Meet the other finalists:
- Business Cents (USA)
- Business Works (UK)
- AIS Solutions (CAN)
- Finalists compared: app stacks + business models
All That Counts is the Australian contender for Intuit’s global Firm of the Future campaign and a passionate advocate for cloud accounting.
Director Lielette Calleja opened the doors 13 years ago in the Northwest Business Park in Baulkham Hills and spends a lot of time investigating new technologies on behalf of her clients.
What makes the firm stand out?
Calleja: The fact that we aren’t a fly-by-night bookkeeping business – we didn’t set up two years ago. And I have a very strong foundation not just in the bookkeeping and accounting industry; I also understand the psychology of business. You have to know how to read business owners.
D1: How did you learn to do that?
Calleja: My passion for small business was seeing my father, he was a carpenter and a small business owner, and how tough he did it.
I went into the corporate world and managed large accounting teams. I worked in the music industry and entertainment industry as a business analyst and I’ve managed warehouses. So I have an operations background, not just a financial background.
If a warehouse is not operating at its maximum efficiency then that’s going to tail into the numbers. My training was to look at those KPIs. If margins are dropping I investigate. I’d love to do more of it. Clients also ask me for a lot of advice.
D1: How many of your clients buy management reports?
Calleja: About 60 percent. I’ve got a guy who just focuses on that. Alex is also a CPA but he hated tax. He’ll run the reports and go through them, identify hotspots and take it to the client.
Our NGO clients have to have the reports by certain dates for their board meetings. That’s an area where we feel we do quite well. I also have medium sized organisations where I do some of those management reports for board meetings too.
D1: A lot of accountants have trouble selling. how do you do it?
Calleja: It starts very casually. You have to build the relationship. I don’t sell it, it just evolves. They say, ‘Can we do this more often?’ and that becomes part of our fee structure.
It’s part of the reports that we produce. It’s either in an email and I’ll highlight the key things they need to address. I’ll also highlight the wins and the losses that month.
But every client we bring on as a bookkeeping client gets a management set of books.
D1: What’s included?
Calleja: Depends on the business but standard would be a P&L, balance sheet, cashflow. P&L is accrual, cashflow is the movement. Some of my clients need consolidation reports. They may have several entities, job costing, actuals to budget, actuals to last year, KPIs. Each client is different.
D1: What do you mean by that?
Calleja: In our industry bookkeepers don’t sell advisory very well. We do it but we don’t sell it. It’s not a separate item. I have clients on $30,000 retainers a year. Then you’ll get a full set of reports. If you’re a client on $6,000 a year then you will get basic reports.
Sometimes clients don’t want the insights. They just want to know how much money they make.
I have been talking to a lot of people about trying to understand why small business don’t want this stuff. There’s a lot of noise about advisory but do small businesses really want it? do they see the value in it?
I don’t see people knocking on my door wanting advisory. And I’ll tell you why – it’s because a bookkeeper is offering it. That’s one of the changes I’m making in the business. If I go out there as a CFO on call then of course they will see the value.
D1: What percentage of your clients use cloud accounting software?
Calleja: We have moved our business 100 percent to the cloud. But we know that not every client is for us. There is a bookkeeper somewhere else that suits those who just want to use desktop software. We are in a position where we can say no to those businesses.
In the long run it’s better for them and for us. We can’t work effectively if we aren’t using cloud services. We believe the client has just as much to gain as we do. But a lot of the time it’s the mindset. It can take a couple of months.
D1: What changes in that time?
Calleja: They will call us back and say, ‘I can’t find anyone who wants to come out on site or wants to work with desktop software.’ They come to that conclusion on their own, we can’t force people. With our own clients we already have their trust.
D1: Do you outsource work?
Calleja: Not right now. We realised we had to offshore or hire trainees. I took the latter approach – I personally manage people better face to face. That’s not to say I wouldn’t look at offshoring but for now I felt the more experienced people needed someone to offload work to. The next wave (of hires) will be remote.
The Firm of the Future competition closes soon. Cast your vote now