Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2015 Firm of the Future finalists. In this new article, we feature Cathy Iconis of Iconis Group. Be sure to scroll down to see her video.
Elizabeth Joyce: Hi Cathy. Let’s start with the 411 on you and your firm.
Cathy Iconis: I am the CEO and founder of Iconis Group, an outsourced accounting firm that provides bookkeeping and management reporting services for small businesses nationwide. The three pillars of my firm are connecting, collaborating and building a community. We’re 100 percent virtual, and we only support clients on QuickBooks® Online.
CI: This stems from my firm’s motto to help small businesses connect to their numbers and connect to their vision. All of my clients are amazingly creative. They’ve managed to build these inspiring companies, but running a small business is one of the loneliest jobs you can have. When they’re overwhelmed by the organization and nuances involved with bookkeeping, they can come to us. By helping our clients better understand the numbers in their business, we are better able to help them succeed in their endeavors.
EJ: What about the second “CO,” collaborating?
CI: Collaborating refers to our relationships with our clients. Our ideal client wants more than just to have their numbers taken care of; they want to partner with us. They want to work together to build a better future for their business, so my modus operandi with Iconis Group is to make our customers a bona fide part of our team.
EJ: What is your most unforgettable experience when working with a client?
CI: I met one of my first clients on Twitter back when I had just started my business. I wanted him to write for a blog I was running at the time, so we scheduled a call to chat. However, I completely forgot about our appointment and ended up calling him a few days later. I apologized, of course, but then he started asking me about what I do. Turns out, he wanted to hire me! This taught me that client relations also involves having the right personality and a great attitude. As fate would have it, he introduced me to QuickBooks Online.
EJ: And the rest is history?
CI: And the rest is history! I fell in love with QuickBooks Online. Now, I’m a QuickBooks Online expert and my firm specializes in just that. It’s our differentiator. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
EJ: What other apps do you use in your practice?
CI: I also love Bill.com, and recommend it to my clients more than any other add-on app. It allows us to handle all of the accounting work and processing, yet still gives the owner complete control over their cash flow. Technology saves us so much time and opens up our schedules to take on more clients, so I certainly plan to increase our technology spending this year in order to have more apps per client.
EJ: How have you built Iconis Group’s community over the years (your third “CO”)?
CI: Primarily through social media. I had just had my first child when I started Iconis Group seven years ago, and as a full-time stay-at-home mom, I couldn’t market my firm in a traditional sense by attending networking events or meetings. Instead, I took to Twitter and LinkedIn to connect and engage with people.
I secured a majority of my first clients from Twitter, and it’s evolved to the point where we get a lot of our clients from a Google search, due to our activities on social media and the Iconis Group blog. I also founded a weekly TweetChat called #QBOChat for the QuickBooks Online user community.
EJ: How can firms who are new to social media get in on the action?
CI: Start by doing some virtual people watching. See how people interact with others and observe their behavior. Follow individuals who share interesting content, comment on their posts and follow the people they are following. It’s very much a cycle, and that’s exactly how I grew my audience in the community.
EJ: As firms continue to move to the cloud and adopt new technology, what additional advice would you offer aspiring Firms of the Future?
CI: Focus on customer service. It’s a big deal. Firms become more efficient as they move online, but they also run the risk of losing clients because they no longer offer the best service. Make sure your clients are in love with your firm at all times.
In fact, my goal for Iconis Group in 2016 is to build brand ambassadors within our client base. It’s not enough for them to need us – I want them to be passionate about my firm and shout from the rooftops that everyone should have us doing their books!
EJ: How does your firm show customer appreciation?
CI: I handwrite thank you notes and include QuickBooks stickers from Intuit! It sounds simple, but it’s the little things that let your clients know you’re thinking of them. I also tried baking cookies for my clients once … it’s a lot harder to ice cookies than it looks! But, if there’s anything I can do to positively impact my clients – even just to brighten their days – I will do it.
EJ: If you weren’t an accounting professional, what would you like to be?
CI: Either an interior designer or a social media marketing manager. I sometimes wonder how my life may have been different if I were in a different field, but the work I’m doing for clients now and how I’m helping them – you can’t put a price on that.
Editor’s Note: Click on the video below to see Cathy Iconis’ Firm of the Future video.