Meet the other finalists:
- All That Counts (AU)
- Business Works (UK)
- AIS Solutions (CAN)
- Finalists compared: app stacks + business models
Consider yourself a FaceBook guru? Steffanie Anderson doesn’t have just one FaceBook Group, she has 10. The owner of Business Cents in Spokane, Washington, Steffanie has capitalised on the power of FaceBook to look after clients in several industry niches.
Steffanie has plenty of experience in these industries. She has owned a manufacturing business, a construction company, an imports operation and another family-run business.
She started Business Cents in 2008 and has experimented with FaceBook groups as a way to deliver support specific to an industry or topic (eg. payroll). This is also how Steffanie has built a profitable model for servicing low-paying QBSE clients.
D1: Why are you a finalist?
Anderson: I think we had a great submission and we exhibited some of the traits of a Firm of the Future – moving onto the cloud and helping other businesses do the same. I think everyone else is doing the same thing – using apps to streamline the processes, creating workflows that integrate with QuickBooks.
We also use FaceBook groups and technology to communicate with our clients and tell them about apps to help them. That’s something that I’ve heard from Intuit is a little bit different.
D1: How do you use FaceBook groups effectively?
Anderson: For QuickBooks Self Employed we have a small biz group to communicate with them. We focused first on Uber and Lyft drivers because they had special needs. We recognised we wouldn’t be able to service them if we met one on one. So we had a couple of meetings to find out what they need and prepared the information for them.
D1: Given that QBSE is so cheap does that impact the amount you can charge?
Anderson: Yes – we offer several levels of services. We started off with one-on-one training for QBSE clients but the price was too high. So now we meet with three at the same time, once or four times a year or we will do all their bookkeeping. In an initial meeting we will lay that out for them.
We’re asking them to purchase the product through us, we give them a quick start guide and then charge quarterly for the product and our service. If they don’t want to do that then we just charge for the software and the quick start guide.
If they are a little higher end we will meet with them twice, do some setup and then meet towards the end of the year.
D1: Is it profitable for you to do that?
Anderson: It takes quite a few Lyft drivers to make up for a construction client but that’s the push in the workforce. With AI and how great QBO with the bank feeds our services may not be needed. The other thing that I think I’m lucky is that I have millennials on my staff and she’s taking it on. So it’s not like it’s a bunch of time by a higher level staff member.
I’ll come in for a Q^a for 15 minutes at the end.
D1: How much time does it take to look after these groups?
Anderson: I have one employee on it a couple of hours a week, answering questions and pushing material to them.
Now we’re focusing on real estate agents and we have a talk coming up for 40 agents. We will do an informational in person, and from there the same thing – build the FaceBook group, and provide the information they need for year end.
We’ve used ManyChat to communicate through FaceBook (ManyChat creates a Facebook Messenger bot for marketing, sales and support). You can put in workflows for responses for potential clients. They come to our FaceBook page and the chatbot says, “Hi, how can we help you?” and answers basic questions.
D1: How effective is the chatbot?
Anderson: It’s been effective for giving information out. Is it an effective sales tool? No but we’re working on it.
D1: Can it really do sales?
Anderson: It gets people in and we’re able to answer the basic questions and keep them interested in our services before we have to spend manpower on it.
We know another business in Australia who has it much more built out and she manages to get them to the purchase of her product. It’s a wonderful feature.
She sells the best colours for you to wear in your clothing. The chatbot sends you (personalised colour recommendations) and you can buy a package of her time if you need more information from her. It’s like what we’re doing. We’re providing services to them if they need specialised help.
D1: How many FaceBook groups do you operate?
Anderson: I think we have 10. QBSE, bookkeeping clients, how to fix things in QB. We have one for payroll, things like that. We’re able to support a community of potential clients that way.
D1: Why not have one big group?
Anderson: Not every client has the same needs. If they have QuickBooks desktop but we’re doing payroll the questions will be different. You don’t want to make it more general because they need more specific information.
D1: What are the workflows you use in your bookkeeping process?
Anderson: We’re fairly strict on our workflows. We go through the process of meeting with them and review their QuickBooks file to see what’s going on before we bring them on. Then the clean up has to happen first and then ongoing bookkeeping. We really want to know what we’re stepping into.
If they’re a real estate agent we already know a bit about their business and we know what they need and how often they need service. They come to us looking for help and don’t know what they need or want.
D1: How many verticals do you focus on?
Anderson: We probably have 10-12 verticals.. More than we should. We like construction clients because they’re more complicated. Then there are professional services and non-profits.
D1: How do you select a vertical?
Anderson: We have to have a person on our staff who is interested in doing research and figuring out that type of business. And then we’re looking at the apps and weighing up which would be most effective. We learn that inside and out.
And then we go out and start to market. Right now we’re looking at SOS Inventory, which is something that’s not used in the industry because most companies are using desktop software. This app is how we’re able to service manufacturing clients and support them with QuickBooks Online.