Andrew Lassise was joined by H. Randy Hughes III, of Counting Pennies, on this episode of the Tech Talk for Accountants Show. They talked about jargon free communication, technology, and much more.
You can listen wherever you listen to podcasts, below, watch on YouTube or read the related article below.
Who is H. Randy Hughes III and his company?
Randy grew up in Maryland and now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, which is also where the Rush Tech Support Headquarters is. Randy is an enrolled agent and CPA. He started his business around 2002 and it has grown from just him doing compliance work to a team of six in 2020. His company focuses on:
- business advisory services
- tax services
- tax resolutions
- CFO work
- and more
“We also help with educational webinars,” he said. The next one on the topic of how the wealthy pay minimal taxes can be found here.
“You are a strategic partner and helping business owners,” Andrew said. “I’m passionate about decommoditizing the work that we do. It’s a big topic. There’s so much value in working with somebody who knows their stuff. It’s more than price.”
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Why does jargon free language matter?
“The point with that is that we want to make sure people understand what we are talking about,” said Randy. “Let me give you an example, when somebody is talking with us about getting their bookkeeping done. They don’t care about a bank reconciliation. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “honey, I think I’m going to go out and get a bank reconciliation today’. That’s just not what people say.”
But people are interested in not getting a letter from the IRS saying that they owe fines or that they are subject to jail time. Or they want to spend more time with their family.
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“We become translators or interpreters,” Randy said. “We know all the backend language. We know what a reconciliation is and what it does. But when we talk to our clients we become that interpreter and they can see ‘Oh, I’m actually paying for x,y and z.”
To be jargon free, remember that “business owners are smart,” Randy said. “I’m not talking about speaking to them like they are 3 or 4 years old. But just communicate with them in a language that they understand. Small business owners wouldn’t be where they are if they didn’t have intelligence. But sometimes they speak a different language from what accountants do.”
In remote tech support, Andrew stated, we run into the same thing. Rush Tech focuses on using the right language for our customers.
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“None of my clients have ever asked me what the DHCP service leases will look like on the new server,” Andrew quipped. “It’s extremely important, though. At the end of the day, they get mad when things break. So we focus on things not breaking.”
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Certainly explaining things in a manner that is understandable helps.
Randy says his firm tries to be benefits-driven as much as possible for their client.
“We know as an accountant that an asset sheet is important,” he said. “Taking what we know the document does and then translating it into something the business owner can relate to.”
In 2020 with COVID, for example, a lot of business owners are looking for loans. In a relationship of using clear and jargon free language they now know what’s needed, Randy explained. “Here’s the document your loan officer wants to see and here’s why they want to see it. And they say ‘oh, yes, that makes sense’.”
“It’s about being proactive rather than reactive,” he said.
Think of when COVID hit, “we weren’t looking for balance sheets. We were looking for advise,” Randy said. “If you were a gym or a restaurant you were looking for solutions. How do I isolate this table, for example.”
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How has 2020 shaped technology in accounting?
“Overall it’s been good for accounting,” Randy said. “Think about the typical transactions we’ve had. Sit across the desk, bring the paperwork you have. 2020 and COVID and the whole social distancing thing they have to look at technology.”
Overall, Randy said, that’s not a bad thing.
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“Now more people are comfortable with” working with clients remotely,” Randy said. “It actually has made our service delivery easier. People are more open to getting on Zoom now, getting on Skype. A year ago ‘no, no, can you visit me in person or send this to me through the mail’?”
Of course, firms can still meet in person and mail things, but the increased familiarity of remote meetings due to COVID has made that interaction easier.
Face to face virtual meetings
“It has made processes easier,” Randy said. “It has made people more open to being open to doing things in a way that helps us expedite.”
Of course, it’s always been a possibility to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Randy said he prefers Zoom meetings so you can have a face-to-face meeting and see each other. On video meetings, you can see some of the body language and other gestures of the other person.
“It can help us deliver a better experience for our client when we take all that data in,” Randy said.
Andrew mentioned that Zoom meetings can also help with time. You are cutting travel time and arrival time, for example.
“I could have been doing so much more had we cut out travel time, small talk, etc.,” said Andrew. “On a call you can have a hard stop, which is much more accepted now and then get on another call.”
How about moving forward and 2021?
“A lot of what 2021 looks like will depend on what we are doing right now,” he said. Some will have to pivot. At the least, we have to adapt to what’s happening and be flexible.
“How they react now will be huge toward their 2021 results,” Randy said. “Think outside the box. What does that mean? Maybe it means professional development.”
Sometimes you have to hit the reset button. “The plans we laid out for 2020 are now completely different,” he said. “I can say let’s weather the storm or I can see what I can do now to be ready.”
Soak in what others in the industry are saying and use that information to your advantage and go into 2021, Randy said.
How about technology
Of course, business owners want to save money, but we also need to practice good information security. Randy reminded us about the potential issues with public wifi.
Prevention can be much cheaper than cleaning up the mess after malware or ransomware issues.
“Prevention can be annoying but so will it be when you have to email all your clients alerting them of a data breach,” Andrew warned. Also keep in mind that many data breaches get covered in the press. We even share headlines here.
“You don’t want that No. 1 Google search result for your company be that data breach result,” Andrew said.