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Mail Call: Answering Your Onboarding Questions

Published by Summit Marketing Team on Feb 2, 2024 6:00:00 AM


The Modern CPA Success Show: Episode 110

Join Jamie and Joey for a special mailbag-format episode where they answer questions from listeners of the Modern CPA Success Show. They discuss the importance of in-person and/or video meetings and building relationships with clients, as well as the challenges of merging existing processes during the onboarding phase. They also explore the transition from a transactional role to a strategic and advisory role in accounting, highlighting the importance of developing critical thinking skills. The hosts recommend reading business books for professional development and share advice on building effective training programs.



Intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the Modern CPA Success Show, the podcast dedicated to helping accounting firms stay ahead of the curve. Our mission is to provide you with the latest and greatest insights on cutting edge tools, innovative marketing strategies, virtual CFO services and alternative billing methods. Join us as we change the way people think about accounting.

Joey (00:00:22) - Welcome back to another episode of the Modern CPA Success Show. This one's going to look a little bit different today Jamie. We're trying a new concept today. We're going to do a mailbag episode. So excited. I did get some questions in from other people other than just you and I. So this will be good. Well, the idea here, too, was, you know, it's not just me, it's you. It's Adam, it's Jody. All of us who've been involved in the onboarding process at some point get a lot of questions from our audience. And we thought if someone's asking the questions, other folks are probably thinking about it. So we thought it might be kind of fun to to pick each other's brains a little bit, have a back and forth conversation with some questions that are led by the audience.

Joey (00:00:55) - And I hope this becomes a recurring thing too. So, listener, if you do have any questions that come up that you're thinking about as you're listening to the episode or working on your processes and systems, send them our way. We'd love to answer them in future podcasts to kind of keep this conversation going and talk about our best practices and maybe learn from y'all on what your best practices are. 

Jamie (00:01:16) - So yeah, you know, I think one of the things that we've always prided ourselves in is making the podcast as interactive as possible, right? One of the things we always tell our guests when they come on the show is like, we're not going to preshow, we're not going to do anything. We want this podcast to sound like it's just Joey and I or Joey Jody and I just the three of us hanging out in our office talking. And that's one of the things we really pride ourselves in. So we'd love to make the audience part of that interaction. So again, we've got a lot of questions on onboarding, but the more questions we get in, the better, so we can make sure you guys are part of the show as well.

Jamie (00:01:44) - So yeah, this will be a nice trial run here and I'm sure we'll get better as we go. 

Joey (00:01:50) - Well, before we dive into the listener questions, normally we do the fun question at the end, but we wanted to kind of end with some content here because I think that's some really good questions from the audience that we're going to answer today. But before we dive into those, let's do our fun question that we usually do at the end here at the beginning. Jamie. So as I think the audience probably knows by now, you and I are both avid fans of the Rewatchable on The Ringer Network. What a great podcast network. And they recently finished up Courtroom Drama Month, which I know is one of your love languages, is courtroom drama. So I wanted to hear from you of those rewatchable that they talked about last month, which one's your favorite and why? 

Jamie (00:02:28) - So of the ones they talked about so can't, can't go out. 

Joey (00:02:30) -  Oh, you can go off script or you can go off script.

Jamie (00:02:31) - I'm gonna go. I'm gonna go inside anyways because I think when this so basically just all our listeners know whenever a rewatchable comes on like Joey and I either text or talk or are teasing each other about the movie that came out in the episode they're doing. And so when Time to Kill came out, like I was giddy, that was a movie that I just I loved growing up as a kid. I actually one of the main reasons I studied in accounting as a college major was because I went to the legal studies department and had a legal studies minor and said, I want to go to law school. What's the best degree to get? And they said accounting. And so that's one of the reasons that I actually have an accounting degree is because I wanted to go to law school. I ended up not doing it, but I was a law a lot dork growing up. And so A Time to Kill was a great movie to me. I loved it.

Jamie (00:03:15) - Now, I did complain to the Joey about this podcast. I feel like they tore the movie apart and like, well, if you're actually going to do a podcast about a movie you like, you might as well actually like it. Feel like they hated the movie and like felt like it didn't age well. And I, I tend to disagree with a lot of that. I understand it's a, it's a movie that was made the 90s and the ideas are a little bit different back then, but I still think it's a great movie that holds up and wish they would redo it. Maybe they'd invite me on the show to do it. As someone who actually loves the movie versus three guys that didn't seem to really enjoy the movie. So that's my favorite law movie is a time to go. 

Joey (00:03:45) - Well, if Bill Simmons is listening to this bill, the invite stands, Jamie's ready to go. You know, CR needs a break every once in a while. Get Jamie in there. He'll knock it out of the park for you. 

Jamie (00:03:58) - Definitely. All right. What about you? 

Joey (00:04:00) - So this is this is this is a ripe genre to to pick from because you could go you can go Classic and go To Kill a mockingbird, which, you know, think was the first courtroom drama that I really remember, which, you know, obviously we read the book and then the movie was fantastic. The one that I'm thinking of that I'm really gravitating towards. And this is, you know, this is going to tell the audience a lot about me. It's a Christmas movie. Miracle on 34th Street. How do you not love it, right?

Jamie (00:04:25) - Definitely. Yep. 

Joey (00:04:27) -  It's a classic for a reason. I rewatch it every year. It's one of those movies that I think the original version obviously is was before I was born. But the newer one that they made in the mid 90s was like right in my wheelhouse. I think I was like 6 or 7 years old when that came out.

Joey (00:04:44) - So it was just the perfect thing of like, Oh, this is a wonderful Christmas movie. And you know, one of those things that I always find joy in. I still have not seen your favorite. Was it a view of you to kill? A time to kill. 

Jamie (00:04:57) - A time to kill? Yeah.

Joey (00:04:58) - A Time to kill. That's it needs to be on my list. And the other one too, that I haven't seen yet that I'm a little disappointed in myself is the A Few Good Men, which I can quote with anybody, but I still haven't actually seen the movie. Yeah, no, that's on my list.

Joey (00:05:10) - All good choices. And yeah, I think definitely the one you mentioned, you had a lot of classic scenes in that movie and a lot of them are actually in the courtroom, which is makes it different, makes it a courtroom drama. So, yeah, good. A good choice there. So let's let's pop into the onboarding questions now.

Joey (00:06:10) - Okay so here's our first question and we're just going to keep the names out that way. We just you know, we don't make anybody feel uncomfortable about that. But again, these are real questions from the audience. So excited to dive into these first question as Summit has been merging with Andrew CPA, what approach have you taken to pitch your CFO services to existing Andrew's clients? For example, if you have a client that's been in Andrew's tax client for years, that might be a good candidate for your services. How are you presenting that service to them? Our approach was to have the manager who historically runs point on client communication send an email to the client, telling them about our new services and asking if they want to hear more.

Joey (00:06:47) - But we haven't heard back from many. I'm wondering if there's a better approach. 

Jamie (00:06:52) - Yeah, No, I think it's a great question. The funny thing is, is believe it or not, a lot of times this question goes more the other way than the way you're talking about. So one of the things that at Summit we've always done is, we always led with the consulting work, right? When we were in a sales call, like if someone came to us in, the 80% of the call was about accounting. And they're like, Yeah, we really need this. We really need AR we really need AP. Oh, and by the way, if you want to be our CFO as well, that'd be great. Like, those are the type of clients we traditionally would have turned down and we'd have been like, Yeah, that's not really where we go. We lead. We lead with the consulting services. We want the sales call to be. We really need a CFO, we want someone to talk finance with.

Jamie (00:07:30) - Oh, by the way, do you mind doing our for us like that has traditionally been how we how we operated. Now with Anders in the mix, we can take those clients that are just we kind of want a CFO, but we really need accounting services. And so I think that's been the we've, we've seen it both directions. Just want to make sure I clarify that before I answer this too much as it's actually been as much the other direction as it's been us trying to add services to our historically accounting clients. And so what we've done is we honestly try to avoid a bunch of emails, to be honest. Like we try not to communicate in email. We try to communicate with our clients in Slack or in teams. And also we meet with all of our clients pretty frequently, whether they're accounting or CFO clients. And so really what we have found to be successful is putting a face, with the solution, right? So like if we send a broad email and even if it's the manager who they have a lot of familiarity with is like, hey, we're offering these new services, it's too easy for that to get lost.

Jamie (00:08:26) - So what would be more successful for us is a couple weeks, weeks out, hey, we're going to have a in two weeks we're going to bring one of our CFOs in just kind of explain the services so you can meet them so you can understand what that looks like and then give them the fair warning that this is the date we're going to do it and then bring the CFO into that meeting just to answer questions, talk through it, and sometimes even have the CFO take a quick look at their financials so they can have an understanding of the client and be like, One of the things I love to help you guys with is XYZ. You know, you guys probably need to have a better sales pipeline if you're going to keep growing like you are. You know, those type of questions that is going to be able to identify and really bring in bring into the fold and think the same goes on the other way is tell us a only client that, you know, we've been working on your books for nine months and they're just they're just not as clean as they should be.

Jamie (00:09:13) - Do you guys want to consider adding our accounting team in place? And, and so think that would be, hey, we can have our manager come in or one of our senior accounts come in and just kind of talk to what that would look like. And so we find that in person meetings to be the best and really having those conversations be informal, not like we're trying to sell something, but more of like, we just want you to know this is an option you have now because of the merger. 

Joey (00:09:35) - Yeah. And I think that's it's a great point there too, because I'm thinking back to my previous career before I joined Summit and thinking about the services that traditional CPA firms sometimes struggle to monetize within their practice is tax planning and work. Those were two things that I kind of felt were kind of pushed to the back burner because and I get it, we're tax heads, right? Like, we like to look back and live in the tax world and do those types of things.

Joey (00:10:01) - And because of that, you don't normally have standing recurring meetings with your tax advisor. Like it's something you have a once a like maybe, maybe a once or twice a year meeting, even if you even have a meeting at all. I had some tax clients that, you know, they would send their stuff in and I'd do the work and I'd send it back to him and say, okay, thanks. Here's your, you know, here's here's the money. Thanks for another great year. And that was kind of the extent of the relationship. So I think your point there about kind of starting with that relationship and really trying to build that in person I think is huge. 

Joey (00:10:34) - Yeah, I would say that towns, you know, if you're in like 

Jamie (00:10:36) - I would say that traditional model is not going to lend itself to services. If you know what Joey just mentioned, if you have a tax client where you've you don't even ever meet them in person and they send their stuff in, you send it back to them.

Jamie (00:10:49) - You're probably having built that relationship with them where they're going to want to bring you on as advisors, right? So like you might need to take those steps first to be like one of the things we're doing now is we're just meeting once a month to talk about what's going on so we can be ahead of your tax returns. And so that way you start to develop that relationship that we are advisors. We're not just H&R Block here. You know, we're here to like actually advise you on your tax services and understand what's going on once you develop that relationship is a lot easier to have those conversations versus a cold email. 

Joey (00:11:18) - The other thing to think that's interesting to bring up here as part of this is thinking about it from an onboarding perspective. Our situation's a little bit different, right? Because we had obviously one existing onboarding process with Summit and a different one with Anders, and we've been doing a lot of work internally to kind of merge those two processes and more and more like the way of thinking.

Joey (00:11:40) - I do think from an onboarding perspective it's probably going to be a little bit easier for someone who's building out this vertical from scratch to be able to do that versus somebody who's trying to merge. Two existing processes. I do think that if I was trying to do that, I would probably spend a little bit more time up front with the manager, kind of prepping the client for like, Hey, this is going to be a lot different than what you're used to from us. Like we need to get into everything if we're going to be able to do this and that mindset shift think is a little bit different. It's something that I've noticed in our situations. Whenever we do have a client that comes over from, you know, the Anders tax side or a referral from one of our contacts over there is, you know, we've just worked differently and it's a different type of relationship. And we've been most successful when that manager has been there with us, kind of prepping the client, getting the client like, Hey, you know, they're asking these things because they need it and you trust me, I, I trust them.

Joey (00:12:41) - And we just need to transfer that goodwill over so that, you know, the relationship starts off. So it really does need to be a relationship more than anything. 

Jamie (00:12:49) - I think the other thing that goes with that is  a lot of what we've done as part of the merger is it's been a sales training. And you know, think something that summit's always believed is that everybody's in sales. Right So like when we're talking about a sales trade, I'm not talking about like sit down with Jody and Christy, who do most of our sales and be like, Hey, this is what it looks like. Obviously, they're an important part of it, but it's understanding the managers, understanding what services look like and the CFOs understanding what accounting services look like because you can't sell something and you can't add service levels to a client that doesn't need it. And so, like what? We want to make sure our CFOs and our managers and every everybody in the organization understands is like, do we have a solution for a problem that our client has? And so if we see a problem, you know, the first thing we want to do is understand the problem.

Jamie (00:13:36) - But then second is understand if our solution is going to make that work. And so that's what we've done a lot of and we're still doing it. I mean, it's we're over a year into this and it's still there, still confusion about certain levels of services and what things mean. And so we're constantly educating our people so that way they know that, you know, not only do we need to bring this to the clients, but when the clients have a need that we can bring it to them then as well. 

Joey (00:13:57) - How are you speaking of that? How are you training all of the people to identify like who would be a good candidate for that? Like, how are you communicating to like the tax managers on the underside? Hey, if you start hearing these things, think of us know that we're here. I would imagine that something that you're kind of pushing to them rather than just waiting to see what they send to you. 

Jamie (00:14:21) - Yeah, for sure. And I think the best thing is one thing we've done, too, and this is part of the part of the merger as well, is, is you know, at Anders, they have, what, like 12 other advisory services.

Jamie (00:14:31) - And we spend our Monday morning meetings for two months straight bringing in people that run those services and explaining what they mean and what they do. Because again, one of the keys of the CFO is being able to find a resource for a problem they have. And sometimes that resource is internal, sometimes it's external, which is good as well. But so that's one of the things we did is we brought them in and the managers of those groups to do it, and then we've done the same. So Jody and Adam has been a lot of time working with the leadership team and the partners group because I'm not a partner yet. So again, they're they've been in a lot of those partner meetings educating them. And this is what we do and this is how we do it. And so a lot of it has come from them. And then in addition to that, it's a lot. Again, going back to the relationship thing, they, Jody and Adam have spent a ton of time in Saint Louis just getting to know people, getting to know people and really just having those off conversations about, Oh yeah, I remember Adam, I talked to him at the at the happy hour two months ago about about that.

Jamie (00:15:24) - And they're a good fit for my client. So that's where a lot of it has come from is some A, some formal but B, a lot of informal just talking to people and getting to know people. And, you know, we've also we've had three retreats since the merger and every retreat has had different Anders people in attendance. So they can kind of learn about what we're doing. 

Joey (00:15:43) - Well, do you think that's a key thing to is, us going to Saint Louis as part of the retreat? That was a new thing for us this last year that, you know, normally our retreats were just we'd go somewhere else and do it. But now that we've got, you know, the mothership in Saint Louis that we can kind of always come back to in the fall, I think that's going to be really, really beneficial to us long term to build those relationships. 

Jamie (00:16:05) - Yeah, definitely. It's been we've, we pride ourselves on being remote first and remote is definitely in our identity, but it's also been kind of nice to have a, have a meeting place, you know, even if it's like, oh, this client's going go and kind of go and kind of south.

Jamie (00:16:18) - If we spent three days together in Saint Louis, maybe we could figure some stuff out on them. So just having that office availability for us has been huge. 

Joey (00:16:27) - Well, thank you to the listener for that question. I hope that helps solve your problem. Let us know in the email address or in the on social media if that's working for you. Jamie We'll go to the second question here. In your Onboarding podcast a few months ago, you talked about training your younger accountants with potential to focus less on the transactional nature of the work and lean into the strategic and advisory side of the relationship. What skills are you looking for to identify that potential, and what are some books or other resources that you recommend as a starting point to see if those people might enjoy the advisory work? 

Jamie (00:17:05) - Yeah, it's accounting to me is always been a very interesting dynamic in the way it's worked in that no matter where you start out of college in accounting, you are a doer, right? Like you very rarely walk into a role where you're not you're not doing.

Jamie (00:17:20) - And a lot of people really, really thrive at the doing, right? Like, the doing is easy. It's okay. I know I need to do these six tasks. They need to be done by the end of this week. These tasks are all easily laid out and they're defined. And so like I think that's where a lot of accountants start. And that's no different than what we're doing here with our services. When people start, they're, they're spending two years just, just really in that doing role and think we're the advisory part comes in or at least where it starts is in the reviewing phase, right? So like no one's going to be in that doer phase their whole career unless they really want to be. But like again, that's, that's not the, the, the path to the highest compensation you want, right? Like that's eventually going to be probably done by or you know it's always there's always there's always a new crop of first years that could do that work. So most people do make that move into the review stage of their career.

Jamie (00:18:11) - And so think when people make that move into the review stage of their career is really where you can start to tell how their brain works and how their consulting brain works. Right? Because reviewing is more critical thinking. It's more identifying the highest risk areas and being able to understand what's going on there without spending a ton of time in it. And this is hard for a lot of people to do. Right. But a lot of people do it pretty quickly and pretty easily. And so I'd say the people that pick up on the reviewing really quickly are the ones that I'm like, okay, this person might be a really good or really good consultant. And so think that's kind of the first part of the question is what am I looking for when I'm looking for a person that I'm going to probably guide into that consulting roles, First thing I'm looking for is, okay, how are they as a reviewer? Are they struggling as a reviewer? Because the only way they can review is by redoing the work that Joey just did, right? Like there's a lot of people like that.

Jamie (00:19:03) - There's a lot of people that have Joey spends nine hours on a task. In order for me to review it, I need to spend seven basically redoing what Joey did. And those people aren't probably the best consultants, but if Joey spent nine hours on a task and I'm able to either build some reports or I'm able to like, look at the data and ask Joey for questions that get to the root of what he may have done wrong. Those are the people that end up being the best consultants, in my opinion. 

Joey (00:19:26) - Well, you brought up an interesting thing in our CFO chat. This has been a couple of months, so I'm not sure if you remember this, but this is something think about all the time when working with our advisory seniors and our accounting seniors, because, you know, again, with my role, what's interesting about it is I kind of have my hand in all of these different places so I can get a good feel for who's doing what, where the skill set is, so on and so forth.

Joey (00:19:46) - You would send something to us about controller mindset versus CFO mindset, and I thought that was a really interesting like way to think about it. And I've asked seniors this before, and so just to kind of give a little backstory on what this is, it was a LinkedIn post, I think, that you had sent to us, and it was talking about a hypothetical situation. Your company is getting ready to expand to a new market or a new product or something. And the question was posed, What sort of thoughts are you having about that? And the controller mindset is, what's this going to do to my closed schedules? What amount of time is it going to take? How do I audit it? What sort of internal controls do I need? Again, that's feels a little bit more on the review side, but is very much thinking about validity of data and how do I trust it? How do I know that it's going to work? You know, what does this mean for the day to day operations of our team? Controller mindset? CFO mindset was, you know, what's the ROI on this going to be? How are we going to pay for it? Do we need new funding? What's our, you know, what's our benchmarks on what we're going to how we're going to view this as strategic or successful or not? How is this going to work? And it was very much more forward thinking, strategy driven.

Joey (00:21:02) - And, you know, some people would sit there, I think, and maybe say, well, one is better than the other. No, they're absolutely both important. Like if you try to stick me into a controller role and say, Joey, I need you to go create a bunch of internal controls around this, like I'm going to lose my mind because I just don't enjoy that type of work at this point in my career. Just like somebody could, you know, my wife's A perfect example of this is as another accountant, she loves kind of living in that dual operational type role. She has no desire to think about the bigger strategy picture of it. So I think the quicker that you can identify in your staff, where they fit on that and how their mindset is and whether they like that mindset, that's going to also be a big key in terms of determining who. Is a good candidate to start looking at that as their career path or if they, you know, kind of want to stay and live in the more operational side of things.

Jamie (00:21:57) - And I think that's where the training comes in, right? So like, you know, kind of kind of what I said is like if I was looking for a second or third or fourth year person and being like, okay, that's that's someone that I would move into the advisory side. Like I said, the first thing I would look for is, are they good reviewer? And then think the, the stuff that you mentioned, the CFO versus the controller mindset is it kind of comes down to like the mindset a lot of times has to be trained into people, right? Like it's we didn't go to accounting. We didn't go into accounting because we wanted to think like that. But once you start learning like that and start thinking of, Oh wow, this, now that I understand the finance, I understand how things are booked, I can take that to the next level. And so I think that's where the training comes in. It's having that conversation with the person that A has been a really good reviewer and like you should just try out this consulting stuff.

Jamie (00:22:41) - You might really like it. And sometimes they come in there and like, Yeah, not for me. They're, they are more interested in process, they're more interested in accuracy, They're more interested in a lot of the typical stuff that an accountant is, which is fine. But then again, a lot of times people start seeing that stuff and they're like, You and me, Joe. They're like, I do not want to go back to doing that stuff ever again. Right? Like, that's how it worked pretty quickly for me in my career was, you know, once I started reviewing, I'm like, okay, this is where I belong. And then once I really became a manager at a CPA firm as an auditor, like when I became a manager, I'm okay. This is I could do this forever, right? Like I was a part of the sales, was getting to do sales stuff. Be I was developing relationships with the clients, see as developing those relationships with clients.

Jamie (00:23:22) - It was my job to have those high level, difficult conversations. Like that's really where I felt comfortable as an accountant. My first five years as an accountant, I never really felt comfortable could do the work, yes, but it was like I was working outside of my comfort zone so much because I was ended up in the details and in the weeds. And so there's plenty of accountants like that. And that's really what we're looking for on the consulting side, is the people that just like I'd rather sit down and have an hour long conversation with Joey about what his business is and about what he does. Then to sit down and review a bunch of journal entries and that's the type of people that ultimately are probably most successful in the consulting side. Now, again, they can't be they can't be avoiding it because it's too hard, right? Like, again, I've done some complicated accounting in my life because I've been able to figure it out, but like, I've avoided it because it wasn't fun. It wasn't what I wanted to do. 

Joey (00:24:11) - Yeah, that's something I noticed sometimes, you know? And, you know, as part of the merger, there's always going to be things where you just need to pick up and get something, you know, across the finish line because it just needs to get done. Where I'm finding sometimes that the nights where I end the day and I'm like, Oh man, like my brain just hurts. Like when I go back and look at that, it's the days where I'm having to do a lot of the reviewing journal entries and working on the actual nuts and bolts books of the client. Those are the days where I in the day like less energized than I do. Like when I've had a great day consulting and it's like, oh man we solved like five problems today. Client feels good about this. Like this thing that we've been working on is done and now the client's like, totally aligned with the vision of where we're going. Those are the days that I end the day and I'm like, jazzed up and ready to start again the next day so..

Jamie (00:25:01) - For sure. 

Joey (00:25:03) - One other part of that question that I want to kind of dive into real quick before we move on to the next one, because I know this is sort of a passion of yours, and I'll be the first to admit I'm not nearly as good at reading as I used to be. Like I used to be a great reader. And then, you know, the iPhone came around and Twitter and Instagram and all those things make it tougher for me to dive into a book. What are some of the books that you kind of view as like? You know, permission to play type things, like if someone's going to want to come into the advisory role, like what are 3 or 4 books that you think just need to be in your tool belt? 

Jamie (00:25:35) - I'm going to give a general topic first. Like think the general topic is general business books, right? Like you don't want to be reading like very specific business books about like, accounting, you know, you don't want to be reading books about the weeds.

Jamie (00:25:51) - Now there's a ton of accounting books out there, but I think the biggest thing is just that curiosity about business, right? Like one of the things that we always tell our CFOs is the best thing about reading a book is you're taking that person's knowledge and it's now your knowledge again. You didn't actually live the experience, but now you're able to reference the experiences and use them. And so I'd say that's the thing is just if something sounds interesting to you, read that book, whether it's a story of one business or whether it's someone's perspective on consulting with 11 businesses, right? Like think just taking that person's perspective is good. And I'd say the couple of books in terms of what I really think kind of gives you that consulting mindset. The first is, is obviously the “Start with the Why” you know think that that one by Simon what's the last Simon Sinek think that one really helps you understand like the way to look at a business a little bit differently right It gives you that perspective of, yeah, you can always look at the numbers, you can always look at the finances, but this really gives you the understanding of how to consult with a business because an order you understand a couple levels deeper of, okay, why are we doing what we're doing? So I'd say that that's, that's number one.

Jamie (00:26:56) - And then always anytime reference the book, I always reference E-Myth. I love E-Myth because again, what you're going to run into as a consultant is a lot of people who are just really good technicians that are running a company, and if a company is run by technicians, it is not going to be successful. Eventually, the technicians need to be thinking like an owner, and that's what E-Myth outlines is, okay, how can you go from being a really good technician to being a really good owner? And again, think understanding that makes you a great consultant because that is you're going to hop into a consulting meeting, you're going to be sitting down talking with an owner, and he's going to be spending an hour talking about the services they provide and how they provide and why they're the best in the world at it, which is great. But then you're like, okay, how are you making this so that everybody can do it and not just you do it right? And so think that's the that's that's the conversation I had more often than not the first two years I was just like, yeah, a lot of these people are really just good technicians.

Jamie (00:27:51) - They're not good owners. And so you got to figure out how to take a technician and guide them into that ownership thinking. So think those are kind of the two books that I would start with. But like I said, the library is huge. There's thousands of books you could read that would help you really understand business and understand how it works. 

Joey (00:28:06) -Well, to add a general category to that, too, that is something that we've been working on with our teams is when you think about communication, you hit on it a little bit with the why question, right? Like it's one thing for a CFO to be able to tell you what the number is. It's another thing for a consultant to then go in there and say, Yes, here's what happened, but here's why you care. If you can kind of bridge that gap on a communications perspective between understanding what you're seeing and why it's important and relay that to the client in a way that the client understands and appreciates and can like emotionally resonate with.

Joey (00:28:42) - That's what's going to turn you from, you know, a CFO into like a super CFO, like a rock star type person that clients will find invaluable. 

Joey (00:28:51) - Definitely. 

Joey (00:28:52) - Cool. Well, thanks again for that question. The next one here that we've got, this is a little bit more kind of like tax related and stuff like that, but I think it's an interesting one for us to cover. We currently have an onboarding process for our tax and accounting services, but it's not going as well as it probably should be. Our main issue is that the people that we have identified as the right people to lead onboarding and training programs are currently our best producers and we simply can't afford to take them off the bench and move them into a non producing role. We know we need to invest in this role, but we can't get past the numbers. How do we move forward? 

Jamie (00:28:28) - This is a great question. I think it's something that it not only goes with onboarding, it goes with any growth, right? Like think that if you were to look at Summit and how we've grown, like we've taken our best producers out of the producing roles several times.

Jamie (00:29:44) - And again, occasionally, you know, we have a lot of really good CFOs, but there's two that are probably our longest standing CFOs that have the biggest books, and they luckily have been able we've been able to keep them in a producer role. But like, you know, if you look at if you look at me, if you look at Jake, if you look at Joey, if you look at people that have kind of moved out of that producer role like prior prior to becoming a director, I think I had like a $1.8 million book of clients. So that was a lot to give up and move into this role. But I think as leadership, you have to understand the first thing in which it sounds like this listener already understands is like your best producers aren't always your best managers and your best leaders, right? So like, again, if you really feel like they can do it the best, then you have to put them in that role.

Jamie (00:30:32) - You have to put them where they're going to be the most successful. Because I think if you take a successful producer and put them into an onboarding or director role, they're going to be able to create a lot of other successful producers. And that's what you have to think about it. But with that said, there's a couple of creative ways to do it. So think the one thing is, is don't take them completely out of the running of clients. Right. So like think one of the things we did is we stair step people. We said okay you know to start this off, we don't need a full person there, but we might need a half a person. So maybe you could do half client work in half onboarding works that way. They're still serving clients. And I think the nice thing about doing that and I honestly as a director, I still have two clients and the reason I still have two clients is because I don't want to be resting on the stuff that I was doing three years ago and telling the CFOs that's how they need to do it, because clients change, needs change.

Jamie (00:31:26) - So the fact that I still have two clients, I can still see how those needs are changing. I can see how the clients are thinking about stuff, and so I'm not completely out of the loop. So think keeping any overhead person with a little bit of client work helps you with that, but be it also just makes the transition a little bit easier. So I think that's one thing you can do. And then I think the other part, especially when it comes to this onboarding role, we failed on the onboarding roles several times. And the reason we failed is because we kept putting accountants in there. We kept putting like good accountants in there and saying, okay, we want you to be our onboarding liaison or our onboarding person. And really where we started to see success is when we started to put people who had good business knowledge but not necessarily accounting knowledge into that roles. So again, I'm more thinking about like our onboarding, our first onboarding role, which is more of like a jack of all trades.

Jamie (00:32:14) - Now we have several onboarding roles, but like that first one, you just need one on border. Sometimes you just need a critical thinker. And so when we finally hired Lydia, who was a project manager, into that role, she was the best onboarding person we've ever had because she wouldn't get lost in the accounting. And so it was our job as the accountants to train her on This is what it looks like, this is what onboarding needs to accomplish. And then she could put the processes around it without getting lost in the details. And so I would say your best producer might not always be your best on boarder. You might need to find someone that is just good with process and good with projects and good at asking questions to kind of work with those really strong producers. And then you're going to develop a really strong onboarding person. 

Joey (00:32:57) - I think that's probably the thing I admire the most about our onboarding support staff who aren't accountants is they, you know, they will ask that question, Hey, is this even really that important? Like, help me understand, like why this is an important piece of the struggle and then we'll sit there and think about it.

Joey (00:33:12) - I mean, like, you know, it really isn't that important. Like, I think it's important, but it doesn't need to and maybe it is important six months from now, but it's not important for right now when we're trying to get a client up and running and into the system and moving forward. 

Jamie (00:33:26) - Yeah. And that's agreed. You just think the interview process is somewhat complicated for that role. But think the best thing you want to look for is someone that asks a really good questions, right? Like, you know, if you're in the interview for that onboarding role and at the end of the interview and you're like, do have any questions, like, no, I think you covered everything, then that's not the right person for the role. You want a person that like the interview is going over and they keep asking questions and they're really good questions. They're not like reading from a sheet of paper, like, Where do you see me in five years? Right? Like the good onboarding people.

Jamie (00:33:36) - The good people are going to like. The first question you asked me was this Jamie? And I'm curious how that relates to this role. And then you answer that question and then they have like three follow up questions on your answer. Like, those are the people that are going to be your best onboarding ones. Because again, with this problem that this reader presented is that they don't want to take technicians off the board. That's great. So your technicians are going to train these people, but if these people aren't willing to ask questions, then they're never going to get trained on it. So you have to have a really good question to ask us. 

Joey (00:34:22) - I think too, along, you know, thinking about this you know, listener and the question they're asking, if they were my client and I was consulting them, I would \use the following story. And this is one that I steal from often with my clients. And it's a credit to actually the headmistress of my high school who's who's board I sit on.

Joey (00:34:41) - And she sat in a board meeting really early on in her tenure as the headmistress and she said, I heard someone describe the purpose of the board of the directors is to protect the future of the school or the organization, whatever it is, from the needs of the present. And that's where I would tell this listener to start thinking about is like you've got to start thinking much, much bigger in terms of, yes, the needs of the present. Say you need this producer to be here now today because it solves your problem now, today. That's kind of where that's all popping up with. But. If you're thinking about growing, if you're thinking about doing something business, building out a new vertical, whatever it is you're looking for, the needs of the future are going to be reliant on that person. And the value of that is so much more than what you're giving up now by losing this producer. So that would be my advice to this listeners. Don't let the needs of the present get in the way from the needs of the future.

Joey (00:35:39) - Build that future. Invest now. And you'll it'll pay for itself in the long run. 

Jamie (00:35:45) - That's great. Yeah. 'm not gonna elaborate on that anymore. That's a great way to end that question. So good job. 

Joey (00:35:51) - Well, our last question here is a little bit more to do with building training programs, which is something that you and I have been kind of working on behind the scenes in our role. So here's the question. We provide tax services and we notice that our ideal hiring period, ideally in the off season between October and January, doesn't line up with our ability to give on the job training because we don't have a ton of work to do at that time. On the other hand, when we need to hire people during the season due to turnover, we have a ton of work to train on, but we struggle with the capacity to train and are feeling the pressure to get that person up and running quickly to backfill that loss position. How do we build out a more interactive training system to solve some of these issues and get our new team up and running quickly, but without sacrificing the foundational knowledge of our systems that they need for long term success? 

Jamie (00:36:42) - Yeah. So think this might be a question that Joey planted because this is what I'm working on right now. So this is, you know, 

Joey (00:36:48) - Did not plant this real question from a listener.

Jamie (00:36:51) - We as part of the director retreat we walked away with rocks with big goals that we had to have done before the next quarter. And mine is to really finalize this training program. And so this is what I've been working on almost every day for the past couple of months. And so really our belief on training is there's really four ways to do it. So the first is what you already mentioned. It's on the job. You know, on the job training is great and it is really important and it helps you get that last 10% of the training. Right? So I could sit here and talk to you about this is what you're going to be doing day to day. I can walk you through some examples. I could do all this other stuff I'm going to talk about.

Jamie (00:37:28) - But really when you're on the job, you're going to figure out those things that aren't necessarily trainable because they're just things that come up and they're different for every client. And they're the things that are really important. So think that on the job training is definitely one element of what we do. And it's really important that, you know, we have a threshold of, okay, this is how many clients we want you to have by 90 days as a client. We want you to have by this part. And again, I think that's definitely part of our training. But think the other parts are kind of the three things. And one is the videos. So we have some standard videos that you're going to watch when you come in. So basically what the hope is, is that you sit down and watch these videos and it's going to give you that first understanding of what we do right now. Again, this is probably a little bit different than tax services because tax services is pretty similar no matter what the firm you do.

Jamie (00:38:15) - But what we do from a VCFO standpoint, it's different than what anyone has ever done anywhere else. It's from what we found out. And so we want to make sure that these people have. 10 to 20 hours of background knowledge of why we do what we do, how we do what we do, the type of questions they're going to get. And so we've built training videos to really walk them through it. And now the nice thing that made this training a lot easier for me is, is you're listening to one of our platforms right now. We have podcasts, we do a ton of webinars, we do trainings in-house, we record everything. So what I did is I went through everything we've recorded over the past two years, and I've put those into training modules and said, okay, you know, we're going to have an onboarding training. I'm going to put this podcast in there. Something people can listen to and watch is to understand onboarding. So I've taken stuff we already have and put it into these modules.

Jamie (00:39:06) - Now if you have nothing, what you're going to have to do is you're going to have to figure out a way to build a training modules. And so what it starts with is sitting back and thinking, what are the 5 to 10 most important things that someone needs to know before they work on a client? And then just having taking those 5 to 10 things, assigning people to creating videos and then just really working through that, I think that's the first thing is just having videos. Now, one of the things we've done in addition to the videos is we've created like pre-populated notes that they can go through and kind of highlight and add to when they're going through those videos. And so that's something that you can do. You don't have to do that, but we found that to be pretty valuable. So that's the second leg. So on the job videos, I think the third leg is having someone to ask questions to. So this is really Joey's one of Joey's important jobs as he really works with our CFOs.

Jamie (00:39:57) - And Joey meets with our CFOs every day. He has a half hour meeting on the book every day where new CFOs can just come in and ask him questions. And sometimes the questions are based on these training videos. Sometimes the questions are based on a meeting they had yesterday with a client that went wrong, and they're going to ask, why did this go wrong? And they're going to ask questions on it. So I think having just videos isn't enough. Having just on the job isn't enough. You need to have someone that they can reflect with. And again, I know this goes back to our previous questions. This isn't cheap, this isn't this isn't a cheap thing to do. Is take one of your resources off. But again, we're talking 30 minutes a day. So this person can still have, you know, a 75% book and just take 30 minutes a day to sit down with people and answer questions. So you don't need to take a full resource off it or you can rotate it.

Jamie (00:40:37) - You can say, you know, Monday is this, Tuesday is this or Monday? Is this manager Tuesdays, this manager. But think having someone that they can ask questions to and follow up with is really important as a third leg. And then I'd say the last leg is something we've already talked about as well. It's books, books, books, books. And we I feel like we've come up with a pretty good answer for how to do books now. And so I'm going to give that secret out there. So we've tried a lot. We tried book clubs and the problem with book clubs is no one ever reads a book, and it's usually dominated by 1 or 2 people that have read the book. And then people are like, who didn't read the book or like reading Amazon reviews prior to it. Going in there and like asking questions from that. And so like book clubs didn't work because everybody's busy. But what we've found is work is what we call a virtual book club. So what we have is a book that we recommend you reading.

Jamie (00:41:26) - And so the first, the first part of the virtual book club is go read this book. Once you've read this book, now come in and watch a supplemental video. And sometimes supplemental video comes beforehand. Sometimes supplemental video is like a YouTube of the author talking. This is him introducing the book. Or sometimes if it comes after the we read the book, it's like someone who's applied that methodology to one of their clients or someone who's applied that methodology to their business and how it's worked. So we always have some kind of supplemental. He wants to reboot. Not good timing for that. So, yeah, the supplemental video can either be before or after and it depends on what the video is saying. And so that's the first part of the book club. But then the next part, which I think is the most important, is as a white paper, right? So like I have each person that reads the book go and apply a certain type of white paper to um, to the book. And it could be just one chapter of the book or it could be applying the whole book to something they've done.

Jamie (00:42:20) - And so what we do is we say, Um, I'll use E-Myth as an example because that's one of our virtual book clubs. So we have a white paper of, okay, now that you've read E-Myth, apply this to one of your previous jobs or to one of your current clients, where are they a technician and where are they an owner and how could you aid them? So they do it right up on it. And then they share that in those meetings that Joey runs where they say, okay, I just read E-Myth. I did my write up, here's what I found out about it. And then once that write up is done, it's archived. So we have probably for E-Myth, think what we have like ten white papers on it. So the more people that read, the more people that read the book, the more white papers you have. So again, not only have you read the book, you've done a training on it, you've written something on it, but now you can read other people's white papers.

Jamie (00:43:05) - And so this book is really going to stick with the person that is invested in it. And so my goal, I think right now we have like five book club books. My goal is to have like 20. And I would love to be able to like supplement those not only for someone first starts, but also someone struggling in area. If someone's struggling with an area, they're been working for us for nine months and they're doing a great job, but they're having a difficult time having difficult conversations. This is the book I need you to read. Go in and do this work with Joey to make sure you finish all of it. And so that that is kind of the fourth leg. So just to read, summarize there. So on the job videos, one on one meetings and then books think if you do those four elements when someone first starts, they're going to be ready to rock and roll pretty quickly. 

Jamie (00:43:45) - So there's a couple of things that I want to react to there because I think that was a very big summary of what we do.

Joey (00:43:52) - And I think you did it. You did it really well. The thing that I love as the trainer, so someone who's on the recipient like the receiving end of the training that people are doing and providing feedback. What I like about our Whitepapers what I'm really looking forward to when we get done with like all the modules that you're, that you're building out that you've been working on. I want to have data points that I can go back and reference because the thing that's the scariest as a trainer is, well, this person tells me they have it. Do they really have it? And reading a white paper, looking at a module, looking at an output of something that they've done, would give me reference points to be like, I know how it's supposed to look. I know what they're supposed to be doing. I'm going to be able to tell really, really quickly what they get and what they don't get and what they get. Great rock and roll, what they don't get. Okay, Here's how we're going to dive in and work with you to solve this problem so that you can really become a master in this area.

Joey (00:44:45) - So having those data points as the trainer is super, super helpful. The thing that's that's tough is when, you know, when you sit in the meeting, Hey, what's going on? Nothing. Well, don't really know if that's true. I can't pull that information out of you. I need them to push it to me now. So that's something I'm really looking forward to in that. 

Jamie (00:45:02) - And I would say that the scariest part for me of creating this training, one thing I didn't mention is part of the videos is we do have homework that goes with them. And I always was afraid of creating. Test cases, right? If so, when we talk, one of our training modules is about profit first accounting, which is our model of how we do what we do when it comes to net profit. First, what's the 

Joey (00:45:27) - Profit focused, 

Jamie (00:45:29) - Profit focused, think profit focused accounting. So that's one of the that's what really were the basis of what we do. And we do consulting is profit focused accounting.

Jamie (00:45:34) - So when we do profit focused accounting, what we're talking about is how do we how do we consult with our clients? And so what we do is we do the video on it. And then after that, the we give them a real life example of one of our clients. And I was scared to death to create those things like, this is going to take me forever. And actually, it didn't take me very long because we already have the model pretty much set up. It's already in slideshows. I need to take those slides and rewrite them a little bit. So creating the homework was actually one of the easier parts of the job. So think that if you create the video while you're creating the video, kind of think about what's a scenario. I could have them run through that Joey could easily grade to make sure they actually understood this concept. So I think that's the other part of it is like that to me was the scariest part of doing this and it actually was one of the easiest parts was creating those homeworks So.

Joey (00:46:22) - Well that's, that's, that's great to hear because that was kind of where I was going to go with the listeners. Question is like, use that time, that off time that you have in November, December, early January before the tax season really kicks in and do that, find the fake client and use real books from either your old, you know, ask the client, Hey, can we use your stuff anonymously? Just use the numbers, do that type of thing and create something so that you can give someone say, Hey, now that you've watched all these videos on how we handle our work papers, on how we flow things through, how the client communication portal works, all of those different things. I want you to go and take all this information that we've given you and populate a tax return so I can see where the holes are. You, as the trainer, will know pretty quickly, especially if it's a static case, what that tax return is supposed to look like. And it will let you identify those holes pretty quickly.

Joey (00:47:14) - And once you test that out a few times, now you have a real life example that you can get your new people that you're hiring in the busy season into right away and they can just go and knock it out. So the other thing that I kind of wanted to focus on here before we wrap up for the for the episode is, is just to hone in a little bit on that investment that you were talking about before we went in and started working on those things we spent, Oh, I don't even want to know how many months and man hours we spent last fall developing all of our our best practices and procedures and things like that before we even started training, we had to ask the question, What do we want this to look like? What is our best practice? What how should if we could just design an ideal client and an ideal process, how is it going to look? So before you were even able to do any of the investment in time that you put in the team invested a lot of time in developing those processes and procedures and ideas.

Joey (00:48:13) - And so it really is one of those things where you have to get over the initial sticker shock of this is how much we're going to spend creating this thing and know that that's one of the pillars of scalability, is not having to allocate as many resources to that training down the road. You can build the infrastructure and then have one person, the right person. If you can find that person kind of running that training and getting everybody up and going, and that's the lever upon which you're going to grow your business. 

Jamie (00:48:44) - Yeah, think it's a really good final point here is, is think that it's it's really hard to train people on what you do if you don't know what you do right like think that's exactly what was done and think not only when it comes to the process level but also when it comes to your philosophy. Right. So like a big part of this training for me was like because early on, again, we're well past this point. But early on, like all our consulting services was like, Jodi's really good at this.

Jamie (00:49:07) - Adam is really good at this. Okay. We brought Jake and he's really good at this. Jamie figured it out. So the first four, five CFOs were able to just figure it out. But when you're trying to scale fast enough, like you're always trying to find that diamond in the rough, that can just do it. And so at some point you have to like be okay. Why were those four people really good at it? What was the four things that they were able what were the things that they were able to do in order to become a good consultant? So like it, we had been working on developing that stuff over all over the past like three or 4 or 5 years since I've been in this role. Like that's been really important to me in order for us to scale. But then once you identify that, then it's okay, how do we train on it? So think a lot of companies listening to this are probably in that in that first step, they're still in the okay, what do we how do we how do we do a good job? How do we know we do a good job? What is the what makes us do a good job? So you have to have that identified first.

Joey (00:49:54) - Well, Jamie, thank you so much for for joining me today. I'm hoping to do so many more of these in the future. So listeners, if you have any questions, please reach out to us. Reach out to us on the socials, reach out to us that are email address that. I'm going to ask producer Rob to kindly put in the show notes on the podcast app of your choice so that I don't butcher it live on the air. I'll also mention it in our intro to the to the show that will come up before Jamie and I hop into this conversation. So hoping to hear more of these questions in the future so we can kind of help guide you when you're onboarding journey. Jamie, thank you so much. 

Jamie (00:50:28) -Yeah, it was fun. Thank you.


Mail Call: Answering Your Onboarding Questions with Jamie Nau and Joey Kinney

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