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Want to run your business faster, smarter and more profitably? What’s stopping you?

You use a computer. You’ve got a smartphone, laptop, and maybe a tablet. You’re even using an accounting package like QuickBooks to help track payables, receivables, and estimate taxes. So it’s clear you’re not entirely afraid of technology…you’re just not using it to run the rest of your business. Big mistake!

Whiteboards? Spreadsheets? Really?

You’re a contractor. You run a business. How you run your business matters. Whether you do commercial construction, residential contracting, sub or service work, you juggle a lot of moving parts just to keep the doors open and your teams running smoothly. You’ve got to find the work, estimate spot-on to win the work, do the work, bill the work, and still make money.

Spreadsheets Free QB Pro + Knowify Contractor Webinar

How’s that going?

No one likes to leave money on the table. It’s stressful. You’ve got to plan every job carefully, itemize material budgets, schedule crews and then take all that data and create a bid attractive to that customer. Win the bid and you’ve got even more “paperwork.” You’ve got to generate contracts, get them to the customer for signature, create service orders, schedule teams and materials, and so on. Every job. Every day.

Are you running your business like it’s still the ’80s?

Maybe. Or maybe you’ve thrown out your paper ledgers and stepped up to an accounting software package like QuickBooks, which is great when it’s used to its fullest. But even QuickBooks can’t manage your day to day operations. It can do payroll. It can help you invoice. It can even remind you to pay your taxes. But…it cannot help you automate your company’s estimating/bidding process. It can’t help you manage projects, people, and workflow in the field or at your desk. Neither can Excel spreadsheets!

Click here to learn what can!

QBPro Consulting is partnering with Knowify for Contractors, the most cost-effective, complete business management solution for contractors to help you meet your profit goals. Join us on Thursday, February 18th at 2 pm for a FREE webinar just for general contractors, specialty contractors, and subs. Join Dan de Roulet, Knowify’s founder and CPA Rick Armstrong, a QuickBooks Advanced Certified ProAdvisor for a deep dive into how to use technology better to maximize the ROI of your business efforts. Learn how this one-two combo knockout of Knowify + QuickBooks helps contractors like you master and manage your business.

Take action now. Sign up for the FREE QBPro Consulting + Knowify webinar!

Knowify and QuickBooks Online – Today’s Ideal Contractor Business Solution!

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Build Client Loyalty by Delivering What Matters

If you’re an accountant, independent bookkeeper, and a QuickBooks Pro Advisor, you know that your profession is facing massive change — driven primarily by the explosive growth of digital technology. How you operate and how you deliver service matters. It’s not just about anticipating changes that will occur in the market — those already have and are happening. What’s more important, writes M. Darren Root , a CPA, CITP, CGMA and CEO of RootWorks, in a recent QuickBooks Pro Advisor Newsletter, is that “these technologies are changing client behavior and expectations. We’ve officially entered the Age of Disruption,” he says, “where changes in consumer behavior are converging with the advancement of technological tools, creating uncharted territory for businesses around the globe.”

Are you a Blackberry, a Galaxy, or an Apple?

Root cites the rapid rise and fall of Research In Motion (RIM) – the company that created the BlackBerry, as a cautionary tale of a company’s error in evolving its platform to keep up with competitive technologies. “In 2006,” he says, “10 million people couldn’t live without a ‘Crackberry.'” But five years later, they were eclipsed by newer, consumer-responsive technologies.”Now,” he urges, “is the time to make changes to meet the current and future needs (and wants) of your ideal clients.”

Be a Scout. Be prepared!

According to Root, to be ready for tomorrow, and the day after QuickBooks Pro Advisors must:

  • – Understand the wants, needs and purchase motivations of a new kind of client; and
  • – Remain ahead of the curve, as the market continues to experience perpetual change and disruption.

Technology matters. And the technology that matters most is the ones your clients already use, plan to use, or may only have heard about…

“It is imperative,” he says, “to pay attention to what is happening, both inside your firm and outside, in the environment where your clients live. While this may seem pretty obvious, it’s also easy to lose sight of developing trends when you are busy getting the day-to-day stuff done.” Root underscores the need to plan how to respond to client demand for services clients want, but which you may not currently offer, and to lead clients “toward solutions that you develop to completely satisfy their financial needs.”

To better serve clients, Root cites the results of a recent Accenture survey as key to your business’ health. These include:

  • – Analytical skills – Make a point of anticipating trends in the market and changes customer behavior. If your residential contracting client, for example, is giving his team leaders smart devices/pads, think about what financial and/or business management solutions you can offer to help them run their businesses smarter.
  • – An adaptive mindset – Be flexible. See change in your markets and adapt your go-to-market and client service strategy accordingly. According to Root, this often involved lateral thinking about how they could leverage change to grow outside of their traditional core businesses.
  • – Agility – Be responsive. See what’s happening and make the right acquisitions and investment in your organization or practice to take advantage of “ripening” market opportunities.

Most importantly, Root adds, “develop a business model that addresses clients’ desire to have easily accessible services that are connected within a larger ecosystem by integrative technologies and tools such as micro-apps (small apps that do a single function, yet can be connected together to create a completely customized solution)…to create a cohesive and connected experience for our clients at all of our organization’s touch points. Ideally,” he adds, “we should be delivering service solutions that are simple, seamless and salient for our clients, while also providing the exceptional service that builds loyal relationships and an affinity for our brand. It may not be easy, but it is critical to success in the Age of Disruption.”

Knowify is one such solution that can help QuickBooks Pro Advisers keep the playing field level. We’re already helping accountants and QuickBooks Pro Advisors bring powerful project management and automation tools to their construction contractor clients. This not only brings big value to their clients, but also big value to the advisor – client relationship. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

 

May the new release be with you next week

may-the-release-be-with-you May the new release be with you next week

CPA firms look to new services in 2016

Adding new client services will be many accounting firm’s top innovation priority this year, according to the newly-published CPA.com Innovation in Public Accounting Survey. Nearly all firms responding say they want stickier relationships with clients and prospects and hope to do so by adding new services. Moreover, those firms, which already have moved to cloud-based technology (many with 100 staffers or more), report feeling great urgency to keep moving the innovation/value-add needle forward.

The 409 firms responding to the survey divided neatly into the following two categories:

– Early Majority (or early adopters) — representing 178 firms; and

– General responders — representing 231 firms.

CPA.com defines Early Majority firms as those which either have launched a cloud-based accounting practice or made advancements in adding client advisory services. Many Early Majority firms skewed larger (20% were firms with 100 or more staffers), while only 10% of the General category respondents were at firms with 100+ staff.

Adding new service is 2016’s BIG deal

Firms in both categories listed “developing new services” as their top priority in 2016. “The good news,” says Amy Radin, a strategic marketing consultant who designed the survey and presented it at the AICPA’s January 2016 Digital CPA Conference, “is that a solid majority of CPA firms realize they have to change to stay relevant.”

However, she notes, those respondents tend to be from the Early Majority category. A sizeable minority of General category CPA firms say they think they can postpone making changes or adding services for up to five years, if they do it at all. That’s a mistake, Radin predicts. “Beware,” she says, “clients aren’t likely to be that patient.”

What’s bottle-necking innovation?

Time and talent issues were reported as the biggest barriers to innovation. Early Majority respondents may be more likely to have a strategy in place, but struggle to work out the processes necessary to execute that strategy. General respondents report they struggle with strategy, possibly because they are not as far along in their innovation processes.

Either way, only a small number of firms worry about keeping up with their competition. Few feel pressed to respond to a “competitor who is outpacing us.” Nor do they seem concerned that tomorrow’s competitor, invisible today, might be “in their face” tomorrow. The concern is that by not paying attention to their markets and changing client expectations, these firms may become victims of surprise themselves.

Be prepared. NOT surprised.

An off-quoted reason many clients change firms is the unexpected gift of a year-end surprise, or an “oops” uncovered when they review their tax returns to discover they suddenly seem to owe the IRS a sizeable chunk.

Clients hate surprises, and so should you! Be prepared. Even when you are knee deep in tax season, think ahead. What products or services could you be introducing to your clients post March or April 15th that would improve the way they do business? Be a hero! Solidify your relationships.

That’s where value-added offerings like Knowify’s powerful project management and automation tools ensure your clients operate and manage their businesses more efficiently. And efficient clients are happy clients — happy with their business ops and happy with you. Deliver more bang for your clients’ buck. Knowify, which conveniently integrates smoothly with QuickBooks and other accounting packages, brings more value to you and to your advisor/client relationship.

If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

Why accountants and advisors need to do more for their clients

Writing in a recent Intuit QuickBooks Pro Advisor blog “From The Experts,” Edward Castano, vice president of marketing for the factoring company BlueVine Capital, Inc., urged accountants to look beyond their standard accounting and tax services to better serve their clients. He should be talking to QuickBook Pro Advisors too.

Quoting an L. Harris Partners survey on customer satisfaction, he reported that nearly one in three clients (32%) say they use multiple CPA services. This may be, in part, because clients often separate the services their accountants provide them into separate silos, or because the accounting firm may not do an adequate job of promoting a broader swath of service offerings, or because the multi-service firm neglects to cross-sell.

Be a one-stop-shop

Not looking at a client’s big picture is a big mistake. “There are tremendous gains to be hand for your practice and your clients,” Castano says, “by becoming a one-stop shop.

Castano has identified seven value-added services accountants could easily introduce into their lineup. These include:

  1. Bank financing
  2. Business valuation
  3. Cash flow management
  4. Strategic business planning
  5. Succession planning
  6. New business formation
  7. Part-time CFO

The need is there Castano says, and he cites some pretty compelling figures:

  1. A recent QuickBooks survey reports that only one-third of all small businesses get all the funding they need. A big mistake, Castano says, is that they apply “for a loan with insufficient preparation.” Pick up the slack. Take on the burden of producing such loan documents as a business plan, business credit report, income tax returns, and financial and bank statements; and
  2. A survey by B2B CFO reports that more than one-third of companies believe they are undervalued, while nearly one-fifth (17 percent) claim to not know their company’s worth. Pick up the slack. Provide an objective, defensible valuation opinion to clients seeking financing; planning a sale, merger, or acquisition, bankruptcy, or to settle business disputes.

Help clients manage their businesses, not just their books

If you are really doing your job, chances are, you’ve weaned your clients away from paper ledgers and spreadsheets onto a desktop or cloud-based accounting package like QuickBooks. But like tax and audit, that only addresses a portion of your clients’ business management challenges.

Missing links are tools that support client’s business management beyond a straightforward P&L statement, or accounts receivable report. If you are not helping clients run their entire business more efficiently and cost-effectively, you have to ask yourself, why not? And you better ask yourself that question and come up with an answer before your competition gets in the door and shows your clients what they are missing.

“Like your clients,” Castano says, “you can benefit substantially from evaluating and pursuing new sources of revenue for your business. Diversifying and expanding your services is a win-win for you and your clients.” The products and services are out there and vendors looking to support you…you just have to open your eyes.

Help clients manage their businesses, not just their books

If you are really doing your job, chances are, you’ve weaned your clients away from paper ledgers and spreadsheets onto a desktop or cloud-based accounting package like QuickBooks. But like tax and audit, that only addresses a portion of your clients’ business management challenges. Missing links are tools that support client’s business management beyond a straightforward P&L statement, or accounts receivable report. If you are not helping clients run their entire business more efficiently and cost-effectively, you have to ask yourself, why not? And you better ask yourself that question and come up with an answer before your competition gets in the door and shows your clients what they are missing.

“Like your clients,” Castano says, “you can benefit substantially from evaluating and pursuing new sources of revenue for your business. Diversifying and expanding your services is a win-win for you and your clients.” The products and services are out there and vendors looking to support you…you just have to open your eyes.

Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping accountants and QuickBooks Pro Advisors bring powerful project management and automation tools to their construction contractor clients. This not only brings big value to their clients, but also big value to the advisor – client relationship.If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

The biggest challenge to delivering projects on time and on budget is…

The key to efficient project management in construction is people. So wrote Philip Greer, a product manager at Trimble Buildings in a recent article in Construction Business Owner. Good project managers tend to run good teams which produce good results.

With many, long-tenured professionals retiring, the measure of a good project manager has changed — not so much in the ability to get work done, but in the way the work gets done. Today, Greer says, its more about real-time transparency. So talent shortages notwithstanding, technology — the ability to track projects/time/materials/people increasingly is key. But, according to the 2015 Global Construction Project Owner’s Survey released by the accounting firm KPMG, only half of the owners surveyed are using project management information systems, and nearly one-third of those say their systems do not integrate “with their accounting and procurement software.”

What’s that about?

Knowledge is power and profitability

Imagine you could access every aspect of every project’s lifecycle — from bid, costing, and estimate to execution, oversight, and invoice. As a business owner or advisor, the ability to have transparency and visibility of what is going on at a job site (or company-wide) at any given time can be very powerful information.

Are you making money and are your teams and material where they should be when they should be? Imagine, says Greer, that you could have real-time access to data so that you and your managers would know whether:

  • The workers assigned to each site showed up? And if they did, how long did they work?
  • Did they have the materials they needed?
  • – Is the project on schedule?

Teams working with clipboard headcounts and calculators are insufficiently efficient. Running an estimating or purchasing function on spreadsheets is no better. With so many contractors and subcontractors already running their bookkeeping functions on QuickBooks or other software or cloud-based packages, selecting the right business management and project management technology would seem to be a logical extension of good business practices.

Not any technology; the right technology

Although he was speaking specifically about project management technology, the issues Greer raises transcend all business management technology. Too often, he says, companies buy a specific technology to resolve a specific problem, “without considering other value the system may have for your business operations.”

The acquisition of different systems for different purposes can create information silos. Does your accounting package integrate with your bidding system, or purchasing system, or project management needs? “The goal,” Greer says, “is for the technologies to be compatible with one another…[systems] should support other software applications while still providing timely and detailed data on deliverables and personnel” and materials and…

Greer believes that technology…”offers a gateway for instituting best practices…[delivering] complete transparency into hours, job assignments, credentials and productivity to…ensure the project stays on schedule and on budget.”

ProjectManagement The biggest challenge to delivering projects on time and on budget is...

So how do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with their accounting systems from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

More control over emails

Dear Knowify Community,
We pushed a small release earlier today with a few widely requested improvements.
Release Notes:
1. We’ve made it much easier to select from among your contacts when creating proposal, change order, invoice, and service ticket emails.You will also have much more control over the formatting of proposal and change order emails in the new interface. eSign More control over emails
2. You can now (optionally) enter specific dollar values to invoice for your line items when creating AIA-style applications for payment. AIA More control over emails
3. You can now revert change orders back to the draft state if you accidentally make them “active”. This is also true for jobs: you can revert closed jobs back to live, if needed. We would encourage you to close out old jobs – it can speed up your Knowify experience, especially if you have many open but inactive jobs. CO More control over emails
4. Change order approved-on dates can now be set manually.
5. We have improved the foreman’s view so that all your jobs are sorted by name and you can search among them. This will simplify the process of entering time for all your resources, especially if you do not use our scheduling features. ForemanSearch More control over emails
We have another small release planned for a few weeks from now that will address reporting and performance enhancements in certain modules.
Happy Thanksgiving!
The Knowify Team

If you only add payroll services, you are missing the boat

A recent article in Accounting Today looked at how some accounting firms are adding payroll services to bring added value to their clients while also distinguishing themselves from their competition. The article also noted that as “the market for customizable payroll solutions is expanding,” some firms are even spinning off entire practices just to meet client payroll-related needs.

What the article fails to mention is that accounting firms that limit their offerings to payroll alone, leave money on the table and the door open to a savvier competitor who’s also providing clients with business management systems.

Really…leaving money on the table?

Yes, by thinking small. Think BIG picture instead.

Are you just accountants, running numbers, filing taxes, doing audits? Or are you (as an increasing number of firms are) consultants, advising clients on how to run and grow their businesses faster, smarter, and cost-efficiently.

If you’re the latter, then you know that managing client payrolls yourself, or recommending an outsourced provider or software solution alone doesn’t cut it. When you know your clients are already stretched in the day-to-day management of their businesses, when they are busy selling, bidding, executing, managing people and projects, invoicing, and collecting again and again and again…setting them up with a payroll solution is like giving them a paper umbrella to face a tsunami. It’s a band-aid solution to a more serious problem — business mismanagement.

Be a hero

Discussing how to help clients, who issue paper checks to pay employees and vendors, type invoices, lick stamps, and run operations on Post-its, scraps of paper or spreadsheets, requires a longer conversation. Cutting to the chase, there are plenty of excellent accounting packages you can introduce them to, so shame on you if you haven’t done so already.

But let’s say you have introduced them to QuickBooks or some equivalent bookkeeping solution, why stop there? Accountants who teach clients to really manage their businesses improve their own client retention. Switching a business owner from spreadsheets to an accounting package is just the beginning.

Automate client businesses, not just their payroll

Increasingly, accounting firms are looking to help, for example, their building trades clients (really, all clients) move beyond conventional payroll or other business accounting software to equally affordable, easy-to-use, cloud-based or desktop systems to manage most of their typical (and repeating) business management processes.

dashboard If you only add payroll services, you are missing the boat

This is a win/win for all parties.

Client businesses run more smoothly. And you spend less time sorting through bags of receipts, or stacks of timecards and more time advising clients on best practices/management strategies.

Invite clients into the 21st century

Show them you care. As you did long ago with accounting software, show them how to replace the spreadsheet and whiteboard with something better. Expose them to the right tools. Help them see that they can efficiently and cost-effectively, and profitably manage and grow their businesses from any smart device — whether they are in the office or in the field.

Be that advisor. Knowify, for one, can help you help them. We’re already doing it. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Ask us about how we’ve helped accountants like you help their clients get a better handle on their business . Or…you can let them keep running their businesses on spreadsheets.

Knowify. Built for the real world.

How much time is your team wasting in the field?

A recent blog by Al Levi in Plumbing Perspective asked what contractors could do to stop timewasters from eating into a company’s profitability? Levi’s response was to take the time to invest in sound management practices. Work with your people rather than spy on your people. We agree.

Like us, he advocated engaging management. Rather than training cameras on your teams, inside the office and out, pay attention to your people. People, wrote Levi, “actually like when you pay attention,” so long as it’s not just to criticize or complain.

Levi recommended encouraging interaction between managers and their direct reports. It’s not to spy, but to be in touch with what’s going on, “lending support when necessary, seeing how time is being spent, and trying to catch them doing something good and making a big deal about it.” Creating a positive environment. We agree again!

Treat your people like grownups

Levi advocates treating your people like grownups. We say, go a step further and give your grownups the right grown up tools.

He cited an example of employees loading up for a job early, and then moving up the block to the coffee shop rather than heading straight to the jobsite. He said, I could have run down the block screaming, “Hey! I’m watching you. Why aren’t you working?” But instead, he gave them the opportunity to manage their own schedule, saying: “You can stop for coffee…but you need to be at the jobsite or first service call within 30 minutes of the start of the day.” That way, he said, they managed their time so long as they called in their arrival within the correct timeframe. We say, don’t call…click!

Just give ’em the right tools

Being profitable is all about having the right people, the right tools, the right materials, in the right place, at the right time. Right?

Rather than make your teams call in, use the right technology. Replace the whiteboard: create and maintain your schedules in online and accessible from any smart device so that everyone can see what needs to be worked on while they are in the field.

And as your teams deliver materials or work on work orders, they can punch in time and reimbursements right from the field. Knowify, for one, makes it possible via our mobile app. As your people put in time, Knowify tracks how you are performing (and profiting) on each job compared to your budgets and estimated costs.

So what can you do to help your business from going down the tubes due to time-wasters in the office and in the field?

Be a good boss, of course. Hire great manager, of course. Motivate workers…it goes without saying.

Make sure you have the right technology

As the contracting business evolves in all sectors, those who survive and thrive are contractors who pay attention to running their businesses…who monitor jobs and profitability…who keep the lines of communication open between  their GCs, subs, field teams, and clients.

You still need to have the processes and procedures in place to run your business. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Ask us about how we’ve helped other contractors like you get a handle on their business . Or…you could keep running your business on Excel spreadsheets.

Knowify. Built for the real contracting world.

What does 3D printing really mean for your business?

An article in a recent issue of Plumbing Perspective talked about the impact 3D printers could have on the construction industry. Most of the opportunities mentioned related to large-scale construction — building the shell of a house, store, apartment, etc., in a single day without an on-site workforce. Imagine that? Robot sprayers guided by 3D “printing” instructions. Overtime pay…forget about it

But what does that mean for you and your business? If you’re a residential contractor or commercial/residential subcontractor, probably not much…now. But soon. Because, as the article points out, one of the big questions for the building trades will be how functional components like plumbing, heating, HVAC, and electrical systems will be integrated into the 3D printing ecosystem.

So, where are the people?

Not on your payroll…

…For HVAC folks, the article posits that a robot sprayer would create the housing for the HVAC systems that would then be installed by real people in the trades. For plumbers, it is possible that the 3D Contour Crafting process could build utility conduits inside the walls making plumbing automation a reality. Hmmmm.  3D printing could develop a modular approach to automate communication line wiring that could be robotically fed and connected. But let’s not stop there. Sensors and other devices can be implanted into 3D printed walls. Insulation and finish work (get ready plastering professionals) could be executed through specially-designed Contour Crafting nozzles. A painting mechanism would “paint” each wall like an inkjet printer, printing wall paper or other patterns directly onto the target surface. Even tiling could be automated.

3D construction printers cannot run a business

Cheap robotics or low-cost 3D construction printing are meaningless to a business managed on Excel spreadsheets. Firing people and hiring robots alone will not make you profitable. You still have to cost jobs, allocate resources, track purchasing and…bill in a timely manner.

Make sure you have the right technology

 As the contracting business evolves in all sectors, those who survive and thrive are contractors who pay attention to running their businesses…who monitor jobs and profitability…who keep the lines of communication open between their GCs, subs, and clients. (No matter how many robots you hire, you’ll still need people…for now!)

You still need to have the processes and procedures in place to run your business. If you have any questions or wish to share your feedback, you can find us at support@knowify.com.

Ask me about how we’ve helped other contractors like you get a handle on their business. Or…you could keep running your business on Excel spreadsheets.

Knowify. Built for the real world.