongside tax and business advisory services, showcasing the evolving landscape of accounting practices.



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This episode is sponsored by Bookkeep. Learn more at https://www.bookkeep.com/

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Episode Summary

Matthew Cohen, Founder of Nine Toe Five, joins Dawn! In this episode, Matthew shares his difficult beginnings as an entrepreneur, how he built his sock business to inspire others, and how he plans to use this success to build a platform that motivates his community.


Listen now to learn how Matthew plans to grow his business, and what advice he would give to prospective entrepreneurs!


Episode Notes

Matthew’s Beginnings

Matthew starts his conversation with Dawn by sharing how he got his start in business. Matt says that he began in college as an engineering major, but quickly learned it wasn’t for him. He graduated in 2017 with a business degree, and knew he wanted to start his own business, but wasn’t quite sure how to start. Having started a few businesses prior, Matt knew the basics of what he needed to get started but wanted to create something that would inspire people and help them achieve things they thought were impossible.



How Matthew Got His Start

Matthew talks about a few of his other businesses and how he worked in software engineering and real estate before he started Nine Toe Five. He says he began to read books that helped influence his career path and started to make a change in his life after reading the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. He was fascinated by the idea of being able to work from anywhere, and he said he did not want to follow the traditional 40-hour workweek.



What’s in Store for Nine Toe Five

Matthew says that all of the designs for the socks are drawn by his friend from junior high school. Matthew says that they plan on scaling the retail side of their business, but also shares that he wants to take his business in a different direction. He would like also to become a motivational speaker to help people achieve their dreams. He also would like to develop a community where people can connect and receive help from one another.

Matthew also shared that he would like to expand his business to offer custom jackets, t-shirts, and more additional apparel.



How Matthew Finds His Motivation

Matthew shares that he has an amazing group of friends and family who encourage and support him. He says he does not find motivation in one person, but rather in everyone around him. He also highlights how his wife, Sara, is a huge supporter of his business and has helped him achieve great success.

Matthew also adds that new business owners should seek out a mentor. This can be a tremendous help to your business and can save you from making small mistakes that could cost you time and money in the long run.



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Dawn Brolin
Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a certified public accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, the President of Powerful Accounting, Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. And I’m here to tell you, if you are not searching for applications that eliminate data entry, you are missing the mark. Now I found an app, it is called Bookkeep. Bookkeep solves for integrations between apps such as PayPal, or actually, really payment methods or ordering systems like GrubHub, things like that Shopify WooCommerce, the list is never ending, and they’re always adding on more applications. what is awesome about bookkeeping is that you simply connect your data file, whatever it may be, to bookkeeping, and it syncs just use GrubHub, for instance, it puts in GrubHub income at the gross amount, then it has expense accounts for GrubHub fees, and so on. And so it allows you to not be data entering or hand keying journal entries for these types of systems. And it doesn’t correct every single time when I found that application. This is a conversation that I’ve had with my, with my staff for years and years, we don’t want to enter data. When I found bookkeeper, we implemented it immediately for every client who has either PayPal, or Shopify, or GrubHub, or whatever it may be, so that those transactions can go in on a daily basis, magically while you’re sleeping. And you have accounting that is accurate, so you can make decisions. Are you selling enough GrubHuh? How are the fees worth it? How much are you paying? And so many people were using these applications have no idea what it really costs them to run through those systems. And so bookkeepers solve for that as accounting as an accounting professional, I always tell my staff, I want books to be correct. And I don’t do not want you handke a journal entry. If you find yourself hand keying and transaction, then you need to stop and find the solution. And I can tell you right now, bookkeepers, solving that for all of our GrubHub Pay Pal, again, Shopify, there’s many different apps that they sync with. It’s awesome. I recommend that you go take a demo today, because it’s so easy, and it’s super affordable. So go get him your designated motivator here. Go check out Bookkeep, thank you so much for listening.

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the the designated motivator, the DM disruption podcast. And this is I think, going to be the best episode of the year personally, and we’re wrapping up 2023. And I had an wonderful experience actually wore my ADP jacket today because I am speaking with Matthew Cowen today who is the founder of nine to five, get it, socks! It took me a minute. And it’s just a wild story, how I met you and I met you through your wife. And so Matt’s wife Sarah works for ADP. She works with accountants and works, works to you know, get take care of the accountants and all the rest of this stuff. And I met her at ADP. I think it’s been about three weeks now three or four weeks, and I went to speak to about 130 of their sales associates. All young, I was wild. I’m like, Wow, I’m gonna be all of these people’s mother. Like it was just so great. I could be their mom. And so I got to speak with them. I’m so honored that ADP had me go in there, but I met Sarah and Sarah was like, Brolin that was so fun. That was great. I’m so motivated, I’m ready to go out there and kick butt and sell stuff and do the best I can do. And she goes you know what, my husband has a small business and he manufactures I’ll say manufacture for like, you’ll get a better description Matt, when it’s your turn. But it was it was just as funny thing and I’m like, oh, okay, well let me let me take your cell phone anyway let’s you know if you ever need to be fired up, let me know. And she sent me they sent me two pairs of nine to five socks this pair which I think is amazing. The other pair went to Nicole she stole them she took the Halloween ones she loved them and so this pair of socks is here for a reason because the back of this socks as conquer your world. And the reason why I wanted to have Matt on was not just because of Sox are freaking awesome. But he sent me this text that said to me, I want to build this business. I want to help people learn that they can conquer their fears and dreams and conquer their fears and have their dreams and go for it. And that blew me away, Matt. So I want you to just introduce yourself, tell us about yourself. Like, because this is this is a story for the books, man. So talk to me, tell me what’s up.

Matthew Cohen
Thank you, Dawn, for having me. First of all, first podcast. So definitely getting comfortable getting uncomfortable going through this right now. But yeah, so. So I graduated college in 2017. I originally went to school for electrical engineering, and I was like, I failed out, I couldn’t do it. I was like, I’m never gonna go anywhere. I graduated a business degree. And I was like that, what am I gonna do with the rest of my life. So I always knew I wanted to have my own business. So this is actually my third business. So I wanted to, after all the failures, I needed something to kind of bring myself up, and then eventually want to bring others up, I want to essentially help people achieve what they would deem impossible. So that’s why I created Nine Toe Five. The vison is, as you’re getting ready in the morning, and you read our stuff, you go from looking down to looking up.

Dawn Brolin
Wow, that’s awesome. Okay, I like that. Yup. Nine to five we I like that. And so, so you’re so what were the fear? What was the fear factor? You were you mentioned what you said you had three you’ve had this is your third business. What were the first two.

Matthew Cohen
So first two, I was. So I have a background in software engineering. I’m self taught. I started with as like an intern with no experience and then gradually over time to classes. So the first business we were developing an app, it was me and three other co founders. After a year, it wasn’t really working. I ended up leaving before I left actually quit my full time job. So I was part time. So I was like, Alright, so now I have a part time job and no business. So what am I gonna do? So I took that time to really like, hunker down and like focus on just like me and my skills. It’s kinda nice not to worry about, like having to work for somebody else’s goals. I was like, Alright, I have this time. I’m young. Still under my parents health insurance, I was like, What am I gonna do? I took a lot of different classes. And like Udemy, I watched a ton of YouTube videos, I started reading like a lot of books by like Robert Kiyosaki, Grant Cardone, and a lot of people that influenced me and like my, my business career. So and from that I wanted to invest in real estate. So right before COVID, hit, interest rates are super low, there was a lot of supply of houses. So my business partner and I, we both lived on Long Island. So we started looking for homes. There, we were strictly looking for houses on market because we didn’t have the time to do it ourselves. But looking for an on market home, you’re getting beat up by 50 100k over asking. So it just wasn’t working out for us. And we just have didn’t have the time. So we took a step back from that. And now I have my sauce business. So this one actually got inspired by Tim Ferriss Four Hour Workweek, being able to work from anywhere while just meeting your computer, and how to build systems and properties to be able to achieve what you want without having to work 4080 hours a week.

Dawn Brolin
That is awesome. And yes. And so that you’re right, why No, first of all, whoever created the 40 hour workweek used to get their butt kicked. That’s, you know, you’re gonna do the Monday through Friday, who said that that had to be a thing, right? So yeah, you know, your vision of what you want for your life. And I love what you said about not wanting to work for someone else. I want to have my why am I building wealth for someone else when I could build it for myself? Exactly. And that’s a big boy statement right there. Right? So fresh out of college five years ago, right? And, you know, taking a look at that. And, you know, I’m sure that there’s visions that you have, and, and so with, and I love this conquer your mountain because that’s really, and it does say on here for those I put it here because the only way a camera’s gonna pick it up as I my background blurred. But if you look at this nine to five, and it says on here, Mo Toe Vational socks so mo T O E like I like I feel like you’ve got this thing figured out, man and it’s fun because we found in the accounting industry, our vendors seem to be bringing socks into the play. Jirav being one of them T shirts had them at one point. I’m not sure who else out there is giving away socks, but I will say Matt so once I met Matt and he sent me these socks, and I’m like, these are phenomenal socks. I said, You know what? We need the designated motivator socks. We need those. And so Matt and I were texting back and forth and and so his team designed the designated motivator socks and those socks will be present at QuickBooks connect with and I forget what you call this the band. What is this thing called?

Matthew Cohen
The belly band?

Dawn Brolin
The belly band? Like I probably need one of those but not for my sock. And I was like of course you would ask me You said do you want me to put the belly band on or not? And I’m like, I want 100% want to promote your company. I want people Well who want good socks, good quality and fun socks to reach out to you. And I was I was stunned by how affordable they were. So we’ll have to talk about pricing at another time. We won’t talk about that today. But I was like, That’s it. Okay, order me some socks. And, and for me, it’s like, we always talk about like, this weekend coming up, as you know, Thanksgiving this week, and this weekend is all about the Small Business Saturday, and things like that. So we want to certainly promote that and promote nine to five with socks and bring you more business than you ever imagined you were gonna get. That’s my goal, right Christmas. And now that it’s perfect timing, man, I still believe all things happen for a reason. And the fact that I met your wife, and that your wife had the, I don’t know, awareness to be like, Hey, I just want to send you some socks. And I’m like, okay, and well, my husband owns this business. Well, this is getting more interesting. And then just how it all evolved was so awesome. And for you, because you’ve texted me that and you said, you know, it’s about overcoming your fears and so on. It was just immediately inspirational to me. And I think, you know, your goal. You’re right. So tell me, tell me what that vision looks like for you. Like, what is what does Matt and nine toe five one a dude, we want to take over the market? Like, what are we looking for here?

Matthew Cohen
Yeah, so right now, because every business you need to figure out you have to it has to be funded by something, right. So right now we have like, the socks portion of it, where they’re actually hand drawn. So one of my boys from a junior high, he draws all the designs on an iPad. And then we have a team that takes the drawings and creates the socks for us. So it was him. And then we had an intern who helped draw the the motivational socks that are on Amazon and the gift box that comes with. So they both actually like hand you everything. So the vision is where we were going to use like the retail side of it to kind of build the brand, kind of get our name out there. And the kind of while we’re not in like everyone’s like, we don’t have a Facebook group, we don’t have a community yet like that people are gonna read our socks, they’re gonna think about it. So that’s like our first like way to like penetrate the market. In the long run, like the overall vision is I want to be able to like, be like a motivational speaker, like yourself, go to conferences, have a community where people can like, talk to each other, like, hey, like I’m having this problem, how did you solve it? Or like, it’s everyone has loads in there, like I want, everyone has a business, like not everything is going to be like, super sunny day, when you get up every day and work. So like you just want me to talk to you like, hey, like, this is what I’m going through, I need help a like, I’m having issues like what what works for you like that. And so like the overall vision is just to like, kind of build a strong community where like we can achieve, essentially the impossible together. You don’t need to necessarily go to school to do what, what you like what you went to school for, right? I think there’s a big misconception, like, Hey, I went to school for engineering, I have to be an engineer. But like, if you don’t enjoy doing that, then don’t do that. Just because someone’s telling you to do it doesn’t mean you need to do it. And I think that that was one of the biggest takeaways that I got from doing this business. I quit my job, I went part time, I had bosses tell me that like, Hey, you weren’t good enough to be on my team. And I didn’t let them get in my way. I didn’t let anyone tell me like, Hey, you’re wasting my money, like you didn’t do this. Like, I knew what I wanted, like, I want to go grab it. So like that’s the message I’m trying to give to my audience and give to my community in the long run.

Dawn Brolin
That is awesome, Matt. And that’s, you know, I always I still always also believe that, to whom much is given much as expected. And I also believe that people come paths in your life for reasons that were the weirdest time that you’d never imagine. And so, you know, like you were so that was really inspirational to me, what when you had text me that and I thought like, Matt, we need to get Matt’s voice out there. And we need we need for other people to see that. Yeah, this life that we have, is can be determined by the way we want it to go. Right. So thinking about the four day work week, and those kinds of things, and setting our own parameters. And being more present, I feel like part of it, too, is having the ability in the time to be present with each other. And it isn’t about how much money you make at the end of the day. It’s about the lives that you can affect and so that’s something that you’re doing. And yeah, we all hate man, we got to feed we got to we got to eat right, we got to put a roof over our head and for our family and whatever that may look like, right? So I just look at it that what you’re doing and the community you want to build is literally waiting for you and they need to hear from you. And I think that that’s awesome. And so, so right now let’s talk about so you got these socks, right? And so you’re on Amazon, which is super cool. And we’ll put all the links to everything in the show notes so people can click and and come by from your company and make their own custom socks and or just order socks. They don’t even have to make custom ones. They can just order the one the cool ones you have online, right? Is that part? Is that what it is?

Matthew Cohen
Yeah. So I have the retail side where you buy individual pairs of socks. I’d like some bundles. Or if you’re looking to do like a custom order I work with you. We’d be over minimums be do the designs for you. We can ship it to you or whoever wherever you need them to go.

Dawn Brolin
Okay, yeah, and you guys seem to have a pretty decent turnaround. Yeah. For custom work, man, that’s, that’s awesome. And we had talked a little bit about how you said, Hey, I was I like to get into maybe T shirts and maybe jet maybe jackets or sweatshirts or whatever it may be. Is that something that’s in your vision?

Matthew Cohen
Absolutely. So right now, my team can handle all that. I did socks just because basing based with like, my background, and like date algorithms and stuff, like I know that I have a better chance of selling socks in my niche. I didn’t want to go too broad. And then I’m competing, competing with all the different brands out there. So I started with socks, because I know I can make the impact the fastest without dumping a lot of money into it. But I absolutely can do like hats, T shirts, and all that.

Dawn Brolin
Awesome. So that’s, that’s important to know. So we sell on Amazon, do you have you also have a website? Right? Is it nine to five.com? Correct. Okay, so people could go there, can they buy right from your website? Or is it only through Amazon that you that you sell?

Matthew Cohen
Yeah, so you can buy through my website, I’m on Etsy. Amazon right now only has one listing. Eventually, I’m trying to move everything to Amazon. Because right now Amazon handles all my shipping for me. So it started in my basement. So everything I was like, I was packaging, I was printing out the thank you notes. I was doing that all myself for like six months. And I was like, I gotta pull myself out of the day to day, I need to focus on like, the greater vision. So I had to, I worked with Amazon to to now I’m in 11 different warehouses across the United States. And I’m currently now kind of shipping from ideation, but not as much as I was before. So we’re definitely moving in the right direction.

Dawn Brolin
That’s awesome. And so are you imagining that at some point? Well, first of all, like you said, you want to be a motivational speaker, you want to be able to encourage other people it sounds like you have a lot to give and your heart and your soul to give to other people. Who is a person is there someone in your life I’m gonna, I’m gonna say talk a little bit. So you can think about it. Is there someone in your life that was like this, this is a person who always was there for me, picked me up, when I was down or, you know, encouraged you to have this feeling of I can do whatever I want to do is there anyone in particular that that you could call out?

Matthew Cohen
It’s really hard to like single out one person because I think everyone that like I’m closely related to, they all have like their own, like extra teeth. And like, there’s different topics that we talked to one person forward, there’s another person, I got to talk to another one. I have a lot of my friends locally, have their own businesses. So like it was just nice to be able to connect with them. We support each other when we do like sponsor sponsorships, you would help each other out. Definitely, Sara Sara has been a huge influence. She’s the one who brought me in New together. And so I’m incredibly grateful for her. Definitely my number one supporter, and just all my all my close friends that have businesses that have like seen me grow for the last five years. So it’s really hard just to say one person,

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, sometimes it may not be maybe it’s just a community, like you said, the people around you, which I tried. So I have two daughters, and I try to tell them, you become who you hang out with. So it sounds to me like you have a great support group of other business owners that are like minded, and you know, have that ability to pick each other up. And I I was trying to tell like my especially my kids, it’s like, if you’re if you’re hanging out with people who are negative knocking you down, or you know, and that and that, unfortunately, there’s a couple of reasons I think people do what I’d love to hear what you think about it is sometimes I feel like they’re knocking you down to pick themselves up that there are definitely people like that. So they want to be they don’t want, they want to keep you down. They don’t want you rising up because then you know what if you’re better than them, which is not a thing, but that’s what they think. So you have that group of people who are doing that. And then you have these, this group of people who are like, lifting you up and supporting you, and whatever you’re doing. And it sounds like you have a really great group of people like that. And I always tell it, listen, if you have those negative Nellies those in your life, you got to get them out of there because that all they’re doing is bringing you down, they’re sucking out your positive energy and replacing it with negative energy. And I think it’s awesome that you have this group of friends and mean, is that what you’re experiencing with them? Because it sounds like you’re all like minded?

Matthew Cohen
Yeah, absolutely. And I do think one of the things about when people will think about motivation, they always think there has to be like business related educational tool related. You can you can get motivation for anything to pick up a book and read like, it could be a fiction book, to play sports to, like pick up a new hobby. So motivation can be very broad. So I think when people hear like motivation, because like I’ve had people events they are what do I need motivation for and I just looked at them like, like, there has to be something you enjoy in life, like whether it’s just like going on a hike, like, make, like set a goal to go on a hike, like once a week, I think like motivation is it’s very important. And I think it covers like all aspects of life. I know like we’re talking here from like a business sense, but like it doesn’t have to be business related. I think that’s like what a lot of people need to realize because they hear motivation. I think it stresses them out. But like, it doesn’t mean like making more money or it doesn’t mean like starting a business. It doesn’t have to be like complicated.

Dawn Brolin
Absolutely. And that’s you know, a lot of my audience knows this but from, you know, my ability to to focus my business in a way that I can be out of the office and go coach softball, college softball, which is my passion, and I volunteer for that has nothing to do with any kind of financial, anything. It’s what I love to do to infuse that positive energy into these young ladies who are gonna go out into the world and hopefully help them with their experiences helpful. Some might not be, but that’s, I always say, Listen, it’s up to you to buy in, like you’re either in or you’re not. But that’s not up to me. I’m here to try to help you motivate you create a positive experience with as much as I can. But if you don’t, if you don’t grab a hold of that and take it, then that’s, you got to look at yourself in the mirror and say that’s on you. You can’t you can’t put that on someone else. If, if you’re not buying into the philosophy, or into that motivation, that positive experience. So I’m gonna ask you this. If you could do something outside of your work today, let’s say I said to you, okay, as of next week, you can carve out two hours a day to do this that you love to do. Do you know what that is? You got three hours to do whatever you want to do, and you were passionate about outside of work.

Matthew Cohen
I think right now just like getting outside more, I go to the gym. But I think I’m in such a tight deadline, I do my nine to five jobs, I get out of work, I have dinner, I rushed the gym and get a 30 to one hour workout in and then I say I eat another dinner. And then I just work on my business. So like, if I just have like two hours free time, like I would just spend it outside enjoy life. So like I just am on the computer way too much. And I just need to take a step back sometimes. So just like going and getting out of like Long Island go travel, just to see something like there’s so much more to see. But like I think sometimes when you’re building something, and you know, like you’re seeing your vision, you’re like, I have a goal and like ahead of me that I need to achieve. You kind of forget to like, take a step back and really like be aware of what else is out there to offer.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, absolutely. And so if you were so let’s just think about whoever may be listening to the podcast, and they’ve like, you know, they love it. That’s great. We love it. What would you what was something that you would want a message you would want them to hear? As your last thought? Not like last thought like you’re dying? That’s not what I mean, just on this podcast?

Matthew Cohen
Yeah. Um, so last fall would be look for a mentor. Um, you mentioned in the near second podcast episode, that everyone needs a designated motivator. I think that everyone needs that because they can kind of like pave the way for you. I know, when I did my third business, the first two businesses, I didn’t have any mentors, I didn’t have anyone kind of like paving the way telling me what to do. We spent a lot of money making bad decisions we spent wasted a lot of time making bad decisions. But those decisions definitely helped me learn and grow. But with my Amazon business, I said, All right, I went on Etsy, I was doing all right. But I couldn’t be doing better. My Shopify website could be doing better. I was like, Alright, now I need to like focus. So I actually hired a mentor for my Amazon business. So what would have taken me years to learn and perfect, they were able to shrink it down into three months. So that was a It allowed me to scale my business. So I think the biggest takeaway is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And make sure you’re getting advice from the right people. There’s people that take advice from like, their friends and family that may have not necessarily done what you’re looking to do. So like they may have like, just heard it, but they never actually practiced it. So like, I usually take advice with a grain of salt. But like, if I hear it coming from someone that is like a professional and like that field, then I would absolutely, like lean more towards accepting their advice, versus someone that may have just heard it through like hearsay.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, I love that. That’s a, that’s a great last thought. Because at the end of the day, which is part of what the whole resume motivator for accounting professional theory is, is I’ve been in the dark, no lights on stubbing my toes all over the place, I know, I now I now know where the ends of the beds are the bed is I know not to kick that one anymore. And I know, don’t go over here because you’re gonna kick the fan, or you’re gonna kick the end table or whatever it may be. And so let other people help you see that before. You mean, there’s so many resources out there. And I love what you said, Be careful on whoever you’re listening to, like, make sure you’re vetting them that you’re getting good advice. And yeah, everybody needs a designated motivator in their life. And that and there’s so so much to be thankful for if you find one, because those are the people that are gonna help lift you up. And it sounds like between the mentor you hired for Amazon to get you information that you needed to help you with that. But you also have your designated motivator, fellow colleague, friends, business owners that are keeping you motivated every day. And I think that that support in and of itself is really, really critical. And it doesn’t matter like you said whether its business, its family, its friends. Like I think there’s enough negative in the world that to seek out the positive people that the people that like when they call you, you’re like, oh, it’s mad, or you know, are they going oh, it’s Matt, like, you know who those people are in your life and you’re just like, oh, man, maybe that’s not the best person to help you move forward. But I really appreciate that comment because I think that that’s really really key. As we all move forward and I want you just for me personally, I wish you the absolute best we will stay in touch, there’s no doubt about it, because I want to see you skyrocket and we’re going to promote nine to five to anyone and everyone who will listen to get these socks. Go ahead and purchase the ones that are already made but if you have a company or you have a sports team or you have it doesn’t matter imagine family to put get family socks for Christmas, right? And so um, but checkout nine toe to e five.com. Check out nine to five on Amazon and get out there order small businesses let’s support them let’s help Matt get to his goal to help enough people in his life that he feels satisfied as motivated and and Matt were this community of accountants are gonna back you up in whatever way we can and do it and I want to thank ADP for the connection that I was able to meet Sarah and I think, like I said things happen for a reason. And you did great. I know you were a little nervous. So you conquered another fear today because you got on a podcast which their hearts. Just we’re just chatting, man. It’s all good. So thank you for your time. I’m so glad that I got to I got to finally see you. I know who you are. And thank you to ADP for that connection with Sarah and everybody who listens. Thank you so much to come to the DM disruption podcast that isn’t a motivator here to hopefully help you even just one person feel better about themselves and what they’re doing and trying to accomplish. So Matt, thank you for coming on. And we’ll see you see everybody next time, everybody take care.

Matthew Cohen
Thanks for having me.

Dawn Brolin
You bet.



Episode Summary

This episode is sponsored by Canopy. Learn more at https://www.getcanopy.com/

Paul Hamann, the founder of RC Reports, joins Dawn to talk in-depth about reasonable compensation and how his business can help firms present accurate reasonable compensation figures to their clients.

Listen now to learn why Paul started RC Reports, the consequences of incorrect reporting, and how RC Reports can be an educational resource for you and your firm!


Episode Notes

RC Reports and their “Entity Planner”

Paul Hamann is the founder of RC Reports, a service that allows firms to give their clients reasonable compensation figures. Paul shares that he developed RC Reports because he struggled to find an efficient and accurate way to determine reasonable compensation, and wanted to solve the pain point for himself. Paul then sought to develop a solution for this problem and launched RC Reports in 2012

Dawn and Paul talk about RC Reports and their “entity planner”; a tool that practitioners can use to offer trusted advisor services. Dawn shares that she recently used this tool to discern whether or not one of her clients should classify their business as an S-Corp.


Consequences for Ignoring Reasonable Compensation

Paul also shares that when businesses get audited, they may be asked to prove how they achieved their reasonable compensation figures, especially if the IRS has flagged the amount you reported as above or below average. Paul also shared that the IRS just introduced the Compliance Initiative Project, which was formed specifically to check S-Corps and their reasonable compensation. 

It’s also important for the practitioners to remain compliant, and Paul talks about the penalties firms can receive if they don’t. Paul shares a frightening story about a practitioner who was fined $130,000 in paid preparer penalties due to reasonable compensation errors. 

Paul reiterates how important it is to properly determine reasonable compensation, and if your number was pulled out of thin air, it makes it much more difficult to prove and fight for.


Education Offerings from RC Reports

Paul also shares that RC Reports offers a wide range of education to help firms and practitioners understand reasonable compensation better. He shares that their core class is a two-hour deep dive into the basics of reasonable compensation, and helps to resolve many of the main points practitioners are struggling with. 

He also shares that they dive into fact vs myth, and that many practitioners believe incorrect information that could be hurting them and their clients. 


What Next Steps Should Firms Take?

Paul says that reasonable compensation should be revisited once a year. If an audit comes your way, you will be able to give the IRS a recent and accurate report of how you determined reasonable compensation for your client. 


Learn more about RC Reports!

Visit their website: https://rcreports.com/

Check out their classes: https://rcreports.com/classes/


Follow Dawn Brolin! 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDesignatedMotivator 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDesignatedM1 

Dawn’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/dawnbrolin 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawnbrolin/ 

Subscribe to Dawn on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1-… 

Check our her Website – https://www.dawnbrolin.com/



Dawn Brolin
Hi, everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant Certified Fraud Examiner, the president of powerful accounting Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about canopy canopy is an awesome tool. If you’re doing tax returns or tax representation either way, what it allows you to do is pull transcripts from the IRS, they have an integration certified by the IRS to pull transcripts, what I love about it is I log in one time, I connect my E services account, and I can go into canopy and pull transcripts, I don’t have to continue to log into the E services, put in my password, get my code and get in. And finally just get through E services. It’s so cumbersome. So I use canopy it’s a one time connection. Let me give you a couple of tips. Number one, I like to pull transcripts for some of my clients who make estimated tax payments, maybe they don’t provide me a copy of the estimated tax payment. I want to make sure I know the correct dates of those estimated payments, okay, so I will go into canopy pulled an account transcript for my client and be able to see what dates they made their estimated payments just solves for a lot of problems. There’s no notices maybe I thought they did four or $5,000 estimated payments, when really, they only did three, they told me they did four, they only did three. And notice comes in because they didn’t pay enough in tax. And now they’re saying you do the tax return wrong. That happens all the time. So to eliminate that pain of that process, and that, you know, customer integration or customer experience, right? We want to eliminate notices and all costs. So that’s one really key thing. The second one is when you’re not sure, if the client is giving you all of their documents, maybe there’s a 1099 R that they had from the year before. And for whatever reason, they don’t think they can find it, I can pull a trace a wage and income transcript, pull down all that information. So at least I had the federal information on that 1099 If it’s applicable if they received one for that year. And it eliminates again, the whole concept of notices. So I find it really important as I’m preparing tax returns to have this tool in place. And so I love using it. So as a tax preparer, those are a couple of tips how you can use canopy in your practice. Thanks for listening.

Well, hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the DM Disruption with myself Dawn Brolin and I am joined by a new best friend, Paul Hamann with RC reports and this episode. I’m so excited about Paul say hello, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Paul Hamann
Thank you Dawn. As Dawn mentioned, my name is Paul Hamann. I’m a founder of a company called RC reports. And our software determines reasonable compensation for closely held business owners.

Dawn Brolin
Very exciting. And it’s something that I think at least for myself, as a practitioner haven’t really put it in the forefront of my mind. I feel like there’s so many other balls I have to keep in the air. This is one I would have dropped. This is one I would have dropped in thankfully, I found Abby again. And so Abby Dever, that that is amazing marketing human being who is with you guys. And I’ve worked with her for years with SmartVault. And so when I ever she ever reached out, I was like, Whoa, we mean, what is this reasonable cop? Now I’ve seen it, you know, you will look on Facebook and you see it or you look on various avenues, but you’re like, oh, reasonable calm. Yeah, I don’t have time for that. And then when you realize the implications, you go, Oh, no, I better learn about this. So tell us about the evolution of RC Reports. Obviously, we know major compliance issue that people really may not be paying attention to.

Paul Hamann
Yeah, absolutely. So you’re spot on when you said you know, it’s out there. But people don’t really necessarily understand how many parts of their business it touches and it touches all the way from the very beginning. should I even be an S-Corp to Hey, I am selling my business. I need to normalize my comp before this business goes on the market. And all all places in between retirement planning, family planning. Sometimes it comes up in divorce is different places. So it is sprinkled out throughout the lifespan of a company. But I ended up in this space because I was I was in compensation prior to getting into even more specifically into reasonable compensation. Most of my career, but it was in the late 2000s That I was pulled directly into reasonable comp because there was a spike in compliance. And so practitioners reached out to me saying, Hey, Paul, my clients getting audited, and we have no idea how to come up with this number, right? And so I got pulled into that space. And I gotta tell you, I was looking for us. Seriously, I’m like, I need to find us out there because I need to figure this out quickly and affordably. And there wasn’t anybody doing it. So I was doing these one off studies that took me about two days to do, they were two to 3000 bucks apiece, I don’t think your clients would be all that excited to pay $2,500 for, for report, and I gotta tell you, I was nervous about defending them, because some of the data wasn’t that great. Quick, fast forward through through a couple of years. But I got together with some folks that are way smarter than I am. That’s always a good idea, by the way, oh, my gosh, and it’s so easy to find, too. In programming in statistics and wages, and we sat down, and we started brainstorming, and what we came up with is RC reports. And we launched in 2012. So we’re 10 years now, this is our this is our big decadeanniversary.

Dawn Brolin
That’s awesome. Congratulations. That’s that’s, you know, there’s always no, those milestones are always awesome. Like, Hey, I’ve been in business now for 10 years. And, and I think that it’s interesting how a lot of times how people develop either a new software, or they develop some new platform or whatever. It’s around a pain point they had, that they’re like, Oh, I sat there, no one else is solving for this. Let’s figure it out. And, and it’s easy to go on Google, the call the Google, you go on the Google, and you’re like I need reasonable compensation for it, blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, no, that’s not gonna fly. And that’s something that I have done that before I’m googling reasonable comp or whatever. And I’m like, I just need something. And then I’m like, oh, shiny, shiny coin or something. Okay, I’m going over here. Now I’m gonna go do something, forget that. I’m gonna go move on to this over here, because that looks like it’s too complicated. And I don’t have a resource. So RC reports is doing that. So tell us about because obviously, reasonable comp for the closely held the s corps, the C Corp, things like that. And that’s really important. We could talk a little bit more in depth. But there’s a couple other tools. And you mentioned one about the valuation and normalizing the payroll, there’s also a quick report. So let’s talk a little bit more about a couple of those other pieces.

Paul Hamann
Sure. So reasonable compensation for most closely held business owners revolves around compliance, and that’s going to be s corpse. But there are other there are other reasons you may want to run it, such as your C corps, or if you need to normalize it for evaluation. But taking that number, and then also figuring out how it applies to your company. We have some different tools around that as well. And one is our entity planner, I think that’s where you’re headed.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. Yep. Exactly.

Paul Hamann
So business owners are great about networking with one another, and then hearing that, hey, I should become an s corp because you’re absolutely gonna save money on taxes. Right? I will absolutely is one of those words I tend to stray away from you may see, probably, maybe let’s take a look. It depends. And that’s where they need to contact Dawn, right? They need to talk to you and say, Hey, Dawn, I’m either starting a business I’ve been in business for a while, I’ve heard I can save money. If I become a S Corp. Is that true? Right? Easy enough to do. But you do need to know what your reasonable comp is. Because that is one of the key components that plays into that piece. And so we do have a tool, our entity planning tool that you can plug that number into, along with some other pieces of information. And it’ll produce a nice one page layout, you can hand to your client that says, hey, look, you know what, it’s not quite time at least from a payroll tax standpoint, right. There’s other considerations, and we don’t want to get into the legal ones today. But from a strictly dollar standpoint, it’ll give you a very clear indication as to whether that makes sense.

Dawn Brolin
So that tool for me, has been very exciting. And the reason for that is people do they’ll call and they’ll say, and I had a call with somebody just a few weeks ago, and he was like, hey, so should I move to an S corp? And historically, my answer would have been? Oh, well, we usually recommend that once you get to the 90 to $100,000 in profit. Now we can, you know, let’s just say we paid you like 65 or 70,000, we can save you X number of dollars on self employment tax, right. That’s been the the general answer we give people because we didn’t have a tool. But now with a tool. Having that conversation with him was very different. It was like, listen, it’s not my opinion anymore, necessarily. It’s now I’ve got some factual data to show you where we’re at with that process. And I think that having that tool gives us a better ability to even if it’s, even if it’s a not, hey, it’s time for you to move to an S corp. Even if you did that analysis and said, Hey, but I think maybe next year, what are we looking at what are our projections and we’re starting to have that conversation to say, remember, we have January till March 15 To make that election, we know what’s happened so far this year, it wouldn’t have made sense for 22 or 23, whatever. Now, it’s a conversation to say, Hey, this is something we might want to think about, what do you think? What do we look at the first couple of months and then decide, like last minute, like be prepared. So those are helping us with factual information to have these conversations, which is so different.

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. And having that conversation with an S corp and saying, or a potential S corp and saying, You know what, you’re not quite there yet. We can certainly go that direction if you want. But it’s not going to save you the taxes that you may have heard about or or seen on, as you call it, when you consult the Google,

Dawn Brolin
The Google or I love this one. Hey, I talked to a friend. And I’m like, punch your friend in the face for giving you bad advice. Like, you know, it’s so funny that you say that, because this is one of the things I don’t know how many times I’ve said this before, but so I tell my husband, he’ll say to me, Oh, the car’s broken, I think it’s going to cost five grand. So we should just go buy a new car, which we know that’s a ridiculous statement in and of itself.

Paul Hamann
Yeah. But if you want a new car, it’s not. Well, that’s true.

Dawn Brolin
If you’re fighting, if you’re trying to negotiate for a new car, I get it. And I’m like, have, I didn’t realize we’ve been married for 25 years, I didn’t realize you own a mechanic store, whether you work there because I’ve never seen you go to the shop. And he’s like, What are you talking about? And I’m like, so you’re telling me that you’re you as the mechanic is assuming there’s gonna be five grand? How about you go down and get an estimate on paper and bring that back to me. So we can actually have some facts to talk about. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. And so having those facts is so critical. And then obviously, and this is important that we talked about this, let’s talk about reasonable compensation, and the consequences for ignoring it, or not addressing it.

Paul Hamann
Yeah, so we’re all familiar with examinations and audits. Reasonable comp, can get challenged in a number of different ways. Traditionally, most people think of it through just your general S-corp audit where it comes up. And as part of the audit of the entire S-Corp, the examiner may say, Hey, by the way, how did you come up with your reasonable comp figure? Right? Or this looks high or low to me, we would not typically talk about high. It has come up more now that we have 199 Cafe. And that’s probably more detailed discussion where we want to have today but we have seen it go both directions. Okay. We both know Eric Green real well, he’s the three bears guy, right? Not too high. Not too low. Just right. Yep. So when those audits come, they can come traditionally, they can also come through the employment tax compliance program. If you’re familiar with that. That’s the one nine, that’s the that I pay my people correctly. 1099 or w two, specialty workstream in there. If it’s an S-Corp they’ll challenge it. Okay. So that’s another way you could see that coming with that you may not see that coming. And all of a sudden, it’s like, Wait, we were looking at, I paid myself wt, why are you looking at my salary? Right, because within that they built a specialty workstream. And then last, they did put a new CIP in place last year compliance initiative project just to go after reasonable competence S-Corps. So it’s heading, it can it can hit an S corp owner from those three different directions, and you just need to be prepared.

Dawn Brolin
And so on top of that, thinking about, obviously, our small business owners, we want to protect them from any kind of compliance, you know, penalties and all this stuff. But what I don’t think people may know is that the practitioner is subject to penalties as well, is that correct?

Paul Hamann
That is correct. So two places, I’ve heard this happened now. So one is that specialty work stream that I just described. They were instructed if they make a change to reasonable comp, to assess a pay prepare a penalty, and they’re right around $5,000. And we’ve talked to a couple of practitioners that had that happen. But Eric Green, just shared a situation he’s working through currently, where this happened to a practitioner has been doing this. You can please tell me if you haven’t heard this, but I know you have. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. It’s never been a problem. I’ve always done it this way. So it must be right. Well, it wasn’t right. And he had a number of clients who weren’t taking reasonable comp or enough reasonable comp and he had one of his clients, challenged, they re characterize they hit him with a $5,000 preparer penalty. And then they worked through his other s corpse. And I want to say like something like maybe 10 or 15 of them, but then they hit them for two years. So long story short, he ended up with a $5,000 preparer penalty on each of those clients twice. Wow. And so he ended up with $130,000 in paid preparer penalties that Eric’s helping him with. So yeah, and plus he has a whole book of business. That’s mad at him, right?

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, people are not happy because they’ve got penalized as well. So…

Paul Hamann
Oh, absolutely. And that’s about two and a half times the original tax, that would be Oh, just from a payroll tax standpoint. So if you would have owed $10,000, in taxes, you’re probably going to owe about $25,000 total, by the time you pay your taxes, penalty and interest.

Dawn Brolin
That if that is not frightening enough for anyone who’s listening, I don’t know what is, you know, it’s funny, because you say a lot of times, we as practitioners are like, I definitely feel this way, like I worked so hard for my three letters of the end of my name, I am not willing to do anything to jeopardize those. But sometimes we don’t think of it even at a softer level like that’s, that’s like, you really have to do something bad to lose your letters. But even even that point of the reputation that you have, that this has happened, is is way bigger than $130,000. Right? So now you’ve got reputation issues, you’ve got clients that are going away revenue, got lost revenue, and now acquiring new clients, hoping they didn’t hear about what you didn’t do, not what you did what you didn’t do. That fear of the unknown has to be i It’s part of my soul. I was up at five o’clock this morning worried about all kinds of stuff, you know?

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. Yeah. Well, as you said, the three letters at the end of your name. And so let’s see if I sometimes I forget the exact name of the offices is that OPR? Yep. So when you get that prepare penalty, guess where you get referred to? Yeah. And so there’s, there’s, that’s happening, too. Now you’re distracted from How to know how many different directions, including losing those three letters at the end of your name. So it’s a it’s a big deal. And we have a saying around RC reports, the first with a fact based figure wins. So if you aren’t showing up with a number pulled out of thin air, which a lot of folks are, it makes it so much easier for the other side to say, No, this is what we think the numbers should be. And then the fight begins.

Dawn Brolin
So now let me ask you this question. So obviously, like for me, this is a big part of November in December for my for my firm, we’re doing reasonable comp analysis, so we can make sure people are paid by the end of the year bonuses if necessary, whatever it may be. So I’m just thinking as we’re going through this process, are you are you seeing that people are starting to pay attention more? Are they are they starting to become more aware? You know, as far as like, because I think the the problem is, and I think that’s why this is really great that we’re doing a podcast, we’ve got webinars, and we’ll talk about where they can go for that. But we’ve got to get this into the forefront of the of the people who it is an unknown right now. And how can we get to them this information so quickly, and that’s what RC reports has been doing. You’ve been out there, you’re educating. And I know you have like a two hour webinar that really digs into the details. So can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Paul Hamann
Yes, so our one of our we do a lot of education, we’re very education forward. But our core class is a two hour deep dive on reasonable compensation. And we start off with the basics. But we go into some very detailed areas, we also go into areas that give a lot of practitioners, headaches and questions and we resolve help you resolve those questions and issues. We also go into the facts versus myths. There’s so many myths about reasonable compensation, they’ve been out there for so long. A lot of practitioners like the one Eric Green was working at working with, they’ve adopted those as facts they believe them to be true, right. And so finding out that they’re not is a wake up call, and this is the perfect time to talk to your client. At a I have a great friend who’s a CPA, he says I have this entire toolkit that I get to use up until December 31 to help you and on January 1, I have a screwdriver. So let’s talk.

Dawn Brolin
Exactly and so when you’re like so your your CPA friend, or even just me as you’re saying, Okay, listen, like right now I’m so pumped, I’m jazzed about this. And because I’m I found another way to protect myself. That’s the way I look at it. It’s another way one that I can protect myself from doing things incorrectly, because you don’t know what you don’t know, which is the fear. But you also are helping protect your client, which is also super important. So I’m here I’m doing my analysis November in December, I’m working through my clients. When is the next time I should be doing another analysis because obviously wages change, inflation, deflation, whatever it may be. So what does RC reports just recommend? Obviously, this is not legal advice. But disclaimer.

Paul Hamann
Yeah. So once a year is what is minimum because you throw that in your file. And if an audit comes your way, you’re flipping from defense to offense. Your IRS is like, hey, we don’t like that number or how did you get that number here. This is how I did it. Yep. Right. And now the tables are turned in. And the IRS is like, Oh, do we really want to fight this? Right? They actually know, they actually have an answer to this. Nobody usually does, right. But this time of year is perfect. Reconcile the year, did we pay enough do we overpay, we have some time to make those adjustments before year end. Right. Plus, it gives us a starting number for next year. So we get into next year, we know what we’re going to be doing through the first three or four months. We all take our two weeks after April 15, we get our sanity back. And in May in June, we start doing our consulting or reaching out to our clients to see where they are, sometime in that timeframe, say has anything significantly changed in what you do how you’re spending your time, maybe you want to do it, make another adjustment there, maybe everything’s going fine. So at least one once a year, but if something major changes, and you want to make those adjustments and payroll, run another one, right, run as many as you need to.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, and I love that becausethinking about, you just put something in my head that I don’t think I thought about before was the fact that their roles may change. Like I don’t even I never even like let that cross my mind till this moment. You know, again, you don’t know what you don’t know. But I was more thinking of okay, I need to make sure that w two is right at the end of the year. And I need to make sure when I’m doing a tax return, this is another little tip for people as you’re planning for your next tax season. And you’re just maybe hearing this as maybe you didn’t have a chance to do this in 2022. And now you’re in already in 2023. It’s not too late to start implementing the system and 2023. Right. And so thinking about not just what the inflation, deflation, whatever the market is bearing for salaries at this point, or whatever is determined, but rather what they’re doing, which is so true. Because I just went through this with a client a couple of weeks ago, we sat down, we went through all that. What do you do? What do you do this partner that partner? So we got to figure out exactly what everyone’s doing. And then what’s that reasonable comp look like? When six months from now, my I have a guy who they own an oil company that they deliver oil and one that they do cold cooling and heating? Well, this partner has kind of been the one doing all the oil stuff, but also doing this but what if he’s now 100% oil, very different being an oil delivery guy and running an oil company that it is heating and cooling. So that is so interesting, it’s like okay, as their roles are changing in their job descriptions, if you will, are changing responsibilities. That’s a great time to then hey, let’s recalculate this. And it’s not complicated. It’s a matter of having that discussion. And I think that that is so important. As we are moving to this advisory conversation. That’s what this is, this is advisory, and being able to say and tax planning, and kind of a little bit of everything, but being able to say to them, Listen, this is something that we need to do regularly as listen, if you start doing you feel like you’re doing things differently, as your role in the business, we can talk. But us being more proactive towards them, I think is what’s the important message here. We need to be the proactive professional that says, hey, this is important. We need to do it. Now. I don’t know if the people who are listening with their clients do but typically obrolan is calling you and telling you need to do something you better do it like it’s it’s like a parent child relationship when when you’re in charge that right?

Paul Hamann
Oh, absolutely. And I think businesses that, in my opinion, humble opinion, businesses want that guidance. If if Don says, hey, look, we need to look at reasonable comp, then we’re going to look at reasonable comp, you wouldn’t ask your client, if they should look at reasonable company more than you would ask your client if you think they should do a tax return this year. Right? That would just be a silly conversation. Absolutely. To go to for sure. So yeah, having those conversations and then using those conversations in and around your advisor role is a lot of fun, because you may look at the report, and something might jump out in your mind, which is, hey, look, have you ever thought about moving over to a payroll service? Because look how much of your time is spent? But I’ll tell you the really fun ones are when the client’s head just goes, Wow, I don’t I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting over here where I could be making money over here. Let’s salute. Let’s figure that out together.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, that’s super important. So let me ask you this question is another I have so many questions for you, which I know we only have a certain amount of time on the podcast, but we’ve got we’re doing webinars, and we’re doing other things for education, but thinking along those lines of alerting them, if you will, of how much time they’re spending on certain things. So you have an awesome tool called a client. It’s like it’s called Client survey. Is that am I saying that right? Yes. Survey. And so is there a difference between me sitting down and kind of going through that survey with them and and helping guide them through it where I don’t actually send it to them? Is there any liability on that? Should I be should I always send the survey as opposed to sitting down and going over it? It’s almost like they’re signing off on what they’re doing or like what does that look like?

Paul Hamann
That’s really a good question, because I hear that question probably more often than you would think. And what I’ll say is it’s preference. So some advisors like to just fire off the email link and that their client go through it. And then have a conversation with them and say, hey, look, let’s talk a little bit about some of your responses on here. Did you really look at the job description for Chief Executive, there’s two people in your company, there’s multiple layers of management involved in being a CEO. I don’t think you have multiple layers of management and your reasonable comp is very, very high. If we make this adjustment, let’s look at the description, make sure it makes sense to you, oh, look, we’ve just dropped your reasonable comp by $20,000. I’ve now just saved you X dollars in payroll taxes and really showing that value. Right. So that’s one way another way is just to sit down and say, well, let’s kind of go through this. And as you’re going through this, talking with them about some of the different hats that they’re wearing. And different advisors have different styles. But depending on where you fit into their world, you may be able to help them and realize that some of these duties aren’t ones they either are particularly good at or wasting their time on. Let’s get out there and get you making money. And I

Dawn Brolin
love that piece. And that little nugget right there alone. I know for myself, I use use time a track time tracking tool, of course, we just use tee sheets, which was always like my favorite company ever. But you know, tracking that time I realized in 2000, I believe it was 2017, the fall of 17, where I have looked at my you know, what am I what am I doing on client work versus admin work. And I was at 6040 60%, administrative 40% actual getting work done. And I’m the highest billing person in the company. So I knew because of that evaluation, that analysis, if you will, I needed to hire an admin, I had no admin it was me and 10 employees, and I had no administrative person I was it. And I’m like, You’re an idiot, and you’re advising other people. So let’s just put that out there. I get it. And so I hired somebody. And that totally changed the financial future of my of my business, because I was allowing someone else to kind of take control over that. So being able to have that conversation and having them Oh, yeah, you know, what, I, I am mopping the floor, why am I mopping the floor, I can bring somebody else in here to do that, or whatever it may be. That’s an example. Right. And so I think that that’s another important conversation to have with your clients. So if you’re looking, I don’t know how to get into advisory, we’ve just given you like seven things to do, that you can put on your little checklist of these are the things I’m going to do as part of my advisory work.

Paul Hamann
And so we’re talking about just how they’re spending their time, we’ve even talked about their retirement, or their exit strategy. Right? Most people worry about the compliance piece, which they do need to worry about, don’t get me wrong, that is important. But the smiling, right, the client smiling, going, oh my gosh, I hadn’t thought about getting my retirement to where I need to get, or I do want to exit the business, let’s put that plan together. And let’s get reasonable comp figured out so that when we get an offer, and they’re normalizing those books that we get the valuation that we want.

Dawn Brolin
You know, I think that’s a such a super important point, because people are people are looking to sell their business we’ve had clients contact us about they’re ready to sell their business and we we you know, go through a process, I usually just outsource it, I don’t necessarily get heavy deep in that. But if I can at least do some groundwork to balance that reasonable comp and be able to to make that work that piece of it work for them. And the the buyer is going to be so much more attractive, the buyer will be attracted more attractive to the business to buy it. If there’s facts. So glad to say I’m looking to buy this company, here’s a copy of a tax return and I look at it says self prepared. So first thing I say hey, listen, this returns a self prepared, I don’t know if it was actually ever filed like this could be just a made up return. You know, so those kind of little things. Same thing with reasonable view, we’re looking at an S corp, you’re buying an S corp, or you’re you’re buying a partnership, if you’re looking even at an S corp, you’re saying, what was the officer salary on that line? And then you look at Oh, well, it’s a partnership. So well, what were the guaranteed payments? Are these people even paying themselves? And it’s like, well, we know they don’t wanna pay themselves too much, because they don’t want to pay taxes. And, Jeff, definitely partnerships, they don’t want to pay self employment tax, they certainly don’t want to take guarantee payments. So those are just some hints to a buyer, when there may be some irregularities or something that’s wrong, but when you can say listen, this officers compensation was based on calculations on what they did. And guess what, here are the things that this business owner did. You may not want to do the same things as this business owner, you may say, You know what, I don’t want to schedule calls. I would never do that. Okay, great. Now, you know, you need to hire somebody, but now you’re seeing what those owners were doing, not just what they were getting paid. What is a value you add to that business?

Paul Hamann
Absolutely. And if you’ve ever had a client come to you say, Don, I think I’m about buying this business. We look at the books. Yeah, and it’s like Hey, Paul just person’s only paying themselves $24,000 a year, they should be paying themselves about 100 and a quarter, right? That’s, that’s $100,000 difference, and you’re looking at a 10 multiplier, we’re gonna knock about a million dollars off your pie.

Dawn Brolin
Exactly. So those are those are just some of the things. And I think obviously, this is just a, this is a podcast where we’re at least, you know, getting some information out there. But there’s so much more that people can go to RC reports.com, and there’ll be a link in the podcast, you’ll be able to have a link right to their education platform that will you know, the on demand webinars that they can watch at any time. And just to get yourself more familiar with this super important concept, or, or actually two requirements, compliance related matter that we need to be paying attention to. And thankfully, Paul and his team at RC reports are giving us tools that we can just go and use and not have to use the Google which isn’t gonna give you bullet proof reports anyway. But and to think of it more, I think my message to people is to think of it more than just reasonable, just reasonable compensation, which, at $5,000, a client, I don’t want to take those chances. But it’s more than that. It’s a tool you can use in your advisory role with your clients to say, Hey, listen, let’s take a look at what you’re paying your manager for this restaurant. And, you know, is it is it what, you know, what’s the range out there from your location and those kinds of things? There’s so much more that we can that we can do with this tool. And it’s really, it’s one place with many tools, essentially, that we should be think about any last thoughts, Paul?

Paul Hamann
The only last thought I’ll share with you because when we started this, and it’s kind of a full circle conversation now how we went from, you know, having this be my own problem to helping it create, RSC reports is this. For the do it yourselfers out there, I get that that’s how I started out. It’s a two day process. This is now a five to 15 minute process, it will save you a tremendous amount of time if you need to figure this number out. And so from that perspective, I think that that’s where I come from, I love the fact that it’s used for all these other reasons and all these other things. But time is the only thing we don’t get any more of ever.

Dawn Brolin
Absolutely. I think there’s always the ability to make money, but to make time is really tough. So with that, thank you, Paul, so much, Paul, with RC reports. This has been an amazing discovery is what I would say, for my practice and what I’m able to do for my clients, it’s so important to me to help them in whatever way I can. And this is just an easy, by the way, super affordable tool, which I don’t want to say that Pollux I don’t want you to increase prices. But I can say with confidence that I was like, this is like a godsend for me and my firm and my clients. So I thank you for having pain points that caused you to move in the direction of giving us this tool that is going to be so helpful for all of us. But thank you again for coming on the DM disruption. We’ll talk to you next time in our next episode. Very excited to for those of you who are listening, and I hope you’re getting so much knowledge out of this and education. So with that, Paul, thank you again so much and we’ll see Miandad Absolutely. We’ll see everybody next time. Thanks again.


This episode is sponsored by Liscio. Learn more at https://liscio.me/


Episode Summary

Liscio joins the DM Disruption! Join Dawn as she chats with Chris Farrell, the CEO of Liscio, and Alison Ball, the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy at Liscio.

In this episode, you’ll learn the importance of maintaining proper cyber security in your firm, how Liscio can be the sole communication hub for your clients, and what new features are being released soon!

Listen now to learn why Dawn uses Liscio in her firm, and how their software can save both you and your client time!


Episode Notes

Why Security Needs to be Automatic

Chris, Alison, and Dawn start their conversation by noting how important it is to keep your firm’s data secure. Alison notes that many cyber attacks are now hitting smaller firms and that it’s crucial that everyone practices proper security measures.

Chris notes that many firms leave clients’ EIN or Social Security numbers in their inboxes, and that can lead to a leak of your client’s data. Alison adds that implementing security measures needs to be automatic; if it’s too hard to put into practice or too inconvenient people will not do it.


How Liscio Keeps Communication Clear

Dawn expresses her admiration for Lisicio and says she loves how all of your client’s data can be found in one place. Not only that, but in case she is out of the office, her team members can easily access each client’s string of data without needing her to forward any emails or text messages. Dawn even shares a story about how much time she saved by adding all of her clients to the Liscio app.

Chris joins in and says he wanted to create Liscio for every sized firm. They don’t charge by the client, they are fairly priced, and they are easily accessible for clients and firm owners.


Why You Should Separate Your CRM from Your Project Management Software

Alison also notes that having all your clients on a separate CRM platform can be very beneficial. It can take a long time to get all your clients to start using certain software, and having to switch them to a new application can take even more time. If you utilize Liscio, you can change your project management software as often as you like without disrupting your client’s relationship.


How Liscio Can Save You Time

Chris talks about how Liscio can save you time, especially while you are on vacation. Many practitioners find it difficult to turn their email off during vacation because they need to forward certain clients’ information to their team members. With Liscio, all of your team members have access to each client’s data, which allows them to access any information they need without emailing for support.

Dawn says she appreciates how Liscio functions like “texting” but she doesn’t have to give her clients her personal phone number. She appreciates the ability to be able to close the app when she is out of the office, and it saves her time from answering “quick questions” when she takes time off.


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Dawn Brolin
Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, a president of powerful accounting, Inc, and the author of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about one of my favorite new application implementations. And that’s with Liscio. We were finding that we were chasing clients and wasting a lot of administrative time chasing them for documents for information for answers to questions as we’re going through tax season. And we found that we’ve really could be working a lot less hours if we could solve for that pain point. So we found Liscio. And because of implementing liscio, we were able to save hours of time every single week, chasing clients, not only wasn’t the time that we were spending, but it was the frustration of trying to get in touch with them. And for them to securely send us documents and information so we could prepare their tax return in a timely fashion. No more picking up and putting down tax returns, because we don’t have everything we need. What I love is that it’s one central place for us that all of us in our firm can see all of the communications, whether it’s via text, or email, or a document that we’re looking for anyone in the firm can go grab that document or that communication and know exactly what’s going on with that client at all times. What’s even better about it is that it does integrate with our project management and workflow solution, as well as our accounting software. So we’re entering contact information for our clients in one place and pushing it out to other other solutions that we use. And I find that application integration is critical. But being able to save us that time, so that I can be on the ball field coaching in the spring, or whatever else it may be being with my kids, whatever it may be. But we found that we were being so unproductive, doing that administrative chasing that we were just like it’s not the clients fault, it’s our fault, we have to offer them a solution that’s going to work for them. And what we found with as we were implementing Liscio with our clients, the best feedback we would get in this was almost every single client was wow, that was easy. And that’s what we need it to be in order for our clients will get us what we need. And it’s got to be secure. We need cloud to cloud secure document exchange and secure communications. We no longer give out our personal cell phones, which is awesome. I don’t want to hear from a client at midnight. If I happen to hear from them through my liscio app, then that’s cool. Maybe I respond, maybe I don’t, but it gives me that flexibility and that time of peace and quiet when I’m not in the office. So I’m telling you go out, get yourself a demo of Liscio, implement it for your business so you have a successful upcoming 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond tax season. Thank you so much for listening. And I wish you the best as you move forward.

Well, hello everybody and welcome back to the DM Disruption. My name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. And I just want to help you and your firms have a better experience and or whether it’s busy season, not busy season, how about just daily, maybe we could have just a great experience daily. And so who better to bring to the DEM disruption if we want to talk about experiences and client experiences, then listen to themselves Chris Farrel and Alison ball two of my favorite people ever. If anyone’s ever had a conversation with me, you can say sorry, Chris. But I think really Allison is probably the favorite person of the year when it comes to the accounting profession. And it doesn’t mean that you’re any worse. She’s just unbelievable. So I want to thank you guys for taking some time with me because I know Lucio is out there kicking butt. And I want to we want to hear all about it. Talk about some great examples that we’ve been experiencing ourselves here at powerful accounting. And so welcome. Welcome, and thanks for coming, Chris. Hello.

Chris Farrell
Hello, Dawn. How you doing? Good to see you again.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. Great to see ya.

Alison Ball
Hi, everybody. I’m just so delighted to be here. Two of my favorite people. Chris and Dawn. Dawn you and I go way back. Oh my gosh.

Dawn Brolin
Like way back. We have so many conversations. We were at ‘Appy camp, and the conversations around which was nice to be able to sit down and just have some time together and be able to just kind of really visit for real and not like crazy conference running by saying hello to people like on the fly. We’re actually able to talk to each other. And you were a major topic of conversation throughout the weekend.

Alison Ball
Oh, yeah, yeah, we really, we really had a tough call there because I was a speaker in Calgary, right, a different conference. And so it was kind of like couldn’t you know, yeah, yeah. So I had serious case of FOMO seeing seeing you guys on social. Yeah, we had a lot of liscio users there, there were a lot of people who use liscio in their firms. And so that was kind of interesting. I was like, you know, I wonder what the conversation was right? You know, about Lisicio?

Dawn Brolin
Well, it was positive, I can tell you that and really understanding that concept of the integrations, and certainly security is so gotta be in the forefront. And a lot of people are still forgetting that Chris, you were gonna say something I want, I want to let you say what you have to say. And then we’re going to just rip it.

Chris Farrell
Rip it. Let’s just get right into it.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. So that’s a great segue. Because the conference, a lot of conversations were around that client experience and the security of exchanging information, which I think people’s information is more valuable now than it’s ever been before. And people are taking it, they will take it whenever they can. I’m cautious about it. Just as matter of fact, I had a colleague was a client actually out of out of Rhode Island. And she was I said to her, Hey, I need to, we need some documents. You got audited, we got to deal with this. She goes Well, right now I’m in the middle of solving for a problem. I got, I got side angled by some scam, she got scammed, and to the tune of $85,000. Oh, so she was like, I really can’t think about that right now. And I said, Well, you kind of need to because you owe 30 grand after the audit. So now you’re at 115. So we might want to talk. But that’s really important, right?

Alison Ball
Heartbreaking, heartbreaking and serious, serious cash, and they’re going after the small firms now. And, and, and business email compromise, I think is the big one. That’s the one you got to worry about. Right? As a practitioner.

Dawn Brolin
Yep. So Chris, that’s, that’s one of the things that I find for myself, as we’re trying to educate our clients to at the same time, you know, for them, it’s not at the front of their mind till it till something like this happens. And so to educate them to understand that, not just with us, you should never be emailing your stuff to us period. I don’t care if they’re if the social security number is masked, there’s enough information on an insurance document, a W 2, obviously, or any of these other things that even just those last four are those socials, addresses, maybe where you bank or whatever appears there. And that becomes gold to those people who are stealing it.

Chris Farrell
We don’t meet anybody to be honest, who when we asked them how many social security numbers or how many ein do you have in your email? Right? It doesn’t say too many. Right, everybody’s done. I think it’s probably one of the big, you know, dirty, not so secrets probably in the profession. Right. And what’s interesting about it is, you know, the IRS education, I’m super glad you’re talking about this, because you know, and you’ve seen it and too many people get impacted their businesses. And even their, you know, their peace of mind, right? When somebody’s been in stealing from you. It’s like somebody’s in your house, right? But what’s even worse is in your house with your client. And you know, that that part’s actually frightening. But we look at what’s been happening, whether it’s the NIST or the IRS, right, you have all these bodies, the AICPA? Everybody’s been talking about this for how long? A decade? Yeah, the problem is this. Probably more right. Yeah, probably more doesn’t for at least a decade. And every year, it gets worse, right? It used to be big firms, that’s middle size firms. Now it’s everybody, everybody gets a dose because you can get a Bitcoin or two out of it pretty effectively. And it’s become big business. Right? So, you know, we can get as a consumers, we can get any little thing a cat food shipped to our home, inside 24 hours services everywhere, right? Because businesses are figured out to scale. These criminal organizations are no different. Right? This guy’s for Bitcoin, just like we can get a small package. That is just amazing, right? Yeah. And that’s happening left and right. And unfortunately, we hear a lot of it because a lot of people come to us say, hey, look, I’m client experience means security. They become synonymous. Right? We’re talking about how to do this little differently. And I think that’s, we obviously want to get to everybody before that happens. Sure. But yeah,

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, we want preventive maintenance if we can, right, Allison?

Alison Ball
Yeah, security’s got to be you know, in addition to what Chris has said, security’s got to be automatic, right. And it’s got to be easy. And so, I everyone out there, all of the practitioners that I talk to, they all have secure systems. But the problem is, is that there’s such a, there’s so difficult to use, right? Like, and who stops who even knows how to encrypt an email? Like you do, but does your client, your clients, your clients? That’s not enough, right, but do your clients know how to encrypt an email so it’s like, like, you start putting these barriers in so when you make it sort of as easy seamless, and, and and part of your day like you think about like an online banking app, right? How easy did the banks make it for us to have security and ease and on the go all in one, and would anybody bank at a bank now that didn’t have now like, you’d be like, Oh, I don’t think so. I’m not using that bank. I’m not using it. No.

Chris Farrell
I see the billboard now, bank with us over email.

Alison Ball
Or fake with us only in person. Right? Yeah. All you have to come here. Bring bring us your bring us your checks. Yes, your

Dawn Brolin
Deposit slip, I’m bringing it. Yes. And it’s like, well, it’s so funny too, because the clients, I think, and one of the things I find interesting with with with us, as practitioners, we want the ease of use, I want the ease of having an app that my clients can communicate with me. And sometimes I’m just like, I just want to be easy. I don’t, I’m not even thinking the security side around it. We think about it, we just want ease of use. But that’s the mistake we make. That’s a mistake, because we’re not putting the real priority in front of it. Now, we love that product. We love that client experience. We want it to be easy for them. But we have to, for our side of it, it has to be secure. And so I mean, if I never could go to have to go to an email again, I would be in heaven. I could just never be an email again. And I I can’t wait for that to actually happen when we get rid of email. And we’re communicating the way we should be, which is more direct, like you said, and I was, you know, kind of prefacing a little bit earlier about my experience with this client who I’ve had since 2011. She’s a phenomenal client when it comes to paying. Like she’s at the top. She’s the number one client in our firm when it comes to baby number two, one and two, when it comes to paying their bill never complains. But I can’t get stinking anything from her. I can’t get her to respond. I’m like, I’ll text you historically, I would text her. Help me help you. Hey, I really need that document. Hey, and I was it was a real struggle for us, I think primarily because, you know, in every client’s so different for her. We couldn’t get her to upload to SmartVault, we couldn’t get her to get her documents in she could wouldn’t. She’s not doing it. And so we were just so frustrated, but we weren’t frustrated with her. We were frustrated the process. So we knew we had to do something different. And until liscio came along, I was like, I’m just gonna drive to her house. I’m doing drive bys. She’s in the parking lot. I’m gonna go in and get what I need. It was almost at that point. And then we put her on Liscio. And this is how I explained it to her, which I think is a really great tip for people who are maybe struggling getting clients to, to, you know, jump on board and buy in, which it’s just because they’re humans. But I said, Lisa, I’m going to put this on your phone. And this app is called Liscio. I bought liscio I’m subscribing but I tell her it’s my app. It is Dawn Brolin. Why did I call it Liscio none of your business is called Licio. Put the thing on your phone. And then when you get in the look, turn on leave your alerts on for the app. And when you see an alert on your phone from this app, put it on your homepage, you think, you know it’s coming from me that means I need you. And when we did that with her, it has been night and day with her tax season was smoother because of it. We were able to message through the app. And it was funny because she’s got five or six entities that she running. She’s running three ice rinks, a racing horse company, she owns two rental properties. She also like a coach, she’s a she doesn’t 7 million things. So I’m able to go into her profile. And when I’m in Liscio, I can go Lisa, Lisa, blah, blah, blah, Lisa. And then I can pick which account we’re talking about. We’re talking about the race horse, I need a copy of the printout from companion or whatever the app, the thing is, they used to track the revenue and whatever, I need this report. So she can go into that, that task or the message or whatever, and be like, bang, here you go. Now it’s in the files. Yeah. And the best part is it’s a scanner as well. And we’ve I’ve talked that about the I would say it’s not even the it’s not the client experiences the professionals experience when they get a PDF of the 2048 coming back to you and not a JPEG. That’s usually blurry and the IRS doesn’t accept it. Like, those are the things that sometimes we that’s an example of where I love the convenience. And the in the client experience I get I get responses from her right away. Right, yeah.

Alison Ball
And it’s organized so that your team can actually go in and collaborate on her documents and put them where they need to be for your back end systems or what have you. But and also the team can see the whole string of all the communication. So if you’re out of the office, you know, Tracy or Nicole can pick up and you know…

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, and it’s perfect. So like, obviously, as we’re all so busy and in the fall especially super busy with conferences. I’m not here a lot, but I want my clients to get the answers they need at any time. Right. So from a second hear the perspective, that’s awesome. And I think, I think another great practitioner experience, since I said, security is really important. There’s two letters in that word that will freak anybody out. The SEC. Security was cut off some of those letters, say the SEC. So we have an experience. Right now we have a client who’s a hyper Liscio user. But so we have a client experience now where this is a company that has multiple entities, who was doing quite and this is this, these people came to us late, but they were doing a lot of loans. So they’re taking in investor money, a lot of millions of dollars of investor money, and the SEC caught wind of it. I don’t know how they do that. So he’s now under an SEC investigation. And so we got subpoenaed, and we gave him most of the financial information on the first subpoena, gave that to them. And now they’re like, We want everything. We want all of your communications. And I said to Nicole, I said, Nicole, you know what is awesome. It’s all in Liscio. Every bit of it is in Liscio. So we can just download what we need, throw it on a flash drive along with the financials, and send it off. And then we’re totally covered. Like, we didn’t have to go to Oh, emails, we gotta go find all the emails from him. And then we gotta go over here and find all of this and text messages and all, it’s just all right. And Lucia what? What a way for us to send it to the SEC so that we look professional?

Alison Ball
Because are you gonna are you gonna go also with the bat? You’re gonna go in with the bat.

Dawn Brolin
Always. I’m always got my softball bats right over there. Just I need the I need to be on defense every once in a while. So, you know, but yeah. So I mean, it’s just that these things that I think this message is we don’t think we don’t think forward. Right? We really don’t. We’re always thinking about this moment. And today, which, you know, our philosophy is that isn’t a motivator is what’s important. Now, the when philosophy What is important now, and I get that, and there’s time for that. But there’s also time to reflect and think, Hey, what are we prepared for? What’s coming next, if anyone told you that the pandemic was going to happen, and you needed to be prepared? Would you believe it? No.

Alison Ball
Well, we thought it’d be a couple of weeks, right? When it did have and we were like, Oh, I’ll be home for two weeks, you know, flatten the curve. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin
And that’s, it’s so funny to say that because we were in like, 2020 20, we’re at practice. In we get the news that the seasons shut down. And we go over, we put them on the bleachers. And we have this, we have the diagram that they put up where it was like, we’re here, and we got to, we have to flatten the curve and all this. And the kids were like, Coach, how long do you think we can do? It’s like, what if it’s only a couple of weeks, can we still have a season and like it was this whole unknown thing? But if you look back, and you’re like, if we knew it was gonna last like it has, would you have done something different? So as you’re making decisions on your workflow, so one of your clients, they, they somehow hack into your system and your clients information is compromised? What is showed up coulda too late. And I think from a security perspective, that’s what we miss. We miss that. We’re not thinking about what could happen. And we think about oh, well, it hasn’t happened yet.

Alison Ball
What if that you know of that, you know, that’s the interesting thing that people that I know that have gotten business email compromise, compromise, they figured that those scammers were in there for like, months, like just lurking, watching their patterns.

That’s the thing, Chris?

Chris Farrell
There’s a perception thing we’re talking about here, right? Because everybody knows we’ve all known hey, look, we’ve got those three numbers in our email. Okay, it just kind of how it is right? Right. Or no, hey, we should probably think about maybe using a system where we can work better with the client, or you know, we kind of know these things kind of tangentially, but solving them all together. Like if you wanted to create an online banking app look like big banks, big banks have great apps. Super great. Look, small banks. They don’t have good apps that have good website stuff, right? Yeah. So it’s like, it’s kind of like a hey, look, that sounds great. It sounds totally idealistic and totally impractical. Right? Because I don’t have the money for it. The time for it. I’m busy. Right? I think, you know, I spent 12 years in accounting. And I think the work ethic is always I’m gonna get through it. I’m gonna pound my way through it. I’m gonna keep working, keep working, keep working. And it’s really, really hard to like, pick up, you know, the eye, you know, the perspective, if you will, and say, I should actually do this, and maybe it won’t be as hard as I think it might be. Right. I think what we try to do is, you know, the price has to be incredible, right? Like super inexpensive. The service has to be impeccable. We’ll do you know as much as we can for you, make sure you’re successful. And ask the dead simple for the clients so we can still keep on working. right not have to get totally distracted. Right? It has to be approachable. And I think that’s probably the biggest gift is I think we think about what the world where the world is today versus even just a couple of years ago, the way SAS software is delivered, we can make the price point super amazing for even the smallest companies like nobody’s priced out. And nobody’s under serviced. Right, I think that’s really that was the key insight we had, you know, a couple of years ago is like, look, accounting profession, we know, we know, these people, we love these people, we know these people, you know, we come from, you know, this group, it has to be a kind of a $40 a month kind of price point, right? Yeah.

Alison Ball
And, and not by client either, like, you can’t charge by client, because what ends up happening is it ends up getting just really massive. And the other thing, the other thing I think is don’t try to find one system for your, for your clients, and for your staff back end like that. The front end, that’s what the banks did. That’s what they created something really awesome for us to use. But the banks use a totally different system on the back end to manage things, and it’s probably really ugly. Like we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t, as mere mortals be able to work with that system. Right? Like, right. So your practice management stuff should be separate from your, from your clients stuff. And if it’s not, the problem is like hurt. Heather, Heather Satterlee said this a while back, she said, you know, the practice management suites always, they think a certain way. And they and they, they they create, like, they want you to do your workflow in a certain way. And maybe you want to do it differently. And then you decide, oh, I don’t want to do it this way. And then you go for a different system, you’d have to change all your clients again, right? So keeping them on something like Liscio is like, we don’t care if the banks change their back end system, they’re probably changing them every few years, right? Or upgrading them doing what have you, right. But it doesn’t affect us as consumers, right? It doesn’t affect us as customers. And so that’s kind of the philosophy, I think of having a separate, really affordable solution for your clients, that your team also gets a lot of benefits from, right, but not tying it to your sort of like your soup to nuts entire workflow, because your clients aren’t involved in most of that stuff. Right?

Dawn Brolin
Right, exactly. And I think that’s one of the pieces where we don’t we typically think the opposite exactly what you’re just saying, but realizing why not have it for best best of breed for both the client and your firm. And you’re so right about how practice management works. Because it’s, what you need to do internally is very different than the way you need to, you know, communicate and work with a client. But what better than to have both, if you can have both, you’ve got your practice management, and you have the ability for Liscio to update Karbon in which we use Karbon. So I’ll just throw that out there that we do. So liscio, working with Karbon is an awesome way for us to only enter data about the client in one spot, which is liscio. And let liscio push it to Karbon, let Liscio push it to my accounting, you know, QBO, because we just use it for everything so that from a firm functionality, perspective is seamless. And we’re not having we’re not having to enter in three places, which is what we would have had to do. So now we’re entering it in one and it ends up in three. And so that’s really important to me, but I just look at it, if you’re trying to evaluate, like what’s happening with that communication with your clients that you are getting it from all of these different places, and I kind of compare it to ADP. So like I’m an ADP user, because it does everything I need. It gives me client insights that I could never get an any other way to analyze payroll, whatever it may be. But what I love about is I’m going one place, I’m going into all of my payroll clients are there. It’s the same thing. I want all of my client communications in one place. I’m all about, listen, I’m getting older. I know you don’t believe that. I’m getting older. So for me to remember, oh, this person only uses email, oh, this person just text me, oh, this person does this, this person does something different. They want to call and you’re sitting there going. I just especially Oh my goodness. Okay. blow me away about texting. So let’s just talk about texting for a minute. Right? A lot of people want to text. I love the functionality of texting for my personal life. It’s great. I can communicate with my kids. I can whatever you know, play, you need to get a hold of me. On my private side. I don’t want any text messages coming in from a client ever. I don’t want I don’t take my phone for you to text me while I’m at dinner. So but if I if I see if I get a notification from my firm dash on my phone. Now I can choose whether or not I want to communicate with them. Yeah, you give them that full blown access to you through a text. They’re gonna expect an immediate response. You have to control that right, Chris?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely. I mean, I think you know, nobody wants to use email, right? If you try to email you know, somebody who’s a you know, Um, you know, born sometime, but you know more recently, they’re not going to look at the email, right? They’re gonna text, or they’re gonna use an app. So we have to have the app experience, I think, you know, the world has changed. I think it’s fair to say the number of texts sent per day between important clients. Don’t want to be careful with this, because there’s a lot of volume and email. But the most important conversations we have in our personal lives are happening on text. Most important conversations we’re having are on text. So I think it’s actually a little bit of an honor to be invited by a client to text them means we’re close, right? Yep, means you’re close. They’re not they’re not really getting us to email with all the spam and all the junk, right? That’s a great thing. And why would you ever want to say no, like, hey, no, I don’t want to text you basically say, we’re not close.

Dawn Brolin
Let’s have this client relationship. But yet, you have to really get in touch with me somehow.

Chris Farrell
Yea we’re gonna do this over email. I mean, come on. Right, which I think I could put practitioners puts us all in a really awkward position, right? Because we were service oriented, right? And we’re people oriented. And so I think that that puts a lot of people to buy. And I think that’s precisely why so many, so many people in the profession are texting. I think when we look at it, we say, hey, it doesn’t have to be FHS. There’s a lot of people who are doing things over WhatsApp, for example. But that’s even better. And we start to compartmentalize it to start to be a little more in network. It’s not fully a network, right? We’re moving towards being a network, which is really what people want. How can you bring them in network in the right place? And then give them all the tooling? Because I think when we look at it, we say, okay, yeah, you want to tax but we can’t text, large files, I can’t get a QuickBooks Desktop file on it. We can’t text things to be signed, we can’t text a lot of different things. It’s a second, we say, inside the firm, we’ve got 10 different systems. If we’re using five different systems to communicate with the client. We know we can’t balance a 10 internally that easily. We certainly shouldn’t expect a client to juggle five things to work with us. Okay, we’re gonna tax but now go check this portal or now go check this signature thing are now go check something that blows them up, so they can’t find anything. The second we blow them up, what happens? They start texting us again, hey, can you send me? You know, we have to be thinking like, hey, just like we want to consolidate everything for us, we have to have the same same lens for our clients. And once we do, then we win. Right? Then we have the Bank of America, the chase experience, and then we’re just in the habit of hey, I just go here, for Bank of America, just…

Alison Ball
That one place. It just makes all the difference. Doesn’t that one place? Yeah. And a habit.

Dawn Brolin
You know, it’s, it’s so this is such like, I don’t know, I just love talking to you. And you talk to the two of you for days, really. But think about what’s happening in the industry right now. And that’s really important for people to keep in perspective, the whole com… Ron Baker just did a great conversation at Intuit Tech Summit. Okay. And he talked about where everyone went from hourly pricing. And they even hanged himself at one point, value pricing has been the big conversation, though. I don’t think a lot of people have bought into that a lot. Some have some haven’t, regardless. But he’s he’s at a great place where he says, and I changed the term because I, you know, it’s about me. So he talks about subscription pricing. Okay, now I take a step further. And this is where liscio comes in. Because this is exactly what it is. subscription pricing, to me is like a Hulu account. So I don’t really want to call it that. And I agree with Ron Baker, and even had a conversation with him about it. And I want to make sure that I hashtag this and that I can this right, I have to trademark this because I want to win is relationship pricing. That’s what we’re doing. There you go. Subscription. There you go. Right. Right. You shouldn’t hit pricing. And I am Allison just launched relationship pricing. Tomorrow will be the firt. Well, I I had a couple people for October. But I’ve got four clients who are some have been at the $9,000 a year billing, jump to $18,000 a year because we put them on a relationship because…

Alison Ball
They they’re at but they’re getting more as well. And they’re getting a deeper relationship and the value there is for them because they don’t have to worry about picking up the phone. They know that it’s all included.

Dawn Brolin
And if I have an app like Liscio, they have a direct connection to me. They can’t get me on the phone, but they can message me through Liscio and I can go Yep, those are one of the about the relationship pricing clients. They’re getting first priority. That’s right. And so when we’re talking about having this new way of being a professional of moving forward in our practices, and so I worked really hard with giraffes. They’ve been instrumental in helping me get to this point, which has been great. Just like they’ve like we’re an extension of my firm and even helped me put my webpage together for it like, awesome. But they got me through the process in my brain of understanding what relationship pricing really is. And so if I can see, here’s an app for you, you’re on value pricing, you can get me anytime you need me. And I’m able to fulfill that promise, what if I don’t do that? Let’s step back from it. I’m gonna do relationship pricing. And we’re gonna be that firm for you. And you can call me anytime you want. But email me or text me or call me or leave a note on my door, or however you want to communicate with me now, what am I doing? I’m setting the relationship up for failure. Yeah. Because they’re not going to get me when they want me, they’re not going to get answers as quickly as they could have, because I don’t know where it went.

Alison Ball
And you won’t have the full picture either, you won’t have that full picture of what everybody said to that client and what they said to you and what they sent. And that’s where having that single source, single source of truth single place. And Chris, I think they call it now in larger firms single portal. So it’s like, you know, that one place for the clients to go.

Chris Farrell
There’s patterns here, right, we always looking for patterns. You know, in, in our lives, I think one of the patterns that a lot of firm owners fall in, it’s a firm owner trap. The firm owner trap is I can’t delegate to my staff, the second failure to my staff fully, I don’t have the complete picture. So what do we do? Now the complete picture, firm owners end up getting CC and BCC got everything. And then it got stitched together. Otherwise, you just don’t know what’s happening. I think every look at a different way. Which is a pattern that works, where you can actually get up to date on somebody really fast. We’re gonna go visit some some second cousins we haven’t seen in two years. Where do we go? Right? Go to Facebook, go to Facebook, go to Facebook, scroll down a timeline. Get up to speed. How long does it take you up to speed on two years to scroll through Facebook? Not long. Now you’re ready? How else would you do it? How else would you do it? So what we’re doing let’s see, this is a this is a feature we’re releasing in the next two weeks. But we call it timeline. Okay, in the Liscio timeline is going to have all your client requests, everything they sent you invoices, you sent out messages, everything files, everything is in a timeline. If you want to see the files, you want to see the requests, you can see it in one place. So anybody on the team to Dawn you can be out at the Super Regionals. Right there you’re doing anything. Anybody on your team could scroll through timeline. Hello, hey, yeah, great Dawn’s out right now. But the question, okay, great. And while they’re getting the input from the client, as they’re managing the relationship, they have all the data right there in front of them. Exactly. No handoff, I gotta go call, Dawn. You know, how much do we like getting routed? When we call an airline? Hang on Ron, department, we put you on hold. That’s not a relationship? That’s the pattern that we see that we’re really, really excited about servicing.

Dawn Brolin
And with that, if you think about it, just that what you just described, you can’t get from having a phone with a text, or an email over here, or files over here or whatever, your you’ve got these pieces everywhere. And I think that’s what’s gonna go.

Chris Farrell
What’s gotta go and the way you’re doing it, right? You have the other client, just horse racing and three strikes. Okay, calling in, I got a question about horses. Now, do you want to have to scroll through everything from that person? How many of us have done the search for search for client aid in Google or Microsoft, and you get a laundry list? Everything too much. But he can say I want to target the horse racing business. Now we have a timeline for just worse.

Dawn Brolin

Alison Ball
Pinpoint everybody’s and everybody’s, I think the big thing is everybody’s communications are in there that have had that with that one client. So or about that client? It like everything that’s kind of like, you know, allocated to that, to that account. I can’t see inside Chris’s inbox unless he copies me. And even then, I can’t see everything that happened. That was just between Chris and the client, right? So you can’t man you can’t actually manage relationships based on email. Like, Chris, you gave an analogy, in a meeting we had last week about can you imagine like a customer service organization managing on email? It’d be just a mess or a sales organization managing without their CRM, like it’d be just a total mess. Yeah. And you just couldn’t imagine so why do we do that in the accounting industry, right,

Chris Farrell
Every every other business it’s Kelly’s. It’s really I mean, I love it. It’s just such an amazing part of the world to work in. But if you’re running professional sales team to use Salesforce or something like it right, how many companies are out there do we meet that aren’t using anything?

Dawn Brolin
Very, very few of them are using nothing.

Chris Farrell
And how many people or how many, how many people were just emailing into customer service? And it’s going to somebody’s personal email box or business email? Nobody. It goes to a help desk, right? Wherever we can collaborate. But accounting is this weird this really this really, you know, interesting adolescence? Well, yeah, yeah, we’re in search of that moment. And that’s really, that’s really what it is. So the patterns are super established. We know they work. We know clients adopt them like crazy, right? Because we do everywhere else. But it’s tougher to counter.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so definitely. So is that is this timeline, the this big thing that’s happening here? The next couple of weeks, we just kind of talked a little bit prior that there’s what’s happening at Liscio?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely, there’s a bunch of things that are coming out. But I think you know, two things, we’re putting out what’s called time one, which is simply look, while you have to speed up by accounts or by person come here. If you want to actually understand what you need to do we have another page inside of it called in focus. So you can go to a client and see, you know, how many tasks are waiting for for them? How many things have we received for them that we haven’t I mean, documents came out that we haven’t processed yet, how much money do they owe us? How many invoices are outstanding, all that through a single view. So somebody calls up, you can say, hey, I’m looking at your account right now looks like we have two requests waiting for you can go take a look at those for us yada yada, yada. But you will know, at a glance where that class dance mix aligns,

Alison Ball
or any member of your team will know, that’s the cool thing. Any member like so it’s not just you will know. Right? You have a team. Yeah. And they’re and they’re assigned, you know. And then the other thing we have is client service teams. So if you’re worrying that you have just everybody else to see everything you don’t you can assign clients to you can assign people to clients to segregate if you have a really large team. But the thing is, is that you create this visibility, right,

Dawn Brolin
which I love, because like I want Tracee to manage those communications communications as much as possible. I don’t have to so she can go. I’m excited about the timeline. She’s gonna be excited about that, too. Because she’s able to go in and someone calls She’s the face of powerful accounting. Thank God. So you know, if somebody calls, they’re usually calling Tracy. And they’re either looking, did you get this? Or did you get that? Or did this happen? She doesn’t have to be calling me or slacking me or whatever, at any point, because she can go in just look and see what needs to get done. Or yeah, it looks like Dawn sent you the 2048. You didn’t do anything with it.

Chris Farrell
You can take a proper vacation! That’s the whole point. Everyone takes a vacation. If you don’t do this, then we’re dealing with I used to sit at you know, I’d be in this is, you know, sad, but so true. But I think it’s relatable. And go on vacation. You’re sitting, you know, somewhere, great view, your family’s there. And you’re checking emails, you can route things, because I don’t route it right now. Even though I’m on vacation. I don’t router right now, the clients waiting. Right? I wouldn’t feel terrible in six hours when they don’t get service during the business day. Yep, that’s what we do. We became routers, right? That’s, that’s….

Alison Ball
Oh, it makes my head hurt.

Chris Farrell
They’ll come back and they’ll tell us, hey, look, I have control over my business. I can actually take vacations. You still they still we all still have the habit of checking things. But it’s not the same as when I gave Tracy’s out. You’re blind. Right? That’s not the case. Because you can be out. And you can say we got you covered. Tracy, you have a great plan. We’ll see you in a week.

Dawn Brolin
Right? Exactly. So so it’s been really a game changer for us. And for our clients. Like we’re just able to communicate better. And with relationship pricing, the way I look at it is I have to make sure that I have a tool that I can, yes, I can respond to timely anyone can respond to you, we’re all able to stay on top of things because we are shrinking our client base, that’s we want to laser focus a little bit better. So we want to make sure that experience for those that we keep that we did that by the way we decide to keep we’re going to we’re and we’re firing clients right now, as we’re going as we see appropriate, you know, those either those people who are constantly calling and asking the same question 10 times are still haven’t gotten us what we needed. And we still haven’t given them an app to be able to get us things. We’re not doing it anymore. You don’t want to adopt our processes, you don’t want to do the things we’re doing. It’s not going to work, the relationship isn’t there. So we and that’s what we’re establishing, which is really exciting. And if you haven’t gone through that process, it’s something to go through is to be like, You know what, like, we have this one client, this guy, he’s never wants to pay anything for anything. But once all the help in the world, and it’s like, okay, guy, guess what we’re done later? Well, you know, and we were telling them now, so they have a couple months, three months to find another practitioner and tax planning whatever they may need. But in order to have a relationship pricing model, you have to make sure you’re able to cultivate the relationship in a way that’s positive for both of you. And with Licio. You can do that. And I think that that’s really important for people to hear, and most importantly, that it’s secure. But we’ve got to get this we got two components we’re just trying to solve for and we’ve got one app that can solve for both and that’s what we need. Get out of email. You’re out of your mind like I can’t wait worse We’re working towards directing people to the app. And we’re, you know, we’re still trying to help them get over there. But imagine, you know, I think maybe it’ll take another six, maybe another tax season to get them all to be like, Okay. And then I won’t ever have to check email again. And because they’ll call and they go, don’t never respond to my email. Well, yeah, you’re supposed to be in liscio. member, and Oh, okay. And then they send a message, you’re like, Hey, welcome to the party.

Chris Farrell
It’s like, the two things we can do there. I mean, obviously, we integrate with email, too. So you always categorize email, and we’re actually working on one of the big things you’ll get in about 90 days is we’ll pull it in by clients. That’s what works. Audible just like Salesforce does. But where I think you’re going, where I think you’re going is so brilliant, what you’re saying is the right client super matters, right? And you’re changing, you’re changing how you’re working with them to make sure it’s not the right client, the right relationship it matters. We did a survey recently. And, you know, we asked people how important is getting the right client versus any client? You know, neutral sunlight, extremely Guess how many firms responded? This is hundreds first, because my firms responded extremely important.

Dawn Brolin
Half a percentage, obviously.

Chris Farrell
80! I’m saying almost nobody said not important. Almost no, it is somewhat or because I think a lot of volume shops, right, but the volume shops get burned, because people don’t pay or whatever, right. But four out of five, four out of five firm owners are saying it’s extremely important. Just what’s the game that everybody is competing for the best clients. Right? Right. And you’re just saying, I’m moving, I’m moving to relationships, I’m not selling a commodity, I’m not selling a commodity subscription. I want to work with the best people and I want to commit. I’m in on that. Right. So it’s really, really, I think what you’re doing is really,

Dawn Brolin
yeah, what’s great is I don’t have to have right now I have 250 clients, I would like 100. Because I would rather infuse my soul into those clients that want. And I’m just asking them, listen, with one two weeks ago, and I said, Listen, you know what he wanted to ask me some for tax planning, blah, blah, blah, we’re going through the questions. And I said, Listen, this is where we’re at this and I had prefaced the conversations, and we knew we were gonna talk about this. Listen, this is where we’re moving it, this isn’t something that you feel like your company needs right now. It is not a big deal. Let’s get you where you’re going to be the most productive, the most successful. And maybe that’s not with me. And I’m okay with that. I just want you as the business owner, to be successful in whatever way that means to you. And that just for you right now, doesn’t mean you want to talk to me every quarter, and talk about tax planning, help you run your business and all the questions you’ve been asking me on this call. Those types of things, you’re not worried about what I’m charging you, you just call let’s just talk, whatever you need, and call me whenever you need me not worried about whether I’m gonna bill you or not. And he was like, Yeah, I just don’t think I need all that. I said, Awesome. He goes, You don’t as a matter of fact, I’m maybe I’m gonna go local. Maybe I’ll find someone local. I go, that’s awesome. If that’s what you need, then get it? I would rather you do that than to stay with me and be miserable. Like we here’s the here’s what it is. I want to get paid on the first of the month. And I want to pay all of my employees, all two of them, including my Well, three, including me. I want to pay all three of us on the first of the month. Yep. Our bills are paid. We pay all our bills on the first of the month, we can move on. And then guess what we do? We Wow, we sat we Zazzle that’s even a word. We do we do? Are we go 110% to do whatever we need to do for those clients. That’s take a vacation. I don’t care. We don’t care if you’re off three months a year. You’re getting done. I don’t care. Yeah.

Alison Ball
And practitioners can have that we’ve, we’ve, I think I think the biggest thing that I see, when people move to when they when they when they when they get control of their client communications and stop that madness of having a look in so many different places. their personal lives improve. And where did we end somehow we all got the idea that you had to work, you know, 6080 hour weeks and you had to have tax season was you can never do anything extra in tax season. You’re just working, working, working. And really, Chris is Chris and me. I mean I once I once I learned about the problem and really saw the impact of it the knock on effect of it Using all these disparate systems, just the pain, the pain that everybody’s under, we can do something about that. It’s and there is a solution. And it just just requires just thinking a little bit differently about how you work with your clients. And, you know, bringing them into all that one place where, and then everything starts to calm down, and it starts to end you can have you can, you can leave the office at a regular time every day, and you can, you know, take walks during the day, and you can be healthy again, it’s like, it’s just a big deal. It’s really, really a big deal. And you can and then you can move to the relationship that you’re talking about. Yeah.

Chris Farrell
It’s inevitable, everybody’s, it’s all gonna end up here. Just a matter of who’s going to get on the bus when they when did they go choose to get the bus? Because the state of the profession is not sustainable, right? People don’t want to do it forever. People don’t want to join the profession, right? People have been doing all the same way forever. Why? Why are you doing this? Well, it’s how we’ve always done. We know that’s not sustainable. It’s totally unsustainable. It’s the whole point. The whole point of everything I’ll put in putting systems and all this is to make things enjoyable, right? 100% why we do that we should do our jobs make them enjoyable. So anyway, I think this is entirely entirely, you know, inevitable. It doesn’t matter will take another 12 months. 24 months 3640 of I don’t know. Yeah,

Dawn Brolin
I don’t know. I’m not waiting for it. I’m just going you can pay for it. Or you can go for it. And I’m just somebody who’s a go for it. Person.

Alison Ball
Go for it. Absolutely.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Any last thoughts? Any last thoughts from you guys?

Alison Ball
Love you pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing you in person again soon.

Dawn Brolin
we’re real excited to you guys and excited excited for the new things that are coming and you guys are always moving forward. And, and I just see, you know, great things for Liscio as we move forward. And hopefully people are smart enough to not get left behind when it comes to you know, having the client experience and in your firm experience. So thank you, Liscio for joining us. Allison, do you have anything you wanted to say?

Alison Ball
No, I was I was just I was yeah, thank you.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so thank you. Liscio. And thank you guys for listening to them disruption Dawn Brolin here, and we look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Thanks, everybody. Take care. Bye bye.


This episode is sponsored by Bookkeep. Learn more at https://www.bookkeep.com/


Episode Summary

Thomas Ruscitti & Emily Hedrick from Bookkeep join Dawn! Listen now to learn about Thomas and Emily, why Bookkeep is the go-to bookkeeping solution for accounting firms, and how automation is the future of this industry!


Episode Notes


Tom and Emily’s Beginnings

Tom begins the conversation by talking about his experience in accounting. He says that he received a call from an Inuit site leader in Tucson to teach them about point of sale—as  Quickbooks point of sale had just been released. Tom says this 10 day contracted position turned into a 10 year career at Intuit.

Emily also talks about how she started in accounting, and how it began with being hired as a project manager for Insightful Accountant. Emily then shares that she met Tom and the Bookkeep team at Scaling New Heights, and when she was looking for a new position, Tom reached out to her immediately.


Building Relationships Within the Accounting Community

Dawn brings up how everyone in the accounting industry is very supportive, and how there isn’t as much competition as you would expect. She highlights how important it is to be open to joining the accounting community and how it will lead to a better experience for both you and your business. 

Tom agrees and adds that it’s very important that everyone who chooses to join the accounting industry tbe passionate about what they do. He even goes on to share that the biggest influencers in the industry are people like Dawn, not the applications and products the industry uses.

Emily agrees and says that she recently spoke to someone new entering the accounting space, and they didn’t know how to approach “pitching themselves.” Emily says you can’t try to sell something to somebody; you have to build a relationship. You have to build trust with a client before they will be interested in your product.


How Bookkeep is “Selling Time”

Dawn brings up how automation is the future of the accounting industry, and she asks Tom about what Bookkeeping can do to help practitioners achieve this.

Tom brings up the point that at the end of the day, Bookkeep is ultimately “selling time.” He says that they are giving the community their time back. Tom says there is a shortage of Bookkeepers in the industry and they are using their application to solve that. Bookkeep allows practitioners to efficiently and effectively run their firms, which allows them time to focus on  what’s most important to them. 


How Great Customer Service is the Key to Client Retention

Tom and Dawn also talk about how important it is to maintain a good report between you and your client. Tom says that many other applications promise big things to practitioners, but often fail to deliver when it comes to customer service. 

Tom brings up how they have a chat support open Monday-Friday, but that their CEO, Jason Richelson is often answering questions that come in on the weekend. Tom and Emily both agree that having stellar customer service is the best way to support your clients, and they will support you in return.


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Dawn Brolin
Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a certified public accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, the president of powerful accounting, Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. And I’m here to tell you, if you are not searching for applications that eliminate data entry, you are missing the mark. Now I found an app, it is called Bookkeep. Bookeep solves for integrations between apps such as PayPal, or actually, really payment methods or ordering systems like GrubHub, things like that Shopify WooCommerce, the list is never ending, and they’re always adding on more applications. what is awesome about bookkeeping is that you simply connect your data file, whatever it may be, to bookkeeping, and it syncs just use GrubHub, for instance, it puts in GrubHub income at the gross amount, then it has expense accounts for GrubHub fees, and so on. And so it allows you to not be data entering or hand keying journal entries for these types of systems. And it does it correct every single time. When I found that application, this is a conversation that I’ve had with my, with my staff for years and years, we don’t want to enter data. When I found Bookkeep, we implemented it immediately for every client who has either PayPal, or Shopify, or GrubHub, or whatever it may be, so that those transactions can go in on a daily basis, magically while you’re sleeping. And you have accounting that is accurate, so you can make decisions. Are you selling enough? GrubHub? Are the fees worth it? How much are you paying? And so many people were using these applications have no idea what it really cost them to run through those systems. And so bookkeepers solve for that as accounting as an accounting professional, I always tell my staff, I want books to be correct. And I don’t do not want your hand keeping a journal entry. If you find yourself hand keying and transaction, then you need to stop and find the solution. And I can tell you right now, bookkeepers, solving that for all of our GrubHub Pay Pal, again, Shopify, there’s many different apps that they sync with. It’s awesome. I recommend that you go take a demo today, because it’s so easy, and it’s super affordable. So go get your designated motivator here. Go check out Bookkeep. Thank you so much for listening.

Hello everybody and welcome to the DM Disruption. Dawn Brolin here at a Wyndham, Connecticut. I’m super excited today to have two of my absolute favorite people just in general and in life. I think we have those people we love. And we’re here today with Tom Ruscitti… I tried every version. Okay, you say it.

Thomas Ruscitti

Dawn Brolin
Ruscitti. I got it. Pronunciation thing that your brother…

Thomas Ruscitti
That’s okay. Yeah, I mean, it took me 20 years to learn how to say it. So you’re okay.

Dawn Brolin
I can’t even imagine how long it took to spell it. Because there’s c in there.

Thomas Ruscitti
Right. Yeah, yeah.

Dawn Brolin
See? And then of course, we have the wonderful beautiful, amazing Emily Hedrick, which saying the name right? And my these are my people from bookkeeper. We’re not just going to sit here and talk about bookkeeper. We’re going to talk about some really cool industry wide thought leadership. Because that’s fancy for we’re just going to talk about stuff that we love to talk about. And so Tom and I have known each other for well, since we’re like two so it’s probably been three years. I think that’s…

Thomas Ruscitti

Dawn Brolin
And so Tom has been in the accounting industry for many years. Many again, like I said since he was two and Emily, who is just the backup of all backups you know, she’s actually in charge of Tom, Laney of courses to Emily really, at the end of the day on a day to day basis. Emily’s in charge so, I want each of you calm once you start just introduce yourself or why do you love the accounting industry and just say whatever you want my guy?

Thomas Ruscitti
Well, let me let me start by saying My name’s Tom Resetti or rachet. The that’s the Italian pronunciation and actually means small roses in Italian. Gosh, I’ve been working with QuickBooks ProAdvisor and in community for roughly 20 years maybe a little bit more and started I don’t know over 20 years ago, I got a call from Intuit site leader in Tucson who asked me if I could come and teach them a little bit about point of sale, because QuickBooks point of sale had just been released. And they didn’t realize they couldn’t sell it for like Chinese buffet restaurants and things like that. So I went down there on a 10 day contract and and ended up lasting 10 years. And the, you know, it’s funny because the everybody goes to these great huge conferences, and they’re, you know, like Oprah Winfrey and all kinds of famous people. But if you talk to some of the the original back then we used to come the input retail solution providers. You know, we started with six, we could have had our first conference in a car that our second, our first actual RSP retail solution provider conference was at a place called westward look in Tucson, Arizona, and we basically did it all ourselves. So Maria, and I and Marie’s two sons were, were putting the little pages in a binder for the agenda, Bill Bergen and I were, were banging a little brass tacks into the certificate. Gina was trying to keep me square, which was a full time job that no Emily does. Which I literally, I mean, let’s admit, if you’ve got to try to keep me on track, you should get hazard pay. Yeah, I’m not even gonna I can’t even deny it. Right. I mean, um, but, you know, it was, and still is. And if we want to, maybe chat about community, we can do that in a minute. But I’ve been in this in this marketplace, especially in the Intuit marketplace. Now we’re getting into the Xero marketplace and, and that ecosystem for 20 years. And honestly, I would say I’ve made more great friends in the Intuit community than I have my whole life. And I’m talking about through college and high school and, you know, a couple, a couple stints in prison. And yeah, you know, those were quick. Yeah, yeah. So, and that’s me.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Well, so Marie Archuleta, right, that was talking about wonderful woman when I thought I saw her in an airport last week, and it wasn’t her. But…

Thomas Ruscitti
Well, I will tell you, I don’t know if you’ve seen Marie recently. She looks like a movie star. She looks like a movie star.

Dawn Brolin
One of the most kind people you’ll ever meet.

Thomas Ruscitti
You want me to tell you a quick story about Maria, Maria and I go back, we go back a long time. She was one of the first RSP team members, solution provider team members, you know, I left Gina really took over Simon passed. And and But Marie and Gina were one of the two first. I mean, when when we first started this, it was myself, Marie Gina, no bargain. And then Craig Baker came a little bit later. And we did everything together. And we were going to work a show in San Francisco. And I was already there. And Marie was flying in. And it was a little bit later at night. So instead of making her take a taxi, I ordered her car service. Now, the difference between a car service and a taxi in San Francisco and you know, in the late 80s was probably 30 bucks, right?

Dawn Brolin
Back in the day. Yeah.

Thomas Ruscitti
To this to this day. Marie Archuleta later will tell that story about how special she felt. Because there she wouldn’t get in the cab. There was a guy standing there with a sign. And she got the feel important. And those are the kinds of things and I have hundreds of those 1000s of those where you just gotta make people feel special. And Marie was a very special human. She and so anything I could do to make her life easier. I was willing to do often at the expense of what into a closure P card. Yep. Which is your company purchasing car. Right? You know, and honestly, 20 years later, we do the same thing. And Emily can attest to it. Right? I’m not having I’m not gonna have Emily walking through a parking garage in New Orleans. No, valet parked the car. I don’t really care how much it costs, right. I mean, it’s not like we’re staying in a penthouse with caviar and champagne. Just valet? I don’t you know, something happens. Emily, we’re done.

Dawn Brolin
So that’s all backup.

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah, I’m losing no Orleans, only, you know? Yeah, think about just a second think about that. Yeah. Anyway, that’s me.

Dawn Brolin
So speaking of Emily, Emily, tell us about yourself. What’s your best name in the world? Emily?

Emily Hedrick
Yes, of course. So I just started with bookkeeper earlier this year. And my experience in the accounting industry started when I was at insightful accountant. And I was there for about two years, I was the webinar host, and kind of like the project manager for all of the webinar type contracts. So I was really lucky to interact with a lot of different apps, a lot of different people in the apps, a lot of presenters. And I do I love the accounting community, I had previously worked with some corporate and higher ed clients. And it’s a lot different. The accounting industry is very, very welcoming. Everybody I feel like is really super nice and wants to help everybody else succeed. And so I really do like that about this industry. And it’s so great to go to these conferences, you know, we’ve been online for the last couple years. So going out to these conferences, and being able to shake people’s hands and see them in person has been really awesome. Really awesome experience.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, it’s interesting. And I love what Tom said too, about, like, you make these friends in this industry, and people are so welcoming. They everybody kind of wants to help each other. You know, it’s not, you know, I just don’t think there’s competition. Honestly, I think most people have their like, what they’re really good at what they’re not really good at. But I just found, you don’t get those emails, you get those things and emails from people like, hey, why don’t you know, join, we’ll guarantee you five new clients, I’m like, I don’t want anymore. Good. I’m so good. And the reason why I like the way I look at it is, you know, just want to back up a second, making friends. I just went to Deb ephors birthday party a few weeks ago, Deb has been a friend of mine for a long, long time. She’s a great person, great human. And, you know, that’s what these relationships do by by building up and you you know who the good people are. And I’m not fine. I’ve not found a lot of crappy people within the accounting industry. There’s some that are a little, maybe a little bit more headstrong than others. And you just got to know where to fit in, when it comes to that kind of a thing. But you know, that conferences, going to conferences is great. That’s how you like, face to face. And right, Emily, like we’ve been online for so long. And that’s been really tough, right? And it’s, it’s a whole different experience when you wrap your arms around somebody or just, you know, be able to sit and have a coffee or whatever. And that’s like, so great. And so, you know, thinking back Tom to, you know, the 20 years plus that you’ve been involved in the industry, what the heck is going on? Now, we were talking 20 years ago about nobody even dreamed of an online platform, maybe? I think 10 years ago, 12, maybe even 13? We were like, Oh, I see, I remember when I was in I was in this partnership. And I want to work remote because I have young kids and they were having nothing to do with remote working? No, you need to be in the office, your buttons be in the seat, and are still companies like that right now. Which I think those guys might find themselves in a little bit of trouble, because of the way things are moving. And you’ve got your young professionals coming up. But, you know, back back in the day, Tom, why don’t you tell us about back in the day? What was it like?

Thomas Ruscitti
Well, you know, before we had electricity and running water, and no, you know, but the thing is, if you really look at what’s gone on, and, you know, in my illustrious professional careers, and you know, I’m old now, let’s, let’s just be serious, right? I’m old, and I’m okay with that. Right. But I was in the point of sale business, I installed more hospitality point of sale terminals, and then probably any three people in America. And it was always a local network. They had a server in the back they did you know, you had to cable you had to do all this kind of stuff. And you had to run cabling in the kitchen and you put a printer in the kitchen and then three days later, it’s full of grease and you know, all that kind of stuff. But nobody would ever back then even consider like a cloud, but companies come on. Seriously, right? Let’s not even talk about right now. And honestly, our founder and CEO Jason Nicholson was really one of the pioneers of this cloud based and then he he’s really lost his mind and said he was going to put it on an iPad. But if you remember 15 years ago, the only people used iPads for the kids and they were playing Candy Crush or whatever they do. Right? And and he’s out Nope, I’m gonna put it in the cloud my POS in the cloud, and I’m gonna have it on an iPad and everybody in the POS community went, Yeah, right. Yes. Yeah. Look at it shopkeep, one of the most successful startups of the day, you know, and it does that with 40 or 50,000. Margins. Cloud based on an iPad. Crazy Talk. Now not looking at what we do now. I mean, there is more, there’s more technology in my phone, in the near phone, then NASA had when they went to the moon, for real, that’s crazy talk. Yeah. Crazy. And, and so technology wise. I can’t even say the sky’s the limit, because we’ve already passed that. Right. So where do we go next? But I think that I really think that the the art community, right, is well served by people who actually care about what we do, honestly. I mean, you know, when you said, I met lots of people, most of them are good people, the majority of them, there might be some that are headstrong, the vendor side of that is exactly the opposite. Right? Everybody wants to be in the Intuit community. Why? Because they’re like, 160,000, pro advisors. Right? Right. I don’t know, there’s some ridiculous number, right. So everybody sees that as as fertile ground. Right. And so they, they sweep in, and they’re the new kid on the block. And you know, they might be a little better looking. And they might be have a nicer car, if you go back and look at high school, and, but they’re not willing to commit to the community. And if you think you’re gonna be successful in the Intuit community in two years, then you You’re crazy, right? This is a long term play. And people in this community, it’s funny, because I tell people coming into this community all the time, you’re gonna shake a lot of hands and kiss a lot of babies, long before you see any revenue. 100%. Right. And the people that are the greatest influencers in our community, the people that everybody else listens to, right, typically don’t do the most business. Because the people that are doing the most business, are busy doing business, and not really that concerned about helping the community. Right. Yeah. So, you know, the big influencers are helping your your brand or product, right, but we’re not getting that business from them. Right? No, I mean, you’re a great example. Everybody, everybody in the world wants to be associated with Don, bro. Everybody. Right? Yeah, I’m telling you. Yeah. When when we started setting up the first thing that the guys from whatever their name was, I can remember their booth. He said, Oh, so you know, who do you work with? Right? Guy said, do you work with the umbrella? And I said, Oh, yeah, I’m then going for 2000 years. Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, that’s because only the good die young. You know, you know, that movie Highlander where they hack off his head and it grows back. But the moment I mentioned Dawn Brolin, they’re, they’re like in reverence like, oh, well, you know, you and I don’t work together, because it’s just something that we do, right? I mean, it takes work, especially, especially on your guy’s part. I mean, for Emily? Oh, you know, I mean, you know, you get a reprieve. Right? You know, cuz you don’t talk to me every day. That’s right. You know,

Dawn Brolin
the day you’re so right, like, it’s not, this isn’t a short term play. This is the part of a family that lives forever, this is dumb. And you see the apps that come in, quick sweep in, and then they’re gone. And understanding, first of all, the foundation of the apps partners, that you want to work with the foundation of what they believe in their, you know, their moral compass, just there to sell you a product or are they there to help you improve your business and the lives of your customer, your clients? Right? And that is something you have to you know, I always believe that about Intuit right? So when I that was like my, I’ll say that’s my first app that I started dealing with, right? Because I went into staples. I’m like, green box. I like that color was from my high school. I’m like, All right, I’m gonna go with the green one, I don’t even know if anything else was there as little Running Man, you know. And as I started to get to know them joining the Intuit accountant Council and then getting to know Tom through the IRP, well, whatever they want to call it now, that reseller program and all of that, you just I didn’t know there was such great people in the accounting industry, I just, I mean, I’m sitting my desk and that’s all I ever knew. But then when I started, I’m like, this is a company that really does care about their customers people like Alison ball, you’re like, that’s I met Alison through there and invasin and you know, Andy, and Shana all those guys who were the fountain Maria Marcela, and their name is the list is endless, really, of great people I’ve met and got to know through time Mark Dean is also another one of my favorites. I had Mark, you’ll love this little story about Mark being mark the, his voice, I’m like, bro, you need to be an announcer or something or, or even like maybe like a really a beautiful love song radio show. I had him record a voicemail, like a morning, wake up. On this is your day, you got this and whatever, I play it every once in a while. Like, that’s what it’s all about. You need the longevity, I can’t be introducing apps to my clients, and then they’re gone in two years. So that’s my responsibility to vet them. And I think that for those that are listening, that is a really important point that you have to take home. Right. And Emily, you’ve seen it what, obviously working with an Insightful Accountant, you came across a lot of app partners, with a lot of people. So you saw that firsthand. Oh, yeah. And like you just, you know, you just kind of knew probably after the first 10 minutes of a conversation,

Emily Hedrick
Well and it takes a little bit of time to we had a conversation this past week with somebody who’s very new in the space. And, you know, I think they were they didn’t really know how to approach it. And I was, you know, I was like, Look, I’ve been in here about to a little over two years. Now, you can’t just go in and try to sell something to somebody, you have got to build a relationship with them. They have to trust you to be even interested in your product. Right?

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. And again, you’re just getting the first five minutes you get that? Yeah. So you know what, as we look back, and we say, okay, back in the day, whenever the cloud was like, What are you nuts? You know, what are you smoking today? Like, that was kind of like, you know, all right, are we back in the set in the 60s, where we’re gonna go back to, you know, doing drugs and stuff? I don’t know, and go back. But it’s like, that’s the thing. And so the industry is changing. And here’s where I think it’s so important. As we look forward to the future, we look at the back the past and like, we didn’t believe this would we would be here? Well, some of us did. Right? As time went on, we knew this was coming. And we knew changes were going to be made. And so the industry itself is in an interesting shift right now. We need a lot of young, professional, we need people we need people in the industry, people are phasing out fashion they’re coming in. And that’s really important for us to pay attention to. And if you think about that, whether they’re doesn’t matter what their age is, they’re new in the industry, like you were saying, Emily, whether that was a vendor or an attendee either way, as you’re trying to maneuver in here it is, it is hard. It’s hard to figure out who to commit to and who not to commit to. And that’s probably the biggest challenge. Now, technology is replacing in some cases, and it should, it should, I should never be taping this keyboard, right as a keyboard. Can you see it? Yep, there we go. The keyboard and doing things like this to create transactions in a data file. We should be solving for that. And at the same time, not decreasing our prices, because we feel like we’ve automated things. So there’s this interesting conversation about where are we going and where am I going to fit in? Tom, you are seeing that right now. People just

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah, and the thing is, you know, and I’m sure Emily can speak much more eloquently on this, but we’re really selling time. Right? I don’t know if you’re a big fan of home COMM And I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that or I have to have some kind of copywriter hometown is a home improvement show where these to this young couple, Ben and Erin Napier in Laurel, Mississippi. They go around and they rebuild these old houses in Laurel. Now Morrow is a small town, so And this week, they did uh, I don’t know what media it was on. He had given his wife the gift of time for her birthday. They have two young kids now. So You know, they’re always running around, and he’s playing at lunch for her with her mom a day that you can work in the art studio. He’s taken care. And we’re not as romantically, but we’re doing the same thing. Right, what we’re doing for our community is giving them their time back. Okay, we’re, we’re solving for the aggravation that is leading to a shortage of of bookkeepers and accountants in our community. Because, you know, after the 10,000, manual reconciliation you’re trying to do you say to yourself, there has got to be a better way, right? I should just go drive Uber, so that I’m not frustrated, like I am putting his data in. Yeah. And if we can save you two hours a week, five hours a week, 12 hours a month. The question that Emily will ask is, what are you going to do with that time? Are you going to find more clients? Are you going to help more clients and do more consulting work? Are you going to make your kids baseball games? Are you going to be at your, your kids dance recital? Or any if you look at as a vendor, how I can help you? Right? The my client, right now, people talk about clients, and they’re really, they have in their head? The clients are the end users. My clients, are you. Exactly. Yeah, that’s, and you know, the guy who started Southwest Airlines, I can’t remember his name, um, said, my mission is to take care of the employees, because if I take care of the employees, they’re going to take care of my customers. Exactly. My job. My mission every day when I wake up, is to make sure that you know, no matter who else is your partner with that bookkeepers got your back? Yep.

Dawn Brolin
Period. Great example, Tom. I think it was Thursday or Friday, last week, that I, I think I emailed you, or I text you. And I said, you know, we’re using bookkeeper for client, any client that has that can integrate with your tool, whether it be square or whatever, Pay Pal, all the bazillion ones that you guys work with? Then I’m awesome. I’ve got that up and running, I get so excited when we get a new client or even an existing client who’s starting to do sales to another venue. And we’re like, oh, we could sell for this. This isn’t going to take us more time. And I text you and said do you do posting by class? And that’s because my one of my bookkeepers, Nicole, she was like, we have this client we’ve had I’ve been just doing their tax return, we’re not been doing a lot of consulting with them. But they’re growing like crazy. And she’s like, they have this reporting requirement where they need the sales to come in blah, blah, blah, do they do my class, and I’m like, it doesn’t by class right time, because I’m not needed to use class. So I don’t ask about unless I need it. And I was like, You do classes and I sent that to Nicole, I could see that I could feel the relief from 20 miles away where she lives. Because she is the bookkeeper is exactly what you’re talking about. She wants to solve for the client, that’s her thing. Her job is to make the client’s life better to give them the time back. So you’re giving us the to connect our goal is to give them the time back and have them actually reporting accurately and all the rest of that stuff. But you’re so right on that time. 100%. And Emily, I want you to jump in on that.

Emily Hedrick
I mean, I’ll just echo Tom is it’s I mean, you’d have to put in care you have to care for whether that is your accountant, or where the whether that’s the end user, that you have to provide value. You can’t just sell something and think, Oh, well, everything’s great. And they should use it just because like, there has got to be that we’re saving you time. And whether that is adding more clients to your business, taking a day off only working four days a week, go in to see your kids, you know, activities. Those are important things and I hear it from from users, you know that they are saving time they are able to go pick their kids up from school, and that’s a really nice thing to hear. Because we’re not just selling something just to sell it. Right.

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah. And I mean, you could monetize that all you want. I mean, we we have research studies and you know, you’re gonna save X amount of dollars, X amount of hours, but that’s, that doesn’t hit home. Until you say, you know, wouldn’t it be nice to actually have dinner with your family three times a week instead of once, right? And then people start to realize, but it’s the it’s, it’s that type of relationship. You know? And, you know, again, if you want to see the opposite, go go run it restaurant for a couple of months. And and you could buy tomatoes from a guy, the produce vendor for 20 years. And then somebody comes in and offers you those same tomatoes, or what they say the same tomatoes for 20 cents cheaper upon, and you’re buying tomatoes from that because of tomatoes, that tomato, tomato, right, and you get the first shipment and not all of them are firm. And some of them may be broken or whatever. And the first thing you say is I should have never left my 20 year guy. Yeah. Right. But you did it. Right. Yeah, we’re the same way. Our booking is not the cheapest solution. We were especially when we were younger, we probably were because that’s how you get business. But we’re not the cheapest solution. Right? And and if you want the cheaper solution, go get the cheaper solution. And then when it breaks, or when you know, the two guys in the garage, don’t answer the phone, when you call for support, then you can come back to us.

Dawn Brolin
Well, and I think that’s another great conversation because support, right? support is critical. And when you’re working with some kind of a solution provider, and you can’t get somebody pretty darn quickly, you’re gonna be frustrated, and you’re gonna, you’re gonna waste that time that you thought you were gaining back by the way, you just lost more time than you were doing. So now you’re you’re at the negative, we’re in the negative now and nobody wants to be in the negative like I don’t think anybody does. And so that’s another big consideration. So How available are they? And you know what, at the end of the day, you’re not going to know until you’re in a jam. That’s when you know how good support is, is when you’re like oh crap, I’m in trouble. I need help. And then that’s when the truth starts to come about. And so you know, definitely one of the things and I’m you know, we’re we are talking about bookkeeper today, because why wouldn’t we? bookkeeper for us, my biggest thing was I can get in the chat and get somebody like almost right away, like pretty much right away. And it Listen, can you you know, I don’t have I don’t want to email. I don’t want to freaking email another person who stabbed myself on emails, right? You guys have that support? Not every app has chat support, and chat support where they actually get on to chat and answer you like a human. I can tell you real quick, because I know you’ve got something on your head in your head there. I had an app. No, it wasn’t an app. It was always something I was trying to get solved for a client. I can’t remember exactly what’s but it was a there was chat support. And it was a bot like one of those bot things. It’s like, hey, what do you need? And I’m like, I need a customer service representative will and then it just the can thing and I’m like ready to kill someone. It was one of my restaurant clients actually. And so I’m on there. And she’s watching me because I’m sharing the screen. And then they said something like, oh, no, no one’s available at this time. And I typed it I go, of course, there’s no one available because that would be convenient for me. And then the guy jumps back out. He’s like, No, this is actually a real person. I’m like, Well, you were pretty good disguise because you sounded like a bot. And it was just funny. When I was just like, Yeah, of course you don’t have anybody available. But of course, it’s a huge deal. Support is a huge deal.

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah. So it’s funny, you talk about our chat, um, especially on the weekends. So we’re our chat support. Our support team works Monday through Friday, right? The chat is on over the weekend. And you know, who’s monitoring that over the weekend? Jason, our founder and CEO, Jason Richelson. And he was answering chats while he was on vacation in Spain. Yeah, and, and that, first of all, that just shows the kind of person he is. But that’s also for me. Kind of sad. Right? This poor guy can’t even take a vacation. Now, somebody else would have answered it. I’m sure. I mean, I answered chats all weekend. But if you have the level of commitment, and again, I go back to commitment to the community, right? That person who chatted over the weekend was probably going to be okay, if we waited till Monday. Sure. But now they’re never going anywhere. Right? I mean,

Dawn Brolin
You know, I think part of it too, is I know as a practitioner, and this you guys are smart, because obviously Tom you know everything and Emily knows everything soon, Jason’s got it all figured out. So you guys like I have a solid team. But at the end of the day, a lot of practitioners find the time to be able to work on those integrations and do those types of things on the weekend. You know why? Because the frickin phone isn’t ringing, and the people aren’t coming in the door. It’s that ability on the weekend, to be able to focus and I find myself like, during the week, I’m a 10 to four girl, if I can help it at most, I want to be no more than tend to four. Sometimes on Friday. I’ll just work in the morning and then I know I’m going to work on Saturday for three or four hours, because I know it’s gonna be quiet and I know I’ll be productive. And so you know, who wants to work on the weekends? Nobody but who wants to work during the week? Nobody. So like, it’s just like pick your battle, right when it comes to when you’re working. But having that support time, those people will never go away.

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah. And you know, I say all the time, man, if I hit the Powerball, I’m calling in rich, right? I gotta, Hey, boss, I can’t I can’t come to work today. I got a vision problem. Well, what’s matter? I can’t see myself working anymore. I just hit the Powerball. You know, but, you know, the other thing is, again, not wanting to give away any trade secrets here. But if I send an email on Saturday, so I get twice the open rates, as I do, if I send it Monday through Friday, sometimes even higher than that. And I know, I know for a fact that if I emailed Dawn Brolin Saturday morning, I’m going to get an immediate response now, Monday through Friday, it might be an hour or two. Yeah. Saturday morning, she’s when she sees it. She’s answered, bang, right.

Dawn Brolin
Commitment. That’s the two way commitment.

Thomas Ruscitti
Again, I think that if if you really want to see the true colors of the vendors that you want to work with, call support or chat support and see see what the results are right now. We do. I don’t I don’t think I know for sure. I don’t know everything Emily may. But I don’t know everything. I do know this, that once you have a relationship with a Intuit, member of community member, you have got to cherish that, because you’re only two scrubs away from everybody in the community known your screw up. Yeah. And I can list them. Yeah, I mean, there are hundreds of people who have flown into this community and screwed us up. And then we all have to recover. Right? And, and, frankly, and I’m sure you have to beat this out. It pisses me off that they think they can come in here so cavalierly. And work within this community. Yeah, it really does.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, yeah, I think that, you know, I find for myself, you know, oh, that looks like a good app. And I’ll go look and see what they’re doing whatever my biggest thing is, I, I want to I want to evaluate how they’re approaching me. Right? are they sticking a pamphlet my face and whatever? Like, what are they actually like, Hey, so what is your what is your firm like, like, actually having that conversation, of course, conferences are the great place to do that. And at the same time, I think conferences sometimes do a disservice. They do a little service, because they don’t do necessarily don’t do their due diligence to, to, you know, vet out the apps that are that want to come and sponsor their show, instead of just being Oh, yeah, come on in, we want your 7500 bucks or your $15,000 or whatever, because we’re trying to fill the show floor, we want to make a lot of stuff there. And that’s not always the best decision.

Thomas Ruscitti
Well, a good example where you were at scaling new heights this year, there was a company that was making a lot of noise about how great they were and what a great partner they were going to be for whatever group and scaling new heights and the night before setup, they were putting up the big banners on the on the columns way into the show. And that was the big buzz, this company was going to give away this giveaway that that night, they went bankrupt, turn the lights off. And that morning, we were going to set up and they were pulling things off the columns. And that’s because you know, $75,000 for a sponsorship. That’s That’s good. That’s a that’s a big win. But only if they show up. Yeah. And my advice to them when it was going on, was quite simply get paid up front. Yep. 100%. Right. So the moral of that story is just because they have the big, flashy new car doesn’t make them the best transportation to the fair.

Emily Hedrick
And I feel like a lot of people in the accounting industry, I mean, as from my experience alone, like, nobody sees an app and just goes and jumps into it. Like it takes time. It takes all of that going to see about customer care and really understanding the business and getting a little bit of background about the people that are running it for them to make a decision to go for it.

Dawn Brolin
Well, I think the vendors, the app partners that choose the right people, so like bringing Jason’s no dummy brought Tom on that he brought Emily on.

Emily Hedrick
Tom found me at Scaling New Heights last year. So that’s how we, that’s how we connected.

Thomas Ruscitti
Because because Emily, Emily and her girlfriend were trying to play pool. And it was really sad. It was actually it was it Yeah, shout and shout out to Molly near the two of them actually knew how to hold a full stick but they wanted to they wanted to do something. I mean, you know, we did a thing where come on by we had Jason’s Amex card and we run up the bill. And, you know, but yeah, and honestly, whatever happened where she was working before I happen to be on LinkedIn when she posted and 10 minutes after she posted she was looking for a job. She was talking to Jason. Yeah. Because we needed Emily. We every day, I tried to tell him how much I appreciate what she does, because we were just getting crushed. Otherwise. But I mean, you know, and again, I think this, this becomes kind of a kind of a, a more emotional conversation as you as you go deeper into it. Because, you know, if you’re going to look at an application, I want to know what else that company does, right? If they’re selling cars, and they have an app, pretty certain your app is falling below the line when it comes to how am I going to help? You know, and if there’s a, you know, if somebody screws up in this community, and a year later, two years later shows up with another app or another company and thinks that we’re all not going to remember. They get what they deserve. Yeah, they really do. I mean, and you know, there is there is so much good. That happens in our community, that the bad actors, the bad actors should get called out and they should get drummed out of our community. Right. And just like just like trek, right, which a lot of people say, you know, I looked like a cross between Shrek and Sean Connery. Shrek lives outside the village, because he’s grumpy, and he’s this and he’s out in this other. But the end of the day, you saved the day. And that day, right? Those people get drummed out of our community because they don’t deserve an opportunity to serve you. All right, honestly, I mean, you know, what would I do if I wasn’t doing this? I don’t know. I often say I wish I was born rich instead of good looking. But, you know, I mean, there’s something about having lifelong friends. I mean, yeah, you know, I’m Don, it’s, they’re the same cast of characters, you know, and, and some of them retire, some of them go on to do other things, but they’re going to be friends forever. And, you know, hopefully, when I croak. It’s not going to be how much business I brought to you. It’s going to be that, you know, he was a good guy, and he helped and he made a difference. Because we’re all going sometime right now. evitable. I never seen on a gravestone. He was a great employee. Or, you know, or, you know, he should have been one more cold call. You know…

Emily Hedrick
No, I totally agree, Tom. Like, I mean, like I said, I go to these conferences, and, you know, people will come up and compliment me, but it’s like, they’re not, they’re not, they’re complimenting the job I do, but they’re complimenting me as a person. And like, it is so fulfilling to go and talk to these people and just have that response.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, yeah. 100% is it’s interesting you say that way too. Because at the end of the day, you know, you go to a funeral and you you know, I’ve been to too many we all have been to MIT to too many in the last couple of years but just looking around and like when my line be this long, like you know, you look around here like would they would they would I would people be sad that I was gone would they be celebrating which is what I prefer them to do? You know, celebrating that that time. But at the end of the day, I always want to be remembered and I’m not saying I’m great at it. I’m just saying that i My goal is always to strive that people when they think about me, they smile. They don’t they’re not like Bruins here, wonder what wonder what painful story she’s going to tell today. This is like a happy time for me. Right and, and that’s what we want. And there’s in that those relationships that you’re building out there, that’s what life is about, you know, automating the The accounting is awesome, because you know why I can have my time back I can, I took Friday off, I went down to Scarborough and I bid up with Saratoga met up with my aunt, my uncle, and, you know, those are the things that we should be doing. And at the same time, my company is still running, I’m not coming in on Monday morning with this overflow of emails, because we’ve, we’re really working so hard to have things automated, and for people to be able to get their lives back. You know, I mean, only want to talk to us, they don’t want to talk to the stinking accountant, they just don’t, some do some do too much, in some ways, but it’s like, you know, that’s what you want for your business, you want to be able to get into your office at whatever time, you know, my standard is 10. Today, I had a, I had a call at 930. So I had to come in really early, you know, so, but being able to come in and not be like, Oh, my goodness, what happened over the weekend is all that what I’m going to run into on a Monday. And we’ve really worked hard to minimize that painful exposure, I failed somebody because that’s the last thing I ever want to do is to fail someone. So I think, you know, as we’re thinking in the future, and as we’re considering what what is going to happen as we continue to move forward. And it’s client satisfaction, because Tom, what you were saying about the apps where they swoop in, they screw about, you don’t want to be that accounting professional, either. Yeah, you bring a client on, and you’re the state standard, same old, same old accountant, like the other guy, you don’t want to do that. You want to set yourself up for success and for you to stand out. And in order for you to do that. You want to make sure your clients are saying, Oh, my goodness, my account is freaking awesome. And then they were burning up sorry. We’re not taking on any more clients. And boy, you got lucky, you’re on the list. And that’s what I’ve been telling clients recently. I’m like, Listen, I’m not taking on new clients, because I want to get better at those I have. And if that means later, you know, six months or a year from now, I can open back up to accepting new clients and cool. But, you know, and I think app partners think a little bit about that themselves, too, as you guys are almost interviewing us as the accounting professionals say, Do I want to work with person? So be your person!

Thomas Ruscitti
Sure, yeah, you’re exactly right. Because it’s kind of be it’s kind of be a more genuine relationship for it to be successful. Right. Now. Interestingly enough, you know, if we want to talk about where the industry is, is actually heading, I think you’re on the forefront of that because you introduce your tech stack, right? Here’s what I here’s what I use. Now, if you get a client and they say, Well, I don’t want to use bookkeeper, I want to use x, well, good, you go ahead and do that. Find somebody else to work with you. I don’t really want to be your account. Right? But not everybody does that. So then you have three people on this product and three people on this product and, you know, five cuts five clients on on truly and five clients on relay and, you know, three clients on melon, or whatever it is, you know, pick a name, you know, I want to I want a software application called prune. Right? You guys gotten a peach tree and you got this? Prune because nobody’s gonna mistake that right. Whatever it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be right, right. Right. Nobody else will steal that name. Right sauerkraut? I mean, come on. I mean, Dorian fruit, something that people are gonna go, wow. But anyway, but no, I mean, I think you’re seeing that now. And the other thing I think you’re seeing is you and I see it all the time. And I’m not really sure why but you know, Oh, get good training, become a virtual bookkeeper. And you can work 10 hours a week, and that could be your side gig. Yep. Right. Well, I don’t want my dentist to be a side gig, right. I prefer my, I prefer my cardiologist actually spent most of his time doing cardiologist stuff, but not soapbox derby. Yeah, I mean, seriously, right. So now it’s a side gig. And they think that they think that they have the process down where you don’t actually have to know bookkeeping to be a bookkeeper. And that’s just the most dangerous thing ever. Right? So we’ve just got to weed that kind of stuff out there. There are really great folks who do that too. Right? They create their own network, they create their own training and, and they’re very successful when they adopt a tech stack and their followers adopt that same tech stack. That’s great. But anybody thinks you can take six hours of training become a bookkeeper? I want them to do my competitors books.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s so true. Because at the end of the day, and that’s one of the things like for me, and a lot of my colleagues that are out, you know, Marriott Martinez, there’s a million other sites Literally all kinds of different people who are out there doing great things, right Hector Garcia just helping so many people learn. We are actually practitioners a difference between someone who’s trying to thought without owning a practice versus those that are owning a practice. And that’s one of the things for me. You know, people are like, Well, how long are you going to keep doing accounting? You should just go out and keep and do the speaking. I don’t know, the keeps me grounded. It’s not about it’s alright, I’m not doing it for free, right? I mean, it’s got to be a little bit about money. But I’m doing accounting, because I know I have to keep my head in the game. I have in order for me to help other people be successful, I have to prove that I can be successful. My own practice, otherwise, I wouldn’t talk it sideways out of my mouth. That’s not true. It just can’t be that.

Thomas Ruscitti
And there’s the difference on honestly, as we as we wrap this up, there’s a difference. You’re honest enough about the relationship that you’re building to say, hey, look, this is also about money. You’re not a nonprofit, nope. Or at least not by design. But you’re not a nonprofit, book gate is not a nonprofit. No, it there is a way to be successful, and still be profitable. And that is by actually doing the things that we do. Right. And it costs a lot of money. There’s a lot of resources behind what we do now. Four of us went to zero con New Orleans. How much did that cost bookie? I don’t know what the booth probably 20 $25,000. But like I told these, these folks who just showed up at zero con, half the people that are in this show today won’t be here next year? Well, honestly, I think including them, right? Because they don’t have the commitment. This is all about commitment. I’ll come in at the dawn Burleigh. Right. And Don Brolin knows that, right. Don Brolin knows that she can text me on a weekend and or in the middle of night with a question or concern, and she’s gonna get an answer. Absolutely. If if you don’t have that degree of confidence in your vendor, your technology provider, then you’re with the wrong technology provider. Yep. Right. I can tell you that 99% of the people in the community that that we do business with have my cell phone. Yep. That’s probably stupid on my part.

Dawn Brolin
But you don’t give it to just anybody either, right?

Thomas Ruscitti
I don’t. Wow. Yeah. That’s a whole different I was there. Yeah. Let’s slow down that train. But that’s honestly, I mean, you know, you have to be committed to each and every one of these, these partners you work with, because otherwise they’re gonna know. I mean, if I, if I have asked this 20 years ago, then you know, I’d be making spaghetti sauce it you know, Luigis, you know, pizzeria or you’d be selling revenue off the street? Well, yeah. And I do do that, too. If you look at my Facebook page now, um, I do make however, the best meat sauce in America.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. So I know. I mean, this has been a great conversation. I think it’s the in there a lot of people who want to learn how to work with vendors, and how to work with the app partners. And, and so I think just even listening to this to get that guideline of what’s important. And that’s, that’s really to be true to yourself. So Emily, I’ll let you say your last words.

Emily Hedrick
Yeah, sure. I mean, what you just said, something I’ve been thinking about that, as we’ve been talking is just, you just have to be authentic, you have to be authentically you. And your company has to be authentic and committed to to the clients and to whatever the mission of the company is.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, absolutely. Tom,

Thomas Ruscitti
My last word. You want my last words?

Dawn Brolin
Well, no, just go. Dot, dot, dot after whatever use

Thomas Ruscitti
Yeah, I mean, seriously, I agree. 100%. If you’re not committed, they’ll know you’re not committed to them, and you’ll be on your way. And if you’re in our space, you should find something else to do. Because we are we are committed, we are 100% committed. You know, I think we have 25 people that work for us and 19 of them development and support. Right. And so, you know, to those poor guys that were next to us. That’s just trying to find something else to do.

Dawn Brolin
Go make your own spaghetti sauce meat, so yeah, I mean, yeah. So I’ll wrap it up by saying the moment I met Jason last fall, so of course, I came over the bookie booth because of Tom. I’m like, oh my god, it’s Tom. But me too. Jason, I’m just having the conversation with him. He’s extremely intelligent. As a matter of fact, as a CEO, I owe him some reports out of a bowling alley. Sale system. Right. And he and I had that conversation a couple weeks ago. And then he actually emailed me I think it was Thursday or Friday and say Brolin, get me those bowling alley reports. He doesn’t have to do that. That says a lot about it to me, what he’s trying to accomplish for every small business owner in the world.

Thomas Ruscitti
He has to do that Dawn. Yeah, because he’s committed to doing it. Yep. And that’s the difference. Honestly, that’s the difference. We are our entire team is is so committed. I I mostly am committed because I don’t want to let him down. Yeah, I mean, yeah. And that’s what it’s about. We don’t want to let you down. He does, you know, I mean,

Dawn Brolin
let you down the road goes both ways. I think that once you can build that solid foundation, that relationship, that there’s a home run relationship right there that you will have forever. And so you know, and I think at the end of the day, as people that are listening, that’s that’s the message but I want to thank you both so much for coming on to the DEM disruption today. We’re just trying to shake up the industry, get people to be out there and actually doing something with the tools that they’re being given essentially, from our partners like bookkeepers to give you your life back to give you your time, and your team, your staff, and then hopefully at the end your clients and so that’s you know, that’s what we’re trying to help educate, teach people to do. But Emily and Tom Thank you guys so much for for joining me today and our future is forever. So we look forward to having you on again as we continue this conversation because it’s ongoing and forever, until we’re dead.

Thomas Ruscitti
And then I’ll come back and haunt you so you’re not even gonna get away from me like by the by that.

Dawn Brolin
Not possible. Alright, everybody. Thanks, everybody. Take care. We’ll talk soon.



Episode Summary

This episode is sponsored by SmartVault. Learn more at https://www.smartvault.com/

John Coleman, the owner of Commonwealth Business services, joins the DM Disruption! Listen now to learn how John uses SmartVault in his business, and how proper file management can save your firm time!


Episode Notes


How John Found SmartVault

John begins his conversation with Dawn by talking about how he first saw Dawn in a CPE training course that discussed proper file management and storage. He said that he was looking for a new file storage system at the time, as their current program discontinued that service.

He discovered SmartVault through Dawn’s presentation, and was also intrigued by her teachings because of her admiration for softball. In the training, Dawn talked about how proper file management allowed her to leave the office early and attend softball practice. 

He learned that SmartVault seemed to have exactly what they needed, and he says it is a wonderful program. 


How John Uses SmartVault

Johns talks about the features of SmartVaults that he appreciates, and especially highlights SmarVaults drag-and-drop capability. He loves the feature of being able to seamlessly drag documents from emails directly into SmartVault.

John also talks about how you can print a client’s tax return directly to SmartVault to a specific client. This saved his admin a lot of time, and saved them from having to manually and separately send the forms.

John finishes by saying that they were able to complete more returns than they did in previous years, and they were able to save time when doing so.


Managing Work Life Balance

John shares with Dawn that he was able to attend every softball game and practice for his children while in the midst of tax season. Even though tax season can be a busy and stressful time for his firm, because of the software and technology they implement, they were able to complete more returns than they ever had that year.

John even shares that he was able to take a 5 day vacation after tax season, and he says that was the longest he’d been out of the office in years.


Importance of Succession Planning

John also talks about how one of his employees suddenly passed away, and how losing him was very hard on the firm. He said he was very integral to their business and it proved to be more of a hardship than they expected. 

He also said that this was one of things that encouraged him to seek out software and technology to assist with many of the tasks they need to get done. While no one is glad to see good co-workers leave, it’s important to have procedures in place to ensure the business can continue to operate smoothly.




Want to learn more about John and his business?

Check him out here: https://www.teamcommonwealth.com/index.php


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you did it?

Hey everybody and welcome to the DM disruption.

I’m here, my name is Don Brolin, I’m a C.



And a certified fraud examiner and I’m out here trying to help educate other practitioners to improve their processes, improve their lives in some capacity, if that’s possible.

And I have the honor, I would say of having jOHn Coleman with commonwealth business services with me here today on the D.


Disruption, john has an amazing story.

I’m wearing a vintage smart ball t shirt this episode of DM disruption sponsored by smart fault.

And we’re going to talk about smart ball today because smart boat sounds like may have helped jOHn in some capacity in his life.

So john introduce yourself, tell us all about yourself and then we’re gonna get into the story.

Hi, well, my name is john Coleman, I live in central Virginia.

We’re in a little town called fredericksburg, which is equidistant between Washington dc and Richmond And I have a firm, we have about 14 people.

There’s some part timers, some full timers and we do tax and bookkeeping and the only reason why I’m here is is basically because of a fluke that happened.

you know, I had taken some classes, it was a training for some other software back in february of 2021 you know, if you count up your C.


E in december, you go, okay, yeah, I took that.

So, but I didn’t have a certificate from these people.

And so I reached out to them and they said, well no, those, those 20 hours aren’t C.




So I was like, oh my God.

So, one of my staff said, well, this is one and two hour things you can take,, that are fairly informative.

I had never heard of before.

And so I started taking these one and two hour classes and Dawn happened to be in one of them.

And he was talking about, you know, file storage.

And the file storage system that we’ve been using for a very long time was called File hold.

And the only reason why we’re using that is because we have been, we’ve been continued to use a lizard, which is a fantastic tax program, but it had its own document management system, but it discontinued their document management system.

So we had to quickly find something else.

And we went to,, to this other program that really just was kind of archaic in a way, it was really interested in finding out a little bit about smart ball.

Well, needless to say Don was on the program and she started talking about how she’s a big softball player and say, well, you know, I mean, I, I have 22 boys and they both play baseball and they’re at the age now they’re pretty close in age together, but they’re at the age where they have to be on two separate teams right now.

And so it was my turn to coach, the younger ones team and their, their, their practices start at the end of february, beginning of March.

So I had to be out of here, as dawn had mentioned in her thing, her program, I had to be out of here at like 4 30 on some days in the middle of tax season to get home, get them and get them to their practice or later to their game.

And she was talking about how, when, using just software in general, how she could really leverage that to kind of help her in her business and kind of, you know, leverage on that to get her out of the office.

And I believe he was saying three or four o’clock some days and I was like, this is exactly what I need because number one, we always have seem to have some challenges with, with personnel and unfortunately one of our personnel guy had been with us for 10 years, he had passed away in december of 2020.

So we’ve been without him for about a year, but really he’d been here for so long, he really was my right hand guy here.

you know, it was, it was tough and I wanted to see if we could use technology to, to have, you know, you gotta pay for it, but to have a smaller team and still be as effective.

, and it sounds like smart ball had a lot of bells and whistles that we really wanted to try and to utilize.

So literally at the end of the, at the end of the presentation they asked you want to know more about smart ball and I was like, y es you know, so, I did a little webinar with them.

They showed me the things they could do.

, it’s a wonderful program and it just has so many things that makes, not only the staff and the reviewers more efficient, but even the admin.

and I don’t even know where you’d like me to start in terms of efficiencies, but I will say, you know, for me, the biggest one for me was there was the Dragon drop capability.

So if I got an email from someone, I didn’t have to create a pdf and then go find it on my, my share drive and pull it in to the file, whole program.

All I had to do was just right over, I used two screens right over into smart vault and then you can change the name of it to say confirmation that they did make, first quarter payment or whatever it is.

And it’s just right there.

It’s there forever.

And the same thing with, you know, spreadsheets or anything else.

It was just right over.

And that was one of the things I love, the other thing is so many things I love about this program, but one of the things I loved was you can actually print out of loss or not.

It depends on the program, you’re using the tech program.

You can print directly to smart vault to that client.

So if you’re working on john smith and you’re ready to print the return go file print and we configured it because in the third you can print out four different copies.

So what we did was we made one of the copies, just the file forms.

So when we hit print it would print two copies.

One just the file forms and one the tax return copy.

And the reason why we did that is because our admin would separately send the evil forms normally through right signature.

And before they had to go into the one pdf and take those two out and, and just those two now they had their own copy and they loved it.

So we just called it, you know, john and jane smith 2021 signature pages and they go right in and right, you know, so it made them even more efficient and he didn’t have to go in and you know, go through the pdf and you know, and kick out the pages and then save the file and then import the file into a program.

It was just save so those two just alone, save so much time.

And then, you know, certainly smart vault has so many other capabilities, you can change the name of any, anything you want on the fly, you can move things around you.

I just finished an amended return today.

Some poor fellow just got a 1099 late from his brokerage people.

And just not to confuse anything.

We got, you know, a section called tax returns.

So I made a subsection called original and put the original stuff in there.

And another subsection under 2021 is amended.

So I told the admin people, I said just look at the section called amended when you’re putting all this together, give to them like, Oh that’s great, that’s so wonderful.

but to create different subdirectories and kind of tailor it to yourself is is phenomenal as well.

So it has said that we did more returns this this past tax season than we’ve ever done.

Certainly we can’t necessarily compare to the two pandemic years too much because we had extra time.

But even now that, you know, the pandemic due dates have passed, we’re still ahead of the game in terms of, of processing and completing the most number of returns we’ve ever done.

And people say, well how is that possible?

I mean, you know, tax caddy had definitely a lot on that taxi.

I’m sorry, the smart vault had definitely a lot to do with that.

we didn’t use a program of tax caddy as well, but we, you know, smart ball was for every client.

Tax caddy was for, you know, probably about 10 to 15% of our client base, maybe 20.

so we used it for every day for every client and it just worked out so well, I mean they had a little bit of training but you know once you get it set up is is pretty easy to follow along.

So we just set up like we wanted it and just kind of roll from there and now we have, you know, an estimate folder for this year.

So as we’re going through estimate stuff, the client says, yeah I did pay that Q.

One and Q.

Two you told me to, I just write over and I changed the name to confirmation of so that we don’t have to ask them later because it’s already there because sometimes they do go, hey didn’t you already asked me that like because before nobody ever really bothered to put a lot of correspondence into our document management system because it was just, it took so long to do.

I mean it was, but the dragon drop feature was phenomenal.

So anyway, that’s, that’s really on the, you know the 1000 ft level.

How I, how I love the program and I mean there’s a lot of bells and whistles to this thing.

I, when I was talking to someone the other day about it and I was saying we’ve kind of gone from, when you had, you know your phone that was on the wall and you thought you were and you thought you were cool because you had a really long cord so you could like go in the other room so your roommates couldn’t hear what you were talking about.

We’ve kind of gone from that to an iPhone 13.

I mean it’s it’s that big of a difference between our file hold system and smart faults.

So very happy with it.

extremely pleased with not only the training and the setup, but just the functionality of it.

It’s, it’s worked, it’s worked so well and, and I really think every staff person here has said something about, hey, this is this is so much better.

It’s like this is this is night and day compared to what we used to have.

So yeah, awesome.

That’s, you know, sometimes I talk to when I’m talking to other professionals are doing a webinar like, you know, yes, I want to solve for me.

Of course.

I mean that’s, that’s just a natural.

I want to make my life better, but you’re right.

Like what we’re able to do for the admin.

I know Tracy in my office is just like, we just the systems of onboarding onboarding clients, whether they’re new or even I say we on board clients every year really because it’s kind of like, well I’m not gonna make any assumptions, they’re coming back.

So, you know, I brought this whole quoting process and we do this, but it’s so automated with the technology.

I never touched that return until it’s go time and Tracy says everything’s in smart fault which is great.

But I just want you know less clients are calling and asking for copies of returns that you know they may say okay we have a copy sure Tracy.

We just kept the same process of, well we’re not gonna still attach a tax return and password protected.

We’re sending you a link.

You figure out how to get into this thing.

Then we need to call your Children or something.

We need to like get medical help that I kind of think about it.

But so I want to hear more about.

So so that was great.

You implanted what happened the next baseball season is what I want to know.

Well first I say you know when people call and they have issues like that, we always say they’re not Y2K.


We either have to get their their kids or their grandkids to help them out on these things.

But you know I did not miss a single solitary practice or game because of work.

Now one practice I did miss because it was raining like cats and dogs and it was about an hour away and I just decided you know what some people did still make it out there that day but they just kind of played in the mud and that really wasn’t a practice.

But got every pregame, got every practice in and didn’t miss a beat with tax season because we again did more returns finished more tax returns than we have ever.

And the opposite of that is, and I tell my staff this every year there’s gonna be a finite number of returns we can get done in a year and if you can get more done during tax season while the conveyor belts really running, you know?

Yeah, it’s gonna make the summer and even the fall much better for you.

And I will tell you that I actually took a nice five day vacation, Which is the longest I have been out of the office in seven years.


and so now, not only was it five days, I came back and I was off five more days because it was the 4th of July holiday.

So I was gone from this office for 10 days, which is the longest I’ve been gone since my honeymoon 12 years ago.

So everybody’s like, well how is that?

We’ve got so many more returns on during tax season.

Why is that what we installed new software and, you know, and still, you know, somebody told me five years ago you’d be going to your kids baseball games and doing coaching and things like that during tax season, I’m like, what are you smoking?

I mean I never get get home until, you know, at the earliest six o’clock, There’s no way I’m going to be able to do that, but it’s worked out really well for everyone.

And you know, it getting more returns done during tax season is critical.

And I think the big challenge right now and this is why I like to help other firms is there’s just no staff.

You can’t find competent staff people anymore.

And that’s, you know, that’s really difficult, especially when you learn when you lose a very seasoned person like we did, you can’t replace them.

I mean, and so what do you do?

You try to use technology to kind of offset?

So not just you, but your staff aren’t here, You know, 14 hours a day trying to get stuff done.

You can leverage, we now have free admin people.

So they and they’re very talented and there’s a lot that they can do on the computer program side and it makes us much more efficient.

And we’ve also seen the efficiency some on their side so they can do other things too now so they can do things like work on building.

You know, it’s a little bit important too.

But you know, yeah, I love the program, I love the idea that technology is, is out there for us and I’m looking at some some more technology for us for this upcoming tax season just to make us even more efficient.

But you’re right when you have an access, a client has their own ability to pull down a tax return themselves through a portal.

they don’t call you as much or even a copy of a W.

Two if they have the access to it online.

You know you don’t get these constant calls you know and obviously it doesn’t really affect me anymore when I was first starting out I did but you know I kind of feel for the admin people sometimes okay we’re gonna password protected the last word of your of your social and the first four uni and they never can figure that out and so they have to call back again what’s the password again?

And so anyway it’s really eliminated a lot of that as well.

Well and it’s interesting you say that too because like one of the things that we started doing as part of that like I say I call it the on boarding process because until until the documents are there I don’t even want to know what’s going on.

That’s all Tracy.

One person We do around 300 returns.

It was there’s two of us but one is actually leaving so it’s interesting.

We’ll talk about that in a minute.

Yeah he had her I had her going into assert and entering names, addresses, phone numbers all the like preliminary stuff any dependent he knows how to add a dependent.

She’s a smart woman.

So I’ve enabled her to even do things such as entering the mental assert so I can just get in there and get started.

And so that is such a huge, like you don’t think about it, but that could be 10 minutes, multiply 10 times 300 clients.

That’s, that’s a lot of front.


And we, we actually tracked this year and individual wise, we picked up 85 clients.

So you know, I mean it’s a tangible amount.

And here’s the thing with admin that I found out if you include them in more things, they feel better about their job.

I mean they’re not just answering the phone and making copies.

They’re actually an integral part of the functionality.

And I’m always like, look, because they sit towards the front of the office.

I’m like, you’re driving the bus.

So you know, I mean, you know, you’re at the front, you’re driving the bus.

So you know, we’re back here in the back doing stuff, but you’re driving the bus, you’re very important here.

But if you show it by as time goes on, you know, certainly that’s not something that somebody does in the first day they walk in the door.

But as time goes on, hey, we’re gonna show you a tax program, we’re gonna show you how to do this.

They get very excited about it.

They’re like really, you know, it’s like, yeah, I mean you’re very talented person and you know how to do data entry efficiently and effectively and we we just brought on a new Office manager and she types 80 words a minute.

I mean she probably can put information in the system faster than me.

So I mean I know she can so she you know, so I had one of my staff people even though she’s new and that’s you know, somewhat unusual.

But she’s talented enough and I said sure how to use the asserts so we can we get new returns in, we have a little checklist, we go through, you know, to make sure we update all our databases and all our stuff so that we can get the thing into smart vault and get it rolling and send them the quotes and then, you know, you send them a quote and they reply back with a sign, you know, sign quote right into smart ball that goes, I mean it’s lovely.

So that’s that’s the thing when you nail down those processes, when you’re there, you’re like, and I remember the days when I would have to, you know, print to pdf and then upload and do all this other stuff when you can just drag that over there.

You know, and I I think it’s so important for people to think about and yes, we the industry is definitely having issues with staffing, we know that it’s not that we don’t want to hire people, I want to hire people, but I can’t find people who want to work.

People are willing to sit in the chair for more than three hours, which I get it.

I want you in and out of here too.


But it’s like there are things we can do to maximize the opportunity of, hey, this technology is going to work for me.

So I’m gonna give you an example.

So you talked about so sorry to hear about your staff member who passed away.

That’s a staff member by the way, that’s not the way you want to lose them.

No, we’ve had several retiring but they told us long in advance they were retiring.

This was quite a shocker, especially at the beginning of december when we’re getting ready to go into in the tax season.

It was, you know, in the middle of covid too.

So it was, it was not fun.


And you think about that and, and one of the things I always talk about, I don’t know about you, but I mean what your plan is, but just succession planning and looking at a firm sale at some point want to hand them keys to a building that they got to come in and figure out what’s going on in there.

Here’s my user name and password.

I’ll take that last two factor authentication on my phone bang that is now your bus, your butt.

But it’s turnkey where everything is organized.

Like in smart, there’s this organization of everything where they know where to find things because it’s all consistent.

They’ve got the integrations already established.

All those things make your firm be more attractive to someone that’s gonna come in as opposed to a place with file cabinets everywhere.


And also if something does happen to you make it marketable because it can’t be just, oh well john did that, Oh, I don’t know, john did that.

You know, you have to be able to have a system in place.

And I can tell you, you know, I know that when I decide to sell all a part of the business here, whoever the buyer is is probably going to come in and incorporate some of the things that we’ve done into their firm.

So we’re gonna make them not only bigger in terms of client base, but we’re going to make them more effective.

That’s, that’s my goal because I like to use smart vault.

No, Do you use blank blank useless sir?


I think you should.

And here’s why, and kind of go through the list of things because a lot of big firms, they wanna just use, you know, one vendor and put everything on the cloud and just, you know, and you know, you’re, you’re shooting yourself in the foot because there’s a lot of great programs out there that aren’t necessarily run by the big companies, but you know, you should be using them.



So let me ask you this question as we’re thinking about what’s happening next right road map.

Let’s think about a road map for a hot second.

I’ll give you an example to give you a chance to thumb through your coconut there to figure out like for me and what’s on, what’s on john’s next road map.

I’ll tell you what’s on Dawn’s next roadmap.

My next road road map is because I am losing a tax preparer.

I don’t want to look for one.

So I’m going to implement and I’ve used this app before and I liked it, grunt works.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it grunt works to populate even just the simplest things.

And then the other thing we’re looking to do is to start actually mapping Q B.



Most of our I mean I’m a desktop lover, I am always, we’re gonna be committed to the desktop.

I love it and I used to love the Quickbooks desktop.

So even with quickbooks, desktop is to map especially with all the business returns that we can between now and the end of the year is to map all those files to assert.

At least we’re able to pull, you know, I can pull A P.

And L.

On a schedule, C do a book to taxi if it ties out.

If it doesn’t it’s likely to appreciation because you still have to enter fixed assets.

But the mundane posting to advertising expense and be more of a troubleshooter as opposed to an entry person.

So those are the two big improvements we’re looking to make this year.

What about you?

Well it’s interesting.

You mentioned grunt works.

We two years ago we initiated shirt prep which is similar to grunt works.

And they have another program called tax caddy which that solved another huge issue of ours which is I know you probably get this all the time.

People will call you and say don what else do you need from me because I don’t remember.

And so what tax cutting does is it incorporates the list out of lesser that they had last year and it goes down and so you can drag and drop your W two S and they can go back on at any time and see what else they’re missing.

And when they have everything done it asks you are you done because they may have something new that they know about.

And when they say I’m done you get an email that says so and so it’s done and then it pulls it into your prep which your prep will take it and sort it based upon it, put the W two S first and then at 10 90 nines and expenses.

And so you have one pdf with all the clients data in it.

And so if you’re looking for something that’s a little table of contents, you click on the pdf to go back and say wait a minute they had $400 in interest from centrist last year.

Where is that?

You just go back and say, oh I must have missed that page and there it is or it’s not there.

And so then you got to reach out to them, but it has eliminated so many phone calls and emails because who gets those phone calls and emails, the emails they come to me and I haven’t used them to return yet because it’s still being prepared.

So I have no idea what they’re missing.

So I got to go ask the staff and they have to email them and, but you know, they don’t even ask cause they can, they can actually download an app on their phone and it’s like, oh okay, I’m, I’m still missing my mortgage interest.

So let me get that.

And it’s worked out really well for some people for most people.

And there are some Y two K.

Compliance issues people that just couldn’t figure it out and that’s fine.

You know, we’ll send you an organizer, it’s okay.

We have a few of those.

but it’s, it’s worked out really well, but again, it’s using technology, whichever one you use and everyone you’re familiar with to try to get some of the work done for you.

And speaking of population Of your, your tax program years ago when I was at Deloitte, we used ghost system and we had about 300 partnership returns and they all basically were rental real estate.

They had one rental property in each of them.

So we were able to start mapping from lotus 123 of all things mean to into our ghost system and I created the map program and so literally you get the financial statements done in lotus 123 and you hit F one F two or something of that nature and it all go right into go system and you’re right.

The one thing we almost always had to change was either meals, entertainment or depreciation And then the return was done but you talk about 300 returns, they all have the same gl and everything.

They, the returns got done so much quicker because of that.

but it’s again, I mean I guess it’s been my experience all along is trying to use technology.

Not necessarily because when we first started talking about shirt prep, a couple people were thinking, well am I still going to have a job?

You know, if you’re gonna, it’s like you can’t replace people, especially talented people and like we have a suction from, you know, Richmond kind of sucks some people and they can pay more and dc.

So we have that challenge here where you know, it’s even harder to find talent sometimes, but we’re also fortunate enough that we have some older people that don’t want to commute anymore and they want to stay here in town and they’ve been great employees over the years.


But yeah I would highly recommend you check that out and grande works out and see if it works for you and see how how well it’ll work.

Especially you know if you can try it out for nine and 1015 deadlines would be great.

And then the mapping, I’ve looked at that before.

I haven’t ever gotten there.

I think probably because you know we have such different G.



For everybody but I think it’s wonderful that you can do it let me know let me know.


Yeah I was gonna say the next thing we’re really gonna look at is actually another one of your programs that you’ve you’ve touted in your in your webinars in the past which is canopy we actually have tomorrow morning we have a demo on canopy.

So we’re looking at that next to to see.

Yeah very happy with canopy and I do a lot of resolution work.

I don’t know I mean we all do but anybody that’s listening if you do taxes, you do resolution work because you’re either doing non filers or you’re responding to notices and that’s that’s representation right there.

Canopy has been awesome for me and I used canopy many years ago and it wasn’t where it is today.

So one of the things that people Yeah you saw it 5-10 years ago.

It is a totally different program.

I think most most programs are you know I mean yeah that’s a problem if they are different than where they were five years ago.

They’re not improving.

So that’s number 23 for example.

So that’s a funny thing you said that but can be the resolution where you need to do 4 33 for maybe a collections case.

This really great tool where you can actually send they call it a survey and basically it’s collecting all the information that belongs on a 4 33 but more through a questionnaire.

So the clients don’t have to look at a 4 33 and be like overwhelmed because it is overwhelming to look at it.

And most people don’t have O.




They’re just gonna be like oh and skipping lines and then they don’t fill everything in It and then it populates the 433 and the 656 that they’re doing an offer and it just really streamlines and makes the client participate and I’ve got great success from that.

That’s nice.

Now it’s not O.



It’s C.



Because that’s the way it’s supposed to be alphabetically and so you know just so you know a little bit of it.

Not as much as some some folks but I do have a little bit of and people tell me especially stay off.

They’ll tell me sometimes that you’re so picky.

I’m like I’m not the picky one.

It’s the contents you know, I’m, you know, you gotta make sure you spell this word all the way out there, so, and so is gonna, you know, be calling me so, but yeah, we’re excited to check that out and, you know, continue to work with smart vault and tax caddy and shirt prep and see where all of it goes.

because it’s just making us more and more efficient, you know, any viable program that we bring on, Obviously there’s a little learning curve to everything, but if you can do it, especially for october 15th for your individual clients, when I call them the usual suspects show up on october 1st going, oh my God, And it’s like the 15th time in a row.

They’ve gone, oh my God, you know, you know, hopefully you can get it in there quicker and you’re not working on a sunday in october wearing here in Virginia.

It’s really, really nice outside in october, so you don’t want to do that.

There’s all kinds of festivals and fairs.

And then obviously I got fall baseball coming up, so I’ll probably be at a baseball field, so I need to make sure I’m efficient as possible.

You just, and you probably already do this job, you got to implement the P I A C.

And that’s just, you come on October 15, there’s a surcharge.

Yeah, it’s, we call it the pdf e.

Yeah, yeah, the pdf e we actually in our quote sheets now put in a rush fee because, you know, some of these folks have been doing this for so long now, they come in on october 7th and they’re like, I’m really sorry, here’s my stuff.

I know I’m going to get hit the rush fee, but here you go.

And it’s it’s not a cheap amount either, but you know, if I’ve got to tell a couple of my staff, they got to work on a saturday because these people have been like, twiddling their thumbs all summer, then they’re gonna, you know, they’re going to pay for it, you know, and what I try to do with those things just to if they’ve got to work on a saturday evening, their salary, you know, I’ll get them some kind of bonus later for that because, you know, we made more money off of it because they’re repeated.

So yeah, we have, we have built that in on on quite a few folks and on a few they’ve been like, you know, you guys are just too expensive and we’re gonna go, it’s like back in when you were dating, you know, it’s the one the girlfriend you were trying to get rid of, so you never gave her any attention.

And they finally, she finally like, you never paid me attention, I’m going someplace, it’s kind of the same thing, you know, So yeah, you didn’t get the hint, I didn’t call you, well, we did call back, but you know, we’re gonna it’s gonna be how much more this year.

Wow, that’s a lot.

So eventually they do go away with some people, some clients we just fire out, right?

But you know, for some of them that they go through the tax return with their microscope and it’s like, why is this number?

Like, you know, it’s like, look, you know, that’s let’s let’s not worry about that because The numbers are right, you know, okay, I could have put this in office supplies as opposed to supplies, but it’s a fully deductible expense.

Either one because it’s only $300.

Let’s back to doing whatever you do for a living.

And you know, let’s let’s roll from there.

You know, there’s nuances, you’re gonna give yourself a heart attack trying to trying to get down to that that craziness of A level.

But we, you know, we’ve had people like that.

So, so, so I think canopy will be our next and then some of the staff, they didn’t get fully trained on tax cuts last year.

So we’re and we got a couple of new new folks, our new office manager in particular, so got to make sure that they know how to run that so they can kind of learn as they go for this called the mini tax season coming up.

Yeah, that’s the nice thing about extension season.

This is the time to try out new stuff and do something different and plan for it and then a little hardcore implementation in november and december.

You know, I like to keep november december as light as possible.

But then again, I think I like to keep all the time as light as possible, falling into the trap of, you know, practice, I don’t practice, but I got something else I can do for sure they’ll be sitting in here, so absolutely, you know, I do some volunteer work too.

So it’s, you know, if I can, you guys have picked out a little bit ahead of time, you can’t just show up on the fly for that.

But you know, I got, I got better things to do.

You know, then I’m sitting here punching in W two s for somebody that decided to show up on october 14th.

So well I love that john because you know, we’re, I would say we’re in similar age, I would think we’re in similar age bracket.

So, you know, I remember the days and you probably when I talked about this briefly is just, you know, the 80 hour badge, like look how cool I am.

I worked 80 hours last week.

Well, you mean you were in the chair for 80 hours and people like to say Berlin, you’re so busy.

I said no, I’m actually productive is what I am because I don’t want to just be busy, I don’t want to be busy, I want to be productive.

I want to get returns done and you know, take care of the clients as I need to take care of the clients, but then move on with my own personal life because I don’t Want to deal with my personal life when I’m 80, Like I’m gonna be crippled probably by then with all the sports I’ve played and all the dangerous things I’ve done.

but you know, I enjoyed myself today.

Not 30 years from now.

Well I have a lovely client who recently retired and she talks about the go years, the slow go years and the no go years and she said I’m in the slow go years now so I need to get out and travel and so they’re, I think they’re either in spain or France right now, her and her sister because they’re going to travel the world for a couple of years while they’re still in the slow go phase and I think that’s great.

But you see that you see it in the client base to people retiring in a few years later there coming in with a walker.

It’s like what’s going on?

I gotta have a hip replacement.

So you know, you gotta keep up with your physical fitness.

In fact, That’s another thing I’ve done in the past couple of years.

Ever since we started putting in more technology is at 3:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays highly even go to the gym and do it in the middle of tax season for sure.

But the rest of the time I try to get out there and do that and you know, to make sure I come, I have a personal trainer who’s standing there waiting for me.

So, you know, I can’t disappoint her because she’ll start texting me and be like, where are you?

So, but you know, your health is very important as well and you, you know, you don’t want it taken away from you between that and playing coaching baseball and running around with kids.

I seem to, hopefully starve off the ill effects that I’ve seen with so many of my clients over the years.

So, you know, but if you’re sending a desk being non productive for 80 hours a week, which I know I wore that badge, you know, all six years at delight, you know, but you’re young then, but still, you know, it takes its toll on you.

And you know, some people say, oh yeah, my firm does, you know, 1500 tax returns a year.

Then you start talking to the people a little bit more and they’re doing, you know, 10 for 540 easies.

And you know, it’s like, okay, well that’s how come you can do so many because because I started asking what technology they’re using, oh, we’re using this and then it’s like, I personally know that those programs aren’t very good and I’m like, how?

So then you find out that, you know, it’s it’s not necessarily that big of a firm after all, they’re just doing a lot of easy returns.

We do some 10 40 Zs every once in a while.

But that’s not really our forte for sure.

Schedule, C schedule.

These are doing a lot of 10 65 11 20 s.

We got a lot of c corpse.

That’s not my bread and butter.

And I don’t like doing 19 nineties.

The rest, if anything I do, I’m on the board of one.

So I have to do that.

And there’s a couple others that we do, but it’s, you know, if they were bigger, Yeah, if they were bigger, I’d, you know, Yeah, I know there’s, you know, we do some bookkeeping for a non profit right now for complementary because you know, one of the officers, there is one of our great clients and he’s a wonderful guy.

So we kind of get roped into it.

Like my H.



And first summer I was walking down the street.

The treasurer at the time said basically came up to me on his bike and said, I need you to be the treasurer.

Like, okay, I’ve been here like, you know, six months.

But anyway, so then I became the treasurer there and you know, everybody’s like, you’re gonna be the treasure forever.




So anyway, yeah, you get those kind of things, but it’s little bit fun in a way, but it does take time and you got to have time to do those things.

And if you get your staff and everybody around you more efficient and effective, you’ll see that time.

And I’ve seen it, you know, this last few years with the technology,, you know, we’re more efficient now than we were when I had my right hand guy with me and, and, and it’s because of technology.

Yeah, absolutely.

Well, john, this has been amazing, so much for the occasion with us trying to get the technology to work.

Speaking of technology.

But john and I are fighters, john and I fought through the technology challenges because we had the priority of seeing each other and talking about how, you know, hopefully those of you who are listening that you’re gonna take at least one thing away from this.

But I can tell you, I know for myself being able to coach and do something outside of this office, like changed my life a little bit right for the better and not being able to go out with those boys and being on the baseball mound with them.

That’s that stuff.

That’s when they’ll be, that’ll be with those kids for the rest of their lives and that’s what they’re gonna remember dad was there and that’s so important.

So john so much for, for joining me here today and you know, the DM disruptions here to motivate people to do something different, that their lives can be better, not just themselves, with their staff and their clients in some capacity right to get their returns done faster, they like their refunds, Yeah, they get them done in february, they go out and tell all their friends, so it’s like, you know, if we can keep doing that even better, so thanks again from you, as I can see you’re out in san Francisco right?

Well yeah, as I told you before, I have to keep my location secret because some clients will come and find me if I don’t, but well, thanks again, john, you’ve been awesome.

Thanks for everyone for listening to DM disruption will talk to you next time we’re going to bring some more motivational content, especially from your peers, I think that’s what people love the most.

So john Austin, john Coleman, we’ll talk soon, good luck with the baseball and I’m sure we’ll cross paths again soon.

Okay, well thanks so much by

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