When my friends at Exact Online asked me to write an article about how accountants can be a “generational bridge” and leverage technology to work with different generations of clients, I thought it would be an easy piece to write… Boy, was I wrong!
I started by taking a look at the clients that I’ve worked with over the last 10 years of running Kildal Services LLC and I don’t know how often we’ve filled that role. We’ve had clients that are younger and leery of technology – they don’t even want us connecting their bank to download into QuickBooks because they don’t “trust it.” We’ve also had older clients that are so tech savvy and connected that they’ve approached us because they liked our Twitter feed.
Most of the time, we have clients that are coming to us because they’re inheriting their parents’ business, and even though there’s been some sort of system in place – they’re leveraging certain aspects of QuickBooks and the technology associated with it – it’s not an efficient system. They need help refining their workflow, establishing processes that are repeatable, trainable and scalable.
In these cases, we need to overcome any reticence about making changes to “how it’s always been done.” We do this in three ways:
- Interviewing the client as well as employees to determine what the existing processes are and showing them solutions that can potentially ease any pain points, such as multiple data entry points versus one.
- Providing measureable advantages about why the solutions should be implemented – such as a shorter training period for new employees or faster delivery of product/service to customers.
- Training them on reading reports, so that they’re able to make better decisions for their business, based on actual data rather than a gut feeling.
Another big factor is making the changes in steps. A recent client came to us to help set up their inventory properly. For over 30 years, they’ve been operating on what I call Eyeball Inventory – actually looking at materials on hand and making an educated guess at what they can manufacture with it. The son and daughter want to grow the business, and realize that it can’t be done this way – how can you train a new employee to make that guess? The dad can do it because he has 50 years in the industry, but it’s not going to work moving forward. Our plan is to start a new QB data file, entering all of the basic components, and then each assembly and sub assembly item as they determine the details. Once we do that, we’ll enter opening balances and start fresh for 2015. The son and daughter are happy they’ll have the proper record keeping, the dad is able to take his time imparting his knowledge, and everyone is happy.
The common denominator is always being able to quantify why the changes need to take place. Determining what works and what doesn’t and communicating with the client a clear plan are the keys to bridging this gap and making things work. Well, and working with any client, really.
PS – Be sure to say hi to Stacy (and us at Exact Online) at Scaling New Heights in San Antonio, June 15 – 18!