They met at a Xero event.
It was a chance meeting, where they stood next to each other in the valet line, brought together by a shared excitement to learn and network with their fellow Xero partners. The Xero community is known for its “camaraderie and collaboration,” says Tate Henshaw of Polay + Clark. So when he attended the Xero Roadshow in Atlanta, Georgia in November 2016, he knew he’d find partners with a shared interest in tech-focused growth.
It was there that Tate and Michael Levy from Bean Counter for Hire struck up a conversation, and the rest is, as they say, history. That moment sparked the discovery of a shared desire to grow and scale their businesses into a certain niche and help small business owners they were both passionate about serving.
That niche? Food truck accounting.
Their goals? Provide an affordable, full service solution for food truck owners that helped their clients–as well as their firms–grow.
“I had been thinking about food trucks for a while,” states Tate, on the niche focus that brought these two firms together. “The industry makes a lot of sense with cloud applications because the actual business itself moves around. Having seen this work for musicians and athletes who travel the majority of the time, I just felt like it could work.”
Just like Tate, Michael and his wife, Mindy, had seen the potential and opportunity in helping food truck entrepreneurs. “Our Food Truck journey originated from our love of food trucks,” recalls Michael. “We have spent a lot of time studying the food truck industry in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Nashville and talking to food truck owners about the unique challenges of owning and operating a truck. This led us to create custom accounting solutions for the food truck industry.”
They’d already started building an awareness and marketing platform, Food Truck Accounting.
But each firm faced challenges making that a reality on their own.
“Our biggest challenge was putting together a service package and cloud-based tech stack that would be affordable for the food truck owners and meet their unique needs,” recalls Mindy Levy. “For example, the sales tax alone presents a unique challenge since the trucks will often operate in different locations throughout the day, each with its own tax rate. We needed to find a way to make sure that information was being accurately tracked.”
“I was concerned about staffing the day-to-day operations if we really wanted to go after the market,” adds Tate. “Being deeply integrated into two niche areas already, I worried if we would be able to add a third and do it well. When Michael mentioned his interest, a light bulb went off.”
A match made in the cloud
A meeting was set in Nashville, TN where Bean Counter 4 Hire is located — as well as the first client for their shared venture.
It was truly a match made in the cloud: the Xero cloud.
“We ultimately both came to the conclusion that we should work together to provide a combined service package,” Michael says.
Tate recalls, “Michael wanted to do all the things I was worried about doing. And our firm could augment his with our CPA services which would enable us to offer a one-stop shop solution to owners.”
Michael saw the same solution. “Bean Counter 4 Hire could provide the Bookkeeping and Payroll services and Polay + Clark could provide Sales Tax and Tax Return services.”
Once the decision was made, it was time to focus on their aligned goals and how to provide the best experience for their shared clients, helping them grow their business, understand their profitability and for both Bean Counter for Hire and Polay + Clark, really working together as a team.
“Our goal is to provide the financial insight into profitability per event, location and potential new revenue streams,” Michael says. “By having this information in real-time we can enable them as business owners to make wise financial decisions such as whether to obtain a loan to open a second truck or brick-and-mortar location.”
“I knew communicating would be easily achievable since we would both be looking at the same Xero file,” Tate adds. “It just seemed like a win-win-win.”
Making it work
What makes a partnership like this work? A solid tech foundation based in Xero and a shared set of values in business. Because Xero is built with collaboration in mind and with a powerful ecosystem of integrated tools, combining forces with another firm to serve a client becomes achievable and a means to grow their businesses, together.
“Anytime you go into a partnership, you’re relying on someone else,” says Tate. “If we fall behind on our work it affects Michael and Beancounter, and vice versa. I think knowing that my values and Michael’s values align on a personal and professional level gives me confidence to enter such a partnership and excites me about where it could go.”
“What I love most about the Xero partner community is that we can all support each other in growing our firms and helping our clients to grow their businesses,” Michael concludes.
Stay tuned for the next installation of this blog series, where we dive into how Bean Counter for Hire and Polay + Clark make this partnership work.
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