Working together, accountants and small manufacturing/wholesale distribution companies have a lot to offer each other, attendees learned at a recent webinar we held with Accounting Today. Participants included research analyst David Adler and our very own Steve Leavitt, general manager of Exact, US Cloud Solutions. The webinar was hosted by Accounting Today editor-in-chief Dan Hood. The big takeaway from the webinar (which can be accessed here) was this: there is a huge opportunity for accountants to work with small business manufacturers and wholesale distributors and help them make strategic decisions about their business. And, this type of partnership will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial. Let’s look at some of the numbers to back this up.
Small manufacturing/wholesale distribution companies – those with 50 or fewer employees – are second only to professionals such as doctors and lawyers as an industry sector with which accountants work, said Adler. However, in terms of services, most accountants typically provide only, well, accounting services such as tax preparation and other financial services, with only about a third offering other services such as technology consulting, business process consulting, and business plans, he said. Moreover, accountants spent only about a quarter of their time with clients on services other than accounting and tax planning.
At the same time, those small manufacturing/wholesale distribution clients have problems of their own, such as a lack of integration in technology systems, manual processes, and outdated technology, Adler said. And this is something accountants can help with, he said, noting that more than half of the accountants surveyed advise clients on software selection, including recommending specific brands, and consulting on implementation of new software. However, less than a quarter of them actually manage the implementation of the new software.
Only about 61% of accountants offer technology-based services, with the others not offering them typically due to a lack of knowledge or time, Adler says. This is particularly true of the cloud, with only a little more than half saying they had some knowledge and 15% saying they were very knowledgeable. The good news is that they know more about the cloud than their clients, where more than half said they were “not very knowledgeable,” a third said they were somewhat knowledgeable, and only 2% said they were very knowledgeable.
Hey! Business opportunity! Especially since more than half of the surveyed accountants agreed that their clients valued receiving business advice from them.
The result of using cloud-based technology, Leavitt said, is that accountants could help their clients save one of the most precious resources of all, time. “What if you could get time back into your life?” he asked rhetorically. If using technology saved an hour a day, then in a week, people would save almost an entire workday, he said.
The bottom line is that there is a tremendous opportunity for accountants and small business manufacturers/wholesale distributors to become two peas in a pod and work together in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Kae Kronthaler-Williams, VP of Marketing, Cloud Solutions US