*This article is derived from a webinar that occurred in 2017. Its content remains relevant to the accounting industry today.
Michelle Long and Alicia Katz Pollock are two of the leading QuickBooks trainers and advisors in the world. Michelle is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor with a unique relationship with Intuit as a trainer, consultant and author of numerous courses for Intuit Academy. She is also a co-author of the Advanced Certification Exam Preparation courses for both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. Michelle has to stay current on technology if she’s going to train all her peers in how to support QuickBooks, but she also services her own clients, staying current to make sure that she takes good care of them.
Alicia Katz Pollock is an author and Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She’s a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She self-publishes QuickBooks training materials and each month leads webinars on a wide range of technology topics including QuickBooks, Apple, Microsoft Office and various back-office and business productivity solutions. In the field, her QuickBooks setups and troubleshooting sessions blend with her skills of technology and the patience of a trainer to keep her clients current on technology as well.
Joe Woodard: We’ve been talking about what the clients need. Can the clients use QuickBooks Online? What accounting solutions can I pair together and place on QuickBooks Online? I want to turn now to the accounting practice. There are lots of ProAdvisors, who themselves are still on QuickBooks Desktop, and they haven’t made the move. I hear a parallel story: The time and billing isn’t robust enough. I can’t get the engagement level profitability tracking that I need. And I would say the same thing: Pair it with the right technologies. But I think it’s best to start with why. You work with a lot of accountants as I do. What is the most compelling reason for an accounting firm to move from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online?
Michelle Long: That’s a really great question. I’m going to use a little analogy with it. In the old days, before we had software, we had to do tax returns manually. People were filling out the forms or coding sheets and sending them to a data processing center somewhere. Now people and accounting firms spend thousands of dollars on tax prep software, like TurboTax, Lacerte or ProConnect. I ask people: Why? They could go to irs.gov, download the .pdf forms and do the returns manually. We spend lots of money and time learning and implementing the software. That’s because it allows us to prepare far more tax returns for far more clients so we can be more profitable. It ultimately improves our efficiency, which improves our profitability. That’s the way it is with QuickBooks Online compared to Desktop. I can’t imagine going back to Desktop and sending files back and forth with backup files and Accountant’s Copies. There were all the issues involved with that and the data integrity problems. All of those are gone. You’re a lot more efficient once you’re using QuickBooks Online, not to mention all the automation features that are available in it. But then when we combine that with some of these other tools and apps, we really can make ourselves more efficient, and, ultimately, more profitable.
Think about how much time you spend getting bank or credit card statements from your clients. When it comes time to reconcile all the accounts, we may have all the feeds downloading. But we still need to get the statements on a monthly basis. You’re chasing the clients with emails -- “I need the bank statements. I need the bank statements....” Or you have to go log in to the bank and the credit card account to download those statements. I don’t like having my clients’ passwords unless they’re read-only passwords, but we spend a lot of time doing that. But there’s an app like HubDoc that will fetch our bank statements for us. When we’re ready to reconcile the bank or credit card account, it’s sitting there ready for us to do that. There are tons of apps that we can use to streamline our workflow.
We just did a webinar with AR Workflow. That is a great app for managing all of our tasks, checklists and procedures and making sure everything is getting done properly. It tracks the time so you can monitor how long things are taking. It tracks what you want to invoice for value-priced jobs. You can compare what you quoted versus the time you took to know if you quoted the job well enough. There are tons of these apps out there. If you’re doing a lot of Accounts Payable, you can use something like Bill.com for the client to approve those bills for payment, so you don’t have liability [for non-payment]. We don’t want that liability.
Just like there are app to streamline client workflows, it’s the same thing for us as accounting professionals. We need to build a suite of apps for managing our practices and getting the job done for our clients quickly and efficiently. Ultimately it makes us more efficient and a lot more profitable.
Joe Woodard: I really liked your analogy with tax preparation. Am I going to sit with pen and paper or even key punch in data into a tax preparation solution? Is it going to integrate with QuickBooks Online? With Intuit’s professional tax products that integrate with QuickBooks Online, we’re talking about going from “entering multiple times in a pre-integration world on the desktop” to “entering once,” which is integrated desktop or cloud. What you just described is “enter none.” When HubDoc fetches a document it also reads a lot of data off the document and pre-loads the transaction for me in QuickBooks. When Bill.com automates payables, the vendor sends the bill to Bill.com and Bill.com puts the transaction in QuickBooks. Then my client approves which ones. All I have to do is sign off on my side and Bill.com cuts the checks. A couple of clicks for an entire check run! But hourly billers are saying: But doesn’t that replace me? It doesn’t replace them. Michelle, tell us why.
Michelle Long: We’re moving from hourly billing to value pricing. The client doesn’t have the capability to do this. We’re the ones who are setting up all this integration. We’re minimizing the time required to do this. We’re moving from data entry to data management. Now we can also provide more advisory services. We can look at numbers and advise our clients. We have much more of a trusted advisor role than just the bookkeeper doing just the data entry. It allows us to elevate our position with our clients. They still need us, but we’re providing a higher value of services than just getting the data entry in.
Joe Woodard: You’re absolutely right. And for those concerned about cost, I would say that fixed pricing takes care of that as well. If you have value-infused fixed pricing, you’re layering in an analytics solution and some dashboarding. You’re watching cash flow, cash projections, AR turns, inventory turns, quick ratios, and liquidity solvency. Solutions like Fathom, Liveplan, Qvinci and others put all that information right at your feet. You can then cherry-pick which are the most critical items for your clients and begin to move beyond the numbers. You start doing that and the revenue that you generate from the increased value is going to more than cover the cost of the suite of technologies you use to deploy that. For those who say it’s too expensive, I would say that it’s saying like a tax practice won't buy a tax solution: no, they’ll do it by hand. No, you’re going backward. Advance forward.
Michelle has given us some great suggestions here of how to deploy with our clients, why you should and how you can move to the cloud, look at QuickBooks Online’s ecosystem and then how to deploy these apps in your own firm.
Michelle, thanks so much for being here today.
Michelle Long: Thank you, Joe.
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Part 3 will be published on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.