3 Year Journey of Accounting Firm: Rejection to Recommendation
About Black Bull Accounting:
Our clientele includes several CPA firms from California. Black Bull Accounting is a family-owned and operated firm based in Carlsbad, CA, run by Mark and Tiffany. They own an accounting firm in which the growth came naturally through friends and family as clients. They also knew many of the surrounding businesses in the area who required tax assistance which resulted in referrals. As the positive reviews kept coming in on Yelp, organic growth rapidly increased for the first five to six years.
Increasing TAT and Local Hiring Challenge: Local Hire - Asking 60K plus Commission on Tax Returns:
There was too much work, and turnaround times increased from two weeks to four to eight weeks, impacting health and work-life balance. They decided to hire locally and Tiffany states,
I interviewed a guy here fresh out of college with no tax preparation experience that wanted a base salary of $60,000 a year, plus commissions on tax preparation prepared and small firms cannot afford it.
Reluctance on Building an Offshore Team: Tiffany was not ready but reluctantly said yes to Mark
When we first got in touch with Black Bull Accounting, it took us several meetings and calls to help them understand the processes, benefits, and dozens of other questions. Honestly, it was nothing to get us unnerved. In fact, it’s just as common for us to send emails every day.
So, Mark first spoke with Chris about offshore staffing and asked her (Tiffany) to have a look at this. Being concerned about security, Tiffany was absolutely against it and said "no way no way no way we are not sending our data to offshore staffing firms, we're not sending our clients offshore, we are not doing this. It's so unsafe there's no way no way no way", but Mark just kept pushing and insisting so "Tiffany said okay go ahead and hire a bookkeeper."
Data Security & Virtual Tour - Tiffany speaks about our Entigrity offices being more secure than hers:
So Mark did the interviews, met the whole team, made contact with a few different people. They did a virtual tour of the facility and that was the first time Tiffany interacted with everyone during the virtual tour of the facility. She says, "We saw all the different pods, workstations, staff lockers, and learned about all the festivals that they host." Tiffany describes security as "no notepads, no pencils, there are protocols involved to store passwords and safeguard the data, CCTV surveillance in the rooms, and there's oversight within the staff that's there, and all of those things were actually extremely compelling for me as a business owner."
Mark went ahead and hired a bookkeeper and it was simply a brilliant move. It was so good that they ultimately agreed to hire some tax preparers as well. They began interviewing in December 2017, right before tax season, and began work in January 2018.
Integration of the Offshore Team with the Onshore Team:
Tiffany was nervous and sceptical as to how they would integrate these offshore accountants and her onshore team with the time zone differences. They realized they had to document every single process from the beginning starting with the appointment center to scanning documents and then storing the documents in a cloud server.
Black Bull Accounting onboarded three tax preparers for the first year. They engaged with each other on Skype to address any concerns or questions. They wanted the process documented and figured out what worked and what didn't for them.
Initially, they found a solid tax preparer that assisted the other tax preparers who had already been with the firm over the last 3 years. They started with 3 tax associates, then they quickly grew to about 6-7 staff for outsource tax preparation services and added another 3 bookkeepers. Now they have an entire full-time team over here and they are totally satisfied with the services provided.
Tiffany further says, "Outsource accounting to India is very easy. The staff in India is incredibly kind, humble, and very coachable. It's part of our company culture no matter onshore or offshore, we are all one team! Our staff, our crew is always the #1 priority because if we focus on them, they can better serve our clients".
Investment in Training:
She further adds “We have invested tons of our own time training our offshore accounting staff to help them be better at their jobs. We also have systems and protocols for them to follow. All tools are in the cloud. This is one reason we have them all full-time. We do not want to see all of our hard work and training benefit some other company who might hire them away from us”. This year they are planning to add another role to the Entigrity team so that Tiffany can really focus on the tax law issues.
Process Key to Scale and Don't freak out on mistakes:
While talking about challenges and setting up the processes Tiffany mentions that - "every single year we have to update our process because tax law changes, the software changes and so it is an every year thing. Even during the tax year, each tax preparer does something wrong at first and you'll see it repeated. So the reviewer checks for those basic things before the file is sent to me when I do the final review. I am the first contact at the beginning of tax season. I look at every single data point and then address it in the tax preparation and so documenting the process is definitely something that evolves even through tax season. So mistakes happen but we just don't freak out about it as it could happen with anyone".
Review Time Came down from 8 hours to 1.5 hours:
Tiffany had hired a reviewer and he was working to clear all the error codes so she could get time for the high-level review. She was confident about signing off and the best thing that has helped her with the review is using the tax comparison page to see what was happening with the client last year to what's happening this year. Tiffany mentions, "Her review time literally went down from eight hours a day to 1.5 hours a day. And this review time came down almost after 2 years".
Communication Challenges with Offshore Staff:
Tiffany and the team communicate mostly via email but when they don't understand something, they ask the offshore accounting team to repeat themselves. Even during the interview process, she would ask each of the candidates to just write an email telling us about themselves-- Are they married? Are they single? Do they have kids, pets? What part of the country do they live in? Where do they like to go on vacation? That revealed where they were at for communication standards. Offshore staff communicates with clients via e-mail. However, during the first month, Tiffany has them CC her on every single email just so she can check it and correct them if any of them are going incorrectly. That's been a great way to address communication.
Being Approached by Competitors:
Tiffany Says, "We get tons of emails every week, different people make different decisions. Some people like all the options and then they want to pick one. For me, I know what I want and that's the decision-maker that I am. Entigrity is the Partner for Life".
Transformation: From Rejection to Recommendation
“For us, it has completely changed our business model. We keep about 7 full-timers now with both tax and bookkeeping team leaders. The quality of work, responsiveness, attitudes, etc. are all quite impressive. Plus, it brought back so much balance for our office and restructured the workload of our local staff. We still have 8 team members here full-time. We can now work 9-10 hours/day instead of 12-14 hours/day at reduced stress levels.” says Tiffany
They truly admire our services and have even given a 5-star review on Google.
Just like this firm, it’s mostly about setting the wheel to roll once and get offshore staffing integrated into your systems. Every month 30 new accounting firms select Entigrity to hire offshoring for accountants. Staff and build an offshore team of skilled and experienced professionals today!
Entigrity™ is a trusted offshore staffing partner to over 500+ accountants, CPAs, and tax firms across the US and Canada. Our flexible and transparent hiring model gives helps firms of all sizes to hire staff for accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation or any other task for 75% less cost. As a firm 'run by accountants, for the accountants', Entigrity captures the hiring needs of accounting firms most precisely, providing staff that works directly under your control and management, still, you are left with least to worry about compliance, payroll taxes, overheads or any other benefits.