Welcome to another in a series of profiles about the 2015 Firm of the Future finalists.
Elizabeth Joyce: First, share a little bit about yourself and your firm.
Laura Redmond: I founded Redmond Accounting in 2005 to provide outsourced controller services to privately held companies using cloud-based accounting solutions. The firm is committed to technology supporting collaborative, mobile, working environments. We don’t do taxes, but instead do bookkeeping and controller work for our clients.
LR: Yes, and also a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer Network and QuickBooks Online power users. We are deeply involved in all-things QuickBooks Online. We use QuickBooks Online and its integrated apps daily to provide valuable knowledge and solutions, proven by rigorous testing and years of experience. We also co-author Intuit’s annual QuickBooks Online Training and Certification for accounting professionals. I also co-created AERO Workflow about four years ago, a Web-based app to help accounting firms that have multiple staff in different states. AERO Workflow app is used by accounting firms to manage their service delivery with staff, performing recurring tasks for multiple clients.
EJ: What motivated you to make Redmond Accounting cloud-based? What are the benefits?
LR: At Redmond Accounting, our vision is to create solutions for providing effective, profitable client accounting services and to share our experiences throughout the accounting community. The cloud is the only way we can do this successfully. We are early adopters. We have been 100% paperless since 2007 and also 100% cloud-based. We used QuickBooks Online in 2005 for our first client and our own firm, and by 2011, we had converted all clients to QuickBooks Online.
EJ: How do you work with your clients to build custom solutions?
LR: When acting as our clients’ accounting department, we offer standard services, such as payments and payroll. If the clients want us to perform these services, we let them know what apps we’re using, so they don’t get to choose. However, we also do some consulting, in which case we recommend apps and clients can choose to go with our recommendation or another. That said, standard accounting and bookkeeping services are the biggest chunk of business for us. If clients want to do their own accounting with our help, we can do it, but this represents a smaller portion of our client base.
EJ: Why did you choose value pricing and why does it work for your business?
LR: We implemented value pricing in 2011 for those clients for whom we act as an accounting department. We select the services for them, and this is a pretty important piece of our business. Accountants have got to use this model, or else they’ll lose their shirt. For our firm specifically, we built a customer portal to automate much of the sales and service delivery functions, and we built a Web-based value billing tool that creates proposals with three pricing options that highlight and frame the value we provide.
EJ: What are the benefits of using apps?
LR: Integrated apps supercharge and personalize our clients’ businesses, allowing them to be mobile while also improving collaboration and access to data.
We use apps including Bill.com, Expensify, HubDoc, but if we can’t find an app for a solution we need, we build it. In fact, we built AERO Workflow Manager in 2010 to provide a core practice management solution for cloud-based client accounting services with a distributed workforce. AERO was built to harness the firm’s knowledge capital, provide staff with direction and resources, and give firms that bird’s eye view of their service delivery. Today, AERO is powering many Firms of the Future.
EJ: What apps do you use for your own business and how did you discover them?
EJ: Which app do you recommend most frequently to clients?
EJ: What are some unusual or unforgettable experiences you had with clients?
LR: Our work transitioning clients to the cloud is rewarding: saving them from fraud scenarios, creating structure out of chaos, correcting some very creative but just wrong accounting processes and helping them build their businesses. Many of our clients remain very close to us over the decade our firm has been in existence, even after some of them have grown and we have transitioned them to in-house accounting. It is the highest compliment each time they refer new work to us, or come back to us with their new businesses. There are also fun client parties and outings – one unforgettable event that comes to mind was watching the America’s Cup from a client’s superyacht in the San Francisco Bay.
EJ: How does your firm benefit from participating in social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and also blogs)?
LR: We are very active on social media and find that it strengthens our relationship with colleagues and vendors in the accounting tech space. Also, it keeps us up-to-date with new offerings. Our industry is a very generous one, quick to share solutions with each other.
EJ: For accounting firms not yet using social media, what would be your advice be for them to take that first step?
LR: Join Twitter and attend #QBOChat each week.
EJ: If you weren’t an accounting professional, what would like to be?
LR: App designer.