Going niche requires a strong understanding of the business you want to help. And when you’re going niche collaboratively as a team, the devil is truly in the details.
For Michael and Mindy Levy of Bean Counter 4 Hire and Tate Henshaw of Polay + Clark, combining forces for Food Truck Accounting was a labor of love. Establishing this niche was underwritten by a passion for food trucks and a belief that they could make a difference for these small business owners with unique needs.
Previously, we talked about how the Xero community created their collaboration, but when it comes to building a successful partnership, the details are what count. So in the next two posts in this series, we’ll share how they made this collaboration work. What steps did it take to create a seamless connection with the client and provide them the right outsourced accounting solution? How does technology help them be better advisors? We’ll take you through the four key steps to making any partnership work and show you how Bean Counter 4 Hire and Polay + Clark kickstarted their success.
Establish the boundaries of the collaboration
From the beginning, the alignment between what Bean Counter 4 Hire and Polay + Clark offered was a perfect blend. The distinction of what everyone brought to the table, the roles they would play and the work they would each do for their shared clients was clear.
“This collaboration is perfect, because we specialize in the day-to-day operations, but we don’t do tax,” says Michael Levy, Co-founder and CEO of Bean Counter 4 Hire, a full bookkeeping and payroll firm. “We wanted to partner with a firm that had that experience.”
Tate Henshaw, Project Manager at Polay + Clark, a tax firm with a full staff of CPAs who handle compliance and tax work, also knew it was the right fit. “As a firm doing upward of a thousand tax returns a year, we knew if we had a good partner, we could scale that up. When Michael mentioned they worked with food trucks and knew about the advisory piece, I just knew it was something that could really work.”
The outcome was a fully outsourced accounting solution for clients that covers everything from the day to day bookkeeping and payroll to compliance, sales tax and tax returns. The division of work and where Michael, Mindy and Tate intersected was an easy split. Each firm brought their established business and processes to the table. The next step was building the right way to share clients, made easy by the technology they used – including Xero. But as far as the client was concerned, they dealt with one entity: Food Truck Accounting.
A team where the bookkeeper and the CPA are in continuous communication, in the same files every day, means faster response times and less back and forth. Which ultimately means more time back in the day for their clients, the one asset small business owners need most.
“With this collaboration,” says Tate, “we’re able to talk directly as things are happening. As the client brings things up, we get them handled — versus it being months later. It’s a very tight working relationship, and compared to the traditional bookkeeper or CPA relationship, there’s just no comparison.”
Understand Your Clients’ Needs
That ‘one service’ feeling was really important to establish, as the ability to provide an online, always accessible, tech-based accounting partner for their food truck clients was a must.
“These guys are moving around all the time,” says Tate. “They’re not in an office. They don’t even have the option to sit down at a desktop computer in their office every day and get on some kind of desktop product.”
So it was important that Food Truck Accounting offered a solution that worked within their continually changing, never-the-same days. In addition, they knew a food truck’s mobile nature presented even more challenges they could help with. From providing the right data to help clients uncover year-round revenue opportunities in states where weather plays a key role, to managing multiple sales tax rules and rates for different counties, often in the same day.
Food Truck Accounting needed to provide that full end-to-end solution, with seamless communication on their clients’ schedules and access to the real-time information they needed, when they needed, wherever they might be.
Michael, Mindy and Tate saw the unique needs of this niche client base clearly, and they knew that their collaboration together offered a robust way to meet those needs. How can you create this in your own business? It comes with understanding what you do best, and what you don’t – then finding the right partner to match your skills and build out that robust offering. You can only do that with a strong, clear understanding of your clients and their specific needs.
Those are just the first two steps to putting this into practice. Next steps include building the right technology stack, which sets the foundation for a successful advisory relationship with your clients – stay tuned for our next post in this series.
The post How these two firms built a successful niche advisory partnership – part one appeared first on Xero Blog.