Welcome to another in a series of profiles spotlighting the 2015 Firm of the Future finalists. In this new article, we feature Erin Walsh-Dyer of The Bookkeeper’s Friend. Be sure to scroll down to see her video.
Elizabeth Joyce: Hi Erin, thanks for joining us! Tell us a bit about you and your firm.
Erin Walsh-Dyer: Thanks for having me! I am a dedicated QuickBooks® motivational speaker, and my firm, The Bookkeeper’s Friend, is the one-stop-shop for everything QuickBooks. We’re a team of coaches and consultants who personally train accounting professionals and end-users in Intuit® cloud-based software and apps, in order to help them find their place in the cloud, navigate workflows and be comfortable with accounting.
EJ: What’s on the horizon for your firm in 2016?
EWD: This year, we’re focusing on growing our client and bookkeeper training base through curating free, live workshops. We have a road trip planned for this summer that will hit five different states. I love teaching bookkeepers how to grow their business, and my firm will certainly be using this opportunity to share our work anywhere motto. Accounting isn’t just about cubicles and ten keys!
EJ: In that case, what is the most unexpected place you have ever worked?
EWD: Atop a large boulder, beneath a waterfall and out in the jungle, near a tiny village south of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
EJ: Wow, that’s really specific. What were you able to work on?
EWD: I was invoicing, receiving payments, entering transactions, reviewing my schedule and pulling up bank feeds. My smartphone has all of my apps. My office is literally my phone.
EJ: It’s impressive you were able to do that all in such a remote location! What apps were you using?
EWD: I adore Full Slate, which is an online scheduler that lets me input my available hours so that new prospects, as well as existing contacts, can book consultations through my website. Plus, it syncs with QuickBooks Online, which I use for my own practice so that I don’t have to enter contact info twice. I absolutely love it.
I also use Bill.com for my accounts payable. I actually learned about this app from QuickBooks Connect and strongly recommend it to my clients since tracking approvals is so important in audit trails. Other handy apps include Karbon and Aero Workflow. What’s nice about these apps is that when I pass a project to my bookkeepers, they can see all of the interactions I’ve had with the client since the beginning. No need to waste time on the transition.
EJ: So technology is quite an important area of focus for your firm?
EWD: Yes, definitely. We ramped up quite a bit in 2015, upgrading our computers and onboarding new software. We’re always looking for new creative solutions, and there are just so many good apps in development. We’re specifically eyeing AutoKept, which lets you verbally dictate expenses into QuickBooks using your phone.
EJ: What is another service you offer that keeps The Bookkeeper’s Friend competitive?
EWD: We have a program called the Advanced Users Club. Members pay a flat fee and they can contact me at any time. If a client has a question, he’s not stuck, he’s not waiting and he’s certainly not afraid to call me because I won’t start a time card or charge him by the hour. We’re in constant contact with our clients, and this breeds a high level of trust and accountability. We become an integral part of their team, even though we don’t work at their company.
EJ: What advice would you offer other firms aiming to be a Firm of the Future?
EWD: Use social media to extend a virtual handshake to the world. Everyone is online nowadays and your social profile needs to make an impression. Virtual handshakes can turn into inquiries, which can then grow into prospects, and eventually, clients. The Bookkeeper’s Friend uses social media to promote our services, assist users and nurture contacts on the regular. I guarantee it absolutely works.
EJ: For accounting firms not yet using social media, what would your advice be for them to take that first step?
EWD: I would tell them to follow the P’s! First, pick your channel. For accounting firms, LinkedIn is probably best. Next, display a picture. Get it professionally taken and be sure to look happy! Finally, show your personality and what you are passionate about. And, there you have it, your very own virtual handshake.
EJ: How do you find the balance between marketing your firm and run-the-business type of work?
EWD: My business partner, Jonathan Dyer, invented what we call MarMo, or “Marketing Mondays.” We set aside two to four hours every Monday just to direct things. We might write a blog post, thank our contacts for sharing a link, schedule new workshops and, most importantly, give a little love to our current clients.
EJ: If you weren’t an accountant, what profession would have been your true calling?
EWD: Without a doubt, a motivational speaker, although I might already be one. I’ve made the transition from being a bookkeeper that had never spoken to anybody to a coach who inspires people. Now, you can never keep me quiet!
Editor’s Note: Click on the video below to see Erin Walsh-Dyer’s Firm of the Future video.