Episode #096 Interviewing the Interviewer: Get to Know Amy Hooke

We invite you to a brand new episode of The Bookkeepers' Voice, as Angie is again joined by podcast guest and founder of The Savvy Bookkeeper and Off The Hook Bookkeeping, Amy Hooke!

You'll get to learn more about Amy's bookkeeping journey including how she became a bookkeeper and what makes her second business ‘Off The Hook Bookkeeping' different. Amy will also talk all things profit – including how bookkeepers are helping businesses raise their profit IQ and why helping her clients become more profitable is so important. 

Key Takeaway: “Bookkeepers always say they are ‘just a bookkeeper' but in fact they are business owners, entrepreneurs AND Bookkeepers.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #096

Series: General

Host: Angie Martin

Guest speaker: Amy Hooke

Topic: Interviewing the Interviewer: Get to Know Amy Hooke

Useful links
Read transcript

Starting up a profitable bookkeeping business and helping clients raise their profit IQ



Bookkeeping journey, business owner, bookkeeper, profit IQ, small business profitable, clients


Angie Martin  0:01

Good morning, everyone. Hope you're having a fantastic Friday today. My name is Angie, and thank you for joining us for another episode of The Bookkeepers Voice. Today I'm super excited about doing this episode because I'm joined once again by our amazing leader, Amy Hooke. Hi, Amy.


Amy Hooke  0:24

Hello. Nice to be back.


Angie Martin  0:27

Yes, and today I'm putting Amy in the hot seat. But before we start, I actually want to do a special little shout out to Michelle from Seashell Bookkeeping, who I was talking to last week. And she was just saying how much she loves the podcast and how she's been a longtime listener. And it has been It was really excited, basically to hear this episode. So I thought I'd just do a big shout out to Michelle and Seashells Bookkeeping, and just thank you for being a listener.


Amy Hooke  1:05

Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Michelle.

Starting out as a business owner and bookkeeper


Angie Martin  1:07

So I'm going to do my normal interview. intro. Just like no one knows who you are, because we have a heap of new listeners. And they might actually not know, a heck a lot of about you. Yeah, that's right. So here we go. I'm gonna do my official, Savvy, professional introduction for you. So as many of our listeners now Amy is the director of Off The Hook Bookkeeping, which is a virtual bookkeeping practice. And it is a business that focuses helping businesses. Business founders in businesses create a profitable, sustainable and socially responsible business. And a shout out from that she is the owner, founder of The Savvy Bookkeeper, which is the bookkeepers voice. Um, So the reason why I thought I put Amy in the hot seat today, instead of Amy interviewing someone else is because they spend a lot of new people joining us. And I've listened to every single episode of The bookkeepers Voice. I love podcasts. Yeah, It was awesome. I really enjoyed it.


Amy Hooke  2:47

Good way to learn how you the new company that you're working for works Right?


Angie Martin  2:53

And there are still ones that I reference. When I talk to people, I absolutely love them. There's a couple I've actually listened to twice, because it had really valuable content. But one thing I noticed was that you did your introduction about who you are. But you've never really spoken much about Off The Hook, which is such an influence into what we do at Savvy and what we talk about on The Bookkeepers Voice. So yeah, so I thought it would be fun to actually let people know a little bit more about you. And actually understand your bookkeeping journey. From a yes. Being owners point of view, not the Savvy owner point of view. Which is a bit different.


Amy Hooke  3:50

Yes, that's right.


Angie Martin  3:52

So what I thought I'd start with is basically go in and just ask you, you know, how, how did your bookkeeping journey begin?


Where do I start on my bookkeeping journey?


Amy Hooke  4:06

Yeah, so. All right, so I'm just wondering where to start because I feel like my story has a lot. It has quite a few threads, but the most straightforward one will be so I grew up in a family business. My dad ran a business in so he called it the rag trade, but what he actually means is recycled recycled clothing. So yeah, basically, they you know, those donation bins where you put your clothes in and they collect the money and they give that money to charities. Well, dad's company was the company who received the items from the being they pay the charities for the contents, and then they sought it out. So my dad ran that business from like, when I was very young, I don't know exactly what age but I would have been like maybe three or four. So dad's like pretty much always had that business. My dad has never, he's a bit like me. He's one of those people that's never really had a profit job. He's just been a businessman like he just does businesses. And he'll I think, you know, he likes the freedom and the lifestyle. So I grew up in that. Yeah, that business environment. And so we used to go on school holidays and work in the factory, which I absolutely loved it as you can imagine a young girl, I would run into the factory, and the first thing you could see was like a mountain of clothes. And we were laughing. So we would climb up the top, and we, you know, throw them around, and we dig holes and bury ourselves and stuff like that. And we were allowed to take home anything that we wanted, that would have been dangerous for me dangerous. As you can imagine, my sister and I shared a bedroom, which is quite funny, because the bedroom next door to it, which really should have been her bedroom, we made that room, our wardrobe. Also, we had a room full of wardrobes, basically with all of these clothes, but they're all secondhand. And dad was real big on like, you know, secondhand clothes, you know, they're good quality, because they survived.


Whereas these days, like I don't know, if the things are sort of made of that quality anymore, you don't really know. They're not, they're not made. So that was really big on like, not letting things go to waste. So we'd sort through everything from there. And, you know, kind of divvy it up into different levels of quality. And then he would sell it in his retail stores. He had some wholesaling, he had some overseas stores. And he did like overseas shipments of like, bulk clothing and things like that. And then he also had shops that sold like things that were of clothes, like plates and toasters and all sorts of things. So So basically, I used to work in the factory, which I I just love, like, I love the environment, you know, the bad factory music, that sort of stuff that I grew up on, and, you know, just the people there as well. And then one school holidays, I mean, I loved going into the office. So yeah, it was really noisy and dusty, you know, you can really imagine me not environment, but that's what I really liked it. And then I remember when I got a bit older, I started going into the office. And I was like, Oh, this is fun. And also, as I got older, I started also working in the retail shops. And so the office would have been my favourite like I did like serving in the shop and that kind of thing. But my sister really got into that. Whereas I was more like, you know, the back office kind of person. So I'd go in there, you know, when I was very young, I'd go in there and pretend that I was doing something clever, but I'd be really just hole punching paper and, you know, using the highlighters and stuff like that, and then also to learn how to use the computer. And so I just liked being in the office and helping me like, organise, organise, yeah, I remember. Just Yeah, like, I would go in and I'm like, why is this like this? You need to fix it. It's like going, I'm not very natural. You learn? Yes. And so then when I was 16, my dad actually said to me, I don't think it was just through kind of the idea that at the time, we thought up shops are a bit, like, dorky. Like, we thought, this isn't cool. But there are cool clothes that come through. So I said to dad, could we start a retail shop, selling the stuff that's actually cool stuff that appeals to younger people. And so we sort of created this thing. We called it insane clothing. And we set it up, we painted all these murals, we had like a piercing studio in there and stuff like that. And so we did this, and through that process, I sort of started to get into because I still do the back office. So I'd be in there. Or, you know, tallying the tail at the end of the day. But I would I started to get into like, the purchasing side of things I'd be looking at. It just you know, how much profit we could make and things like that. So I really liked that. Um, and so when I was around, I think 13 I did. I did accounting at school. Like year 8. And I really enjoyed that class. And I came home from that class that Dennis had done, I think I want to be an accountant. And he said to me, Well on school holidays, why don't you come and work in the office with the accountant try it out. So I got I went in there just just so cool. You could do that, that you had your dad. Yeah, I've never really thought about that. yet. It was it was really cool. So I went in there and I used MYOB maybe version three or two at the time. And I was entering checks. He taught me how to do bank reconciliations, and I just thought this is amazing. Like, I just was like, Yes, I want to be an accountant. And that was you know, it's sort of I guess it evolved from it.


Angie Martin  9:44

Yeah, um, now there's one thing cuz not everyone knows this but we're actually in the process of putting Off The Hook through the Savvy programme. And creating you know, Off The Hooks official marketing message and everything and you and I have already had like our introductory meeting and I found out something that you said about yourself that I think is has really shaped you as a person and a business owner. And it's something that your teacher said that when you were in school, what was it that your teacher said that has just really cemented into why you want it to be in accounting?


Amy Hooke  10:27

You have detention at lunchtime? That was another story. That was another one. Yes. So what he said to me what he sent to the class, he told a story. Was it about one about the people that went tattslotto? Yeah, win the lottery. That one that was?


Angie Martin  10:43

That was one of them. It basically the one I want you to get to is like, Why you? You know? Help businesses being profitable.


Amy Hooke  10:53

Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So well the first thing he said was, he just said, Look, the reason that you learn accounting is because people are not good at managing their money. And so he said, You know, when it's been shown that people who win tattslotto tend to be worse off in their financial position within three years, because they don't know how to manage their money. So that was the first thing he said. And the second thing that he said, like, he talked a little bit about how, like, what taxes get used for and that kind of thing, which was interesting, because throughout my, I guess, as I kind of ventured on from there, I found that most people don't know what happens without taxes. They just feel like, Oh, my boss just takes my money. And it's so it was good. Having that understanding there as well. And then what was the other one? That was one? Hell that was so funny one, actually, which I haven't told you. But he said about, he gave us this example. Or he said, You know, I mean, I grew up in frankston. Right? So he said, like he was talking about if you go and try and sell something at cash converters, and they offer you like an interest free loan or something like that. And he was, he said, Yeah, that's right. He said, If I, if you go into cash converters, and you know, they're going to give you an interest free loan on something. And it turns out that it's not a good deal. Like, is that their fault? Are they praying one view or something? And, and the point of the, you know, the point of him bringing that up was actually to do with the fact that people make choices, and when their choices aren't informed, then they're making bad decisions. And so obviously, you know, growing up in frankston, you know, cash converters thing, you know, we can, we can relate to that. And so, yeah, so I sort of found that I thought that was funny, but I also really, like I kind of absorbed that information. And I had, in my mind, I guess, I just started to realise that helping people with their money was going to be a way to, like, make a difference for people. And so then when I sort of connected the dots for business, because I was so immersed in business, you know, helping people make those good financial decisions for their business, I knew that that was going to be something that was very important. So I thought, yeah, you know, sounds like the job for me. Yeah,


Angie Martin  13:13

I just, I love that you just said so much about you. I love that you realise this at a really early age in realising that, you know, helping people understand and be educated a bit more about their money, their expenses can help them then be profitable. And, you know, if they were tattslotto winners, they could actually stay rich.


Amy Hooke  13:40

Um, yeah, invest that money.


Angie Martin  13:43

I just, I think it's so interesting that you learn that at such a young age, and it really has carried you through so much of your life, like, even I know, today, we're talking about Off The Hook, but even just the concept of creating Savvy, it directly relates to that as well. I think it just really ingrained in you and that you want to help people learn more to make their businesses and themselves happy, successful, profitable.


Amy Hooke  14:13

Right, exactly.


Angie Martin  14:15

I think it's great. And it's also, you know, there's only a few people that have grown up in an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Um, and, you know, it does change the way you look at things.


Amy Hooke  14:29

My husband Will, who some of you know, he is, um, yeah, he's very much like, he often will say to me, like, it is so good that you got to grow up in an environment because I haven't grown up with a lot of the limitations and restrictions that a lot of people have on their thinking around, you know, finish high school, get a job, work the nine to five, all that sort of thing, like, you know, for someone I mean, I did not finish high school, so I but for me, I didn't see that as a limitation. You know, Obviously other people can look at it and go, Oh, like make a judgement. But for me, it was like No, I think in a totally different way to, you know, to people that kind of follow that traditional path. So I think that's kind of been.


Angie Martin  14:56

I think it's great. Like,it really changes the way that you look at things and it changes the way that Off The Hook can help support your clients because you think outside of the box with them. And that's what, basically Off The Hook, does. You look at it in different ways, and then go to them and go, Oh, actually, did you know if you did this, you would be saving a heap of money?


Amy Hooke  15:37

Yes, that's right. I think it's in I guess, from there. So I mean, it has been a very long one the path. I mean, my I was just going to be like where we're at now. very windy. Um, you know, with some, you know, like bacon, like big bumps along the way, in some in some aspects. But you know, I did, as a teenager, late teens, I did a traineeship in accounts, Office admin, and like I said, for an Office admin, and we work, I worked for a company manufacturing company. While I did that for 12 months, then they offered me the job, like after the 12 months to stay on there. But I decided that I wanted to move to the city. And so I got a job through an agency in an accounting firm doing tax returns. And I was like, how did I get this job? Like, I couldn't understand. I'm like, I'm not qualified for this job. I'm not an accountant. I haven't finished high school, like, how do I, you know, how did I get this job, but within, you know, like, within the first couple of years, I was training the graduates and showing them how to do tax returns and things like that. And so it wasn't like, obviously, when I was working for dad's business, I'd had a bit of a snippet of doing accounts. And so I really had, I guess you'd say more accounts payable and accounts receivable experience, but I didn't have actual bookkeeping experience by this stage. It was still just kind of the accounting function. But, you know, like GST had just come in that year that I do my traineeship so that you know, how old I am. But um, yeah, so, you know, like, My first job was converting all of the, like, supplier files over that had ABS because there was this new thing called an ABN, and you have to add them to every record. And so, yeah, so when I moved to the accounting firm, I was like, Yes, like this is starting to happen. And, you know, I told my boss, I wanted to become a chartered accountant. And so I, I waited, I had to wait till I was 21 to enrol in uni as a mature aged student. So I worked for him until I was 21. Then I enrolled in my business degree in accounting at Monash. And then what happened from there? So basically, I started my degree, I did my first semester. And then after that, I thought, Like That's right. When I was at uni, my boss said to me, do you want to do some bookkeeping while you're at uni? Because it's more flexible, you can go out on site with the clients instead of being stuck behind a desk. And I think he knew back then, like, obviously, this was my like, my own one of the nine to five jobs I've had, but he knew I wasn't a nine to block this. And so he let me do whatever I want, basically. And he said, Why don't you just go and do some bookkeeping, you can work around it uni study. So I did that. And I was like, I didn't need to go to uni anymore. I just thought who would want to be an accountant, being a bookkeeper is so good. So like, don't tell the accountants anybody, but I really enjoyed it, I thought, What's to lose, like, I get paid more, I've got all this flexibility, I get to be face to face with the clients, whereas normally I never see them. I'm stuck at my desk and, you know, surrounded by accountants, and I've got to be out there. And again, I guess it brought back that feeling that I had, you know, like, I still loved being in the factory. Like, even though I'm an office person, I just love that buzz and the, you know, the noise and the dust. Yeah, so I found myself doing bookkeeping, you know, I was working for a lot of tradies mechanics, and, you know, like, you'd rock up and there'd be like, grease on the keyboards and stuff like that. And even though it's like kind of disgusting, like it was sort of like, Oh, I feel like I'm, you know, back in my element kind of thing, you know, going into these little offices, radios, blasting and stuff like that. So it was really fun. And so I stopped doing my uni course and I just progressed along this way doing basically contract bookkeeping through this accounting firm, until the company hired me like they recruited me full time from him. So I worked for a public company sort of went back into the accounting space for about a year and a half. So they were listed on the stock exchange, I moved into an accountant role from the bookkeeping role and then I guess it was pretty much like I thought Yes, this is my kind of Korea sort of job was like a senior bookkeeper on a roll, I guess like taking being the accountant for that whole company. And then I got hit by a car on the way to work and broke my neck. How life happens? Yeah, that's right. And so like, obviously, I mean, sometimes when I tell the story, now, I kind of want it a little bit funny, because I feel in some ways, like I was really getting off. And this accident, like it was like, yeah, it was like a divine intervention kind of thing. And so I actually ended up, I ended up leaving this job because I had chronic pain for a long time after that, but I went back to uni, and I finished my degree during that season. So you know, I had to get some help from the uni and stuff like that. It was a pretty, like, tough season. But I just filled up. And I, you know, I had things going on my personal life that were kind of getting a bit out of hand. And I felt like this interruption, kind of like put me back. So that's where I was meant to be eventually. And so yes, I did end up going back to get that degree, I did end up going back to work for that accounting firm for a time. And that's when I realised that was the point where I was like, Okay, I could see that the technology was starting to go on to the cloud. And I'm like, a huge fan of technology. And I was like, This is so good. And I was saying to my boss, like, yeah, you know, we get all this stuff, because we were doing timesheets on Excel still. And then add to data entry, the Excel spreadsheets to create their billings. It's almost a nightmare. And so it's like, Okay, let's go. And, you know, we'll get everything in the cloud. And we'll set up all these electronic timesheets. And so he was like, yep, cool. So I created this whole project, and we went to launch it, like, start to roll it over to the staff, and he freaked out and like, I can't do this, I can't do it. And so I was like, I yeah, I got really offended, actually. But I ended up leaving. And, um, yeah, I was like, I'm gonna finish with bookkeeping. I'm like, I'm never, I'm never doing bookkeeping. Again. Like, that's it for me. Like, I think this is the wrong career. And I sort of went travelling for a couple years. And then when I got back zero had become more reputable. I was pregnant with my first son, and I thought, maybe I'll start a business using Xero, and that's what I did, and it just kind of like, ooh, like, grew from there. So that was, I think, like, 2014 was the first time I ever even considered having my own business. It wasn't until I realised like, I'm so held back here and what I want to do, and I just feel like I can't make the difference that I want to make just, you know, having


Angie Martin  22:42

Also you wern't your own boss then as well.


Amy Hooke  22:45

No, no, yeah, exactly. And now I look back, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, but at the same time, I do think it's really important, like the fact that I sit, you know, serve that kind of like decade as an employee working under someone else, you know, it's invaluable. That experience. Yeah, I think that is, you know, if the groundwork is really good to be able to launch into having a business like, you know, like, when you start your business, when you already have a very solid established profession, you know, there's so much more. Yeah, I think you can, you can do a lot.

Profitable small business ideas as a bookkeeper


Angie Martin  23:18

I think it really helps you as well, when you deal with certain clients to because you look at it from the employee, the employer, business owner, every month kind of point of view. So it's one of those things I've seen you do it when you mentor people where you think about, you can see your wheels turning, and then you'll think of like a random thing out here where it's like, you wouldn't have had that thought process if you didn't go through that decade of getting.


Amy Hooke  23:49

Oh, absolutely. I was talking to my business coach about this this morning. I said, like, I don't fit in any box. Anyway, like, Everywhere I go, I'm like, I'm always on the like, edge of everything. So I'm like the world's oldest millennial, that's my job because I was born in 1981. So I see like, the perspectives of the two, you know, the different generations because I'm not really a part of either or I'm part of both kind of thing. Yeah. And that's, you know, I'm a factory worker and an office worker. So I come into these environments, and I'm like, like, I'm a bit of everything, but sort of, like, not either of it. I'm just so also I see lots of different things that other people kind of, I guess don't notice.


Angie Martin  24:28

Yeah, I think that's really, you know, help the business grow these last few years is that you are able to do that and I think it kind of helps.


Amy Hooke  24:38

Oh my gosh, and I'm a psycho I just refuse to give up like, I've just dealt with and like, you know, in a good way. Yeah, I'm very very persistent. Like when things fail I'm like, Okay, let's find another way. Let's find another Why did it fail? What can we do fix what can we do? Exactly. And then finally, once I got you know, past that like, you know, You're sort of fighting my way through that I, you know, found or you guys built a good team, and then I sort of took off from there. So, but yet very, yeah, very, I've been very determined as well, a lot of hard work has gone into, you know, behind the scenes of what sort of seems to suddenly turn into something really cool. Like, yeah.


Angie Martin  25:19

And I love that that's what I love about bookkeepers in general. I love finding out the story of how they became a bookkeeper. Mm hmm. It's no one's story is the same. And I think it really once you can


Amy Hooke  25:34

Except that we all fall into it. Yeah, I feel like I feel like I fell into it. Because I didn't I didn't. I wanted to be an accountant. But I fell into being a bookkeeper. It turned out so well, so well.


Angie Martin  25:47

to use so much more than being an accountant. Yeah, you know, I think like, it's just so interesting how that always happens. To think thank you for telling that story. I've already heard most of that. And lots of it. Yeah, I knew bits. bits. Yeah. But um, as soon as he told me, I was like, Oh, my gosh, we need to tell this to the community because it just it really explains how your brain works. And I think it's really inspiring that you know, your process of how you became who you are.


Amy Hooke  26:20



Angie Martin  26:21

The next question I want to ask, and I asked this to everyone I've been doing these interviews with lately. And what makes off the hook bookkeeping difference. Everyone in the industry says I'm just a bookkeeper. I just have a bookkeeping business bookkeeper. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. And you were a we've just explained so much more than just a bookkeeper. But your business is also more than just bookkeeping. So yeah. What would you say makes you makes us different? Yeah.


Amy Hooke  26:58

Yeah, that's actually an interesting one. Because there's sort of two sides of that. Just a bookkeeper coin. Like, firstly, there's nothing wrong with being just No. But if you're if you're literally just straight up, like I just do compliance, and I do your bas, and I don't do anything like management reporting, or budgeting or anything like that. I'm just compliance. Like, that's actually fine. I think there's been a wave that came throughout industry, like really trying to, you know, make people feel like compliance work is not real work. It smells the crunch work, and that it's going to disappear because of automation. Well, guess what? It's all still here. Yeah. And it's not actually going anywhere. And so I think, you know, I don't think there's any problem with


Angie Martin  27:40

that. And I have a problem with saying that I'm just, it's just the way people say it where I'm like, No, you are not so much more.

How do I raise my profit IQ as a bookkeeper?


Amy Hooke  27:52

Yeah, that's right. Whereas if you saying I'm just I'm just a bookkeeper, and I'm okay with that, versus I'm just Yes. Right. And yeah, and so I guess like, another funny side of that coin is that even though I am a bookkeeper, I feel, I mean, obviously, from hearing my story, and that kind of thing, I am also not just a bookkeeper. And when I say not just I mean, I am not only a bookkeeper, like in my mind, I am, I'm a business owner, exactly. Like many of our clients, it's like, you know, this is the bit where I try and say, zoom out a little bit. See, you know, if you've built your own business, like you are a business owner, as well. So I always position myself the very first interaction that I have with my clients with Off The Hook is always that I'm a business owner, just like them. And that, you know, I always let them know up front that they won't be working directly with me. Yeah, I want to set that tone for the relationship. Like Yes, they're meeting me, initially, although don't do initial consults anymore anyway. But I still always set that tone, because as some of you know, from listening to the bookkeeping project, this is the second time I started off, the whole guy actually closed Off The Hook to focus on Savvy, and then decided to reopen it. So this second time around, I realised the mistake I made the first time in that, you know, the clients became so they become addicted to you. So my my plan the first time around, was that the clients would i would do the bookkeeping for the clients, I would build myself up until I was like full up, and then I would hire someone. And it doesn't work like that because you can't hire someone, if you're full. You need the time to train them. Also stuff so it doesn't work. And I've made so many mistakes the first time around that I've applied them the second time around, so I've just cut so many corners this time. So this time I was able to just basically it's about positioning, it's about when you speak to the client. It's like I'm a business owner. And you know, I don't even do any bookkeeping these days, the team will take care of that. But this is the relationship that you and I have. And, you know, let them know that the part that I do is to help them raise their profit IQ. That's, that's the way I like to say it. And, you know, so which can mean so many things to different people. It's not just about, you know, the bottom line, but it's about all those things, that being a profitable business mean to them. Yeah,


Angie Martin  30:28

I think that's the most important. It's what it means to them. Yeah. Because that is very important, because that's different for everyone, just like it's different for every bookkeeper.


Amy Hooke  30:39

Yes, exactly. So I think that's one thing that makes us different, you know, there is that separation between me and you know, like, I'm not the, when the client comes to me, we are equals, in business, I'm not their employee. Yes. You know, the first time around running the business, I was like, I looked at them, like, as if they like, boss, like, I would even refer to them as my boss. And I was like, oh, that just is so horrible. Well, you think of it like that, because what happens is you I'm part of this team, and you'll like the payroll lady or whatever, which is a good job to have, actually, because everyone loves the Pyro lady, but not everyone loves to pay. So pay ladies always a fun job to be in and you know, but at the same time, it's like, No, I'm not you pay lady. I'm not, you know, not your bookkeeper. You know, I'm not your mom, like, Yeah, you do get that relationship and dynamic between clients and the bookkeeper. They treat their bookkeeper, like, it's their mom or something? Yeah, like, no, we're equals, and we're both grown ups, and we're here to actually get your business profitable. And, you know, it starts with having the bookkeeping, tidy up, fixed up, you know, as taking over the maintenance, bookkeeping, and then, and then we get in there, and I, you know, will suggest on a variety of projects that we could potentially work on with the client, and then let them sort of put those in priority for them. And we make our suggestions. And then we, you know, we just work through these projects with with the client. Yeah. And I think that's


Angie Martin  32:17

What I really love about Off The Hook is that it's still very much about the bookkeeping, but then you really can help them, figure out the next step, take it that step. And you really help them understand what like their numbers are actually saying, like, when I talk to Sharon all the time, about, you know, the meetings that we have on love her just going away, you know, this is what I'm doing with this client. This is what I'm doing with this client. Oh, my gosh, this is so great. It's helping them so much. And it just, it really helps business owners, and it makes them feel much more in control.


Amy Hooke  33:02



Angie Martin  33:03

As well. And I like I love with Off The Hook. It's they are hiring you to help them. You aren't crawling to them to work with Joe. Yes, I think that's a very big difference. And it really echoes what kind of clients you get.


Amy Hooke  33:25

That's right. And it's even Yeah, like you said, it's even like, you know, as I said before, we're coming together as equals, but in a way, it's even that, like, I'm the expert in this field. So I always make sure I'm very careful not to because what can happen is you can go from like, you're my boss to the other way around. You don't want to, like fiddle them. You don't want to be bossy, or Yeah, and look down on them. Because what can happen is a business owner, this was actually like a lightbulb moment for me. I always thought like, you know, I did a podcast episode about it. I did it one called p iita. clients. Yes. So how do you deal with these clients? And you'll hear me sharing that. But I had this like wake up call because I did it. I did it what like a 180 flip right? From being like, you're my boss to like being on your boss, basically. And like and what I failed to recognise there is these business owners. They're just not good at bookkeeping. So what can happen is we can accidentally view them through the lens where we think they're a bit of an idiot. Mm hmm. Because of some of the things they do. Sometimes they'll do really bad things and everyone can relate to some of the ridiculous things that clients do. But you have to remember, this person is just as much of an expert in what they do as you are and what you do and you have to respect that you have to because otherwise it comes across as you know, you don't want it to come across like you're talking down to them because that can flip it the other way. They'll look at you and go you talking down to me but you're just my bookkeeper. And because it can cause offence. So you have to be very careful to go to really respect the fact that they are superior to you in their profession in their space, and that you're superior to them in bookkeeping. And you come together like that, but you still like, I, you're an expert in this, but I'm an expert in this. And you, you know, you need to have a level of authority with them without being bossy, or condescending. So it's a it's a bit of a fine line, and it means you got to get to know.


Angie Martin  35:30

Yeah, that's such a good point, cuz you're completely right. And it's the same. I talk to people all the time. And I mentor people all the time in savvy and AI. And people are always just like, I ask these questions to them to pull things out. And they kind of I had one the other day, it wasn't from Savi. It was from someone else. And she's like, I just feel so stupid. I've never realised this. And I was like, well, that's what I'm here for. That's what I'm good at. You are good at this. I can't do this to save my life. That's right. But I can do this. And I'm good at this. And it's the same with bookkeeping.


Amy Hooke  36:09

And you got to be really careful not to overwhelm them. Because what we don't


Angie Martin  36:13

I was just gonna mention


Amy Hooke  36:14

just slightly, you know, just like I grew up my whole life, knowing those things that I've been taught by my accounting teacher in high school, most people didn't hear that a lot of people didn't take that in. Most people didn't come home from that, that class that day and say to their mom and dad, I won't be an accountant. I would just probably like, Oh, my gosh, accounting, get me out of here. I hate numbers, right? Yeah. So a lot of the population


Angie Martin  36:37

do a lot of the population don't find numbers and financial figures, they find it immediately just thinking about it. Their heart races, yeah, in the vast majority of people.


Amy Hooke  36:53

That's right. And it can trigger people's feelings from school, you know, people say, Oh, I'm not good at maths. And it's like, well, you don't need to be good at maths, honestly, you just need to take it one step at a time. And I think what happens is with bookkeepers, because we've got so much expertise, what can happen is and you know, this is another thing that would make us different is we bone ram stuff down their throat, and you might not even realise you're doing it. I used to do this without realise very self awareness. Sometimes I even used when I was truthful to myself. And I think I say this in the PRT a one clients one as well, is that I what I used to do is I used to try and scare the client a little bit. So what I would purposely try and overwhelm them a little bit so that they would know that they have no clue what they're doing so that they would, you know, kind of let me be the boss of that. And that is a big mistake. Yeah. So what we do now is, so when a client comes to us, okay, so you have to realise 90% of new clients are rescue jobs, right? So firstly, you've got it help them to make peace with the fact that their accounts are a mess. And you do it in a way that, you know, you just say when when people say because they think they're the only one, right? So you want to know, I always say to them what it's all right. Because Did you know that like nine out of 10 of our new clients accounts are in a mess at some level. So you're normal, and they're like, the breath of relief to start off with. But the second thing that you need to do so then we do a health check, which I have done a couple of podcasts. And I've done a programme on it, which has been like very, very popular. And so what we do is we do a health check. And it's part of our like bigger picture of that forging process, what we do is we diagnose all the issues in the file. But from when once we've diagnosed that we don't like we do it and why we don't overwhelm them, right. So what we do is we present them, these are the mistakes we've found. But the most important thing is that we take over and get the day to day bookkeeping rolling over. But some of these things do need to get addressed. So what we'll do is as we get the hang of the day to day stuff, we'll start to work our way through it. And then that way, we bring one thing to them at a time because if it's because when it's too much, like you've got to remember when you come to someone and you show them all the things that are wrong with their file. Firstly, like the big, you know, that list of stuff, they don't know what most of it means. And the one thing that I will know what it means they might think to themselves. But I trusted my bookkeeper or I trusted my accountant, why didn't they pick up on this? Or my wife was doing it? My wife, yeah, whatever. And so what's happening there is you're going to remember this, all these other dynamics going on behind the scenes, you don't want to just like throw everything at them. They're completely overwhelmed. They might be traumatised because maybe their brother is their accountant or something like that. So you just got to go you just go one thing at a time. You know, you just start with the basics, which is they have the ongoing stuff just has to keep going, you know, and I know more it's gonna pile up. More Yeah, that's right. And everyone kind of thinks, oh, but I can't do everything until everything before that is fixed. It's like, No, you can. And so that's what we do we get the current stuff and the hand, and then we start, you know, going back and reconciling, you know, it's always the GST and the payroll, you know, intercompany, loans, things like that. So we always go through, we go back and figure that out, bit by bit. And you know, we don't have to rush into everything. And that way, we have a chance to build the relationship a bit with the client before we bring more information to them that might trouble them. Yeah. Yeah, I found that's made a huge difference. You know, it's, I've stopped, like, I used to have a lot of aggressive clients before. And now I'm starting to think like I did. Yeah, in some ways I had contributed to that, because I overwhelm them. In some cases, I did it on purpose, because I wanted them to. Yeah.


Angie Martin  40:51

You want them to understand the magnitude of the issue.


Amy Hooke  40:55

That's right, you gotta be out, you have a much unique wisdom in the way that you'll fly. Yeah, knowledge to them.


Angie Martin  41:02

What happens a lot with people is if things get done wrong, and it's your business, it's very easy for bookkeepers to get their aggression, not bookkeepers, sorry, business owners to get their aggression and defences up. Because even though you're not, you might not be trying to do it. In the bookkeepers point of in the business owners point of view, their business is their baby. And anytime anything is found in a fault of it, it's like you're attacking their baby. So they naturally get their defences, of course, yeah. And that just adds to it. So as long as you can, and it's money.


Amy Hooke  41:41

See, the thing is, if you say to a bookkeeper, like if a if a client says to any bookkeeper, like, Oh, I'm a little bit, you know, nervous about someone being able to see how much money I'm making. Yeah. And as bookkeepers we'd say, like, we don't really even pay attention to it, like we see so many numbers to us, it's not money, it's just numbers on a page. Right? And so we just go on there, that's very different story. It's very different for the business owner. And so what like, what I've recognised over the years is that money is the most personal part of like, any most painful and personal part of this person's life, there will be things that your client will tell you that they have not told their partner, I have not told their family, you will know things. So you actually let you know, we're as bookkeepers, we're in a very confidential position, where we do have a lot of information about the client. And, you know, recognising that, to us, it's just numbers on a page, but to them, it's their money. And like money can make money make can make people go crazy. Like, if their money or their financial stability gets threatened in any way, they can flip that out, right? So you just you've just got to tread carefully and recognise that this is already a painful area. And so I've, you know, so many bookkeepers have been abused by clients over the years that I've seen, you know, conversations going on. And this is why because when you start, like, you know,


Angie Martin  43:12

it's like poking the bear.


Amy Hooke  43:15

That's it. If you go off and you poke a bear in the eye with a stick like that, bears gonna get really angry and like trying to eat you.


Angie Martin  43:27

Yeah, it's just a different way of looking at things. And I think off the hook does it really well. And you've put all the systems in place that the entire team does that really well. Which I think is just really, a really great way that off the hook does things differently as well is that it's really ingrained that that's also just the culture of how you talk to clients off the hook.


Amy Hooke  43:55

Yeah, that's right. I think I've realised over the years, dealing with my own stuff, you know, like when you become a bass agent, one of the requirements is that you need to have your tax returns up to date. So I had an entity which had belonged to my family that I kind of neglected a little bit. So I had to sort that out. It's like, it's really confronting, it's really painful. And then if someone comes to you and goes, all right, you have to fix all of this right now. And you have to pay all this money to the tax office, or whatever you have to do. It's scary. It's painful. Yeah, know what you're going to be up for. And I think like, if you've ever, you know, like, being through that situation, you're yourself, if you've ever had an overdue tax return or anything like that, like obviously, as best agents were not allowed to. So that's the upside, agent, you got to stay on top of it. But before I was the best agent, you know, I didn't need to sell so I thought, well, I'll get right into it. And going through that experience myself, going through the experience, so fly, you know, knowing that someone else is gonna want access to my financial so for example, When I decided for myself that I needed to hire a bookkeeper, and then to trust your clients with, you know, with everything that, you know, I can trust my clients to a bookkeeper, but do I want? Who do I want seeing my personal finances? Like the whole thing I've been looking at as a business owner. Yeah, that's right. So I've gone through that experience myself now. So I kind of have that sensitivity towards them. And I'm like, No, you just have to, you know, go through the motions. Exactly. Yeah. And also, they also, they're all back some bad people, big people out. So there's a minority, but they're the ones that like, take all of your time, you know, obviously, with off the hook as well. So the other difference would be that we're selective on who we work with, we're very clear, I had no target market the first time around, it's like, if I have a wallet and a heartbeat, then I'll work. Like, all I wanted was just to get clients. But you know, what I did was ignore some of the red flags, which now I can see them so clearly. So there are people that I will not work with, hmm, and you know, we have a pretty good filtering system in place now, so that we don't even need to. So just make make that I don't make it through to the initial console anymore.


Angie Martin  46:16

So it makes it makes a difference. And it's kind of like the same process of hiring someone, like over the years, you've really done a really good job of also narrowing down to hire team members is not you know, you are picky. And you're picky. Because you're thinking about your clients at the end of the day, and


Amy Hooke  46:35

I've got a hectic hiring process, which I'm going to be sharing with you guys next, early next year.


Angie Martin  46:41

I know I'm very excited. But you know, you do the same kind of process when you're looking at clients new onboarding new clients, because they need to work with you guys. And your team needs to work with them equally. And if one piece is out of joint, then it doesn't work? Well.


Amy Hooke  46:58

Yeah, that's, right.


Angie Martin  47:00

Yeah. So I think it's really great that you have and again, guys, when we're saying like, her ideal clients, it's not a certain industry, it's more of the type of business and the personal person.


Amy Hooke  47:10

Yeah, outlook on their business, you know, one of the biggest things is that they have to, they have to care about their own business. And to that, there's a point where, you know, obviously, our value proposition for the bookkeeping industry is you take care of the business while we take care of the books. And so yes, that that is true. However, the business owner must take responsibility for their finances, and they must engage with it like, you know, yeah, we work with people that want to look at financials, they want to understand it, I want to dig into specific numbers. You know, they might not want to spend much time on it, but we still want someone who's willing, yeah, who, yeah, unless they're the type of business some businesses do not need that, you know, for example, we've got some business coaches and models and things like that, and those type of businesses, they just want to do their thing and give it to you. And they don't really need to, there's not much decision making that needs to happen, which is fine. With those ones, that's that, you know, that's all good, but it's still a certain type of person, you know, they, they're people who respect DOS, they know that they don't know what they're doing. They're happy for us to take over, you know, they, you know, they communicate in, you know, in a nice way. Yeah, easy to make.


Angie Martin  48:31

It makes a big difference. And I think.


Amy Hooke  48:33

Oh my gosh, work with people that you like, that's how I deal with I mean, with the Savvy clients, it's the same as what I, you know, what I do we do, we work out, like, what we work with people who share similar values, we work with people, you know, even if they don't necessarily share our values we like, I like working with people that I like, it's just so much easier.


Angie Martin  48:55

Yeah. Well, it's nice that you'd like that you have things in common that you communicate successfully. Yeah. That's, I think the biggest thing, because if you can't communicate successfully, especially with what we do, yeah, it's it's not going to work.


Amy Hooke  49:14

And especially when you're dealing with that city barrier, or dealing with a money, yes, yeah. No, I


Angie Martin  49:20

love that. Thank you for sharing all that. I'm loving this episode.


Amy Hooke  49:26

It's good.


Angie Martin  49:27

The last question I wanted to go through we kind of spoke about it around about buy wanted, like straight up and ask you so you can give like a straight up answer for everyone is why is helping your clients become more profitable, so important to you? And this is kind of a question I kind of again, I'm cheating a little bit on what it's kind of a two prong because it's for off the hook. And it's for savvy because this is just everyone. It's so important to you and it's such a passion for you. So I thought I'd do Like, straight up and go, Why?


Amy Hooke  50:05

Well, because I, I guess some of it ties into my own personal journey and sort of and ties into the type of work that I've done with clients, like so for a personal perspective, and I don't know if this is a female thing or, you know, certain generation thing or whatever, but I think that as women, we feel like we should be in business for something other than to make a profit. Right. So, my daughter purloin. Yeah, that's right. I had a point where I was like, you know, obviously, you know, when I tend to realise things, I go a little bit to like, the other end, and then I come back to the centre. But for me, it was a little bit like, hang on a second. What like, why am I here? Why? Why did I start a business? Okay, did I start a business to make new friends? No, did I start a business so that I could? I don't know, like, be popular? Or did I have one? Or did I do it? Because, you know, I love spending all my time in meetings or whatever knows, like, none of these things are actually true. Like, yes, of course, I'm friendly with people, you know. And if I become friends with people that I work with, you know, yes, that is a bonus. But when it when you peel it back, it's like, Why do people start businesses, they started to make a profit.


Angie Martin  51:23

And whatever that means to you.


Amy Hooke  51:24

Whatever that means, to them, it doesn't always mean money. But it has to also mean money. Yes. But so for me, the money. I've always put money, money's always been a very secondary thing for me like it, you know, in the days of like, contracting freelancing. In bookkeeping, it was very much like, if I had the opportunity to work hard, or have a cruisee life, I'd go for the cruzi life like, Oh, so you know, for me, it's like, okay, there's other things that usually take priority, but it's like, but you need money, that's the thing, like you need money to keep the business going, you need money to, you know, pay your staff and buy your stuff, and whatever. So I think for me, I've always seen money is a means to an end. Mm hmm. You know, the money is the vehicle that helps you to do whatever the other things are, which can vary for everybody, but you still have to peel it back and go, the business still needs to be profitable, you know, yes, profitable in all these different areas, but it also needs to be profitable in the money area, like that,


Angie Martin  52:27

so that it can be profitable in all of the other areas. Exactly.


Amy Hooke  52:31

Yeah. So yeah, I think it's really important. And you know, people say stuff like, oh, cash flow is more important than profit, and all that sort of stuff. It's like, it doesn't matter. If profit or cash flows more important, what actually matters? Like Yes, cash flow is important. And yes, profit is important. But what what I mean, when I say profit, is that after everything is paid, you get your income and your expenses. And after everything is dealt with, you want something at the end. So if you want to call that cash surplus, or if you want to call it a profit, you know, they're both good things, and they're both very much needed for, you know, for a business owner to have that. It's like, if it's not a profit, well, what is it? It's a loss? And is that what you want? No. But the thing is, and this really shocked me, I'll have to pop the link into Somewhere I read the Small Business ombudsman published something, I think it was 2019. The percentage of businesses that are like profitable is actually like the the profitability of businesses in Australia is actually not that good. I'm not even safe, I can just like real quick, get up here on the screen. Because it kind of shocked me like, I'm going to just ramble, like, some random numbers, I won't make the numbers off. But it shocked me. So what it was was that this business is the categories that I record in is that the business makes 25,000 a year profit 50,000 a year profit, or more than 50,000 a year profit or something like that. And there's way too many in the lower end of that scale. So I will look for small, we will


Angie Martin  54:10

I'll make sure that that link is in the podcast notes for you guys. So you can take a peek at that because that is something I know we've discussed that internally that link quite a bit because it's really shaken, you know, and really helped savvy focus on what Savvy does, because yeah, bookkeepers help businesses to accomplish this and fix this.


Amy Hooke  54:34

Yes, that's right.


How can I help my client’s businesses reach their potential?

Angie Martin  54:35

Which is so important. That's why you know, Off The Hook is such an important part of what off the hook does, because obviously, that's your way of directly helping businesses.


Amy Hooke  54:45

Yeah, that's right. Exactly. Yeah, it just when I saw that, it shocked me I thought how, how do people survive if this is their profit, like this is normal. And so you know, obviously, like You know, I have moved past, you know, in the beginning, I kind of wanted to help everybody, like, I'm one of those people that can try and help too many people. So, you know, I realised my goal is not to try and help struggling businesses, right? Like, I don't want to, you know, I realised because at first I was like, Oh, I need to help all of these businesses. And then I thought, No, I just want to help the ones that are ready to be helped and want to be helped, and that they're in a position to kind of, you know, help themselves or, you know, they've got to have a good business. You know what I mean? Like, and this is not,


Angie Martin  55:32

I'm gonna relate this to like, a really weird topic. Just hit my head, actually. Um, so when you think about someone who is a drug addict or an alcoholic, yes, they can't be helped until they are ready to be helped.


Amy Hooke  55:50

Yeah. So it humility, it takes humility. It's the same ready thing when needed? Yeah, I think


Angie Martin  55:56

it's very much the same kind of concept. You can't help a business unless the business legitimately wants to help itself. Yeah, that's right. And it has a lot to do you know, with, are they ready to equip themselves? Are they ready to be a bit, you know, show some vulnerability say that they need help. And it's very ugly. In the strange way of connecting the dots the same kind of attitude?


Amy Hooke  56:23

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's fine. Yeah, it is definitely an outlook like, yeah, we wouldn't limit yourself to a specific industry. Hmm. necessarily, although there are certain industries that we can do a very good job for, but definitely a personality, type of person and outlook and attitude that none person would have. Yeah, sure.


Angie Martin  56:46

I love it. That's a this has been such a great episode. And what I'm actually going to let everyone in on is that I have gone to our community in I heart, bookkeeping, and actually went through and asked what you guys want to know about Amy, and questions from you guys. And we actually got such fantastic questions that we've decided to do a whole separate episode, going through the questions and really giving you guys the focus on time with Amy to go through these questions, because some of them are just, I can't wait for the answers, to be honest. So what we're going to do is we're going to leave the episode with my three questions. And then we're going to continue next week with our discussion. And go through I have right now one, two, I for people that have done more than four questions that are amazing. So if anyone wants to put in their questions for next week, yep, go to I heart bookkeeping Facebook group, if you're not already part of it, join in a part of it. To apply to be a part of it, make sure you answer all the questions, because we want to make sure the community is a really healthy and, you know, it adds something to use. So we make sure that it's the right people joining so if you answer all the questions, you'll be admitted, if you don't answer the questions, guys, I can't admit you. That's how it works. So make sure you answer the questions go in the actual question section is popped up at the very front of the page. It's easy to find you put any any last minute questions for Amy. And I'm leaving it open to talking about bookkeeping, business ownership, anything. I've got a couple cheeky questions that are great. And I've got some very serious questions that are just really incredible.


Amy Hooke  59:03

Socially, you can ask anything?


Angie Martin  59:05

Yes. So if it's something too cheeky, we'll make a bit of a funny thing about it and they might move on. You know, ask the question,


Amy Hooke  59:13

I'll talk about everything.


Angie Martin  59:16

So that will be next episode, which I'm super excited about. But I just wanted to say a big thank you to Amy again. Joining us and sharing your story. I know it's always a little bit intimidating to be interviewed by someone. Oh yeah. Honestly, when you are used to


Amy Hooke  59:36

I get way more nervous getting interview then yeah, actually hosting


Angie Martin  59:41

It's a whole other topic. So thank you so much for doing this. I can't wait for next episode when you answer our clients questions and it's great to have you on episode again.


Amy Hooke  59:54

Thank you so much. And thank you everyone as well for listening. It's good to be back and chatting to you all.


Angie Martin  59:59

Yeah Awesome. Well until next time, guys stay safe, sane and Savvy.



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