Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2015 Firm of the Future finalists. In this new article, we feature Debra Kilsheimer of Behind the Scenes Financial Services LLC. Be sure to scroll down to see her video.
Elizabeth Joyce: Congratulations on being named a Firm of the Future finalist! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your firm?
Debra Kilsheimer: Behind the Scenes Financial Services is a tax and accounting firm. We have been in business for about 30 years. My husband started the firm, and now he handles all of the tax, while I handle all of the small business accounting, utilizing QuickBooks® Online.
DK: We feel that accounting changes lives. People start a business because they have a dream, and we hope that we’re helping them achieve their dreams by having good books! We like to say, “Accounting today can make a difference tomorrow.” We always ask new customers why they started their business and ask them what dreams they wish to achieve, and step-by-step, we work with them to change their future tomorrow. I’m out to change the whole focus of the profession!
EJ: How do you empower your staff?
DK: To me, it is less important how long it takes my staff to do something, as long as it is done correctly. I’m not a stickler for clocking in and clocking out, and that’s the beauty of working with QuickBooks Online – you can use it anytime, anywhere. I look for people that I can teach and have integrity. We make sure to appreciate our staff and thank them, and ensure they know they’re making a difference.
EJ: What apps do you use for your own business, and how did you discover them? Which app do you recommend most frequently to clients, and why?
DK: When I attend events such QuickBooks Connect, or visit Facebook groups such as The Sleeter Group or Woodard Group, I’ll take a look at what people are saying and recommending. I notice people talking the most about TSheets, Expensify, Bill.com and FreshBooks for invoicing. To me, QuickBooks Online is the hub, and it’s a matter of finding an app that works best for you and linking it into QuickBooks Online. There’s always “an app for that!” Also, most of my friends are accountants so I look at the problems they’re looking to solve and determine what apps there are that could fix those problems. QuickBooks Online will always be the base; it’s all about adding to that base to get a system that works best for you.
EJ: What is your firm’s number one goal for 2016, and how do you plan to achieve it?
DK: There are so many things I want to accomplish. One of my bigger goals is to get a website that describes my philosophy and approach – I want to put my message out there. I want to share more information that accounting is more than just entering data and doing tax returns; I want to change the mindset of the profession. I’m a huge fan of value pricing. Value pricing is all about the customer. It’s not about what they spend, but rather, what I think it is worth. The goal is always to get the customer to where they want to be – we always start there.
EJ: How do you find new clients, or how do they find you?
DK: They find me! I get a lot of calls from the Find-a-ProAdvisor® website, and I also get a lot of referrals from other clients.
EJ: What’s the most unusual or unforgettable experience you had with one of your clients?
DK: A client came to me a few years ago that was out of cash. Not too much longer and they would be out of business. I started with a few simple questions, including asking what their mission was, why they started their business, and why they decided to pick up the phone and call me. It turns out they didn’t have an accountant, so I went in and did an assessment of their business and came up with a proposal to utilize more technology tools to manage their business. We always had a goal in mind to get them where they wanted to be. And, you know what? They became so successful that they ended up selling their business for more than million dollars.
EJ: If you were stranded on a desert island with access to only ONE kind of technology, what would it be and why?
DK: I really do like watching television! My first thought is to say Netflix, but I love technology and utilize a lot of different things, from Netflix for movies and television, to Amazon for books and Spotify, to Pandora for music. And, I can’t forget about my violin – I am an avid violinist and would stay busy on the island playing it.
EJ: Think of your favorite client. Which of their traits would you like all your clients to have?
DK: The one trait that I’d want them to have is to realize that I’m here to help them. I’m not going to scold them if they don’t have their receipts! The clients that are my favorite are the ones that appreciate what accountants do. I only have a certain amount of hours in a week, so I make my time and my clients’ time count.
EJ: If you weren’t an accounting professional, what would you like to be?
DK: Oh, I’d either be an actor or a violinist – something on stage! I want to be famous. When I want into a room, I want people to say, “There’s Debbie Kilsheimer!”
EJ: What do you think the accounting industry will look like 10 years from now?
DK: I think it will split into two factions … the old school that won’t change, and then the people like me – the other Firm of the Future finalists. I sincerely hope that people will embrace technology and be more achievement motivated, instead of fear motivated. Accountants need to stop scaring clients that they need us and start empowering them so that they want to work with us!