Episode #024 The Bookkeeping Project Part 5

Initial Consult

Amy talks about the importance of the ‘initial consult’, dealing with challenging clients and finding your ideal customer.

The real message of this story is: “Think about what you really want in your business, then ‘stick to your guns’”

Podcast Info

Episode: #024

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke

Guest speaker: None

TopicThe Bookkeeping Project Episode 5

Useful links
Read transcript

Good morning. Happy Friday. Thanks for coming back to join me again today, and guess what it is? It's the fourth Friday of the month, which means it's The Bookkeeping Project update, so we're up to our fifth month. Can you believe five months has gone past already since I started this project in January?

So much has happened, and so today, I've got a couple of different things that I want to talk to you about, and so we're going to be talking mainly in the sales area. I'm actually excited. I do have a salesperson, a person who's an expert in the sales industry. I'll keep that a bit of a surprise. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, we'll have this person to come on and specifically talk to us about the importance of building a sales pipeline and things like that.

Doing business in the right order

Now, in The Bookkeeping Project, you'll hear me go on and on about doing business in the right order, and so you might be wondering what is the right order, and this is what I think the right order is. It's basically business plan, so it's six steps. Business plan, pricing, branding and marketing, sales and onboarding, services, and team. Number one, business plan. Number two, pricing. Number three is branding and marketing. I combine those two together because they're very closely related. Number four is sales and onboarding. Also very closely related. Services, which is actually delivering your service and sort of the customer service side, so that includes the bookkeeping and making sure that your customers are happy, and then after that is team.

The reason that they go in this order is because what I found in my own personal experience running a couple of businesses is that when you try and do things in a different order than that, what can happen is you start to try and work on something at a certain stage, and then what you keep finding is you keep getting stuck on that specific thing that you're trying to complete, and what I started to notice was that, “How come I keep getting stuck and I have to keep going back?”

If anyone's ever had a consultation with me, you'll see that when I share my screen, I have quite a lot of tabs open, and so what I would find is that I was having to always open these other tabs and work on something else that was stopping me from finishing this specific thing I was trying to work on. What I started to realize is that it's just because there is an order to do things in, and so the business plan comes first because that's the foundation, so the business plan and all that's part of the business plan as well. If you get a copy of my business plan and strategy template, you will see that it actually has six sections to it, which are those six stages or step that I just named.

When I say business plan, what I mean is to quickly go through and have a look, so you start off with the bigger picture, then you look at your pricing, then you work on your marketing and your marketing plan, and then your sales strategy, and then from there, you look at the services that you're offering, and then you also look at team, building a team. I'm talking about HR. I'm talking about training your team and all sorts of things that are involved with that side of things.

Yeah. What I found was that when I started doing things in this order, so you do your business plan first, and then you do your pricing, then you do your marketing and your sales. Now, you might… Obviously, it makes sense to do marketing before sales, but a lot of people don't really think about doing pricing before they do their marketing and sales, and the reason you need to do that… Obviously, once you have a prospect sitting in front of you, a potential clients, they're going to want to know how much you charge, so you need to already know what your pricing is.

Now, obviously, if you're on an hourly rate, that's pretty easy. Just show up and tell them your hourly rate, and that is completely fine, and you don't need to be on packages. You don't need to be doing value pricing. You can be on an hourly rate and you can literally just say, “Okay. I'm on an hourly rate,” and that's your pricing part done. However, I would say it's not exactly done because you still need to look at your income goal, so part of working out your pricing is looking at the big picture of where you want to go with the business overall, what kind of income you need.

In the pricing section, when I've been working with bookkeepers in The Bookkeeping Project through the pricing step, we don't just look at how to create pricing packages or decide whether to go hourly or not hourly. It's actually about working out like what salary you need to be on or what salary you need to pay yourself because a lot of us are actually just taking drawings from the business. We're not actually paying ourselves a salary, and so what I encourage my clients to do and the members of The Bookkeeping Project is to do pricing in a way that fits in with the big picture.

Even if you're on hourly, what you want to do is you want to have a look at the big picture and just see how much you need to pay yourself. A lot of bookkeepers that I've worked with, they don't even know how much they need to pay themselves because they're so used to just taking drawings from the business. Because they're a sole trader, they've never actually thought about like, “What even is my home budget?” and so I always recommend to get an app called Pocketbook.

Pop that on your phone, and you can just… Next time you're sitting around, not… just chilling out or something like that hopefully often or hopefully this week, then you can just… You connect your bank feeds, and you can just allocate all of your expenses. It's quite easy to quickly categorize them and then… things and then it will just tell you how much you spend each week. It's a very quick way of doing that without having to overanalyze, and go through, and like measure transactions.

Yeah, so once you know how much you need to pay yourself, so obviously, everybody in The Bookkeeping Project seen… I've shared my business plan. I've shared my pricing strategy. I've shared what my income goals are in the next… I always look at one, three, and five years, and how much I want to pay myself as a salary, so I've done that first, and then the importance of doing that first is because when you want to start to do your marketing, so people just think all marketing like I just have to find new clients. That's what they think marketing is.

Really, what you need to do is… So part of the business plan, step one, is working out your niche, working out the kind of businesses… business owners that you want to work with, and then step three, marketing is about designing everything… designing a message so that you'll speak to those specific types of people, and then once you have figured out, “Okay. Who are these people?” and in the pricing step, you've already worked out, “Okay. How many of these people do I actually need?” So whether you're an hourly or packages, you're going to work out, “How many packages do you need to sell to get to your income goal, or how many billable hours do you need to be able to get to your income goal?” That's how that works.

Sales process

So then, what you do is in… Then, into the sales step, you can build a sales forecast, and what you can do is you can work out, “All right. Well, if I need this many clients,” and then you can break it down, so you'll start to see. Obviously, you adjust your forecast as you go, but you'll start to see that you have a certain conversion rate. For me, if I don't qualify my leads at all like if I just chat to anybody in the initial consult, and the initial consult is one thing that I'm going to really focus on talking about today. If I don't qualify my leads, my conversion rate is about 25%, so out of every four people that I speak to, one will become a client. That's been my conversion rate.

If I qualify my leads really well, it can be one in two or even 100%, 75%, 100%, and so that's why I really want to talk to you today about the importance of the initial consult because I had a couple of consults this month, which really shed some light on how much I've grown in my own business. Since closing down the business the first time, seeing how much I've grown and how much I've learned, but then also seeing parts of me that haven't really changed, and so that was a little bit confronting. I'm going to talk to you about that in the next part.

Then, obviously, I've talked about step six, which is about building your team. Again, you need to understanding the pricing section is about working out your overall budget and how much income you want, and most people have never thought about, “Okay. If I have this many new clients, how many staff members do I need to meet the capacity, the demand of that?” That's something that I help the members of The Bookkeeping Project to do to map all of that out and to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

There are six pieces in this puzzle of building a business, and you've just got to find out which way they click together, but it's about doing things in the right order. When you've got those in the right order, it's sort of like… I guess when you're doing a puzzle, you want to have the box like the cover of the box. If you don't have that, it's very hard to finish the puzzle. You could probably do it, but if you don't have a picture of what that puzzle looks like when it's finished, it's going to be very, very hard to do that. It's going to be a lot more work. Whereas if you can see that overview, it's going to help you to be able to plan which area to work on next, what to focus on, and the right order to do things in.

Let's get personal

Anyway, I guess that was a little introductory teaching that I wanted to put in there because this is the core of what The Bookkeeping Project is about, so now, let's make it… Let's take it… make it personal. Let's make it about what I've been doing with off the hook bookkeeping. I've had quite a few new prospects come through this month, and the prospects come in from all different ways.

Sometimes, they'll fill out a form on my website. Sometimes, they'll just make a phone call, and so that's not something that's tracked through my website, so I do have a couple of things on my website that are there to qualify the leads, so I had… I ran a first month free offer for a little while until… like up until the end of April, and so I did that last month to… Yeah, just as people were coming through to actually pre-qualify them before I got on the phone to them.

Initial consult form

That was cool going through that process because it made me really think like what are the key things that are going to matter when… like what I realized is when I get to my initial consult, there are certain… There's a conversation that I have with people, and it tends to be around the 15, 20-minute mark, and I go through a very specific… I go through a form basically.

I don't tell them I'm going through a form. I just have a conversation with them, and I fill out all the answers on the form because everything on that form is there because I need to know the specific information, and also, I like to get a sense of how open people are to sharing information, and so everything in that form is there for a reason, and I do ask them quite personal questions. I ask them how much their turnover is, and I ask them to give me access to their data file.

I will never take on a client without looking at their data file first, and that's just one of the rule-of-thumbs that I have because… Also, I won't quote a job… Well, I'm going to say I won't quote a job without seeing the data file, but this month, I broke my own rule. I did do a quote without seeing the data file. I went off what the person said, and then I had mentioned to him the phone like I said to him on the phone that I need to see the data file. But then, at the end of the call, I got a little bit distracted, and I'll tell you why in a minute.

I got distracted, and I didn't actually get him to give me access to the data file, but the thing is… So what I did was when I actually ended up sending the quote, I said, “This is pending viewing the data file, so please send me access. Here's a video to show you how to do it.” Of course, I wasn't surprised at all that he did not do that, so I was thankful in a way, but anyway so… I'm going to go back into that story in a minute, but so I started to think, “All right. What are some of the things?”

I started to think of one of the main reasons, so as I said, one… I meet with four people, and one person comes on board, and that's been pretty consistent for me, so I've brought on a couple of clients in the last few months, and I've met with quite a few more than that, so I'd say like approximately one in four.

Yeah, so what I've been learning in those meetings is that… Yeah, I've started to see that there are things that I always ask. There are things that I always want to know, and I've started to notice that there's actually a pattern in the people who say no to me, and so I started… I always ask the person why they reject the proposal. I always give them a quick call and say like, obviously, follow up to see… “Have you made a decision yet?” They may or may not have already told me, but I say, “I just love to get some feedback about what made you decide to go with somebody else,” and obviously, keeping it friendly so that… but people are always happy to share.

What I found consistently is that the people who say no, they don't want to provide tax invoices, and I probably mentioned this before in another podcast, but anyway, I've realized that it's people who don't want to provide tax invoices, and when they see my… So we have the conversation on the phone, and I send them the proposal. They read the proposal, and then I have a section there where I've got a couple of points that really focusing on things that are… They're basically deal-breakers like these are the things that I expect from them and these are the things that they should be free to expect from me, and I basically go through… and one of those is that they'll provide tax invoices.

I can tell you like there's quite a lot of business owners out there. I mean, I really think I would say… I wouldn't say it's three in four as in all three who say no, so it's roughly like one person would be not a good fit. Maybe they're not on the right software or they want an on-site bookkeeper. Two would want to not… They don't want their bookkeeping to be detailed. They just want someone to quote off the bank statements, do it quickly, get it done. They don't really want to… They don't really want any kind of accountability. They don't want the online filing system. They don't want to… I don't want to say this too bluntly, but they don't really care or believe that there's a possibility that they'll ever get audited, so they're just like, “Oh, I just need the numbers sort of done,” and that's fine.

I won't go into that. I've talked about this like ad nauseam on many of my other podcasts about asking clients for tax invoices, but the way that I like to do things is to have the tax invoices, and the software makes it much more easy to do these days, so they're only saying excuse for it, but I do notice that there is a pattern.

Let's say two… Like let's say 50% of the people that I've been meeting with not willing or wanting to provide tax invoices, so I thought, “Okay. What if I screen those people out before I get on the phone to them? Like what if I kind of put stuff on my website to scare them off, and what if I… the initial inquiry form, I put… I start to put information on there that's going to filter these people out?”

Using your contact form and website to filter people out

That's what I did, but obviously, sometimes, people bypass the system because they might just pick the phone and call, so it's not foolproof, and also… Yeah. Anyway, so basically, I figured that out. I was like, “Okay. What does it look like in the very kind of broad stages of what it looks like for someone who's a good fit for my business?”

Firstly, I don't do on-site bookkeeping, so it's got to be cloud software. Xero is my preferred software. Although, I've actually decided after all these years to branch into QBO, so I'm now offering QBO as part of my service offering, so it's basically like the questions are, “Which software do you use? Are you willing to be open and honest with our team?” Then, “Are you willing to provide tax invoices over $75 plus GST?” and then, “Who currently does your bookkeeping?”

It's like four really basic questions, and then I've got this email sequence behind the scenes, and so what the email sequence does it filters them in a hierarchy, so I'm like, “Okay. Like which is the deal-breaker here?” Basically, if someone replied on a form on a website, and just so you know, this form is part of the, “Do you qualify?” It's like, “Do you qualify for you first month free? Find out,” and so that's why they would fill out that form.

The first question is, “Would you be open and honest with our team?” That's one of the questions, so what I do is I get it to… So basically, if someone wrote no to that question like firstly, I would just think like that person is like a bit of a weirdo. Like even if you plan to be dishonest with the team, if you actually said no to that question, like to me, that's really strange, so what I do is like I filter them out.

If they say no to that question, that's the first filter. They just drop off. They don't even get an email from me. I thought to myself, “I'm not even going to write an email for people who will write no to that question.” Basically, if they say yes to that question, they go to the next stage, and the next stage will then say, “Are you willing to provide tax invoices over the threshold of $75 plus GST?”

If they say no, they receive an email, and they say, “Thank you.” It basically just says, “Thank you for applying to see if you qualify for your first month free bookkeeping. Unfortunately, you don't meet the criteria. We require all of our clients to provide invoices for anything over $75 plus GST,” and then I give the reason for that, so I say, “Obviously, we like to protect our clients and make sure that in the event of an audit that they're covered.

In that case, we always ask our clients to provide tax invoices,” and then I say something at the end like, “Perhaps you weren't aware of this, but if you'd like to take the questionnaire again, here's the link.” I give them a second chance basically because some… not everyone knows the importance, so I think, “All right. They might have a second chance, and they'll go through and click ‘Yes,' and that's good, or they might go, ‘Oh, I'm not doing that,'” so I think it's good to do that.

So then, once they've got past that step, so if they've said yes to the tax invoices, then the next one is, “Which software do you use?” Depending on their answer, if they say Xero, then they're basically straight through. I give them a thing and say, “Congratulations. You qualify,” and then I give them the terms of how they qualify, and I explain what's included, what's not included. If they say another software aside from Xero, I say, “There's a good chance that you do qualify, but we actually need to have a conversation with you, so please book an appointment.”

That's like my filtering system, and yeah, so that's actually been really good. I guess just going through this process has made me think to myself, “Look, what really matters like in my business? What are the kind of key things?” and really like thinking about who I like to work with and who I don't want to work with because when I first ran the business the first time around, like I had some… like I don't really know where on Earth my clients were coming from like the people I ended up working with and… They came from various sources. A lot came from my website, but some came through an accountant that I knew, and I just like the kind of people that we're working with very much like… sort of like this guy that I'm going to tell you about.

Dealing with difficult calls

The initial consultation that I had this week, like it actually gave me flashback speaking to this guy, so I'll just give you a little bit of the example actually. This guy left a message. Obviously, I always get excited when a lead comes through. I sound like, “Oh, I can't wait to talk to this person.” I always research their website, and see what they do, and look up their LinkedIn profile, and stalk their Facebook page, and all that something first because I like to show up knowing a bit about the business and that kind of thing.

I got on the phone to this guy like expecting, hopefully, he's going to be a really nice guy. Yeah, so he said… like he basically… like he sounded like… I don't know. Like he sounded quite frustrated and he said, “Oh, yeah. I just want to find out how much you charge for bookkeeping,” and I was thinking, “Gee,” like… I felt like… I don't know. I don't know. To me, it feels like how you might feel if… I don't know. Like someone you didn't know like tried to kiss you on the mouth or something. It's just like, “What the heck?” I don't know. Like, “We don't even know each other, and you're trying to…” yeah. Anyway, so it's just like… I don't know. It was quite strange to have someone like that. Obviously, you get people like that a fair bit, but he was really like, yeah, just the way that he spoke straight off.

Straight away, like the moment I heard his voice, I thought, “This guy is not a good fit,” straight away. Anyway, so I started asking him questions and just going through the form. I said, “Look. Do you have 5 or 10 minutes? I've just got some questions I need to ask you so that I can give you a quote,” and then I said to him… I don't know. Like I got to like the third question. It was so funny trying to get to the end of the form.

It's just like every question I asked him, he told me like a pretty like detailed story of like information I didn't really need to know, and so I got to the question where I asked him, “How many staff do you have? Do you have any staff?” His response was, “I got…” He said, “Uh, I got rid of my wife a couple of months ago,” and I was like, “What? You got rid of your wife a couple of months? Like what a strange thing to say.” It's just like, “Oh my gosh, like what do you mean?”

Anyway, I sort of like quickly figured out that what he meant was that his wife had been working for him in the business. Anyway, he got rid of his wife. Okay. Lovely. Charming, and then the next thing after that… So I asked him. He kept telling me how easy the bookkeeping was going to be, “Ah, there's hardly anything there. It's going to be really easy. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like really easy and whatever.”

I was asking him like… I always ask the ABN, and the trading name of their entity, and the legal name of their entity, and things like that. I couldn't get a straight answer out of this guy like… So when I asked him the name of the entity, he's like, “Oh,” like it turns out, I don't know. I think it turned out he's got like 20 different trading names off of the one company, and they're all different types of businesses sort of in that advertising space, and I was just like, “Okay.”

To me, it sounded very complicated, but he kept telling me how easy it was, but then he wouldn't like really… like he kept diverting every time I tried to ask the name, the various names of his businesses, but I saw… I heard one of the names, so I looked it up on the ABR or whatever. I saw all the trading names and things like that, and so yeah, he was just… like he was quite evasive giving information out and that kind of thing, but the funny thing about all of this in the process is like every part of me was just like, “Just get off the phone,” to this guy.

The thing is like I am not… I don't think I'm a very confrontational person so like I don't like to be like super direct with people because I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Even if they are hurting my feelings, I'm just like, “Oh my gosh,” like I don't really know what to say to this guy like… and I think to myself, “Well, like I can give the guy 10 minutes of my time like I don't need to be that defensive,” but I just wanted to get off the phone.

Anyway, I got to the end, and I mentioned that I need to see the data file and things like that, but obviously, by the time we got to the end of the call, I was like, “I don't…” I didn't even remember to ask him for that, and I told him that I put a quote together and send that through, and so anyway, I put the quote together, and based on what he told me… So I asked him, “How many transactions you have?” and stuff like that, and so I've got a bit of like a cross-check thing that I do, but anyway, I worked it out.

He reckons he was up to date and that sort of thing, but I just thought… Yeah, so I put together, and I think if what he said was true, it was only going to be like… The onboarding was only going to be about $150, and his ongoing fee is only going to be about $170 a month or something like that, so this is like a teeny-tiny little client. Anyway, so I sent him through the quote, and then that's when he started to come back, and he had like all these different questions for me and sort of like interrogating me about like my skills and my expertise, and how long I've been doing bookkeeping, and like have I done it before, and all this other thing, and I was just like, “Oh my goodness.”

I guess like… Obviously, we've all had this kind of experience, and the funny thing is because… My husband actually said to me… I said, “Oh, this guy.” I told him the story, and I said, “I've put the quote together,” and my husband is like, “Have a look in his data file,” and I'm like… So that's why I actually added this like, “By the way, I still need this,” and so it was so funny…

After all these years and all of the hard lessons that I've learned, here I was willing to just send this guy a quote based on not having a look at his data file. My husband said, “Don't trust what he's saying. He's obviously proven himself as not trustworthy because he hasn't told you the truth about anything. And the way that he spoke about his wife and stuff like that.”

Anyway, but then the next thing he turned on, sending me all these emails, sort of interrogating me. And then I never heard from him again and I was thinking, “Oh my gosh. Thank you.” I really didn't want him to contact me back. And I guess it really made me question, how do you approach something like that?

And I guess I just go through the process and then I sort of know this person's not going to go ahead. And I always think to myself, “Well, if I just quote them, they're going to think it's too expensive, they'll just go away.” But this is not a good way to run a business. And here I am after all of these years in the same spot.

And it's really quite funny because I sort of … I mean with Savvy, I don't really have this kind of issue with clients and, I don't know, because … I don't know. I mean, I guess I found my niche. The kind of people that I love working with are people that like to collaborate, people that love to work together, people that really want to and need to find meaning in their work.

And not just people who just sort of do stuff for the sake of it. But I like to work with people who really have a sense of purpose and want to find a sense of calling in their work and that kind of thing. And the kind of people that I don't work with are these kind of … I don't know. There's people out there, and I mean since I've been working in the bookkeeping industry and working with bookkeepers, the amount of people who I've worked with who are like this, very few. But kind of entitled people, I can't stand it when someone … when people just kind of come to me and go … They sort of have this attitude like, “I've given you my money, now give me what I want.” And I always think to myself, “I don't care how much money you've given me, you were never entitled to … You don't own me just because you've paid me a sum of money.”

The sum of money that's paid to me gives them the right to collaborate with me. That's the way I see. I see it, the people who work closely with me and follow the advice that I set out for them and follow the systems. They bear fruit. These are the people who do really well. I have had some clients in the past who they refuse to follow the advice that we lay out for them. They don't want to follow any of our suggestions. They want to do things their own way. But then on the flip side, they're sort of like, “Oh, just do this and do it now.” And, “Where's my thing?” Kind of thing.

And I've seen a pattern, the people that try and work like that with us, they don't succeed in that particular thing that we're trying to do with them. And so that's the kind of people that I love to work with. I think the point where you pay me money is the point where you get to work with me because the people who get to work with me, they do get results and it's not like … I don't know. It's not like a Midas touch or anything like that. But I do feel that, you know the Savvy Bookkeeper … There is an anointing on our business and there is a certain type of … It's just what I've observed. I've just noticed that the people that come on board and collaborate with us, but not just collaborate with us, also let us get on with our job. These are the people who do well in the areas that we focus on.

And I always think to myself, the people that come and butt heads up against me, which was a lot of the clients in my old business. Whereas now, the clients that I work with in Off the Hook Bookkeeping, now these are clients, they just let me get on with my job or they love working together with me and they trust my advice. They see me as someone who's an expert in what I do and I respect them in the same way. And for me, that's just what works. Not everyone likes that. And not everyone has to like working like that. And this is not wrong at all, some people just like to show up, do a job and go home at the end of the day.

Whereas for me, my work is such a huge part of my life and is part of who I am and so for me, I just … I don't know. Just they're the type of people that I want to work with. And so when someone comes up and they're just the complete opposite, I'm just thinking, “Oh my gosh.” And then obviously, within me, I want to be kind to the person.

And I guess there's a part of me, even this man, to me this guy was quite revolting, in the way that he spoke and the way he spoke about his wife and just how disrespectful he was in general. And how he really just was … I don't know. He kept telling me how easy it was.

And I just said, “Look, with all due respect, I'm the bookkeeper. I don't allow clients to tell me how easy it is. I always like to look in the data file so I can make a judgment for myself. So I hope you don't mind.” I don't know, that's fairly direct for me. So some people might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, I would never say that to someone.” But for me, that's actually quite direct. But I probably couldn't be more forthright than that.

But I guess I just have to learn to say, “Yeah, look, I actually … Just from what you've told me, I don't think that you'd be a good fit for our services.” And that's probably the nicest way that I could say it. But then there's this part of me, and some of you might relate to this, is that when someone comes along and they're kind of revolting and ugly and rude and angry and resentful and just kind of horrible.

There's some part of me that, I don't know why, I guess … I don't know, maybe it's part of my faith or something like that, but I feel this compassion for them as well on the flip side. Obviously, I've just told you this horrible experience I had with this guy, but there's this part of me that goes … I don't know. I guess I can reflect on my own self throughout various times in my life and how ugly I've been. And I kind of think to myself … I don't know. I mean, I feel that I experience a lot of grace in my life given the type of person that I was and the type of person even that I can still be in my own heart. So obviously we can all behave nicely on the outside and that kind of thing.

But I guess on some level, every one of us holds unforgiveness in our heart or gets resentful of people, gets offended easily, or whatever. And it just happened that this guy came along and I thought … I don't know. I don't know if this is weird, but sometimes I look at someone like that and I think, “Oh my gosh, who's going to want to help this person?” Nobody.

And so part of me, even though I'm always going on about find your niche and get your ideal client and stuff like that, there are these people out there … And I don't think they're anybody's ideal client. I don't know, please don't laugh at me. You might think this is really sad, but I kind of think, “Who's going to care for these people?”

They're so like offensive that it's like, “How are you going to have a productive, healthy working relationship with someone if you speak like that when you don't even know someone?” You're telling them that you got rid of your wife. And just this part of me just thinks, “Well, on the flip side of everything, who am I to judge this guy and who am I to actually say … whatever?” I don't know.

So anyway, I'm sure that's probably come a little bit left field. But this is something that I think about a lot. And I'm often always thinking about the things that I teach and the things that I practice in my own business. And then I go through and then I have these real life experiences where I'm like, “Oh my gosh.” We do live in a society where if you don't …” I mean, if you don't behave in the right way instantaneously with someone, then it's like instant rejection, social outcast, get out of my face, kind of thing.

And we do kind of have an attitude in our society of like, “Oh, well, if this person's not giving me positive vibes, then I don't want them in my space,” and things like that. I don't know. It's one of those fine lines. I don't really have the answer. I guess in a way I'm just verbal processing this is on my podcast, so I really hope you don't mind. And obviously hope it's not too confronting.

But anyway, I would actually love to hear from you. I don't know. I guess I'm moving into a space of there's a lot of great clients out there who we can do our best work with, but who's going to help these ugly, offensive, rebellious, people?

I don't know. I still think these people are still at risk, they're still at risk of an audit and things like that. And then you kind of think, “Oh well, the ATO will eventually catch up with them and they'll get fined and they'll learn their lesson.” And I just think, “Yeah, maybe that's true.” Maybe with people like that, you just have to let them keep bawling along and sidestep them.

But anyway, I don't know what it is about me that thinks maybe I could make a difference to this person, but the chances are not … I don't know. Anyway. So don't ever underestimate the importance of an initial consult. I think it's so important and it doesn't even matter. If you're one of those people who is happy to … Some bookkeepers really are … I met a cool lady, actually, who I've been doing a bit of mentoring with, she's really got this attitude of, “I don't care if the person is my ideal client. I'll serve anybody.”

And I was like, “Oh man.” No, it's really cool in a way. She's tough. She's got a lot thicker skin than me. Maybe I'm just a bit sensitive or whatever. And I think working with business owners, if you're sensitive can probably be be tricky. But this lady, I was just like, “Man, that is staunch.” She's just like, “I don't care about how the client makes me feel. I'm there to do a job.” And I'm just like, “Wow, okay. That's just kind of blowing my mind.” That's actually this month that I spoke to her.

And so anyway, having your initial consult, at least it lets you know kind of where the person's at. The questions that you ask show the person that you care, that you're interested and also that you're smart, that you're savvy, that you know the questions to ask.

Onboarding process

I know clients like a really, truly process. They like a clear initial consult and an onboarding process. So our onboarding process, it doesn't have to be complicated. Our onboarding process, we use PandaDoc for our initial proposals and then once they sign the initial proposal, they receive a welcome email. It's a PDF, it's a PandaDoc document, but it can be downloaded into a PDF and it's like a bookkeeping getting started guide.

And it covers everything that they need to do in the initial steps. It talks about how they can get assistance if they need it, introduces each of the team members and also introduces some of our other services that they may not have purchased yet. So it's kind of a helpful guide document. It's something that they can refer to whenever they need it.

It's got a couple of videos in it and just helps them with some of the basics that every client needs to know when they're starting out with us. And so your onboarding process, the whole thing about onboarding is really just from the moment that they say, “Yes, I want to work with you.” What's the process that they have of coming into the systems that you use? You need to introduce them to the software that you use and your processes and what your expectations are and where they can get support.

And as I said, it doesn't have to be … I don't know. When when you get onboarded into a certain company, let's say you start a new software program, you might get 20 emails over a couple of weeks or something like that. You don't need to do that. It can just be something simple as a single document that outlines everything they need.

It's got links to the forms they need to fill out and all that sort of thing. The cool thing about all of this is that you don't have to figure it out all at once. I haven't figured this all out at once. People often, when they're speaking to me about this, “How do you know all this?” And I'm like, “I don't know. But it's just accumulated over years and years of learning and trying and testing things, and seeing what works and seeing what doesn't work and working with others.”

Business Plan

That's the way it just kind of evolves. You don't have to figure everything out at once. And that's why I break everything down into six steps, because six steps, it makes things seem not as overwhelming and you can just pick one thing at a time to really focus on.

Although, you're always going to be working on more than one thing at a time. That's just the reality. You don't get to say, “Okay, clients, I'm not going to do any bookkeeping work this month because I need to work on my sales pipeline.” It just doesn't work like that. This is real life. So you don't have to figure everything out at once. You just have to do one step at a time.

And so I really recommend to get a copy of my business plan and just fill it out. It's got lots of instructions in there, and the really exciting thing … So the bookkeeping project is still open. The free version of that is still open. We're in the process of building our portal now. So that's very exciting. We're going to have all of the content in there.

Slack channel, pricing mistakes and bookkeeping project

We'll still have the Slack channel, so you'll be able to still chat to us in there. You'll be able to kind of go through all of the different steps within our new learning portal. So we've tested it out. We've also launched. So for those of you who don't know how Savvy works, we've got the bookkeeping project, which is basically working through those six steps.

And then each one of those steps has its own project. So the pricing project is just being built into the portal now. That will be ready in a little while. And so what we've launched in there is our free pricing costs. That's been going since last year, but it used to be based on email. Now we actually have it in the portal as well. And so we'll be adding a few extras into there than what was originally in the email series.

And so it's called Pricing Mistake. So basically it's five major mistakes that bookkeepers make with their pricing. And it just goes through and talks about what those mistakes are, what is the solution. And then each of the five mistakes has an action step that you can take so that you can start to … Once you see what these mistakes are, you'll think, “Oh my gosh, I'm doing those exact same mistakes.” And then it will just show you how to solve that so that you don't have to do it anymore.

So I'll pop a link in the notes and you can join that. So it's thebookkeepingproject.com/pricing-mistakes. That should get you there. If not, check the link that I've put in.

STP Project

And then the last little thing I want to share is that we have launched the STP project.

So this is something that came about, you can listen a few podcast episodes back, Savvy. So myself and my team, we've partnered with MC [inaudible 00:17:06] and Katrina [inaudible 00:17:07] who are two fantastic bookkeepers who absolutely love payroll, absolute guns at payroll. And they also are really good at figuring out scalable workflows and things like that. So we've partnered with them.

We've taken basically all of the best, the best of their knowledge and we've turned it into a project at Savvy. And so we have a few different levels of that. We've got a DIY version, we've got a supported DIY version, and we've got a couple of done-for-you versions where we just set everything up for you. And so we did the prelaunch last Friday and we've got … The official launch is this Friday. So I'll also put a link in the notes for you, otherwise you can try and find it.

Savvy.easywebinar/STP-Project, I think is right. But again, check the notes. Don't take my word for it. I'd love it if you can join in that because this is going to be the official launch. I will offer some special, I guess, launch specials. I'm going to throw in a couple of extra things that won't be available outside of the launch. And so basically the whole idea of this is because a lot of bookkeepers have their head buried in the sand about STP. I'm going to have to read this to find this comment. I had someone write to me the other day, this is a client of mine. He said to me, “Hi, Amy. I hope your weekend's been great. I read your post on Facebook about STP and about the 40 hour reduction,” because I posted on Facebook saying, “I can save you 40 hours of work by doing this for you.”

And so he said, “What does this actually mean? I thought STP is just a simple process where you enable the option in your software, like [inaudible 00:18:59]. So what exactly is your post about?” And I said, I just wrote back to him, “Attend the webinar,” because what he was referring to is … I was promoting the webinar. And then I said to him, “It's a lot more than just activating the software.” You're not even allowed to activate the software without them signing an authority to opt in.

So I think this is one of those things where it's just … I don't know. I don't know why the ATO called it single touch payroll, because it makes it sound like it's just, “Oh, just a single touch and then it's done.” But so the reality is, what we used to do is we used to … It's about touch points with the ATO.

So if you think about it … So we think it's more simple. My husband calls it simple touch payroll, just because that's what it sounds like I've said and I'm like, “No, it's not.” So people think that it's more simple because they think at the end of the … Basically, I don't know. Maybe because of the name, they think, “Oh, you just click this button to opt-in and then you just go click, click, click every week or whatever.”

The reality is that we used to report our payroll once a year in the PAYG payments summaries at the end of the year in the PSAR, and then we used to also report the … We used to also report the payroll stuff in the BAS or sometimes monthly for people who didn't IES. But what the requirement now is 52 touchpoints. So instead of four touch points, we've got 52. So if you've got someone on a weekly payroll, you're basically reporting every single week.

And so what that means is the payroll has to be fully reconciled. Sometimes people are doing their own payroll. So obviously you need to check that. So instead of checking the payroll every quarter or once a year, there's actually a lot more. There's more touch points, there's not less. So it's not more simple. It's actually more complicated in a way.

So there's authorizations that you need signed before you're allowed to just click any buttons. So there's quite a lot involved in there. But also, because there's a lot of forms and there's various things that the client needs to do. And also there's different combinations of how it can be done. So if the client opts-in and then you process or lodge, or if you opt-in and the client lodges or if you opt-in and you lodge it, or if the client opts-in and they lodge, there's those four different combinations.

And then there's all extra things in the mix. So for example, if an accountant approaches you and they want you to do the STP, then there's a different process again, depending on whether the accountant … how much access the accountant wants to give to their clients and that kind of thing. So there's a lot of various complexities to it. And really, it's just having a scalable way or a manageable way to even just overview all of your existing clients, which ones need to go on and which options each one are in, and even which options you want to offer.

And then to be able to track where everybody's up to. Because in an ideal world, clients just opt-in and they just provide the information. But everybody knows, and the reality of the world of bookkeeping, is that clients don't put things in on time. They don't necessarily follow instructions. So you need a way to be able to kind of track where you're up to with each and every client.

And the other thing that the STP project offers is a way of marketing your STP services. So MC and Katrina talk quite a bit. They're really big on helping bookkeepers to be able to offer additional income streams and to build their perceived expertise in the mind of the client. And so that's what this project is all about. It's not just about signing authority documents or clicking a button, it's not about the legislation, it's not about the technical stuff. It's not about the software, it's about your business and about how you can make STP work really well for you. So jump on the launch webinar. I'd love to see you then.

I'll see you in another month for the bookkeeping project and hopefully have some cool updates for you then. And so next week we've got a very special month. This week we have an extra Friday in the month, so this is the fourth Friday, but we actually have a fifth Friday. So next week I'm going to have something special for you again, and for those of you who don't already know, I'm also running a series on discrimination in the bookkeeping industry. So check out the last episode that I did where I talked about that.

What's coming up in the podcast

I talked about discrimination between accountants and bookkeepers and some of the misunderstandings that arise there and where I think the miscommunications lie. I speak to a former accountant term bookkeeper and a bookkeeper BAS agent, both colleagues of mine, both clients of mine. Just had a really good, interesting chat there. So I'm going to be continuing this. I would love to, if anyone wants to share anything with me, jump into Savvy Bookkeeper Facebook groups.

So it's facebook.com/groups/thesavvybookkeeper. If you jump in that group, I'd love to hear from you or even on our page, if you want to send a private message, which is facebook.com/thesavvybookkeeper. If you send me a message, I want to know if you've experienced discrimination in your role as a bookkeeper. And so a couple of the topics I'm going to be talking about in the weeks to come, I'm going to be talking … Obviously we've talked about discrimination between accountants and bookkeepers, or discrimination towards bookkeepers from accountants, I should say more clearly there.

I'm going to be talking about discrimination against women in the bookkeeping industry. Which you might think doesn't exist because we're, I think, 85 to 90% female industry, but you would be surprised. I'm going to just talk about that discrimination that happens. But I also want to talk about some other types of discrimination that you might not think about much in our industry.

I want to talk about people who are discriminated against because of their racial background. I'm going to talk about discrimination against qualifications. I'm going to talk about discrimination against … I don't know. I don't know how you put it. Kind of like a class discrimination, I guess. Depending on the background that you've come from. I don't know. My copywriter pointed something out, she said “Postcode discrimination.” And I thought, “Wow, that's a topic I can relate to.”

I never even thought about it until she said that. But, look, I just think that there is issues in our industry that need to be talked about and need to be uncovered. So I'm going to do that over a series of weeks. I guess it's going to be maybe four different episodes or something like that.

So anyway, stay tuned for that. I'd love to hear if anyone's got any stories about mistreatment from clients or accountants, or being mistreated because of being female, being mistreated because you're not a white Australian. Or Being mistreated because you don't have a certain qualification, or because you're not of a certain status. Any of those, please let me know.

I'm not going to counsel anybody, but if you'd like me to share your story on the podcast or anything like that, please let me know. Because I know that these issues do happen in our industry and I know a lot of people are probably silent about it. I guess even we're going to talk about, I know obviously this is a touchy subject, but I really want to … I think that even sexual harassment in the workplace happens as well.

So if anyone has anything kind of in that space as well, feel free to share. The more that you guys share with me and the more that you're willing to participate in this conversation, the better. I think that's going to be really important. Anyway, I look forward to that and I will speak to … I'll speak to you when I speak to you, and I'll see you then. Bye.