Dania Buchanan, President, SmartVault Corporation, talks about embracing the hybrid working culture, work life balance, and how SmartVault is helping accounting firms make the most of all of the new opportunities available to them.
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Dawn Brolin 0:05
Alright everybody. Hello and welcome back to another episode of the DM Disruption with myself, Dawn Brolin is your host and I’m here with Dania Buchanan from SmartVault. Now if you know me, you know, I’m a SmartVault girl, because I’m smart. So I use smart vault. I don’t use dumb vault, I use smart vault that makes sense. Right. SmartVault was a great presence at Scaling New Heights didn’t you know, amazing? Yeah, you know, I think four or five people there anyway. And it just, it was awesome. But we really missed, I’m not gonna lie.
Dania Buchanan 0:34
The team was excited to get on the road for sure. The team was very excited. I think that was the biggest conference we’ve been to so far. I think the sales team went to one of the Florida CPA conferences last week. But they all said Acaling New Heights was wonderful. And it really makes me happy. Yeah, that everybody came out. Yeah.
Dawn Brolin 0:55
Well, there’s such so many really great things that are happening. And you and I kind of just talked a little bit before we went live here, but just talking about people getting back together again, and how important that is. And, you know, just been through like you say, normal. Tell me tell me what you said before because it was perfect. Like just normal. It’s normally just over the top.
Dania Buchanan 1:15
Yeah, I think people are desperate for physical connection with other people. Because this is a service oriented group. Right, right. Accounting, accountants, professional accountants provide a service. I know, they don’t have to provide it live. But they’ve built their practices in their businesses on relationships. So they are relationship driven in their core, no matter if they do it remotely or in person. But I do think the tribe of accounting professionals is a really tight knit group. So I think they were looking for a chance to go give each other some high fives, and in, in a fun way, but I think in a more meaningful way, just to give each other a hug and say, hey, you know, I’m sorry, for the hard time that you’ve gone through, I think, no one, you know, this has been a shared experience globally. And there’s no one no human that has been left untouched by by some component of it. So I think there’s also that which is makes the whole tribe such it’s such a cool bunch, man.
Dawn Brolin 2:25
And we did, we had a really good time. And it was, again, just great to see each other and, you know, seeing I mean, really smart. Like you guys are all part of our families, right? So we all want to say, like gravitate to certain applications in their teams, because of who they are. And you’re like, Oh, my goodness, it’s so good to see you like IV. I hadn’t seen it in a while. So it was great to be able to see him and he’s just such a great a great sport. And we did have a great interview. So Fritz and I and IV and I had a couple short short recordings that we did that we’re gonna be able to get out there onto the DM Disruption as well, yeah, so we just…
Dania Buchanan 3:02
Both good talkers, yeah, both great guys.
Dawn Brolin 3:04
Just intelligent. We talked a lot about like customer service. And, and just being there and having that for drive like smart ball. You know, and I don’t I, I’m not gonna say anything, because I’m not really sure Fritz told me I could or couldn’t say anything. But, you know, just knowing you guys have acquired a couple of additional applications that might be moving in some new directions. Not new directions. But…
Dania Buchanan 3:24
Yes, yeah. So we bought last month, we did two technology acquisitions. And we looked, we just we just literally whiteboard workflow, we whiteboard upcoming professional workflow, like, where could we plug in features that will augment and make the workflow more efficient? So we came up with two one? You just mentioned quoters, right, which is a cloning feature, which is brilliant. So if you’re not using an electronic quoting tool you need to be so we’re gonna bundle one in natively. So there was a little technology acquisition we did there and the other one was dock down, which is form fill, which IV will tell you, Daniel will tell you we’ve been asked about for years now. Right, which is this profession in any other professional services profession is going to have want someone to fill in a form, right? And they’re going to want to know that part of their DMS. So both of those pieces of technology. We’re hoping we’ll do a proof of concept hoping by mid next year, so once every one emerges from tax season, maybe have a couple of beta features for customers to try and then into production towards the end of next year. Yeah…
Dawn Brolin 4:44
Super exciting, it is super exciting. And like I always say to people, listen, if your software providers are not moving forward, they are moving backwards so they’re not looking for, you know, what problem can they solve next, right, you’ve already got the document storage nailed down. That’s just solid like you can’t beat that. and being able to move to another sector or another segment. And I think you’re right, you’re not using quoting electronic quotes, like, you know, and I teach a lot about that in the book is to say, listen, you know, you got to be sending out quotes, you got to have a place people can go get their tax returns, and I tell people this, I charge 100 bucks to print your tax return. If you can’t go in line, log in and grab it yourself, then come on, man, like now you’re just thinking I’m your mom or something. Right?
Dania Buchanan 5:27
But that is an example of not valuing your time at zero, your time is not valued at zero. So your time has a value on it, you have now provided an assisted way where customers can go get their own information. If they don’t want to go that route, then your time is still not valued at zero, right? I’m happy to go print it for you. It’s $100. Yeah, good for you. Yeah, we’ve been encouraging customers to figure out how to pass on the charge for smart light, you are providing a service so that at any point in time, I can go look at the K1 that I uploaded in my vault from 2013. That is a service you’re giving your customers that document portal that secure. That’s a service that’s not valued at zero in mind, right?
Dawn Brolin 6:14
No, it’s not, no it isn’t. And people will, you know, they’ll email me and say, Oh, hey, I need a copy of my 2019 W2 , and I just go click, send link, done. Yeah, like that. If you can’t, if that doesn’t work for you all I need you to go for I don’t even remember, honestly, last time, somebody asked me to print it for them. But I also I charged them on every quote that goes out for tax returns, they get a $35 technology fee, everybody pays it, no one’s ever complained. I’ll say no one.
Dania Buchanan 6:43
So done. When you go by your when you bought your red sox tickets, you did it online, you were charged a service fee, a convenience fee, a ticket fee, whatever, you were charged for the technology that allowed you to buy your ticket online. This is common practice. But what I think happens is typically some of the accounting profession not all have been have shied away from charging for a valuable service that they provide. So again, it’s like where do you value your time, your time is worth something. So and it’s nominal fee, and most will pay that for the convenient convenience fee. That’s the, that’s my favorite word that they charge.
Dawn Brolin 7:28
Okay, it’s true. It was convenient, you know, darn it. You know, you don’t want that. But you do so yeah. And I mean, over the last year and a half, when we do talk about this a lot about what you know, what changes, we all had to make a change in some capacity. Everybody did, whether it was okay. My customer, my client doesn’t feel comfortable coming to the office. So how are we going to sign documents like, thank goodness that I had already had that all nailed down with, you know, Lecert, Smart Vault to DocuSign. So I have a system, and I was good, but there were so many that weren’t. And I watched them on social media, you watch the people who are like, I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore, which is a funny segue to talk a little bit about your son, because people have made shifts and made changes and did something totally different than they were used to doing. So tell us about that, this is awesome.
Dania Buchanan 8:19
So for your listeners, right, my son, I think he came to two conferences, which no one will remember I don’t remember but anyway, long story short is he graduated University of Texas as a film student he went into filmmaking documentary filmmaking To be specific, had a had a short couple of years of getting documentaries made and out there. He came to a couple of the accounting shows as the videographer to film customer interviews and things were which is where you and some others have seen him. Anyway, long story short 2020 hits, right he is has three I think productions in flight all came to a grinding halt. Well, he’s not he’s early in his career so he doesn’t have a big tranche of money sitting in a savings account he can go draw from right so not knowing when there’s an end to all of this he decided to go back to school got himself into a UTS grad program and Masters of Public accounting and will sit for his CPA next spring so who graduated in May which is I have this very right brained kid this filmmaker kid but if for any of you don’t know the five minutes or five second version of documentary filmmaking when you’re on a fairly low budget million $2 million, right he did all the accounting work himself. You have to start an LLC, you have to pay payroll, you have to hire people, you have to file quarterly taxes on any they get grant money, they get donation, money, etc. And so I was just telling Dawn before we started recording, the class they should teach you in film school is how to manage a film, a low budget film. They don’t teach you that. So anyway, long story short, his big pivot is going back and getting his CPA so that he can support the media and entertainment industry, primarily the independent filmmakers. And those guys, really, they end up losing money. They don’t know what to do. They’re a little lost in the business side of it, they can all make a movie for sure. They’re all super talented. So that’s an example. Like you were saying earlier, none of us escaped impact from this the smart vault business. Like many employers, right, we sent everybody home may, March 13, I think Friday the 13th, when everything started unwinding, we ordered monitors for everybody be set up at home and thinking it was going to be a couple of months. Who knows. We ended up hiring. I think it’s close to 30 people just over the pandemic. Wow, people we know buddy shared physical space with. So no. So we definitely, you know, grew right that we provided a service that all of a sudden was a core part of the tech stack. Not not a nice to have a must have must have. So yeah, I must have. We had odd industries coming into we had ISD’S and school districts coming in we had sold to universities and colleges in the past, but not not at the ISD level. But of course, you’ve never had a time where teachers and administrators were sent home and they still have to process new hire paperwork and just a million things. Yeah, so this work has changed forever. I think employee employers like us will continue with a hybrid or remote policy. I’m sitting, we’re sitting in the office, I’m sitting in an office today, we have a really cool office down in the middle of the Houston Heights area, which for anyone who’s ever been to Houston, very cool area of town. But we have I would say maybe 60% of everybody hear you know, everyone comes in maybe a couple days a week. And some weeks, you know, some weeks not. So we have very, very flexible hybrid schedule. And that meets the needs of our think there’s we have such a young workforce too. They like to hang out together and eat together, you know, socialize together. So I think kind of the hybrid seems to seems to fit us but yeah, some some tough decisions along the way, for sure. And some pivos.
Dawn Brolin 12:34
Definitely. and that’s amazing to me, and I honestly never really thought about it before. But you’re right, like a school system, or just anyone who needs to be managing documents when you can’t be physically in front of each other handing them out.
Dania Buchanan 12:48
And they’re notoriously paper based, right? They have administrators with big rooms of filing cabinets and all these papers file. And, you know, there’s the whole FERPA thing with being able to protect your student information. And that is certainly a compliance mandate, right. So they had to get comfortable, they had to pull their IT guys and they have very legacy systems. For all of the accountants that might watch this, you think you’re behind like the ISPs way back, and they’re not even on this. I’m sorry, any ISD is watching this…
Dawn Brolin 13:23
It’s just us being honest, we’re always honest on the DM Disruptions, so don’t worry.
Dania Buchanan 13:27
Face your truth, face your truth!
Dawn Brolin 13:29
Face it, it is what it is. And the great part about is you can shift and you can change and you did that you they do that that was a really difficult time. You know, think about the school system and the kids and just, it’s been wicked. I know, for us from the you know, college level, even that, you know, we’re still Yeah, still getting through that, you know, with all these mandates that are going on, and too many places, in my opinion, whatever, but not not going to get into that but just, there’s just so, everything is just
Dania Buchanan 13:57
It feels very chaotic.
Dawn Brolin 13:59
I mean, kid and I see it kids are struggling going back to the classroom, even at the college level, I can’t even imagine a younger level, where they’re just like, I just can’t go to class, like I just don’t, I just don’t not comfortable. It’s not even really that they’re afraid, but it’s just they’re just, they’re just uncomfortable. You know, it’s like, it’s really tough to watch that, you know, and they have it’s really tough, you know, I mean, I just love sports, I love to talk about sports, but we’re really the college level really got hit hard, you know, at the professional level or even the D 1 level they had money coming out their ears, they could do different things to battle the challenge there right and for us we’re D3 levels so we just don’t have the funding support. You know, we raise all of our own money to do everything, I mean to buy a pair of shoes we all we have to everybody buys our own right.? So that’s been really hard to watch and you know, think about 15, 20, 30 years from now and you know, I’m not even here but one of those ports, you know, they got to maneuver and it’s hard!
Dania Buchanan 14:57
It’s hard I, we have seen Well, I talked about my son who’s now going to be an accountant. So anybody want to offer him a job next summer? He’s,….
Dawn Brolin 15:07
He’s up for it! And he knows he knows remote technology.
Dania Buchanan 15:11
Oh certainly he does! Well, we’ve watched this generation, right this mid 20s generation, they’ll change the dynamic of the workforce coming in that I can’t I shouldn’t call them kids. The younger kids Smart Vault work staff, right. Sure come in and they they just don’t accept an old way of doing things right. Data’s always on, everything’s always available. You were talking about college aged kids and professors and I have one of those two, I think our girls are about the same age. Yeah, I had a daughter who finished her senior year in university from her apartment bedroom in Austin, right. That’s not that you were talking about. I mean, that’s, that’s hard. And that is allowed a level of mental anxiety I think for a generation that is, you know, feels robbed. You know, they all lost internships, they all lost. They, their tracks that they thought was so defined was just was just blown away, just blown away. And so they, I think the resiliency that they’ve had to show the coping skills they’ve had to develop will take them the rest of their lives. I told him I no doubt once you have built this level of coping skills, you’re you’re unstoppable at this point on it. Yeah, you’re unstoppable. But you’re talking about sports. I think there’s nothing I’m as a sports person two. And I think we also went and saw some playoff games right at Minute Maid and I think in a climate like we have been in the last two years, nothing brings together a community of people than rooting for a common team. Doesn’t matter. Everything that you that divide, you falls away, right. And everyone fiving and hugging everyone, you’re thinking at the d3, the D one, the the college level two table sports also, like, what do we have to cheer for? What? Where is that unifying element? Right. We missed that for the better part of year two. And I think it all just, it just is a pylon, you know, it’s way up here. And you just, Where’s, where’s all that fun?
Dawn Brolin 17:19
Yeah, absolutely. No, you’re totally right. And I think, you know, with that these kids, this this group that are that are fighting through things we didn’t have to fight through, which I think sometimes which makes us crazy, because we’re just like, Dude, we would leave our house first thing in the morning, we’d be home when mom rang the bell at like, eight o’clock at night for dinner, or whatever it was, you know…
Dania Buchanan 17:38
We would say don’t come home until 5pm. Please stay gone!
Dawn Brolin 17:45
Oh, man, you’re playing a sport because you’re not coming home early from school. You’re not getting out to 10 You’re saying, fine. Pick a sport, pick a club. I don’t care what you do, but don’t come here. And so, you know, for us, I think, you know, and I know because, you know, I have two girls, and they’re 22 and 23. So, you know, just knowing it’s like, they just, I feel like they depend on us a lot more. And I’m like, Dude, I didn’t have to do this for my kids. You know, my dad never did this for me. You know, it’s like, okay, we we got to just understand that we have a gap between you know, those mid 20s, early to mid to late 20s. And then I’m 51. And I’m not afraid to say that. But you know, it’s like we just we don’t have the same thing. So I find that it’s when they were teenagers. It was easy. Right? And now that they’re in college or graduate just graduated as well. Yeah. And she and she went back we set her back to American University. For her senior year she came home right when we, you know, everybody had to go home on March 3, right? Then that next fall? She’s like, I’m like, what are you gonna do? No, in no in classroom at American University, they never reopen the classrooms. They couldn’t even go on campus in 2020. I don’t like and you want the same money? Like okay, get me started on that. Okay, you’re not even your electric bill just went back down by 70%. Because you’re not lighting up all those buildings, your you know, your you don’t need your guys to mow the grass. You don’t let anybody on campus? What’s their look at? So, you know I have some of those phone calls.
Dania Buchanan 19:11
No tuition concession at all, none.
Dawn Brolin 19:13
And I’m just like, so we decided we were going to focus on what was best for her. And so we set her back down, but she had an off campus apartment anyway, she had already been on an off campus. So we set her back because I’m like, you know what, you still need to be around your friends. You need to have challenges with your friends. You need to have, like, you can’t stand each other for a couple of weeks or whatever. That’s what the college experience. That’s part of it how to deal with people. Right? And you know, they didn’t miss a beat with the technology. The kids.
Dania Buchanan 19:41
Oh, no, no, my daughter did. Her job was the incoming freshmen like she was the orientation leader and that her job was the summer before her senior year when we all went home. Right? And so they just told the leaders figure out how to do it remotely. and still deliver a freshman experience. So she just like, hey, I’m gonna figure out how to do it remotely and make the Zoom meetings fun and all of that. And she figured it out. They do. They’re resilient. I think we’re in good hands with this with this wealth generation, like, they’ve never really had a lot of adversity. And then they got a whole bunch of bunch dropped on.
Dawn Brolin 20:22
And I think that that’s a really important point. So number one, the shift of your son moving towards the accounting industry and understand that there’s a need there for that for film and, and theatre and those kinds of those kinds of organizations, which is awesome. So think about this practitioners, you’re listening to the podcast here, right? Guess what you need to be doing, if you’re not doing it already? You need to be accepting into your brain, opening up the coconut and saying, I need to make sure I have the technology in place, because if you want to hire talented people, you want to hire people that can work independently, you better have the tools in order for them to do that. And that’s the whole point. It’s like, you know, I know for myself, I just been striving to get a well oiled machine. You know, since when I was 1999. When I first started, I knew when I had my kids, I wanted to be remote, I was in a bad partnership where they didn’t believe that because they didn’t have kids and blah, blah, blah. So I left there knowing I wanted to spend time with my kids. So that was my main focus was being able to, you know, be wherever I wanted to take a kid to New York City for the for a week of camp, I did that I took the other one out to Seattle to another one down to Florida went swimming with dolphins. Because I knew if I can become more efficient and more profitable, I could enjoy those things I’d have the money to pay for, and I have the time to do it. And so that’s the whole message of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals is not just have a well oiled tech stack, so whatever. No, it’s because you know why you need to be living. We have to take and this is a thing, Danny, we all we always say this, I think when there’s change, it’s changes hard. But but what’s at the other end of the rainbow is worth every moment you put into it right?
Dania Buchanan 22:00
Every moment. You only have one one shot at this life. But to your point about addressing the the constituency of your listeners, right. So I have a kid in his mid 20s Who pivoted right interest that that’s only interesting to some people. I think it’s his group of this the that MPA program. So he said a University of Texas, the business, red McCombs School of Business, so super competitive to be in there, this profession is about to get a lot of incoming. My sons, right, right. They’re coming in, they’re tech savvy. And they want so his first couple of questions on all the interviews he went on, right? What’s your remote policy? What kind of tech tea like how am I enabled, they’re coming in, they’re coming in ready to work, for sure. Coming in with high work standard high level of ethics, but they’re coming in knowing that they’re going to bring some change in and if you want to have a smart person on your team, you need to enable them to do their best and most vibrant work wherever they they choose to do it. And that’s what the smart vault team here operates. And my commitment to the team is to I’m just enabling a bunch of smart people to do their work. It’s not all on me, right? More help us. So this is that’s my commitment. I’m here to provide a culture and an enablement path for you to do the best and most vibrant work of your career. It’s not up to me to dictate the place you sit to go do that, right. Sometimes you guys want to come in the office work, play cornhole in the at the end of your day, and go out or whatever. And sometimes you want to do that at home where you can have dedicated focus time. But that’s what this generation is looking for. That is what they’re looking for. So if you’re a forward thinking accounting professional, it’s not just have a tech stack that it creates efficiency for your own practice. But eventually, you’ll have to have a succession plan. Eventually, even if you don’t want to grow your practice anymore, and you’re not you don’t need to be efficient because you want to hire my son or anyone else. Right? That’s 25, he’s actually 27, so..
Dawn Brolin 24:24
He just seems like a little baby still.
Dania Buchanan 24:26
eventually, there’s an eventuality to your own financial planning, right? So I’m sure that when you go value a business, it’s a lot easier for you to go sell your business if everything is nice and tidy. The clients are there their 10 years of documents are there for the acquiring firm. I would say that’s that’s that’s pretty good value there.
Dawn Brolin 24:50
That’s exactly one of my biggest points for me is I’m you know, I’m I don’t want to work until I’m 75. I just don’t I got things I want to do. I know, I know I want to be I want to be out there. I don’t know I want to be on a 45 foot boat that I buy and I can learn how to drive it myself. I don’t want to depend on anybody else, right? So I have things that I want to do I want to, you know, my daughter’s gonna be moving to LA actually because she’s a she’s a musical theater and film major. She graduated with that. So she said, Mom, I’m going for it. I’m going to go out and, she’s leaving in January. She’s like, I’m going to go for it. I just, I if that’s not what I meant to do, like your son. She’s like, the maybe I’m just helping out maybe I’m an Assistant Producer, maybe I’m a maybe I get the coffee. She’s like, I don’t care. I want to be in the industry in some way. She definitely doesn’t want to do accounting, we’ve had her she, I tried. She both of my girls are like Mom, no! Stay away from me!
Dania Buchanan 25:48
She’s gonna work 80 hours a week on some sleppy film set, trust me, versus what you guys are doing? Not working 80 hours a week, right? But providing a service, that’s a professional service, she may change your mind when when the financial equation comes into the picture.
She’s very altruistic Oh, so my daughter who graduated with her, she’s 22. She’s going getting her certification to go teach. Because she sees she feels a little bit called right. I even though I think she’ll probably love the teaching, but hate the parents, but she’s got high school English, right? But you know, you just kind of, you have to encourage them to pave their own way. But you’re gonna want to go see her in Los Angeles and do the same amount of work in Los Angeles. And you can do that, because you’ve got a tech stack and an automation and efficiency in your practice that let you do that.
Dawn Brolin 26:43
Absolutely. And that’s, you know, that’s what we it’s just so true from a value pricing perspective of your business itself. When I’m able to say okay, here you go, here’s my login. They’re like, Oh, but yeah, it’s all right there. And here it is, um, I am very confident that we’ll get more money for my business because of how organized it is, as opposed to somebody walking in with a million file cabinets. And not even knowing which clients in the file cabinets or current clients or old clients were smart ball, I can just be like, oh, let’s move into an archive folder. Let’s get them out of here and archive them away. So that the only thing that’s in my folders are live clients that are these are people you need to deal with. And you’ve got, you know, I’ve got carbon for my workflow. So they can, everything’s in there, whatever thing we’ve been doing, is right there. And so, you know, I think and I think honestly, at the end of the day, the document storage is probably the most important, because it does hold all of that history, it has everything that you need to be able to evaluate a client and move on. And so, you know, for us, that’s just a no brainer. And we’re, you know, so excited to always be, you know, improving our process and bringing on new client bringing on new vendors. I mean, we just found this app called bookkeeper. And it basically it syncs with square, and all your like WooCommerce e commerce types of stores. Yeah. Oh, my God in this, my good buddy, my Tom used to work it into it. He’s part of their crew. Now. He’s so awesome. But I went there. And I went with it with the open mindedness to find some new apps that I might not know about, right. I don’t know everything, and I don’t. So I went there. And I saw this and I’m like, Oh, my goodness, we were just harping over a client, who has square Pay Pal, and all these things. And then we’re going into booking journal entries. And yet we’re, like, my one of my team was not booking it as a gross income and then minus fees. And I’m like, it’s so simple! But why are we someone’s transaction?
Dania Buchanan 28:36
Somone’s problem, right? Someone solved this problem.
Dawn Brolin 28:39
And it was like, automatic. So you know, I and that’s what I love is we’re always looking out for the client, we want to make it more efficient, we want to be more productive, and more profitable. And I want to bring more value, you know, like just them being able to go get their tax return, that adds value for them. You know, they’re not just having their texture and go find it.
Dania Buchanan 28:58
That’s table stakes. Right now, what you’re describing is the tech stack that’s ever growing. We are also a small business, right? We’re just a small business that makes a product called sparkle. But we constantly we have an ops department that is looking at efficiency at every step, right? If we can plug a little piece of tech in, so that we can solve a pain point and make our business more efficient and run faster than absolutely we’re doing that so that we’re not gonna we shouldn’t be debating anymore whether you should adopt tech, right? I think now, it’s an evaluation process. I think that right? Yes, we’re past that 2008 argument. But then I’ll just, but you have to do it. Right? Or you lose confidence in doing it just like what you said, there’s so many like the word app didn’t exist, you know, 10 years ago, like nobody said, apps right? But now it’s like, it’s sort of like working out right. The more you do it, the more confident you are. So always be looking for little tools that you can plug in for a specific part of your workflow to just streamline, even if you only solve it for two clients, and you can find a way to pass that cost along, then the techs paid for and you’re more efficient, you bought an hour back of time, two hours actually high, that goes to your bottom line that is profit for Yeah, from people bring in tech, to drive profitability and growth. The more you do it the easier it gets.
Dawn Brolin 30:29
Definitely, and the client experience is extremely critical. Because if it’s a pain for them, they’re going to go somewhere else, they’re just, if it’s not, you got to make it easy for them, you’ve got to make it, you know, want to be as available as possible to them, but still live a life. And so that’s why you need the tools in order to, you know, satisfy those client needs, but at the same time, be able to take care of yourself a little bit to mentally and physically and things like that. So…
Dania Buchanan 30:53
Are you seeing a change, and I don’t know how I quantify this, I’ll just use you and ice age and younger versus new and ice age and older, older, the younger group, they don’t want to call you. They don’t want it always to be on right. So the older group, so we do, we are sort of in two seasons, I think and a little bit of a transition transitional state when it comes to clients, and what we hear that a lot 20% of my clients are just never going to do this, right. It’s like, I accept that. And maybe that’s acceptable, right? Like, you’re only ever going to get 70% that then every new client that comes in needs to be in the new way of doing business. I absolutely, you know, we have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of customers who tell us that to like, the older clients are just not gonna they want to come in, they want to sign their return and all of that.
Dawn Brolin 31:52
We’ve said greasy, and really amazing adoption from our clients really just, you know, I’m just trying to think of, I think I had, if I had five tax client appointments this year, that would be a lot. That’s, that’s how changed they are. And you know, for those that are still people are still gonna say just lack of a better way to describe it, but they’re still afraid, they’re still afraid of that human contact. And I get that, I get that. So that’s where for me, it’s like whatever I can do to make the experience as best I can for them and as efficient, you know, get quality and value, then that’s what I’m going to do. And we really didn’t we saw, we probably i i was looking at my numbers again the other day, we brought on about 75 new clients in 2020 75. From across the country all over the place all over. Yeah, all over. And it was just like, we’re just we’re looking for somebody that can just, you know, accept our documents and do our tax returns and blah, blah, blah. And it was just insane. And it was awesome. And so now it’s just so automated, I just I can think off the top of my head, I think three people that I pretty sure will come back and come in to the office. And that’s it. And…
Dania Buchanan 33:02
But can 75 become 150. And it doesn’t really tax the firm too much because of the automation? That’s yeah,
Dawn Brolin 33:09
That’s where it goes.
Dania Buchanan 33:10
That’s where you’ve that’s where the payoff is, right is or if if you looked at your whole client base, and you just wanted to work less, right? So it just it just where you’re where your motivation is. I remember learning this early on in my in my career at Smart vault many years ago, where I’m so fueled, because I’ve been in tech my whole life that growth, growth growth, right. And accountants were very quick to say, I don’t want to grow Danya want to work as much like, oh, okay, thanks. Okay, got it. Well, yeah, then you can just work less to if that’s what motivates. Yeah, whatever it is. But I think after this last two years, the work life balance is across the board. Now, I think people now are really got hit with a taste of what is important in life, right? Whether, however, this shared experience happened to all of us, none of us are unaffected. And so I do, it’s made, myself included just re-up on what is really valuable. And work is a component of that, or people wouldn’t work, right, there’s a value that we get out of being needed and contributing in a meaningful way. But those of us myself included, who let work monopolize so much of our of our extra time, that’s starting to get pulled back a little bit. Yeah. And so automation and tech coming in to help you with that balance is really important so that you can go do the things that make you you outside of outside of work. And I think that is been a really big learning if I’m being transparent just for my own personal journey.
Dawn Brolin 34:55
Yeah, no doubt about it. Yeah, I mean, I you know, I just be honest, I don’t Don’t come to work till 10. Like, don’t tell anyone! But I just I’m not a morning person. And it’s not like I just want time for myself in the morning, I literally just want to lay in my bed, watch, Tik Tok, I just do and you know, for half an hour and just…
Dania Buchanan 35:18
But’s that’s your time, right? That’s Dawn time.
Dawn Brolin 35:21
And that’s ok! Guess what? It’s ok.
Dania Buchanan 35:23
That’s right. It is okay. But I think the all of us need to find out whatever that is that balance that that makes us unique and not so stretched, then as a country. I mean, we have an office in London, and I think culturally, you just look at the differences in work ethic is still the same shade just are able to, they put a higher value on their non working life than we historically have. So yeah, just I think to me, that’s a good silver lining for the last couple of years. Just stop back, stop, think what’s important to you, and then structure your life. So you’ve got time for that thing. And technology can help you to do that so easily. Can it really stop pushing the paper man? Yeah, you don’t need to do it.
Dawn Brolin 36:17
Don’t gotta push that paper, which is awesome. Well, Dania, this has been an awesome conversation. I think a lot of people you know, I love the story about your son. I think that that’s just exactly kind of what people need to hear that that’s okay, that, you know, whatever shift people are making, it’s all okay, but we really are all in this together. And, you know, you know, my team role is starting lineup, my whole focus and goal for that is to help all of you out there who don’t have the technology in place, because you feel like it’s a fire hose because you feel like there’s so many decisions to make. Listen, I know what’s working for me, and I’m always looking to improve and improve but you know, it’s really getting that core, that core group those core components of your workflow and within your office and how you’re doing things is what what I’m trying to teach you here on the DM Disruption. So Dania, thank you so much for taking some time with me today. Your you know, we’ve been friends for a long time we’ve been long you know, always always fun to hang out with you. And I did miss you at Scaling New Heights, but I know I will see you in the future for.
Dania Buchanan 37:16
You will for sure! And thanks for having me on any time, love you girl!
Dawn Brolin 37:22
Love you girl, thank you everybody for listening to the disruption will talk to you next time. Thanks so much. Bye bye!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai