How do you measure the growth of an accounting practice?
For some, it is the number of clients on their books. Others believe that a growing number of team members is the best indicator. All, however, are driven by the bottom line.
So how do you go about expanding your business without spreading resources too thin? We spoke to two accounting experts and Dext users – Jess Rachow, an accountant at BeAccounted and Trudi Yip, the owner of Numeric Eight – to understand how they achieved growth for their firms in a short space of time.
These responses were taken from a webinar called ‘Doubling your practice users’, held in January 2021. Each response has been edited for readability.
Scaling your practice with the right technology
The best way to look at accounting technology is that it’s a solution for your clients and your practice. One of the main barriers to actually growing a business is finding the time to concentrate on those metrics that’ll help you get there, and the right technology can help you do that.
“Our team used to drive around to each of our clients’ offices to pick up our ‘in-tray’ on a daily basis”, says Trudi. It took so much time away from what we needed to do to help them run their business – and it got in the way of running ours, too. Now, most of our clients are using cloud technology, so these trips are a thing of the past.”
For Jess, technology has been pivotal in her practice’s growth:
“I started my practice by myself, on my laptop, on my kitchen table. Three years down the line and I find myself in an office with six team members working alongside me. There is no way I’d have been able to achieve this level of growth if I’d have spent the majority of my time processing raw data. It’s as simple as that.”
Learn how to pitch and price your digital accounting solution
One area that many accountants and bookkeepers have told us they struggle with is ‘selling’ the idea of using technology to their clients. For our experts, they believe that it isn’t a question of presenting cloud or desktop platforms as an option. Instead, they centre their offering around it – and clients are receptive, too.
“For our team, it’s built into the pitching process”, says Jess. “It shapes everything we do, so it’s important to get the client on board at the first available opportunity. In terms of pricing, we either include it in annual fees or offer it free as part of our service.”
Trudi and her team feel the same. “It’s an integral part of what we do, helping us make the bookkeeping process far more efficient and cost-effective (for us, and the client). We integrate our digital solutions as part of our onboarding process, and send our clients a simple, single-page explainer on how to use it. From there, they find it easy to get started.”
Helping your team adopt technology, faster
It may feel like the entire world has shifted towards the digital space over the last year – and, in many ways, it has. However, for some accountants and bookkeepers, changing a manual process that hasn’t presented obvious problems can be a tough sell.
“We found that some of the more traditional bookkeepers within the team were slightly resistant to digital adoption”, says Trudi. “But, as our team has grown in size, our team demographic is a lot more balanced. The younger members of staff have helped us act on the front foot when it comes to leveraging technology, and have been instrumental in getting the entire firm up to speed with cloud software”.
“The important thing is to position the technology as something to aid their role, not replace it” adds Jess. “If you communicate the value properly, and offer the right kind of training for those less familiar with your systems, push back from staff is minimal.”