13 Mar Airo AV Announces A new vision for bookkeeping
Now, while this felt like aggressive marketing, it has turned out to be true in most parts.
We are often left thinking what our next move should be if the technology is going to do the heavy lifting for us.
It was this reason which led me to start a conversation with BGL’s founder, Ron Lesh, about his 30 years in business, and we got thinking. Ron has seen a lot; tech companies don’t survive 30 years without picking up on the trade winds. His insight was powerful and thought-provoking.
I sat back and reflected on how I used to do things in the early days of my bookkeeping business, I can see that we have evolved to become completely reliant on the technology to do our work today.
The days where we waited for our clients to drop off paperwork and bank statements before we could start any work was like Christmas Day. Spending hours traveling to and from client sites, processing work without taking a break under the watchful eye of the client are days that I’m delighted are behind me.
Technological supremacy isn’t something that is coming. It’s here.
The machines, to an extent, have won.
We could take this as a threat to our professional existence, but I can’t help and feel that the traditional mindset of bookkeepers has been to look inwards to their peers for validation rather than outwards for inspiration and opportunity.
I spent many years in that old traditional mindset, and it wasn’t until a few years ago I started to look outwards to find new ideas to implement in my practice as I have recently done with BGL. Those ideas began by acknowledging that:
- The machines have won
- Global is local
- Failing is learning
- Growth is not necessarily better
- Being real is the best trademark ever
We took a no-nonsense approach and decided to only service remote clients. I spent years perfecting the cloud platforms that enabled us to expand our staffing overseas using The Outsourced Accountant.
These deliberate strategic changes allowed us to reduce our staff count by three and increase our gross margin by 30 percent. We service fewer clients today because we know that top-line growth is not our key driver.
Believe me when I say I’m not that special. I’ve made many mistakes, and my crystal ball tells me I will continue to make many more.
The tools and tricks I’ve adapted are available to everyone. The training to do it is free. All I had to do was make time, listen, implement, and measure.
When my firm, All That Counts, was the Australian Finalist for Intuit Firm of The Future in 2017, I spoke about the power of 3 in QuickBooks Online, Receipt Bank, and my Team.
The human element was always going to be present to make decisions, to judge, analyse, advise, and, most importantly, service.
Service is everything. Service means getting things technically right and on time. It means knowing your client and how they like to communicate with you, and it means knowing that clients don’t care how you do your job, they care that you care about them.
We have been under pressure to incorporate buzzwords into our business and do things that challenge us in the right way and sometimes a detrimental way. There are only so many stripes a leopard can change.
The pressure of margin squeeze still faces many of us. There also seems to be a push to continue to deliver high-value services to clients like tech advisory, cash flow advisory, business advisory, mental health support, business coaching, and for some mortgage broking.
Some of these services sit outside the skills that some bookkeepers possess. The good news is that many are now re-training to future-proof their business.
Bookkeepers, by nature, do have the sharpest attention to detail. We intimately know the day to day ovements of our clients and any special milestones in their life.
The bookkeepers who are registered BAS Agents have a code of conduct that is heavily imposed by the Tax Practitioners Board. We respect regulation and the rule of law, and the best of us know our role in the client’s suite of advisors.
So, when I think about the future, noting that the machines have already won the doing part of our work, I think about what we could be. Yes, I dream a little!
Ron Lesh and I realised there were existing services bookkeepers could do to bring more revenue into their businesses without having to take on the risk of new service lines that are hard to sell. We identified ASIC compliance and SMSF bookkeeping to trial balance as two services bookkeepers could provide, with the right amount of training and guidance, of course.
Corporate Compliance and SMSF bookkeeping may not be as exciting as some of the business advisory services out there. Some of our clients are already paying someone else to do it, so why not include this in your suite of services and work with accountants to help them have SMSF accounts ready for tax and audit.
I’m excited to develop this idea further with the bookkeeping community and the BGL team and hope you join me on this journey.
Lielette Calleja, director, All That Counts