23 Dec 2020  |  1071

In this podcast, our expert speakers Chris Rivera and Thomas Gay had discussed, how to Grow Your Accounting and Tax Practice following an Easy, Ethical, and Systematic Roadmap. Listen to the podcast to know more.



Hosted by: Chris Rivera, Director Client relations, Entigrity Offshore Staffing

Guest: Thomas Gay, CEO & Founder,


Chris: Hi everybody. Welcome back to episode #25. Today we're trying to get you in front of as many people as we can before the holidays, so thank you for taking some time out and joining us. I have an awesome guest with me today. We're going to be discussing a lot. And right along the lines of growing your accounting practice and our tax practice following an easy ethical systematic roadmap. So I’m very excited to have Thomas Gay with me today. He is the CEO and founder of So Thomas how's everything going? You're on the west coast.


Thomas: Hey fantastic!! Thank you Chris. Yes I am here in San Diego. It's a week before Christmas, and the sun is out and the birds are singing, and it's over 80 degrees today, and what more could a man ask for?


Chris: Exactly! a beautiful day. So Thomas tell us about yourself. Excited to have you on here. You have a long track record of helping businesses and growing them, so talk to us.


Thomas: Well, thank you. Always love it when someone says just tell us about yourself. I am a serial entrepreneur and for me that means I have started seven companies. I have got a few years on my keel or under the keel as they would say, and all of my companies have been focused on helping people grow and do a better job of building their businesses.


And my current business in the tribe. As you've introduced it is aimed at people building better collaborative relationships and getting out of the noise of the marketplace by noise. We all know how much people will listen to your inbound message, how much they block it, how much they prevent it? Well we advocate that you're going to have to go back to the tried and true personal relationship building, so that's the current focus bringing people back into the process as opposed to thinking it just as a digital world and there's no place for people.


However there is a core element underneath all of this and it is at the foundation of my work. In referral training my last company was called and I started and built that to over 5 million worldwide users teaching professionals like you and I, like your audience here. How to get more new prospects and clients based on building relationships? There's a common thread in my life relationships and so prior to that I built two previous companies that did the exact same thing but in the days and ages of those the technology tools and the training tools that we have had then don't exist today. So the platforms change but the message stays the same. And the message is people will do business with those who they know, like and trust. So how do you build those relationships in a consistent recurring manner? So that's what it's all about.


Chris: You're spot on with that. Right, it doesn't matter if you know, every technical aspect of what you're doing. It doesn't matter if you know every single process and way to do it, and then if they don't feel comfortable with you, it's going to be a very bumpy road. So when in relationships, I mean this is about what its people think of relationships. It's you know partner, spouse, wife, significant other and that's it, but no you have to treat every aspect of your work, your career, friends, colleagues, family and of course your significant other. So where do you start right now, so do you as someone trying to figure out you know all right. Let me focus on building a relationship and what do I do?


Thomas: Well, it's really pretty simple if I were to ask the question almost like you asked me who are you? okay and if I start out with who you are and then I evolve the questions. Now I have to stop and listen to the answer. By the way that's an important part in today's world again a lot of people don't have any listening skills but listen to the answer and then it moves to further questions what and why, and how do you do? What do you do? And as I am taking that information in all of a sudden, there's a trust building bridge that's emerging because someone cares enough to ask.

Now there is a process that I teach that you need to do in order to create consistent repeatable systematic habits, and then results. And the process is one that says if I were attempting to build a relationship with you. Then before I get into that activity I need to do some research on who you are, and use technology and use the tools that are available to find out as much as I can. And the more I learn before we start and then bring that into the beginning or the starting. So the better I relate to you the more likely it is that we're going to make this bridge come together on both sides of wherever we begin from.


Chris: Got you, and so when clients are coming to you and asking about what are some of the secrets to getting to the people that you want to introduce you to the people who need you? I love how that started to. Talk to me a little bit about that.


Thomas: Well, let me bring a couple of threads together into this tapestry. First of all the number one problem people face in their professional world is the problem of getting more good quality clients or prospects to become clients. 


And that problem is everywhere and it's always born out of the fact that it's more and more challenging to get through to people. We talked a little bit about that but as we try to find people who want to work with us, what we're encountering are the barricades or the protections people put up to keep the noise out. Just ask yourself how many emails have gone into spam that were in your inbox, before you came into the office today? That's one of the protections. There's many of them that we use.


So the first thing that you need to do if you're looking to grow your business and overcome that, number one problem is you've got to find people who you think might be open to introducing you to the people you'd like to meet. So how do you get them to open it up? I use the term digital rolodex . You all have one of these. It's you know apple or android or whoever it is if I can build trust with you in our relationship I am. I'll say 99 percent confident I can get you to open up your digital rolodex and even take me through it name by name asking me if i'd like to meet someone, so let me meet this person. And the goal is to get that level of comfort in a relationship, so that your audience becomes my opportunity and vice versa. It's a two-way street. It's always about give and receive. It's never about give and never get back, it's never about going to get. It's always going to give. All right I kind of I answered your question but I want to set the background that sets the expectation that if I focus on doing the right things with a few people I don't need more than a few people, because if you know 50 people who might be a good prospect for me to meet and I know 10 of eucharis with 50 people then all the opportunity I need is right in that small group of 10. What I do is focus on teaching people, what to do with those 10 people or those 20 people whatever that number is relevant.


Chris: I agree and I have worked across several industries right doing the same thing client relations speaking with clients a daily basis assisted them for 15 years and no matter what industry it is, referrals are a lifeblood right and if customers are happy clients are happy they're going to be willing to talk about you know their secret, and how they're doing it and which leads me in to a lot of the these like networking groups. I find that in the accounting community they're not as prevalent as they are in other industries. Do you notice the same thing and what are your thoughts on these types of groups?


Thomas: Oh man! I love working with the accounting industry for a few reasons. Number one. Well I worked with a lot of the industry organizations and so therefore have a lot of friends in the industry, but the number one reason why I like working with the accounting industry is it's an industry whereby the day-to-day practices are centered around a set of rules. A sign of you can call them GAAP you can call them the IRS, whatever the rules are that fit your business. This is the right way to do things and you're committed to doing things the right way as a professional in this field, but that is a backdrop when I teach people in this field. What to do, they follow the rules.


They like rails to run on if you will know they run on it. They'll stay on the rails but it's not just about constraining to rails, it is when they follow the rails, follow the road map, follow the recipe, they get better results than people who are just running and gunning other professions where you don't have those same road maps or rule sets. And so when a professional comes to a relationship with me where they are accustomed to doing the things that it takes to do in their business and then they bring that mindset into doing the things that it takes to get referrals, they get referrals, they get results, and they get extraordinary success and that's one of the things that I get the greatest reward from is seeing people become successful and so that's why I teach this in so many places inside the financial services sector and in the accounting and tax sectors specifically.


Chris: Yeah, it's when I started almost four years ago here references were very few I would say on ten calls (zero to one) were referred right and I saw that as a big opportunity and now today right, almost four sometimes in a given week five calls out of ten that I am speaking with are references and it's amazing how you grow it over time right. 


And so if this is not an overnight process right you talk to 10 people you're getting 10 references tomorrow. It's a practice it's part of your routine it's part of your approach and over time I mean there's no set time limit but over time you'll get the results that you're seeking but you have to follow like you're saying and doing it and living it and it'll happen and then it's a prime example of what I have done over the course of several years. Now and building relationships right and people they like you they trust, you 're so much more comfortable but speak about how their success and share it with others with other colleagues and which let's lead me into working within your network. Learn how to turn your network into your Net-work right. So talk to me about that and explain the steps behind you mentioning that all.


Thomas: Well, yeah I use the phrase turn your network into your net-work because it is your network in which the opportunity to grow your success is resident. It's your network where the people are present who if you can build the relationships that we're talking about they will open up pathways and referrals and introductions for you to grow. And obviously the growth that we're talking about here for the most part is business growth, it's client acquisition, it's new customer success. 


Now there's a couple of threads that really magnify this inside of the industries that we're talking about today. One of the threads is that if you do a good job building that relational bridge and I can come back and talk about the formula. There is a formula but if you do a good job client retention in this industry is very high the switching costs for your clients are high but the staying costs are low if the relationship and the customer satisfaction level are stronger. So when you build a business based on turning your network into a set of producing assets it's called revenue producing assets then it's going to turn into growth. If you're a small shop with a couple of people working with you to help and you want to be a large shop with several professionals and more people you can achieve that just by focusing on turning your network into an expanding asset base called satisfied clients.


Chris: Absolutely! with the ongoing pandemic and the virtual world and now across all industries and specifically in the accounting industry, you don't have to be fully virtual but you have to be partially virtual. Have you found any changes or any different approaches or you have your foundation in place no matter what, but how are you adapting to the virtual environment and working with clients and giving suggestions and how to still grow without that person-to-person contact?


Thomas: Well, I think first let me there's multiple questions in your question and I think the distancing that's taken place through the effects of Covid have caused us to use more virtual tools and just like we're using a couple of different platforms today, okay use technology but the other thing that's very important here is because of the separation social distancing or whatever you want to call it the impact on all of us.


We have a greater hunger to have relationships that aren't like what they used to be okay. So that coupled with technology says the game has changed the playing fields change shape maybe some of the players are different because I can now reach back to new york and have a dialogue as opposed to down the street however the human side of this hasn't changed at all. And if I do the relational steps even though you're 3000 miles away those relational steps are just as effective in us doing this together as they would if I sat across from you at a coffee shop and we did those things. And in fact I think the hunger for more relational long-distance intimacy if I can put those words together is greater. It's greater today because it's the counterbalance to our being a part now.


Chris: Yeah good.


Thomas: It's the steps that you need to take that I want to put some emphasis on and those steps are what create the planks on the road that lead to the bridge, that create the bridge, I don't know if you could put planks on a bridge but the components that cause the bridge to form.


Chris: Now I find with the tools, the technology's always been there right because remote working has been going on about 30 years by now, and some industries do not even have an office at whatsoever right, and they've helped out and formed the we works right and the working spaces. And you're absolutely right in saying that now that we've lost the person to person you have to be creative but the tools are there and if you enable them empower these tools it could be overwhelming but once you have everything in place and your communication set, then you could speak to not only in your local area your local state but across the entire globe. A lot of people are realizing the power of the technology and reaching out to not just being a local accountant or tax professional but being an international, so to say and so but I feel that sometimes people could kind of rush into it and try to scale so fast.


When you're working with clients what's your type of approach where you find out what their end goal is, but are you recommending they stay in a certain area or are you always saying go national, you'll go big or how are you working with clients in that aspect?


Thomas: Well, there's two threads first of all I work today with people all over the world. I held a zoom meeting last week. It was a really simple meeting. I had 70 people on the call. These are the people I am teaching this process to. And people on the call were from as far away as Norway, South Africa, India, Australia and then North America.


So the principles transcend culture and national borders okay and to me I think that's an empowering capability, technically speaking that affects all of us including the audiences that we both serve. It's fantastic. Now if I say it's Monday morning here in San Diego still and I say I need to get some more business because 2021 is coming and I want to grow, I want to add three people. Where I start where I start is where I am and I instruct my clients to always begin with the people you know who you think would know the people you'd like to know.


So now who would that be? I'll say it a different way, always start with the people who are likely serving the people you would like to know okay. So if I consider myself a tax accountant, and who would know the people I would like to know, probably a financial advisor, an attorney and you can name a few more professions, so always start with that group of people who I am already in some kind of contact with. 


Starting with a small group of them I used the term 10 a few minutes ago when I taught people how to do this I told them to find 20. Just 20. You might know 70 but start with 20 because if you do the right thing with 20 then you're going to learn the practice and develop the habits to do it with 40 or 60. But if you shotgun it at 60 today you're probably not going to embrace the learning and the discipline and not go anywhere. So start small and learn how to swing the club if you will, with the 20 get good at swinging that club using the golf analogy with the 20 and then you can take it to a larger game. So start with 20 and the very first thing you do with that group of people is you go find out everything you can about them on both a business and a personal level for example you've got a beautiful zoom background so I can't tell much about you personally from the background.


Chris: I like plants.


Thomas: However, if I happen to see diplomas and pictures of your kids on the wall and you with a trophy fish or maybe you've got a soccer ball that's on the bookshelf or something like that the more I can learn about those kinds of things, those are the things that are going to drive my connecting with you on a personal level. I can get a lot of that out of the internet. I go to linkedin and find out where most people went to school, who they follow, what their passions are. I go to facebook and see what they're doing there and there's other platforms that are analogous to those but as I take those 20 and I determine research analyze what those elements are and start building the connection with you based on things you care about. You know the family vacation that you took to the main seacoast last august I know you didn't but I could say it but you went to the and you're sitting there with a great big lobster dinner and a picture of that lobster. If I start and relate to you and ask did have you ever been to the seawall restaurant there on mount desert island and next time you go there now I am talking to you on your level, when  you relate to me on that level and I have a specific set of ways you do this relating by the way.


When you do this on this level it's comfortable, it's personal, it begins to show you that I am thinking about you and after a certain number of times in making those kinds of outreaches all of a sudden a question forms in your head Chris that question is, Thomas keeps treating me differently. I must be special to Tom. That's called top of mind awareness. I must be special to tom. I wonder what I could do for him and that's when the power of reciprocity kicks into play and when that desire to give back or reciprocate comes into play.


Now it takes only a few weeks to create it and you follow the road map to get there all of a sudden you're open to doing something that I would like you to do. And I am going to give you an analogy that we use: we always say that people will do business with those who they know, like and trust okay. The steps that you're doing or I am doing to connect with you about that lobster and that golf game and whatever else for family vacation. That's building the know, like and trust however on the end of the trust building is now it's time for me to help you to reciprocate and when I teach you how you can give back that's when that desire you have to give back in on your part is satisfied by you giving back things to me that you would like me to be happy about and then this referral engine goes.


And it's a pretty amazing engine and again i'll reach back to an earlier stage of our dialogue today we talked about the financial services accounting profession it's especially effective in that area in that industry because few people in your industry do those kinds of things but when you do, you stand out, you become such an attractive force, that it brings far greater results than it does over in industries on average, if I can say it that way. Anyhow follow the roadmap and get ready because it only takes six or seven weeks of this kind of activity with that group of 20 and the results flow.


Chris: Well said, I think sometimes clients will get into it with, let's do the 60 let's go after 80 and see what sticks, kind of just see what sticks on the wall type of approach but that's not a good way to go about it while you were saying the key word building a relationship. It's important to start with a small amount and know them get to learn them on different levels personally and work.


And I find that and in working with clients or direct reports throughout my career it's the smallest thing that you do to a client that could have a profound impact right and they will just they will it could just be remembering their birthday and they look at you and you're like holy cow like it means a lot to them yeah you save the money here you save the money there or you whatever that's great but when you just do something that the smallest thing it may seem insignificant to you but you feel like you should reach out and let them know it'll mean the world to them and people don't realize that type of approach that kind of a personal approach it goes so much further than and then these materialistic things and so I like that idea and the approach you know start small and then you grow.


Thomas: Right.


Chris: Well said and so we have to love to keep talking going along this but we have to wrap up in a second here and so the roadmap, the approach, everything you do right can give you any final words to the accounting community our audience today and a little bit about your business and we'll go.


Thomas: Well, you know I love teaching so Chris I am not making this a commercial, but you know if somebody wants more information I can give you that however, but what I do want to say is I have connected the principles of ethical marketing and that's what I have been teaching because it is ethical as opposed to sales or promotional and that's why what I teach has been embraced as part of the ceu programs for different industries that I teach them but because it's relational, it's ethical, it's not about pitching and selling and manipulating and everyone. I think positively responds to that or most people do and so that's one thing I am very proud of because it stands out in an otherwise noisy world and then the second thing is if people want more I have a very easy way for people to get involved and you know and I'd love to help more people if there's a possible way to do that.


Chris: Absolutely, well said to be a very humble person, I love it and my final thoughts and a question for you in regards to you know us being offshore, you've worked with clients all over the globe right. And so as far as staffing and approaches and feedback and where do you see kind of offshore going forward just some thoughts and feedback on that.


Thomas: Well, I think it's such a natural place to be because technology connects us from my perspective relationships are transnational, trans-cultural. I am teaching I have got a gentleman in in one of my training programs in Cape Town South Africa he's a French who relocated to cape town a few years back I met him in Cape Town and in gosh four weeks in my program he's getting referrals so it's like I think it  fits into your in my business objectives very closely so to me that's an enormous new world for us both.


Chris: Yeah, absolutely the becoming virtual has realized the power of a global workforce not just a local workforce or national workforce but a global workforce. And I was all working together as one and fighting off this covid and now helping each other grow. And you're knowledgeable, you're confident and you're capable, it doesn't matter where you are and it's just a great story South-Africa he's getting referrals doesn't matter where I love it.


All right Thomas thank you so much for joining today and everybody thank you for taking time out of your schedule we'll be posting this in case it came in later if you missed it this was episode number 25 of #BKOT build a kick ass off short team again Thomas thank you so much everyone else enjoy the rest of your week have a happy holiday and most likely a good new year because I will not be back again and next year we will be starting off with fresh new content and look forward to seeing everybody. Thomas again take care.


Thomas: Thank you so much Chris appreciate you for  hosting me 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.

About The Author
Senior Vice President

Mike is a CPA and has over 30 years of experience in thought leadership and mentoring. His experience and constant efforts in solving prevalent issues of accounting industry is his biggest stand out point. He has been instrumental in mentoring scores of entrepreneurial accounting and finance professionals to get up on their feet and convert their practices into successful ones. He has authored a book called 'Principles of High Performance Leadership'

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