16 Oct October ’18
Powerful New Tools and Resources Coming Your Way.
Our team has been hard at work over the past several months developing new, powerful and much-need tools for our members. By the end of October, we will be releasing our Firm IQ and sales bundle, and I’m confident both will have a big, positive impact on your firm.
Firm IQ: Track, report and act on critical client intelligence
Aggregating detailed information on clients continues to be an area in need of improvement for most of us. In RootAdvisors, we’ve attempted to collect client intelligence using the Business Client Inventory Spreadsheet. Our goal has been to collect information such as software used and retirement plans in place in order to help clients identify and apply business model improvements.
For example, do you currently know how many QuickBooks desktop clients you have who still send backup data files? Do you know how many have a 401K or any other type of retirement plan in place? If you’re like me, the answers to these questions are probably “no,” because you don’t have the data readily available.
This is where Firm IQ comes in! Firm IQ is a new feature within rootworks.com that allows you to easily track and report on software applications and various other categories of client information. The ability to easily aggregate this data provides you with deeper insight into your customer base. In addition to reporting, you will also be able to tag client opportunities. They will appear as “Opportunities” in the system that you can assign as a project and track progress. For example, you may identify a client who would benefit greatly from audit protection services. You would tag this as an Opportunity in Firm IQ and then work to upsell that client on your audit protection offering.
Sales Materials: A bundle of helpful, brand-beautiful tools to aid firms’ sales efforts
It’s been a long-time goal of ours to build out a proper sales materials library to support you in your sales initiatives. I’m happy to announce that we are finally there! We’ll soon be pushing out a bundle of PowerPoint, Word and Excel-based sales tools focused on helping you sell added business service packages, such as entity and benefit selection.
Even better, both new tools are included in your membership. They will make your firm look like a million bucks and help increase sales in the process.
Our current plan is to release both major enhancements near the end of October. And in December, at our Advantage and Academy Inspire Conferences, we will offer a deep dive into both and how they can positively impact your firm. Another reason not to miss this event.
Rootworks team members are working hard to create tools that make your lives and practices better. But we don’t plan to stop with these releases. We’re on a roll and will continue to improve and add value for every one of our members.
I look forward to seeing you all in Sarasota this year. It’s primed to be our best conference ever.
All my best,
P.S. Now that fall is here, my thoughts are turning toward sunny Florida and our year-end Inspire Conference. Are you registered yet? I really hope I see you there.
It’s Fourth Quarter—Finish Strong
Now that we have made it to the extension tax deadline, fourth quarter is a time to pull out those notes you had from earlier in the year with projects and goals you have for 2018 and get as much accomplished as you can before tax season comes back around. Below are some popular projects we are hearing from members and some tips to expedite and make them successful:
Project 1: Implement Liscio—We hear this one a lot as firms are preparing to get ready to use Liscio for this upcoming tax season. To ensure this is successful, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure all staff are familiar with the system. Setup everyone with a personal account so they can see the client side as well as the firm side.
- Ensure you have a proper communication strategy to roll-out Liscio to your clients. See the member provided set in the Online Learning section for some ideas, examples, etc.
- Make sure prior to tax season that you have all your workflow items put together. The Education Team will be posting the recommended workflow items within the next couple of weeks to the Online Learning and Resources sections on rootworks.com.
- If your goal is to reduce or remove emailing with clients: Put a cutoff date and stick to it. Remember if you tell someone to do something and then you don’t follow through, it is bound to fail.
Project 2: ADP RUN Conversion—We have many firms looking to move to the ADP RUN payroll platform to process client payrolls. Keep these items in mind when doing this transition:
- Setup a proper communication channel to let clients and employees know there are changes coming. This is especially important if you have not currently impounded funds as this will happen once you put the clients on RUN.
- If you have ADP do the setup, check it extensively. Setup is the key to everything being done correctly, and members have found errors every time they have had ADP do the setup.
- Setup the GL to post to QuickBooks Online. We will have a quick setup guide for this in the next week or so posted to the Online Learning and Resources sections. If the client is on QB Desktop, Xero or Accounting CS, you can also setup the client to work with them.
Project 3: Preparing your firm for converting to Onvio Document (or transitioning to another Document Management/Storage System) from FileCabinet CS. To make sure you are setup to convert and be successful, consider these items:
- Make sure you archive older data. Archive one year at a time. Make sure that you keep your FileCabinet to just the years of data you want to convert.
- Merge duplicate drawers together. If you firm has traditionally had a payroll client in FileCabinet and then another client for everything else, you will want to merge those documents prior to converting.
- Make sure anything in “Not Yet Filed” is actually filed. The Onvio Document Conversion will not convert items in the Not Yet Filed folder.
These are just three projects. These are ones we are hearing a lot about recently. If your firm is an Advantage or Academy member and you need assistance with these or other projects, feel free to reach out to our Education Team by scheduling a coaching call.
Back when I was managing IT services for more than 100 businesses, a common term used in security best practices was “border” or “perimeter” security. Networks and data were largely contained to a local network, and that network was protected by a firewall. Your “border security” roughly mirrored the walls of your office. Remote access to the network was granted via VPN, open service ports and remote desktop services.
While a good next generation firewall is an essential element of your security strategy, that perimeter is now largely dead as it relates to users and data. More and more data is in the cloud, in multiple platforms and applications. Users are mobile. They are interacting and collaborating with clients in real time with that data.
These shifts create a big problem for security. Gone are the days of managing security within the confines of your brick and mortar office. To keep your data safe, we need to have visibility into the following things:
- What users are doing
- How they are authenticating
- Where they are working
- What devices they are using
In an ideal world, we would have this visibility in real time, with automated risk mitigation when anomalous behavior or patterns are noticed. The challenge for the average accounting firm is that solutions like these have historically been priced in a way that makes them infeasible for the small business. This, however, is also starting to change.
A couple weeks ago, I attended Cybersecurity Chicago and talked with several vendors that approach security in different ways. However, two common things are being recognized in the cybersecurity industry:
- The perimeter is, indeed, dead.
- Small businesses represent major growth opportunities for them.
We will continue vetting solutions that can address these shifting trends and requirements in our industry. For now, however, user education and awareness continues to be the best ROI on your security budget.
When you need clients to make a change, start with a plan.
Sooner or later, every firm will come to that tricky place where you need to get clients to adopt new ways of doing things. This has never been more true than in the age of rapidly evolving collaborative technologies. Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a good thing, but the fact that humans are creatures of habit creates complications. Clients get comfortable doing things the way they’ve grown accustomed, and many will resist change, even if it’s for their own benefit.
When the time comes to change client behaviors to adopt new technologies or tighten data security, bring your marketing communication skills to bear with a multi-layered plan to bring everyone on board, from the early adopters, to the laggards. Here are ways to make your efforts successful:
- Identify goals. This is no different than any other marketing communication effort. Set a reasonable goal and divide it into intermediate milestones to gauge your progress and keep moving forward. Set a timeframe to achieve 50 percent adoption, your early adopters and early majority. Then, focus on the next 30 percent, your late majority. Finally, work on the laggards—the last 20 percent, which will require your greatest hands-on involvement.
- Appoint a champion. Choose a point person to lead the effort and have ownership of the overall progress of your effort. Make sure this person has the skills to shepherd both staff and clients along the way to achieve maximum adoption of new behaviors.
- Be fully transparent with plans and communicate to all staff. Every staff person has a contribution to make. Some behind the scenes, some with direct client contact. Be certain everyone knows his or her part in the overall plan. Make regular progress reports, listen to their observations to reveal stumbling blocks or barriers to success, and use that knowledge to amend and improve your plan as you go.
- Use multiple touchpoints. One friendly email isn’t going to produce full adoption of your changes. Be prepared to meet clients where they are to solicit their compliance. Make sure your reception staff are prepared to identify walk-in clients who haven’t achieved compliance, and make whatever materials are needed available right there at the desk to get it done in the moment. Same for clients who phone the office. Moreover, realize that you’ll have early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Make plans for each of these segments of your clientele to achieve full adoption, keeping in mind that the laggards will likely require 80 percent of your effort.
- Check in with clients. Let’s not forget the most important people in this campaign! Make spot checks among your early adopters to listen for pain points in the process and adjust your operations to fix problems. Be sure to thank all of your clients for their help in making the change and give them positive reinforcement. For high-value clients or those who went to great lengths to accommodate the change, this might even include a special token, such as a gift card or a bouquet.
- Follow through until the job is done. Your champion-shepherd may need to chase down some clients one-on-one to achieve maximum compliance, but in many cases, getting full compliance is where the firm will realize its greatest payoff for instituting change.
Remember, effecting change in the form of new technologies or procedures begins with good communications. Rely on your firm’s marketing team to get the job done.
October 26 | Fall Technology Webinar: We’ll discuss password manager products, including LastPass, Dashlane, Keeper Security as well as how the Liscio program fits into the big picture..
Advantage and Academy Members
October 17 | Staff Training, Staff Reviews and Evaluations: This class will cover the challenging process of staff reviews and evaluations. This includes defining goals, enabling staff to achieve those goals and how to review staff performance. Suggested audience: Firm partners, owners and managers
October 24 | Staff Training, Using Fathom as an Advisory and Reporting Tool: We will cover best practices of using Fathom to enhance the advisory service offering your firm has. This class will cover reporting, using the dashboards, and creating a great client experience by adding this tool to your offerings.
October 31 | Staff Training, Culture—Feeling Connected to Your Job: Rootworks will cover principles to help you ‘best spend your 40 hours per week.’