04 Dec December ’18
The Rootworks team has grown dramatically in the last couple of years. We are up to about 45 employees who are testing software, coaching firms, creating educational materials, building websites, developing the rootworks.com platform, creating agency-quality marketing collateral for members, and supporting events and our internal operations. And with growth comes accelerated output. What does this mean to you? It means that we are upping our game in developing world-class resources that further support your growth goals.
Our team is committed to launching two major product releases per year: The first in May (post-tax season as you ready yourself for Firm Retreats) and the second in November, adding another exciting element to our annual Inspire Conferences. Our goal is to continually build added value into your membership via newer and better tools and resources to help you run a better firm.
Both of these new releases were covered at this year’s Inspire Conference, but for those who were unable to attend, here is a high-level abstract of each:
- Business Advisory Resources—Our team has been working hard to deliver our all-new collection of resources for business advisory services. On rootworks.com, within the Online Learning section, you will find a new course designed to walk you through what we’ve termed Business Foundation Services. Our structured framework will guide you in a step-by-step manner in launching this new and lucrative revenue stream. Additionally, the lesson comes complete with a slew of modern, fresh and beautifully designed client-facing marketing awareness, sales and training materials that offer you everything you need to communicate and deliver Business Foundation Services. Resources include the following:
- PowerPoint presentations on entity type selection, retirement plan selection, and accounting software setup and training.
- Comparison sheets to support entity type and retirement plan selection presentations.
- Fee calculator, built using value billing model.
- Comprehensive bundle of agency-quality, awareness-driven marketing communication materials.
Best of all, these new tools and resources are included in your membership.
- Client View—For the past 10 years, in RootAdvisors, we have faithfully used the Client Transition Spreadsheet. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a tool (available in Online Learning on rootworks.com) that enables you to aggregate data on client software usage in a holistic way. It’s also designed to help you systematically move clients to the software you believe they should be using.
Because Client View is designed to track and instantly report on all software used by your clients, it offers a more complete view into your client base. You can also track client retirement plan types as well as track and report on how much monthly and annual recurring revenue your firm is generating by service type, including bookkeeping, payroll, write-up and more.
Lastly, as a part of Client View, we are releasing a feature we’ve dubbed Opportunities. This feature allows you to identify opportunities (by client). For example, opportunities to move a client to new software, add additional services, and track clients who would benefit from higher-value business advisory services.
The new Client View feature is also included in your membership.
I am truly excited about the new products we are releasing. Both can significantly impact firm growth if used consistently. If you made it to the Inspire Conference, you are well aware of these new enhancements. If you were not able to join us, please stay connected, as we will be offering webinars on how to use these new tools.
All my best,
Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2018!? Year-end is always a fun time of the year. We have all the holidays, family and friends, client issues, wrapping up monthly work, getting organized for tax season and then, there is payroll. That wonderful thing that means so much to so many. There are so many things to do to stay organized and make sure your year-end payroll goes smoothly. Use the following tips to ensure a smooth year-end process:
- Be proactive with clients! Communicate a deadline for bonus, auto and other fringe benefit information. Keep in mind that depending on the solution your firm is using this information might have to be in before the last payroll run of the year!
- Begin the year-end process as soon as the last payroll is run. The sooner the process can begin, the smoother it will be.
- Give the clients suggestions on apps to make it easier for them, like the MileIQ app.
- Pay close attention to payrolls with complexities.
- If you are a Rootworks member, make sure to utilize the following resources:
- Auto Personal Use Calculation 2018 Spreadsheet
- Client Communication Samples
- Payroll Reconciliation Worksheet
- Accounting CS Quarterly and Year-end Processing Guide
- 2018 Payroll Year-End Best Practices Staff Training
Think through what you’ve done in the past, what’s worked well and what needs to change. Keep the tips above in mind, and document your process. This will ensure a smooth, consistent process and help you keep your sanity!
I get asked frequently how to secure your communications from your laptop computer from public networks, like coffee shop WiFi Networks, or hotel networks. Here are a couple of ways you can stay secure at a public location.
Option 1: Personal Hotspot
Personal Hotspot. Most smartphones and carrier networks have an option for personal hotspot. With a personal hotspot, you control the network, keeping your data off the public network completely. Make sure your hotspot is setup with a password, so other patrons do not hop on it as well!
Option 2: Use a VPN.
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. It creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote connection.
Corporate VPN. If your company has a VPN, use it. Check with your IT provider to clarify if the VPN is setup as a “split tunnel” or if it routes all traffic through the VPN. You want to make sure it’s setup to route all traffic through the VPN. This tunnels all traffic from your computer encrypted to your corporate network, and your internet traffic then routes out from the office’s internet connection. Why not “split tunnel?” If the VPN is setup “split tunnel,” then your general internet traffic—traffic not destined for your corporate network—is still going out the public WiFi network unencrypted.
Free VPN services. If your office does not have a VPN, you can use a free one. Even though Rootworks has a corporate VPN, I also have VPNBook’s free service setup on my laptop as a secondary option. It’s relatively easy to setup here. Use the Free OpenVPN recommended option on the site.
Once the client is installed, use one of the two US OpenVPN Certificate Bundles. Again, there are setup instructions on the site.
There are two negatives with a free service. First, it can be slow at times. You get what you pay for. Second, the username and password changes routinely, so you have to check back often to get the latest password.
The year-end season is a time for touchpoints
Marketing isn’t just about communicating with prospective or potential clients; it’s also about cultivating your existing clients. The year-end holiday season is a natural time to nurture your relationships by showing appreciation to your clients. Have you given thought to what this touchpoint will look like for your firm? If you haven’t assembled a plan yet, it’s time to make some magic happen like Santa’s workshop!
For your highest-value clients, consider a personalized gift—something that reflects your knowledge of the clients affinities. Consider these ways to express your gratitude:
- Gourmet foods or wine—If you know your client’s favorites (and you should), have your office manager assemble tailored holiday gift baskets for your A-list clients.
- Gift certificates to favorite restaurants—A meal for your client and spouse or guest is a meaningful and memorable gesture of appreciation. Want to take it a step further? Work with the restaurant staff to place your hand-written card and fresh flowers waiting at your clients’ tables when they make reservations.
- Tickets to sporting or entertainment events—Here’s another chance to show your thoughtfulness by remembering your client’s favorite team or performing arts venue. Include valet parking if you want to go the extra mile.
- Gifts to favorite charities—Knowing the causes your clients are passionate about is a way to make a lasting and meaningful impression. Financially successful clients may appreciate a charitable contribution far more than a gift for their own indulgence.
Consider a broader charitable giving initiative for your collective mid-level clientele, as well. In my advertising agency days, our boss participated in an annual holiday poinsettia sale to benefit the local symphony orchestra. Each client received a delivered poinsettia with a letter acknowledging the gift to the orchestra made in their name by the agency. Find out if similar giving opportunities are available in your community.
And, finally, for your lower-level clients—your basic 1040s, for example—a simple card is appropriate. Pass them around and have your entire staff hand sign them to add a special touch, if the quantity makes it feasible.
Whatever you do, don’t let the year-end celebrations pass without taking the time to show your appreciation to existing clients and contribute to their overall experience and relationship with your firm.
Whatever tradition in which you celebrate, I sincerely hope your season is filled with joy!
- Watch out for an email for the first Rootworks Annual Member Survey
- Watch the Modern Firm Webinar
- If you’re new to Rootworks, have new staff, or are maybe looking for a good session to watch as a group. Darren and John hit the big principles in a nice organized way.
The video is about 1 hour and 40 minutes long. Find it in Online Learning under Webinars or just search for ‘Modern’ and you’ll see it.
December 11th – Review of the Business Foundation Services Lesson
December 14th – Fall Resource Update Webinar
December 18th – Staff Training: Culture
December 19th – Staff Training: Getting Ready for Busy Season Part 1 of 2
December 27th – Staff Training: Using Liscio during Tax Season