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    Lee Court

May 22, 2018

Tips for Attracting High-end Clients


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Tips for Attracting High-end Clients

We’ve talked before about the benefits of shaping your client list into an all A-list roster:

  • Less work for more pay.
  • Their word-of-mouth spreads to other A-listers.
  • They’re not as concerned with costs as much as they are with receiving high value.
  • Their association with your firm elevates your firm’s status.
  • You need far fewer clients in order to meet your firm’s financial milestones.
  • They’re highly unlikely to bring in D-list clients in their wake.

But if your firm is still in its infant stages, how do you attract these big-time clients? Let’s use this article to flip things around a bit and look at accounting firms through the eyes of an A-lister on the prowl for an accountant and/or business advisor.

They want people who demonstrate not just competence, but brilliance

Anybody can get someone to do a fair job with their books. But A-listers don’t just want run-of-the-mill bookkeepers; they want financial wizards handling their affairs. And if you’re charging A-list prices, it’s only fair that you meet these expectations.

So how does your firm demonstrate your brilliance if you don’t yet have direct contact with the top tier client crowd? You use social media. You give seminars. You give awesome advice that saves/makes people out there a lot of money. You become known as the go-to guy/gal when it comes to whatever niche you’re looking to serve.

You might be thinking that it seems kind of suicidal to give out all your tricks – if you show how the trick is done why will they need the magician anymore?

But here’s what happens – the more advice you give out, the more potential clients are going to see just how much work goes into being a financial rock-star. They’re in the market for an accountant, not for accounting lessons.

So if you have heaps of fantastic content out there, all with a picture of your smiling face next to the author credit, they’re going to see you as being the person who can get all the work displayed in the tips and advice done and they’ll be able to brush off the stress associated with keeping their finances healthy.

Cheap = low quality

A-listers don’t have to gamble that cheap prices are too good to be true. They can afford to pay for top-quality service without the gamble.

Raising your prices raises your status in the eyes of potential top tier clients.

If you are looking for some way to offer discounts, don’t do it on your initial service package. Instead offer the discount as a special perk to a valued customer (we’ll get more into the idea of extra perks below).

Every part of your operation should cater to class

If you wow a potential client online your job probably still isn’t done. While some clients might prefer to handle everything digitally, you’re more than likely going to have to meet most of your potentials face-to-face. This means that even if your online presence is awesome there’s still a chance you’re going to blow the booking if your operation looks low-end.

Serve them some seriously good coffee or tea in fancy cups or mugs. Even better, have someone else serve them – you, as the big boss, are above such things (unless you want your brand to be that you’re they’re easygoing pal – this depends on the direction of your overall branding).

Drive a nice car. Wear well-tailored clothes. Spruce up the office with nice-looking furniture and décor. Get a professional to design your website, logo, letterhead, and business cards.

The side-bar question here is – can you be the quirky firm that’s full of financial whiz-kids who show up to work in Hawaiian shirts and shorts? As long as you can back it up with amazing financial skills this branding approach will make you stick out from the crowd, right?

It’s possible. But remember that the upper crust have associated suits and ties with austere financial institutions for a very long time. The quirky approach is likely to turn off a few clients no matter the quality of your services. It’s a gamble.

Whichever route you choose, it’s incredibly important to never give your client a reason to say “no”. A Business Insider survey showed that 60% of consumers (U.S.) have stopped a purchase of goods or services because of a bad customer service experience. It takes 12 good experiences to win back the offended client or customer – something that’s not likely to happen if they take their financial ball and go down the street to your competitor.

A-listers expect extras

They’re paying you a lot of money. They expect to be treated like they’re special. And that’s fine, because slinging a couple of perks their way is actually a form of marketing.

If, for example, your A-lister is paying you for bookkeeping for their business you could throw in a quarterly financial projection, or maybe an analysis of how they could boost their widget prices without losing enough customers to make it a loss, something along those lines.

Now your A-lister has bragging rights. Most A-listers are influencers – they’re wealthy so they must be doing something right. Other people want to learn how to be an A-lister too, and other people on the same level as your existing client want sweet perks thrown their way. Nielsen says that a whopping 92% of people trust word-of-mouth above any other form of advertising. So when your client brags, others will listen, covet, and then check out your firm.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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@2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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May 15, 2018

Outsourced Accounting Tasks Can Help You Dodge Business-killing Mistakes


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Outsourced Accounting Tasks Can Help You Dodge Business-killing Mistakes

Taking your clients for granted is a decent way to make sure they head into the welcoming arms of your competition. You should always be testing and tweaking new ways to draw new clients in and to improve the services you offer your current clients. Take a look at the points below to see if you’re falling into any of these customer-relation ruts, and we’ll explore how outsourced accounting tasks will help you improve your performance.

You’re writing your own contracts.

Yes, attorneys cost a nice chunk of change. And yes, it is possible to download contracts from the internet and just fill in the blanks.

The problem is that while you think you might have covered everything you need in the contract, you might be leaving out the language you need to protect you to keep things out of the contract.

It’s well worth spending the extra money on an attorney to make sure you’re covered in the language about what your business is expected to do, and what you don’t have to do to complete your contract. And by using an outsourced accounting team you’ll have the extra cash on hand to pay for the added level of protection provided by a proper contract attorney.

You’re not finding new ways to earn loyalty.

You must earn your customers’ business every day. The idea of customers or clients sticking it out with you purely because you’re local or you were their first business in your field that they interacted with is long gone.

You must offer more value than your competition. You can do this by fully exploiting your outsourced accounting team members – use them to increase the speed you turn over clients’ files (while maintaining or improving the quality), and by expanding the amount of services you can offer your clients.

You’re not tweaking your pricing.

Your goal shouldn’t be to pull in flocks of clients if that means you’re lowering your prices. For those of you with hordes of clients, consider your pricing versus hours worked – are you killing yourself hour-wise in an effort to keep everyone happy at your lower prices?

It’s time to start raising your prices so that you’re bringing in the same amount of money for fewer hours worked. It’s also time to use utilise outsourced accounting tasks in order to reduce your personal (as opposed to firm-wide) number-crunching hours. You’ll have more time to work on the big-ticket services, and in doing so you’ll become more attractive to higher-paying big-ticket clients.

You’ll end up being paid more for fewer hours worked.

You’re expecting clients to want what they need.

So your outsourced accounting team has granted you the ability to offer your clients more essential services. Great! The problem is that clients don’t know that payroll, bookkeeping, etc. handled by a pro is good for them. They see these things as luxuries and they don’t feel like they’re in a healthy enough financial position to pay for them.

Your task is to present these services not as luxuries, or even as services, but rather as tools that will help your clients expand. Give them a discounted package of services, or even one month free, and knock it out of the park by showing them how the services give them a much clearer picture of their business’ finances and relieves them of hours of bookkeeping and the related stress.

At that point they’re going to wonder how they ever lived without your additional services and they’ll consider paying for them as essential operating costs instead of luxuries.

You’re not delegating.

Your job as the big boss is customer satisfaction. You’re the one who needs to interact with your clients and find out what they like, what they don’t like, and what more they need from your firm.

Most of the rest of the work you do can be delegated. Can’t afford a bunch of in-house staff? That’s fine, outsourced accounting team members are as good as or better than anyone you can hire in-house and they’re going to cost you far less.

If you’re not delegating, you’re losing quality-control time, and that means that you’re losing client satisfaction.

You’re not marketing.

You don’t have to spend thousands on old-school marketing. But you do have to get involved in social media. Word-of-mouth is the most trusted form of advertising, but if you don’t have any clients yet to talk about you then you won’t have any mouths to spread the good word about your firm.

Social media marketing does take some time – you have to set up blogs and interact on various platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. You’ll save the time you need (and more) by using your outsourced accounting team to do your number-crunching for you, leaving you to do just a simple quality assurance check one the file is returned.

You think that none of the above matters because you’re the only game in town.

You might be the only pony in the race for a particular niche you’ve carved out for yourself. That may be true right now but it will change in the future. International concerns are encroaching on local firms, and the internet extends the reach of every firm in the country.

The internet also offers your clients lots of do-it-yourself forms and accounting tips. You are in competition right now even if you don’t realise it.

You must keep tweaking and improving your firm in order to keep it appealing to your current and potential future clients. An outsourced accounting team is a massive tool that can help you both avoid the above mistakes as well as continuing to improve your firm’s appeal.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium outsourced accounting services provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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BOSS,
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@2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Liability Limited By a Scheme Approved
Under Professional Standards Legislation

May 7, 2018

Quick Tips to Help You Become a Better Leader


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Quick Tips to Help You Become a Better Leader

As you grow your firm’s team you’re going to discover that being an accounting wizard does not translate into being a top tier leader. They’re two entirely different skillsets. The weaker your leadership skills, the more you’re going to have to make up for the lackluster performance turned in by your team. That defeats the whole purpose of bringing in new people in the first place.

Happily, leadership qualities can be grown, just like your accounting skillset. Here are some leadership tips to keep in mind as you bring new people in under you.

Personalize your team members

It’s completely demoralizing for employees to realize they’re unrecognisable cogs in a firm’s number-crunching machine. Everybody wants to be recognised both for their contributions and as individuals.

Of course, if you end up as the Big Boss for hundreds of employees then knowing all of their ins-and-outs is going to become a little tricky. But one of the reasons people choose to join smaller firms is the notion that they will be recognised and seen as people rather than as just human calculators.

So get to know your people. Whether you do this in small one-on-one meetings, by mingling with the troops for a couple of minutes each day, by hosting a lunch once a week or a wine-tasting on Friday before you close up shop, find a way to get to know their personal ambitions, likes, senses of humour, if they have families, and so on.

If you’re on the quiet end of the spectrum and not all that great with social scenes, make the moment about something other than socialising. Quick meetings that are completely work-related are the most obvious way to go about this. But this could also include cooking or karate lessons, a game or sport, charity work, anything where the socialising is a side-effect instead of the focus.

Knowing the individuals of your team gives you a chance to build loyalty in and of itself, but also through the knowledge that when you hand out gifts, perks, or bonuses you can individualise them. An employee who is a huge fan of a local sports team is going to be thrilled to get tickets from you. But another employee who can’t stand sports is going to love that you got him or her tickets to a beer-crafting fair.

This kind of individualised attention is what is going to help keep those employees in your firm when other higher-paying firms come looking to poach your talent.

Let employees make decisions

This one can be a little scary, but you should consider letting some employees make decisions that will affect the future of the firm. Every employee is going to recognise that when you, the Big Boss, leave a big decision in their hands, you’re trusting them with the future health of the firm. This investment in them will result in a big emotional investment in the firm on the part of that employee. They’ll no longer just be a worker, they’ll be a part of your firm, dedicated to its overall growth.

Invest in employees’ futures

We mentioned above that you should get to know your employees’ hopes and dreams for their future careers. If you really want to get and keep them on your side, help them achieve those goals.

You can do this by paying for them to attend seminars, classes, purchase books, or what have you that it might take them much longer to afford on their own. Not only do they feel like you care about their future, as an added bonus you get a loyal employee who is now able to handle a more specialised workload. You may even end up being able to add more services to your menu because the employee learned a new skillset that you yourself do not have.

Keep teams as small as possible

Have you heard of Jeff Bezos’ (Amazon) “Two-Pizza Rule”? He tries to avoid groups or meetings too big to be fed by two pizzas. This helps avoid two pitfalls:

  • Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO) – people further down the firm’s food-chain will outwardly agree with you, even if they have differing opinions.
  • Groupthink – the pressure to stick with the crowd for fear of being ostracised or disliked because you’re seen to be holding things up.

These two problems defeat the whole point of having open meetings – to test out an idea with your team before you roll it out live. A good leader is going to want to have new ideas subjected to criticisms and improvements before it’s seen by the clientele. So keep your meetings and groups as small as possible in order to get the most value from them.

Pick leaders to lead

If your firm grows to the size where you need someone to act as a manager make sure you pick someone not just for their ability to get the work done, but also because they have leadership skills. What we mentioned in the intro – that having great accounting skills does not translate into having great leadership skills – goes not only for you but for people you’re looking to put into management positions.

Build groups based not only on strengths, but also on weaknesses

If you have a special project coming up, perhaps something you’ve pitched to an A-list client, you’re naturally going to want the employees with the greatest strength related to the project in that group. However, by only appointing the people who have this stuff down cold you may be missing an opportunity to strengthen your firm as a whole.

You should consider adding a member or two who are weak in this area. The idea of course is that they gain experience and know-how while working with your specialists. And don’t just have them peering over the shoulders of the experienced members – have them do some actual work. This makes sure they stay focused and motivated to learn how to handle the tasks at hand.

They’ll be appreciative that you both gave them a chance to work on a big project and that you gave them the chance to learn something which will help boost their future careers. And you of course have just gained another employee who can be trusted to handle similar future projects.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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@2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Liability Limited By a Scheme Approved
Under Professional Standards Legislation

May 1, 2018

Here’s How Outsourced Accounting Services Build Physical Business Branches


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Here’s How Outsourced Accounting Services Build Physical Business Branches

We find that a lot of successful small firms still dream of opening more physical branches as opposed to only expanding online. This is not mutually exclusive to outsourced accounting services; in fact your overseas team can be an extremely helpful tool in helping your additional brick-and-mortar locations open their doors.

Expansion fears – nobody but you truly gets your business.

The fear a lot of ambitious small-firm owners face is that they’re not going to be able to find the right people who “get it”. They’ve built up their business via branding and quality that is tied into the personality of the accountant – it seems like a near impossible task to find an in-house hire that can bring the exact same mix of ingredients to a new location.

This is a valid fear – the wrong hire can not only not support your carefully crafted culture, they can actually hurt it by smearing it with their own personal foibles.

Also, you’re looking for someone who can not only handle the accounting tasks, but is also able to take on the leadership role as the head of the new location.

Outsourced accounting services bolster new branches.

Reliability is perhaps the biggest factor people are going to look for in your new branch. They’re going to want the same level of quality and personal services that made a name for your original location.

You’re going to have to shift your firm’s working model from being entirely reliant on you, the owner. This means taking your clients’ perception that it’s you personally that offers them great service to the understanding that it’s your overall firm that is the source of the quality they’ve come to expect.

At the most basic level this means that you have to delegate. You cannot be the one doing all of the number-crunching for compliance, bookkeeping, and so on. You have to develop a system (more specifically, a workflow) that your employees can follow so that quality and speed is maintained across all of your hires.

Outsourced accounting services are tailor-made for just that purpose. Instead of hiring multiple in-house hires and trying to hammer them into shape you have a single person in each of your branches funnel the necessary information to your overseas team.

Since all of your files are going to the same location and the same people overseas the work will have a built-in consistency. You are able to tweak how your virtual accountants work so that they work in your style and workflow. This means that files will always come back with your brand of quality control no matter which branch was its originating source.

Change from “Bob or Jane does good work” to “Firm X helps you grow.”

Your marketing is going to have to shift as you build more branches. If it focuses solely on your own personal awesome skillset nobody is going to work with your other in-house staff at your other locations.

You’re going to need to change the way your clients view your firm. It’s no longer “Bob or Jane the awesome accountant,” it’s now “Firm X”. More specifically, tailor your branding so that it revolves around what your firm as a whole can do for your clients.

Using ourselves as an example, our “Bob or Jane” statement would be “Peter Vickers has a thorough knowledge of how to use outsourcing to boost your business.” However it’s not likely that when you partner with us that Peter will be handling your day-to-day affairs. His daily schedule is all about improving BOSS as a whole.

Instead, we use the “Firm X” approach which goes something like, “BOSS’ outsourced accounting services are constantly improved to aid businesses in achieving their expansion goals.”

The “Bob or Jane” approach to marketing would lead you to disappointment since you likely won’t be getting Peter’s personal touch on a day-to-day business, whereas the “Firm X” approach shows you how all of us here at BOSS are working to help you build the best possible version of your business.

When is it a good time to expand?

Our suggestion is that you don’t start opening new branches until you have three things solidly in place:

  • Workflows that ensure you have quality control in place.
  • Outsourced accounting services that will guarantee your work comes back with consistency no matter which branch the files originate at.
  • You’re able to shift your branding focus from your own personal touch to a firm-wide message.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium outsourced accounting services provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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  • And More!

BOSS,
BACK OFFICE SHARED SERVICES PTY LTD.
@2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Liability Limited By a Scheme Approved
Under Professional Standards Legislation

April 23, 2018

Affordable Employee Perks for Small Firms


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Affordable Employee Perks for Small Firms

You shouldn’t just think of perks as a nice little bonus thing you do for your employees. Perks actually serve four purposes:

  • They make up for wage gaps when you can’t afford to pay as much as the competition.
  • They build employee loyalty so they’ll stay with you even when the above-mentioned wage gaps loom.
  • They boost employee happiness, which in turn boosts productivity.
  • They make your firm sexier for potential new hires, especially when your current employees do half of your recruitment marketing on social media by boasting how cool it is to have you as their boss.

The problem of course is that your firm is simply not going to be able to afford the perks that monster companies offer their employees. You probably don’t have the room or financial resources to offer on-site pre-school classes or bowling alleys.

When creating a list of perks that you can afford, there are a couple of points to keep in mind. First, some perks can really benefit your firm (aside from the four points mentioned above). For example, picking up the tab for a seminar or calling in a guest speaker can both boost your employee’s career as well as give you a more skilled worker on your team.

Second, there’s evidence that happy employees not only have higher productivity, they also pass that happiness quotient on to clients. Happy clients make referrals and brag about you on social media. So perking up the workplace is actually a roundabout form of marketing.

Third, some perks offer the opportunity to both get to know the employees better as well as learn what they might consider to be an awesome perk (that won’t destroy your bottom line). For example, if you have a beer-tasting session once a week or so on company time, you’ll be given the chance to know what kind of music your people are into, what kind of energy drinks they prefer, if they’ve always wanted to take karate lessons, what have you. You can use these preferences to tailor further perks to individual employees, making them feel like a million bucks because you provide perks tailored specifically to them instead of something more generic.

(Obviously you have to take care to not be taken advantage of in this situation. You’re out to get ideas for perks, not to jot down a shopping list of every single thing an employee doesn’t want to pay for him or herself.)

The fourth point to keep in mind is that some perks don’t have to cost you any money out of pocket at all. For example some (or even all) work days can be done remotely. Or you can let employees bring their dogs to work on specific days, or just in general (make sure the furry friends stay off the furniture clients will be sitting on though).

With all of that being said, let’s see if we can generate some ideas for perks that won’t make your wallet scream.

The fourth point to keep in mind is that some perks don’t have to cost you any money out of pocket at all. For example some (or even all) work days can be done remotely. Or you can let employees bring their dogs to work on specific days, or just in general (make sure the furry friends stay off the furniture clients will be sitting on though).

With all of that being said, let’s see if we can generate some ideas for perks that won’t make your wallet scream.

Possible perks

  • More vacation time/paid vacation time.
  • Helping out with auto/home/life insurance.
  • Food, whether it’s snacks, upgraded coffee machines, or full-on prepared meals every day or once a week.
  • Health club memberships.
  • Sports events (bowling nights, softball, etc.).
  • Reimbursing or helping out with tuition costs for continued education.
  • Within-the-firm upward education. (Helping out when employees want to widen their skillset for upward mobility within your firm.)
  • A concierge. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a fancy person; this can be a student who comes in once a day or once a week to do grocery shipping, pick up dry cleaning, buy anniversary presents, and so on for your employees, saving them time and stress.
  • Paid time off for volunteer activities. (This makes you look awesome when your employee tells other people about it.)
  • Grants to charities picked by your employees.
  • Extended paid maternity leave.
  • Pay for seminars, guests-speakers, classes, on-line classes, etc.
  • Classes for non-accounting skills (baking, a martial art, yoga, guitar, etc.).
  • Offer spousal benefits to same-sex couples (if you use this perk you’ll still be on the cutting edge at the time this post is being written).
  • Have a masseuse come in once a week.
  • Pay for smoking cessation programs.
  • Offer free or reduced-cost services and/or consultations to family members of employees.
  • Tickets to sporting events, concerts, amusement parks, movies, etc.
  • Ergonomic furniture.
  • A certain number of Fridays off per month (e.g. every other week).
  • Helping out with student debt.
  • Paying a portion of a deceased employee’s salary to their spouse for a set number of years after their death.
  • Upgraded work spaces.
  • Replace damaged gear (e.g. laptops).
  • Board game nights.
  • A fridge full of ice cream.
  • Helping out with travel costs when someone goes on holiday.
  • On-site laundry machines that employees can use.
  • Contests like cook-offs or for the best martini.
  • Movie days.
  • Themed breaks like “popcorn breaks” or “cupcake breaks”.

The ultimate point is that there’s no need to break the bank in order to offer cool perks. Like anything else in building a business, choosing the best perks is an experiment. Don’t be afraid to tweak and tinker your offered perks until you hit on a combination that has your employees praising your name on their Facebook account.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

Subscribe to BOSS - Receive monthly articles and special white papers

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  • How to Increase Your Profit
  • And More!

BOSS,
BACK OFFICE SHARED SERVICES PTY LTD.
@2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Liability Limited By a Scheme Approved
Under Professional Standards Legislation

April 9, 2018

Get Good at Growth


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Get Good at Growth

We talk about growth a lot in our emails to you. It’s why BOSS exists – to help Australian and New Zealand firms attain growth. That’s why it’s important to us that we’re all on the same page about what “growth” really is.

Growing pains

We find that a lot of firm owners see growth as an end – our revenue is up therefore we have grown. And they leave it at that.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that the firm isn’t prepared for what comes with growth – higher expectations from a growing number of clients. While that revenue is indeed higher than the previous year, nothing has been done to maintain the new level of clients and/or the heightened level of services that allow the firm to charge more. The fishing net is full this year, but since we didn’t bother to get a bigger net, plenty more big fish can swim right by us in the years to follow.

A definition of growth

Here’s the healthier, more profitable way to look at growth – growth isn’t an end result, it’s a tool. We’ve grown? Great! Now we have the resources to achieve goals A, B, and C which were unattainable in the past.

If we use the first definition (growth is just revenue) then we stall out. If we use the latter definition (growth is a means to achieve goals) then it’s self-propelling. This is significant when you consider how many times growth has come up as the most significant challenge faced by firms in the Good Bad Ugly Report over the years.

Focusing on growth

Perhaps the biggest problem with the revenue definition is that it makes a firm’s leader think that all of their efforts should be focused purely on sales (promotions, advertising, etc.). If that works and you haul in a whole whack of new clients… what then?

  • Can you handle the big jump in required work hours?
  • Will you be able to maintain quality?
  • Will you still be able to make face-time for your A-list clients?
  • Will you be able to tweak service packages to draw clients into purchasing new and additional services?
  • Will you have time to thoroughly vet new hires?
  • Can your workflow handle the heavier workload? (Do you have a documented workflow at all?)
  • Are your team members going to resent the extra workload?

Like any good tool, growth requires maintenance. You may find your revenue blossoming, but without care, you’re going to find yourself running around putting out fires (dissatisfied clients, stressed out employees, etc.) instead of channeling the increase into improving the design of your office space, bringing in a new superstar hire, adding additional services, evolving from a paper office into a cloud-based firm, more personal time off away from the firm (it can run itself), or whatever long-term goals you have in mind.

Handling growth

The best thing you can do to turn your business into a growth-oriented firm is to document your workflows. Get every step of your process for any particular kind of work into a document so clear and concise that a fresh employee can get a clear grasp of their job from the moment they sit down.

By having this process in black and white, you’re going to have a much easier time identifying where in the file’s workflow things get slowed down, and you can react in a much more effective manner than if you were to guess at it.

Additionally, you’re going to be able to slot in new hires with far less training required from you. And you and your whole team will be free from the time-sink (and stress-maker) that is micromanagement.

This also makes you look more impressive to your clients. With that workflow in place if they call up you can readily answer when their file should be done, as opposed to giving a broad-stroke guestimate. The defined workflow allows for the creation of definitive due dates.

Get started on your growth now

Even if your firm is brand-spanking new, you can get it prepped for growth right now by implementing that documented workflow. A workflow is easily scalable, chaos is not (well, not in any beneficial way anyway).

The workflow will increase your productivity and quality. It will free up your time to let you have more interactions with your clients. This will produce referrals and will induce existing clients to purchase more services from your firm. This growth will give you the resources to improve sections of your workflow, which in turn will improve your growth rate, and so on. And all of this will give you the resources you require to achieve your long-term goals for your firm.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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March 26, 2018

Have You Still Not Gone Paperless?


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Have You Still Not Gone Paperless?

Looking to boost your firm’s efficiency? It’s time to go paperless. There are programs and apps out there now to cover just about any need you have, from file workflows to interoffice communications.

The big question though is why make the change at all? The transition does take some time and effort and money, the latter’s amount depending on what tech you currently have in your office. So here are 12 solid reasons why you should join your competition in the digital age.

Keep your files up to date

If you’re working with paper when work is first completed by yourself or an employee, there’s only one copy of the most up-to-date version of the file. It will take time to make physical copies and replace outdated copies in however many file folders you have for that particular client. And in that time, if you put in more work, you’ll be working on a file that doesn’t reflect new information that you need to know.

On the other hand, when you store files in a digital manner you’re going to be working on the most up-to-date version because there’s only one version in existence (unless you choose to keep older versions, in which case you would name them to indicate that they’re out of date).

This also means that not just you but all of your employees are jumping off from the same point.

Pro tip – make sure you have an understandable naming convention so that all of your employees name files in the same manner. This will help make sure that you know you’re working with the latest version.

Access files from anywhere

If you’re working on paper, if you didn’t bring a copy of a file home or to a meeting then you’re out of luck. With digital files you can call them up from anywhere at a moment’s notice.

Protect your files from theft and damage

Damage-wise, as long as you’re saving to the cloud (as opposed to saving all of your digital files purely on an in-house sever) if your building gets damaged (earthquakes, floods, fire, etc.) your files will still be perfectly fine, secured in the safety of the cloud.

When it comes to theft, theoretically it might be possible for some super-genius to hack their way into your files, but with the complexity of encryption these days it’s incredibly unlikely. It would certainly be exponential degrees easier for someone to break into your office and take a crowbar to your filing cabinet.

Legal documents are automatically filed

Legal agreements between you and your client need to be easily searchable and locked away a.s.a.p. Here you’re definitely going to want to go beyond email into an actual filing program; emails are too easily ignored, can have their subject lines changed so you don’t know what they contain, can be lost in floods of emails, and worst of all, they can be accidentally deleted.

In this case you could even make an argument that signed paper documents are better than simple emails, but the best solution is an automatic filing program that immediately stores the docs with a unified naming system.

It’s far faster

No physical searching is needed when you want to check on the progress of a file. Just click or do a keyword search, and hey presto you have the information you need.

Easy handoffs

Need one employee to take over for another? With paper you’re going to have to do some shuffling around, especially if they use separate pages outside of the actual file to do their figuring. Also, there’s a fair chance that something can get lost or placed in the wrong order during the transfer. Plus if these employees are in separate physical locations then you’re going to have a delay while the files are being copied and transferred.

With digital files the first employee hits save, the second employee opens it, and your firm picks up right where it left off within minutes.

Easy expansion

Going paperless makes it much easier for your firm to handle growth. It’s just a matter of creating new files. On the other hand growth in a paper office requires more time lost to physical filing and searching, requires more filing cabinets, and requires more space for those cabinets.

And of course if you decide to open more than one physical location you’re going to be way ahead in the expansion game if you don’t have to make physical copies and cart them from one town to another.

It makes your firm easier to sell

When you decide to sell your firm you’re going to have a much easier time (and a higher price) if the potential buyer is shown a clear-cut and efficient digital filing system. It will make it far easier for them to get up to speed on clients if they can jump from one client’s file to another with a click of a mouse button.

You’ll keep up with the government

The government is making its way to all-digital interactions, albeit at government speeds, so you have some time with this one. Still, you’ll be able to get your clients their turnaround at a faster clip if you don’t have to ship paper via snail mail.

It allows you an easier transition to set rates (as opposed to hourly billing)

Since paperless offices do the same amount of work in less time than a paper office you’ll be able to get more files done within the amount of time it takes a paper office to complete one job. You can set your prices based on the high-end of the usual amount of hours spent on a file, but do it in far less time.

The alternative is to stay with the same file, but throw in some free value-adds in the time you save to show clients what they’re missing, making them consider paying for those additional services in the future.

You free up time

The time you free up doesn’t necessarily have to be spent at work. This is especially true if you’ve set up your workflow documentation – you’ll be secure in the knowledge that your team can get things done exactly the way you want it done. You won’t have any need to micromanage. So you’ll have more personal time to finally break out those golf clubs, to check out the kids’ football game, etc.

And if you want to do a quality assurance spot check, you can sign in and do your inspection from just about anywhere at any time.

You get to say that you’re environmentally conscious

About 53% of people say a company’s environmental concerns make an impact on their purchasing decisions. Why give half of the world’s purchasing population a reason to turn their noses up at you?

Not a computer type of guy/gal? We’re happy to help you get started. We have a variety of secure tech set-ups that make it easy and safe to transfer your files to your overseas team.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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March 15, 2018

Here’s how the Outsourced Accountant Can Keep Tabs on the Competition


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Here’s how the Outsourced Accountant Can Keep Tabs on the Competition

The internet can be a great boon to your firm. An outsourced accountant can increase their profit over 40% in the short-term and set themselves up for expansion.

On the flip-side though the internet means there’s more competition from other firms that are extending their reach. What can you do to counter the encroaching hordes of rival firms?

Get your clients involved in your firm’s evolution.

Have a regular meeting set up with your A-list clients and ask them what they love about your firm and what you could be doing better. The more they contribute, the more your clients are going to feel like they’re feeding their own financial success via your firm.

The outsourced accountant should become an expert in their competition’s advertising.

Track down the competition’s marketing whether it is on the internet or in physical form like brochures. Take note of their selling points – these will be what they feel are their strongest features.

This knowledge will help you shape your own firm. You’ll be able to measure yourself against the competitions’ greatest assets and figure out how you can do the same thing (or better yet, trump them at their own game).

You’ll also learn a lot about what they’re not saying. What are they consistently leaving out of their marketing? Do they never mention awards for customer satisfaction? Are they notorious for annoying their clients? The outsourced accountant can spring on these weak points and make them selling points of his or her own.

Put your niche front and centre.

Your marketing shouldn’t simply be something along the lines of, “I’m a really good accountant.” Everyone says that in their marketing. If everyone says it, then it will never stand out.

Instead, the outsourced accountant should tailor his or her marketing to make it about the niche they serve. So instead of, “I’m a good accountant,” try something along the lines of, “We’ve helped hundreds of local restaurants survive their first year,” or, “We crunch the numbers of General Practitioners so they can keep their focus on their patients.”  Make your marketing about them, not you.

Make your website a selling tool.

Your website shouldn’t simply be an indication that your firm exists. Instead, make sure it’s clear how you trump your competition, what service packages you offer, what kind of niche you service, and include testimonials. Potential clients shouldn’t just be using your website to check your hours; they should be wowed by and sold your services even while taking a casual look.

Don’t compete on price.

It’s true that an outsourced accountant is cutting their operating costs by a significant amount. However that’s not necessarily your cue to drop your prices to beat the competition.

When you compete via price there’s only one way you can keep competing – by continuously dropping your prices. That means you’re going to have to pump up your volume and increase your workload to bring in the same amount of money that your competition is making in less time.

Also, dropped prices can make your clientele think that there’s something wrong with your firm so you have to become cheaper to compete.

The outsourced accountant should instead use the savings in time and money gained from outsourcing to boost their value. Add on new services. Create more attractive service packages. Even sprucing up the office can have a positive impact in bringing in new and better clientele.

Branch out from your niche.

We think it’s a good idea for small and medium-sized accounting firm owners to focus on niches. However a niche by its very nature only has so much room. Eventually you’re going to have to branch out if you want to continue your growth.

But you don’t necessarily have to stray too far afield. Take some of that time you’ve gained back by becoming an outsourced accountant to investigate fields related to the one you’ve already maxed out.

Let’s use our restaurant example from above. There are only going to be so many restaurants in any given city. But by working with them you’ve become familiar with the food and service industries – can you tap another niche in this field? How about produce suppliers? Or kitchen equipment suppliers?

You’ve also gained an insider’s knowledge of what small business owners need from their accountant. Could you become the go-to firm for fledgling business owners who are overwhelmed by all the bookkeeping they have to do?

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality virtual accountants, outsourced accountants & bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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January 22, 2018

15 Quick Tweaks to Boost Your Leadership Skills


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15 Quick Tweaks to Boost Your Leadership Skills

Poor leadership is a death by a thousand cuts. If you’re having a difficult time instilling a desire to perform in your crew it’s probably not just one thing you’re doing wrong – it’s likely a collection of slip-ups that accrue penalties over time.

This week we’re going to jump right into a variety of actions you may or may not be taking that are diminishing your leadership role in your firm. That diminished role can be costing you productivity, time, and even employees who think their efforts might best be spent helping to build a competing firm.

You don’t encourage your employees to be human at work

Obviously you can’t spend an hour of your workday listening to every employee grouch about how their love-life is going. However, there’s nothing wrong with giving a minute or two to asking about how they’re feeling since their child went off to their first day of school or how their bowling team did at the semi-finals.

Your employees’ job is going to take up a tremendous amount of their waking lives. They’re going to be much happier, and therefore productive, at a job where they feel recognised as people rather than just as impersonal gears in a machine.

Also, by getting to know what makes your employees tick on an individual basis will you’ll have an insight into what they want from their careers.

You don’t apologise/admit when you don’t know something

If you never apologise for your mistakes you’re going to send the message to your employees that mistakes are highly frowned upon in your firm, and might even incur punishment. Employees that are terrified of making mistakes are employees that lose productive hours trying to cover up errors or infighting in order to place the blame.

Along the same lines, you’re going to have trouble if you don’t ever admit it when you come up against something you don’t have experience with. The words, “I don’t know,” or “This is a new one on me” can actually be quite powerful tools for you.

First, it shows that you’re in the trenches, battling alongside your employees instead of sitting back. Second, someone in your team might actually have experience with the particular problem giving them a chance to shine and you the chance to delegate and/or learn something new.

There’s an added danger in not admitting when you’re wrong – you might spend far too much of the firm’s budget and time trying to make a doomed project right. Instead of pulling the plug on an experiment early enough to keep it from really draining your firm, you have your people keep plugging away at it because you can’t admit that you made a mistake. This can cost you hundreds of hours of productivity plus it can make your team members lose faith in your judgement.

You place your employees’ focus on budget rather than on milestones

Obviously you can’t have a section within your firm going wildly over budget. However, if you make budgets your employees’ primary focus then they’re going to be spending more time fretting and less time contributing to the milestones that will, over time, combine to help you achieve your firm’s biggest goals.

Let your employees’ primary focus be their work (their contributions to the big goals). Budgets can be tweaked and brought to attention with small reminders if absolutely necessary.

You leap before you look

There’s a feeling of stress in leadership related to time – every second longer you take to make a decision the more it feels like it’s costing your firm the chance to grow, make money, or nab a potentially stellar employee.

However, not taking a second, hour, or day longer to take a good deep dig into your information can cost you more. For example, leaping at that potential star employee before another firm snags him or her might make perfect sense – but then you find out that that while they have solid on-paper skills they demoralise your entire office with their negativity.

You could have avoided this negative impact on your firm’s productivity by taking an extra day or two to have a more thorough conversation with the candidate’s past employers, saving yourself the costs of firing him or her and going through the hiring process again.

You don’t celebrate victories

If you don’t celebrate when your team reaches a milestone or when an individual goes above and beyond two things happen. First, you miss the chance to boost everyone’s morale. Second, milestones become diminished in importance – if passing a milestone isn’t acknowledged then it can’t really be all that important to your firm, and therefore it’s not worth putting extra effort into it.

You try to teach what you don’t know

Not an expert on SMSF auditing? Then why would you try to teach it to someone? You’re potentially teaching someone some deadly mistakes (which will come back to haunt your client), and you’re making yourself look foolish.

You don’t take advice

Hopefully your hiring practices have allowed you to assemble a team of people that strengthen your weak points. If you have, why wouldn’t you heed their advice on their area of expertise?

Some people get it into their heads that being a leader means standing alone and above their employees. You are the one that in the end has to make the big decisions, absolutely, but by no means do you have to do so in a vacuum.

Added bonus – taking someone’s advice gives them an emotional investment in the issue at hand, inspiring them to work harder to help you get through that particular situation.

You don’t consider before you criticize someone

Nobody likes a finger wag aimed in their direction. But your employees do understand that sometimes mistakes have to be addressed.

However, there are most definitely limits. If the critiques and criticisms are constant then your employee is going to grow into a state of fear where they think that their every move is going to earn them a talking-to. There goes their productivity. So make sure that the criticism is actually a big enough issue to warrant a discussion with you, the big boss.

On the flip-side, you can be much freer with praise. Everybody likes a pat on the back from their leader.

You don’t let your employees change your workflows

New employees can bring in new ways of tackling problems. If you completely ignore their ideas about how to get particular types of files done in favour of your “tried and true” methods you’re passing up an opportunity to speed up and boost the quality of your workflows.

This of course does not mean you just alter your documented workflows at every whim of an employee. What it means is that you’re open to hearing out new ideas and floating them with the other employees connected with that workflow to see if it’s an improvement.

You hire purely for a skill-set

Someone’s resume might check all the right boxes when it comes to the skill-set you’re looking to hire on, but remember, you’re not just hiring the skill-set, you’re also hiring the person that is carrying those skills.

So do pay attention to the candidate’s extra-curriculars. See if they spend any time in activities that indicate they’re a team-player (for example, charity work) and aren’t adverse to risk (an adrenaline-based sport or activity).

You don’t base bonuses or rewards on creativity

You shouldn’t really be basing rewards on the most basic of an employee’s tasks. First of all, that’s what their salary is for. Second, if you’re rewarding them for doing the basic stuff it kind of sends the message that you didn’t actually expect them to get it done. So in fact that bonus, while welcome, is actually kind of a bummer.

On the other hand, if you reward an employee who tweaked a workflow, or went out of their way to provide outstanding customer service, then all of your team is going to start looking for ways to go above and beyond their status quo.

You don’t fire negative employees fast enough

Negative employees can be a huge drain on your firm. They impact your other employees’ morale, reducing productivity. And their negativity can bleed through to your client service via other employees even if the trouble employee doesn’t have direct client contact.

Should you try to help get lacking employees up to speed with the rest of your team? Of course. But a leader needs to recognise the difference between employees who need some help versus those that are going to hit the brakes on their firm’s growth.

You don’t practice what you preach

We’ve talked about this one in past emails – it’s no good telling your employees that your firm stands for excellent customer service when you yourself go around being snarky about clients behind their backs.

The leader of a firm sets the tone for the firm. Be what you want your firm to be.

You’re a mentor in name only

Being a mentor to your less-experienced employees isn’t just a matter of telling them when they’ve done something wrong. Instead, you need to really dig into how they can improve their performance, and give them updates on their progress on a weekly basis.

By doing so, you’re not just benefiting the employee – you’re building your ideal team member and you’re creating a loyal employee. You’re also going to have a much better feeling for when a person is ready for a promotion as opposed to giving them a bump up only to find out they’re not yet prepared for the added responsibilities.

You play everything close to the vest

Did you get a flash of inspiration? Get it out to your team members where they can help you chew it over.

This goes back to trying to create the illusion that you’re always right – you’re not, everybody knows it, so don’t try pulling the wool over your team’s eyes.

Instead, get the idea out there. Sure, it might be a terrible idea. But if that’s true then a team member can show you why and you won’t waste any more time trying to massage it into a workable shape when you could be working on ideas with far more potential.

Additionally, once it’s out there, the idea will have multiple minds working on it at once. The idea can enjoy exponential growth if you share it with your team.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium accounting outsourcing provider supplying well-trained high-quality accountants and bookkeepers. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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January 16, 2018

Here’s how Outsourcing Accounting Work Makes You More Money per Hour


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Here’s how Outsourcing Accounting Work Makes You More Money per Hour

We all know the saying “Work smart, not hard.” Unfortunately far too few business owners actually figure out the magic formula to achieve this truism. The truth is it’s actually fairly simple to make your hours on the job earn you more – start outsourcing accounting work.

Number crunching doesn’t move your firm forwards.

Doing the basic accounting work of your firm is necessary of course, but it is also probably the least productive way for the big boss to spend his or her hours. Number crunching keeps your firm where it is, but it doesn’t really help with growth.

As the boss the vast majority of your time should be focused on your firm’s growth. You should be spending time with your clients, figuring out your value-adds, keeping track of your competition, and planning your next big venture.

If you spend all of your time doing the trench work your firm will not expand due to the simple fact that nobody is spending time planning its growth. By outsourcing accounting work you’re able to focus your big boss brain on where it needs to be – the evolution of your firm.

A timecard is not a measure of your value.

It’s a mistake to think that success lies in racking up the hours worked per day. It’s not a matter of how many hours you work but rather how productive you are in any given hour.

This is perhaps best illustrated by the concept of competing on price. If you lower your price to compete you’re going to have to work more hours both in doing the actual accounting as well as hustling for new clients in order to make the same amount of money your competition can make in a single hour.

But if you start outsourcing accounting work you’ll be able to give your firm more value for every hour that you work. Your efforts will largely be geared towards improving your firm, which will bring in more A-list clients at higher rates, meaning your value per hour will increase again.

Learn to delegate.

Putting work in the hands of others can be nerve-racking, especially when you have been a one man or woman show up to that point. You may feel that nobody can maintain your level of quality of your “special touch” that has become your brand.

However doing everything yourself means that you’re not getting anything done towards achieving the goal of owning your own business – gaining financial and personal freedom. You won’t be achieving either if you’re spending all of your time doing the most basic tasks and you’re spending no time on improving your firm.

Outsourcing accounting work is an incredibly easy step that immediately achieves one of those goals – personal freedom. You won’t be a slave to tax season due dates or monthly bookkeeping chores done on behalf of multiple clients. In one simple move you’ll have gifted yourself with one of the major goals that drove you to open your own shop in the first place.

Break big goals down into easily achievable milestones.

Finally, don’t let enormous goals stress you out. Instead, take a moment to break them down into much smaller milestones that can be achieved on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis. This goes for both the big-picture goals you set for your firm and for work being done on behalf of a client.

BOSS (Back Office Shared Services Pty Ltd) is Australia’s premium outsourced accounting provider - helping you maintain quality and control while outsourcing accounting work. To discuss your needs and how we can help, Book a Consultation NOW!

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