Tech talk for accountants Catherine Tindall
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Everything You Need To Know About Covid Tax Credits

We talk about how automations improve workflow, especially with advancing the process of claiming the Employee Retention Credits, resulting in better client satisfaction.

 

0:00 Andrew Lassise

Tech talk for Accountants show, your host Andrew Lassiste with tech for accountants IT specializing in the accounting industry. With us today, Catherine Tindall and we’re gonna be discussing a lot of things about the covid tax credits, things that you can be doing to navigate the ever-changing tax landscapes which I’m sure is impacting a ton of people especially since last year with the PPP and EIDL, and all these other things that everyone just had to all of a sudden be an expert on.

0:38

So Catherine, how about you give everyone a little background on your entrepreneurial journey as a woman business owner? 

 

0:51 Catherine Tindall

Yeah, thanks for having me Andrew. I’m a bit of a tech geek on top of being a tax law geek so it’s always nice to get the opportunity to talk about both in the same space.  The firm that I work with Dominion Enterprise Services, I’m the founder of the firm. I have another partner in the firm. 

1:09

I really had a vision for this practice to be tax advisory work and  I always wanted to have something that was going to be a very sustainable practice for myself, for my staff and for my clients and so implementing technology was a really big part of that. A lot of the thought work that I put into the practice really early on was around, how do we develop systems to make things really seamless for the clients and then for the staff. Because as anybody in tax knows, we have a very limited window of having to do a lot of work during the busy season so I lean on technology a lot to help lighten the load of that.

 

1:54  – Andrew

Any specific apps that are crucial, aside from the normal tax apps that you really lean on? 

 

2:06 Catherine

It’s becoming a lot more popular from what I’ve seen other practitioners do is implementing a workflow software pretty early on. The one that we use in the firm is called Karbon. A lot of people are familiar with it. Intuit practice management is the same piece of software. But I found owning that piece of software and taking advantage of everything that it could do and really doing the thought work involved with how do you engineer a system and then use the piece of technology to support that has been really instrumental in the firm.

2:43

We use Karbon in the firm but I think all the workflow softwares are pretty comparable depending on what your situation is and it’s more about taking the time to do the thought work and then implementing it correctly.

 

3:26 Andrew

We’ve had the same CRM for eight years and just the other day discovered, you had to upgrade to it but you can have all these integration,  like a docusign alternative. 

4:06

We could have been doing this for a long time or whenever that feature came out. But the deeper you dig into these things the more that you can discover and ultimately the easier it’ll make your life.Even if you’re saving a few minutes here and there, minutes turn to hours turn to days and it’s not so overwhelming.

4:49

Are there any specific workflows that you can think of that have been really beneficial? 

 

5:09 Catherine

One of the ones that I absolutely love, so we use a lot of Zapier in the firm too because we use a lot of like interconnected web apps. I have automatic Docusigns and I have automatic things going on with presentations and document collection and all that kind of stuff but my favorite thing that I converted into workflow was our sales process. It’s not something that I always see other accountants do and I think it’s something that it’s worth treating a prospect-to-sale process as if it’s like a tax return. Where you have set steps that you go through and that it’s a very clean experience for someone who’s a prospect so they know what’s going on. Also you know as a partner in the firm, it takes up a lot of my time so to have things like capacity budgeting for sales, it’s really helpful. Because then people can see what I’m up to and it just gives a much cleaner experience to the prospects and I think for them it makes them feel how organized you are because everything’s just so well laid out, well explained and kind of pre-engineered.

 

6:29 Andrew

I am in love with Zapier. If they went out of business, I’d probably just retire. They’re like,  “It’s the 10th of the month and you’ve used 30 000 zaps”. It is the best. I mean one week of somebody on salary and you get so much more done and most of it’s not rocket science. That’s what I was actually pointing to, alluding to the Docusign integration with Zapier. When we are finished with the deal and the next step is automatically sending out the Docusign with the information from the client, it would make sense, that is actually the automation that we did in our CRM, just with a different product.

7:49

I absolutely love love love that product and it saves you time, it saves wages, it saves so many things. And your restrictions are essentially just what the API can do, so you’d have to pay a programmer to do it. Love Zapier for anybody looking for workflow automation. 

 9:13

Back into the sales process, what does that kind of look like in your firm?

 

9:28 Catherine

One of the things I learned pretty early on in starting my own practice was that I was really good at certain things with tax. That was my experience with it, doing planning work, doing tax returns but learning how to do sales like it’s a completely different business discipline. So for myself, I invested in doing coaching and getting trained on it because I figured I don’t want to have to start from scratch and recreate the wheel. A lot of the things that are in my sales process come from the wisdom of other people who are much better salespeople than I am. That’s part of how I engineered that process.

 

10:16  Andrew

And that’s one of the skills that they don’t really teach you when you’re in school. That was one of the discoveries I had pretty early on doing IT and it started with just me and my living room and then grew and grew. But as a business owner I really have no business doing tech-work and that’s our experience. I hired people better than I am and they’ve really taken it and brought it to the next level. 

11:51

So growing the business and lessons learned along the way and not just the “I can be the practitioner”. The E-Myth Revisited is..

 

11:54 Catherine

 Oh I love that book. That was a big inspiration for a lot of what we do.

12:40 Andrew

So the Covid tax credits. Obviously, the government’s been putting out a lot to support small businesses and people over the last couple years because of all the craziness of Covid. What are some of the things that maybe you see that are being overlooked by others or maybe under utilized? 

 

13:09 Catherine

The big one for us and it actually does tie back into technology is the Employee Retention Credit. I’m assuming pretty much anybody who’s listening in at this point is familiar with the credit but if you’re not, it’s a payroll tax credit. It’s basically to reimburse employers for hardships experienced during the pandemic. It is credit that you can go back and collect  and it’s up to ten thousand dollars per employee per quarter that qualifies. Obviously there are a lot of caveats and there’s complex calculations involved because there are interactions with things like the payroll protection, loans and other things to prevent double dipping. But what we’ve done in the firm is automated a lot of the back end process of how to process the ERC claims and then get them filed. We’ve actually been partnering with other CPA firms because there’s a lot of capacity issues in my industry. So we’ve been able to partner with other firm owners and get them processed really efficiently just because once you get it over to the IRS, now you have to wait for another however many months for them to process it so the sooner you can get them in it’s just a lot better for the clients. And a lot better for the firm too because we’ve got it so automated that it’s not eating up our capacity to do them.

 

17:03 Andrew

You know you were talking about partnering with other CPA firms and literally that was our own experience with the ERTC. He referred us to a firm, sounds exactly like what you’re doing where they work together in tandem and it’s taking months to come through. The IRS is so backed up on things and if only they had automation. I’m sure they’ve got something in place. It just goes to show how beneficial having these automations are. I don’t claim to know what they do and don’t have.

20:34

So using ERTC, huge thing! I’m grateful that it was brought up to me because it was a sizable chunk. Does it get directly deposited like PPP and EIDL?

 

21:11 Catherine

 I believe it’s usually a check back in the mail.

 

23:17 Andrew

So you’ve been in the entrepreneurial space, if you went back in time and talked to Catherine when you were first starting or if you were talking to somebody, what direction would you put them?

 

23:50 Catherine

For me the biggest thing looking back, was really engaging with coaching programs and things like the E-Myth that really reset my mind about what could be done.  Because I had a lot of limiting beliefs about what a tax practice could look like. If I had to go back and start again, the two things that have hit over the head with me is, don’t DIY things, find somebody who already is an expert or already knows how to do whatever it is the thing that you’re trying to do and just have it done correctly the first time. And then find models that work and copy them instead of trying to recreate something from scratch because it’s just going to take you so much longer. Another one that I like surprisingly connected a lot with, if you’re familiar with Russell Brunson with Clickfunnels, he has a book  if you probably go on his website. I think it was like funnel secrets. So one of the things he talked about was funnel hacking, find other people or industries who are doing what you want to do and just find ways to copy them instead of DIY-ing everything and recreating. It’s just much more efficient so it’s just a lot of those kinds of principles I found over time. Use a product like Karbon, they’ve already engineered it, it’s already been tested by other people and it works right.

 

26:26 Andrew

 I ‘m gonna have to check out funnel secrets but my marketing bible is Dan Kennedy’s  Magnetic Marketing.  There are pieces of it that are very similar I would imagine without having read the book but knowing what Brunson stands for and how clickfunnels works, the sensationalism and the grandiose claims. Everybody says my clients are different, this will not work for me and they say that without ever trying it and statistically you’re so incorrect because it’s a human thing, it’s an emotional thing. A lot of purchases aren’t necessarily like the analytical that’ll be a piece of it but there’s also just that feeling that we get. If you have the good service and fulfillment on the back end then if anything you’re helping them in the way that they want to be helped and it helps your business. We went from basically no sales from the website directly and last year between 100 and 150 but people that became customers and happy customers who then referred us to other customers because we did a good job. I threw out the misconception. 

30:12

So we hit on E-Myth, a great book. Funnel secrets, I’ll have to check that out personally. Dan Kennedy’s Magnetic Marketing is from my side, anything else that stands out to you? 

 

30:29 Catherine

For me early on is when you’re on your own, it’s easy to get discouraged so finding a community of other tax CPA’s that were doing similar things and in the same headspace was extremely helpful. It’s really tough when you start your own business even if you’re a really experienced technician in it. It is overwhelming how many other things go into it that you weren’t expecting and having a community to be able to talk to other people and get that encouragement and see other people’s wins. I found that to be really helpful in keeping me going through the hard parts and also just giving me a much bigger sense of what it could be. Especially post pandemic, there’s a lot more of that available online, some really awesome facebook groups out there for whatever kind of sub-niche of accounting you’re in or just any kind of entrepreneurship. One of the groups that I enjoyed the most was a digital marketing group not accountants at all but just the mindset and being able to see people in other spaces really helped open me up to considering more things that maybe I thought I was above and you’re not. Marketing is its own discipline and there’s a lot of intelligence there that you can use. You have things to learn from everybody and having that spirit of humility and seeking out community is just really important to success. 

 

32:33 Andrew

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more and I’ve gone to just random conferences just trying to pick up things here and there. I don’t recall where the recommendation came from but they’re like, go to tractor conferences and see what tractor owners are doing and see how it could apply to you. There’s always progression, there’s always new things you could be looking at.

34:36

I think we can leave off with there, I want to be very conscious of your time Catherine. Where can people find more about you online? 

 

34:44 Catherine

So if you’re another practice that’s interested in our ERC partnership feel welcome to visit the website. I’ve got different places you can connect there, also I’m pretty active on Linkedin so anybody who’s interested in keeping up with a similar professional. I always like meeting other people in the same headspace, please connect with me on Linkedin. I’d love to meet you and I always get my best news and updates from what’s going on in my feed.

 

35:19 Andrew

It’s like my feed too. I’ve just given up on the news.  Anyway, Catherine, thank you so much for being on the show! As always if you enjoyed the show please be sure to subscribe, hit the like button so you get notified when we put out new episodes that come out every Monday. We put those fun clips on that Linkedin platform so you can see all week long the great things that Catherine had to say today. So take care Catherine! Thank you for being on the show and have a great day!

 

 Catherine 

Thank you too, Andrew! It was an absolute pleasure and I really enjoyed it.

 

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