Monthly Archives: August 2014

Innovative Approach to Improving Your Accounting Website (and Practice)

Build Your Firm’s launch of Platinum features two innovative new tools to the accounting industry.

Secure File Sharing – Bank grade security (256 bit) and no need for user names and passwords.  Share files securely with clients without having to create a portal.  Avoid those annoying “I forgot my password” phone calls.

Better Payment Processing System – One payment processing system to give you more control over Accounts Receivable.  Get paid faster and with lower overall costs.  Get paid by ACH, credit cards, debit cards and bank wires integrated into one system.  And embed live links into emails and your billing software program.

If you want to improve your accounting practice, check out Build Your Firm’s Platinum Website service.

Cartoon - Innovative Approach - Platinum

Real Estate Accounting is Coming Back….

It’s really nice to see more and more accountants getting the confidence to target the real estate industry and develop it into an area of concentration.  Every month, the steady improvement continues throughout most of the United States.  By all means, it helps that interest rates have remained historically low.

Here are some examples of accounting firms taking the leap to become more aggressive targeting this sector back into their good graces.

Kansas City Real Estate Accounting Firm

Miami Real Estate Accounting Firm

Austin TX Real Estate Accounting Firm

Salt Lake City Real Estate Accounting Firm

Orlando Real Estate Accounting Firm

If you would like to acquire more real estate clients into your practice, contact Build Your Firm at 888-999-9800 x1.

 

 

Marketing Your Accounting Practice Requires a System

Cartoon - Sales Effort1Growing your accounting practice requires practice development system designed to:

  • Generate a steady flow of leads from small businesses each month
  • Increase your hourly fee realization and profit margins each year
  • Improve the quality of your clientele
  • Close new clients with less selling effort

If you’d like to learn how, then attend our Accounting Marketing Program on Sept 17 and 18th.  No travel required.

Why You Should Care About Responsive Website Design

Responsive web design is an approach which changes the website viewing experience to fit the viewer’s screen size.  In other words, the website is designed so that your website is displayed properly to smart phones, tablets, desktop computers and it adjusts on the fly.

Smart phones and tablets are very different from desktop computers.  If you’ve used your smart phoneResponsive Web Design and stumbled upon a website designed only for desktop computers and had to scroll and expand the screen, then you know the issue.

Mobile traffic from smart phone and tablets is exploding.  Earlier this year, Americans spent more time online using a mobile app than PC’s.  Granted, the typical viewing experience is different during daytime hours when your office is open, but the overall point is that the time spent accessing the internet from a smart phone has exceeded traditional PC usage and this trend will continue.

The original web design standard was to design one website for all types of monitors.  In phase two, it shifted to one design for desktop computers and another layout for smart phone users.  In phase three, we are evolving towards a standard that one website is designed but it will morph to the size of the device.

Here are the reasons why you should care?

1.)    One Website, Many Devices – In today’s world, the customer is king and they expect you to deliver information on their terms using modern technology.  And if you can’t meet their expectations, they will find another accounting firm that understands they are using a smaller than normal device.

2.)    Google Says – With about 67% market share, Google can move the market and typically has a strong rationale behind it.  In this case, Google prefers responsive web design over mobile templates because it’s easier for their bot to crawl your website.  And, it’s more efficient for Google’s bot to crawl one responsive website rather than a website with two formats (desktop and mobile).

3.)    Adapts to Future Devices – While we don’t know what the next popular device size is, we do know that responsive design will display properly for that size in the future.  Whether this is smart TV screens or watches or glasses or display monitors in your car.

If you would like a responsive website design for your accounting practice, call Build Your Firm and we’ll gladly develop one around your needs.

 

Video on Responsive Website Design for Accountants

Acquiring More Leads for Transportation Accounting Services

James Castaldo CPA and Associates wants more leads from transportation related businesses in the NY metro area and Long Island.  While some aspects of this niche are not sexy like limos, trucks and taxis, other parts like marinas and jets are.  To pull this all together, James asked Build Your Firm to help him creates a niche across most of the transportation accounting sector.

In researching this niche, we recommended that James target four subsegments:  Transportation Acctg niche

Maritime Accounting

Aviation Accounting

Trucking and Distribution Center Accounting

Limos, Taxis and Passenger Accounting

Given the dense population in the New York City and Long Island along with a more diverse transportation system, he is now seeking to acquire more clients in each of these areas.  He has clients already in each area but the depth and quantity need to increase so he can expand his practice aggressively.

In addition to this website, James also has a generalist website along with two other niche websites, Restaurants and QuickBooks accounting.

Call Build Your Firm if you’d like to dial up your marketing and lead generation this season at 888-999-9800 x1.

Acquiring More Leads for Certified Business Valuation Services

To generate more quality leads for Business Valuation services, McKinnon Patten made the decision to develop a website dedicated to their business valuation and succession planning services.  Traditionally, leads for these services came from existing clients and the engagements were rather attractive.   To increase the flow of leads and make more businesses in the Dallas Metroplex aware of their niche in this area, they’ve gone forward with a website dedicated to this segment of their business.  Biz Val - Mck Patten

McKinnon Patten has operated in the Dallas Fort Worth area since 1969.  As a traditional CPA firm, they’ve done very little marketing and relied on word of mouth over the years.  However, with the economic growth in north Texas centered around the energy sector, they’ve elected to turn up the volume and generate more leads from the internet.

Currently, McKinnon Patten has four responsive designed websites designed to attract high quality leads.  Like most regional CPA firms, they have a generalist website which communicates their overall services.  However, to generate more leads in their areas of concentration and improve their overall hourly realization rates, they also have niche websites for Energy, Real Estate and Business Valuation.

If you’d like to acquire more leads from the internet, contact Nita Sabo at Build Your Firm, 888-999-9800 x1.

True Costs of Traditional Paper Based Invoicing – Off the Charts

The days of “old fashioned” paper based invoicing is off the charts.  However, many accounting firms still invoice traditionally and cross their fingers forCartoon - AR - Pay Bills Slowly the check to arrive.  And to make this even worse, many are extremely apprehensive to pick up the phone and call those clients for payment and continue to wait for the check to arrive.

The reality is that most small businesses make a habit of paying slowly and live off the float.  And because most accounting firms bill after services are performed and have very little on retainer, this creates and ongoing cash crunch.  And, it means more write-offs.  Ouch….

According to a variety of studies, here is what the “true cost” of paper based billing really costs you.

True Average Cost                             Source

$3.00-$5.00                           Institute of Management and Administration

$4.84-$20.13                          Aberdeen Group

$4.00 – $20                             Bank of America

$7.99                                         Hackett

Regardless of the study, we all know that the old fashioned way of billing and waiting for the check to arrive is broken and does not work.  In fact, that’s why nearly every single employee gets paid by direct deposit for payroll.  Getting paid electronically is cheaper, faster and so much more reliable.

Let’s assume that the cost of waiting for the check to arrive system costs $4.00 per (fully loaded) bill.  Then why are so many savvy accountants still processing accounts receivable this way?  It does not make business sense.

According to my research, Build Your Firm’s BizPayO Payment Processing portal can lower the variable cost to less than $.75 per transaction for electronic processing (ACH and credit cards combined).  While this is not fully loaded because there are too many overhead variables, it is over 80% less.  And, it gets the accountant paid over thirty (30) days faster.  Wow, cheaper, faster and lower write-offs.  Hhmmm…

Based on a research study by Accounting Today, the lag time between when an invoice is sent out and when fees are collected is:

When Invoices Are Paid To Accountants

%                                  Period of Time

65%              Less than 30 days

15%               31-45 days

10%              46-60 days

5%                61-90 days

5%                Over 90 days

Source – Accounting Today Executive Research Council, July 2013

If you’d like to get control of AR and lower your costs by 80%, then call Build Your Firm about BizPayO Payment Processing.  It’s easier than you think.

Improving Your Reputation in Yelp

Navjeet Chahal has taken the Yelp reviews to another level and his marketing is benefiting from the continuous effort. Yelp reviews - Navjeet - 14

In this calendar year, Navjeet has managed to acquire 38 Yelp reviews from satisfied clients’ of his accounting firm. However, there have been some setbacks.

As background, Yelp has a filter designed to weed out fake or suspicious looking reviews.  For example, they will look at reviews from a first time reviewer with lots of skepticism.  Second, if your business has had zero reviews for years and then in one week, they receive a few reviews, it goes into the filter because it does not appear genuine.

So this year, Navjeet has acquired to generate a total of 38 reviews in Yelp.  Out of this, 24 reviews are caught in the filter and 14 are live, which is still very impressive since most accounting firms have very few online reviews in Yelp.

Here are some tips that Navjeet shared with me today on the phone:

a.)    Navjeet has downloaded the Yelp app onto his cell phone so it’s easier to post reviews when he has free time.  Within the past two months, he has written 53 reviews onto Yelp to elevate his badge status.  He writes about 2-4 reviews each week and his badge status has been elevated from Rookie to Pro.  Yelp has a badge program designed to encourage Yelpers to compete amongst each other and obtain certain levels of status.

b.)    Steady does it – Getting lots of reviews in one week will get more reviews stuck in Yelp’s filter.  Approach this process as a marathon, not a sprint.  Make it part of your weekly task list.  Navjeet writes 2-4 reviews each week from different locations (many are business clients of his accounting firm) and the Yelp app does look at locations he is posting from. Net, post from different locations, not just your accounting office.

c.)     Pay It Forward – Writing genuine reviews for your clients is a nice way to signal that you appreciate their patronage.  It also indicates that you might be open to reciprocal treatment.  While blatant review requesting is frowned upon by Yelp, subtle hints and making the public aware that you accept reviews is fine.

d.)    BYF’s reputation management tool makes it easier for your clients to post reviews onto multiple review websites from one landing page.

e.)    Navjeet has applied this process to many types of clients.  Professional Services to restaurants and retail.  He plans to continue this each week from now until tax season. By tax season, he expects to receive about 5-8 reviews in Yelp each month.

f.)     Clients that are not active Yelpers will most likely be filtered out.  However, if they ultimately post reviews gradually over time, some of their reviews will move out of the filter and go live.

g.)    Yelp reviews are longer and more in-depth than Google reviews.   Google focuses on the number of stars while Yelp wants more passion and depth.

At the end of the day, Yelp appears to be making their best effort identifying passionate reviewers who understand the “community” of Yelp and want to share information to avoid bad experiences.  Yelp does make an active effort to reward and recognize active Yelpers with their badge program.

Overall, Navjeet realizes that reputation management is a numbers game and is willing to put in steady efforts to receive the love back in the future.  You’ve got nothing to lose by paying it forward with some well written online reviews.  Download the Yelp app and integrate this into your weekly to do list.

The Ice Bucket Challenge – Raises Millions for ALS

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral and is a brilliant form of social marketing for a good cause.  Simply said, it is raising awareness for ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and raising millions of dollars for the ALS Association. 

Why Brilliant?

  1. Raising awareness and funding for research of ALS
  2. It’s simple and fun
  3. It has a viral twist helping it to expand rapidly

The Ice Bucket Challenge became popular in the United States when golfer Chris Kennedy did the challenge for a friend who’s had ALS for eleven years.  About the same time, former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates, who also has ALS and is 29 years old, began supporting the challenge as well.  Pete Frates learned about the challenge from Pat Quinn, a fellow in NY with ALS, and nominated himself for the challenge at Boston’s Fenway Park.  As background, Pete Frates was married eight months before learning he had ALS and his wife is expecting a baby in September 2014. 

The Challenge

Within 24 hours of being challenged, participants must record themselves to accept the challenge followed by pouring ice into a water bucket and dumping it over their head.  Then, the participant can name up to 9 other people and challenge them.  If the person does not complete the task within 24 hours, they donate $100 to charity.  President O’Bama has been challenged many times and opted to make the $100 donation. 

How to Spread

The Ice Bucket Challenge is spreading by posts onto Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media sites.  It’s even been broadcast on major media outlets like NBC from Matt Lauer, who was challenged by Greg Norman.  Matt Lauer challenged Brian Williams, Martha Stewart and Howard Stern.  Here are other notable participants:

Ron White, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Al Yankovic …

Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Ryan Seacrest, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Josh Groban, Lil Wayne….

United States Men’s Basketball Team, Coach K, Lebron, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony…

NFL  – Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, New York Jets, NE Patriots,…

Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos,

Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal,…

In a nutshell, this challenge has gone viral every way possible.  Locally and across nearly every interest level within the US.  And yes, this idea has prior roots and origins.    Below are some of the best celebrity bucket challenges.

 

 

Hottest Sector for Growth – Energy

The energy sector is probably the fastest growing segment within the US and has enormous potential over the next decade.  By energy, I am referring all aspects of the energy sector ranging from oil and gas production, renewable energy, mining, and transportation aspects of energy.  This trend is also confirmed if you look at the fastest growing states and local economies.

To capitalize on this emerging sector and attract new business clients, McKinnon Patten CPA now has a website dedicated to this sector.  McKinnon Patten has been working with the oil and gas industry for fifty years but wants to accelerate their growth and penetrate this sector even deeper.

If your firm is located in an area that is booming because of the energy boom and would like to acquire more energy sector business clients, then step up your game and contact Build Your Firm to learn more.

Niche Marketing - Oil and Gas Accounting