How to Automate Client Onboarding

 

Brady Meaux is the founder of the accounting firm Meaux and Co. This interview was special because we could dig into the technology stack Brady uses for his own business. This is the perfect podcast for those curious about how to make automation work even for start-up businesses and firms, demystifying what applications he uses and how he connects them to automate different tasks. In this episode, he shares what he thinks about automation and weaving apps together, which is definitely ahead of the technology curve.

Podcast

Summary

  • Meaux and Co: Beginnings and Marketing Strategy
  • Tech Stack
  • Automation

Resources

Meaux and Co: Beginnings and Marketing Strategy

Meaux and Co started as a side gig back in 2015 before finally becoming his primary source of income mid 2018. Its major services fall into the following categories: client accounting services, tax planning and preparation, and tax resolution. Their marketing involves a lot of word of mouth, starting with friends and acquaintances, and then growing organically. However, most of their clients are small businesses making $3 million and less.

Brady started with his wife, who is also a CPA. Early on, they were working together at a large firm in Louisiana. Several people who knew them firsthand for their stellar performance and reputation would come to them to ask general questions. Of course, performing such advisory tasks was the beginning of a new side gig which would later become a full-fledged business venture. 

Because of their success in marketing primarily via word of mouth, they approach other options with caution. For example, currently, they are experimenting using Facebook, but Brady explains that they’re “just trying to see if it's worth it.” Brady expands:

“I think [Facebook] will be [worthwhile] at some point, but right now [in 2020], and since 2015, it's all been word of mouth. Referrals from current clients and the other people who we haven't worked directly with just know the type of work that we do.”

Even though they can draw in clients with word-of-mouth marketing, they also leverage their technology stack and automation to aid in their marketing strategy. As you will soon see, there are several tasks that can be automated that will help you reclaim valuable time, regardless of the size of your firm.

Automation

You can use automation at any phase of maturity your firm is in, from just launching your business to adding a little boost, seeking to leverage your workflow, prospects, and personal interactions. Many accountants perceive themselves to be socially distant, and this can cause a gap both internally within a firm and externally to accountants. Automations can aid in solidifying camaraderie and work processes within the organization while enhancing communication processes to external stakeholders.

Because of the various stages of firm maturity, your technology stack may look completely different from Brady’s, but two of the apps that he uses are Zapier and Jetpack Workflow. Zapier in particular is the oil and grease that makes your automations run smoothly. 

Brady explains that Zapier is a tool that connects different applications, allowing you to streamline your workflow. “The best example is onboarding,” he says. “It’s probably where I had gained so much time back with Zapier. I can fill out one form to onboard a new client, and I connect all the different applications I want that client to be set up in.”

With Zapier as a connective tool, there are several apps you can connect to create nearly an infinite number of automations. Fortunately, Brady is offering us an example of tasks that can be automated.

Example: Onboarding the 1040 Client

In this hypothetical situation, let’s say that you’re at the end of a sales process and land a new 1040 client. 

Using Gmail templates, Brady may email the new client with instructions and a link to a Google Form. Once the client fills out the form, which contains fields for basic information such as name, address, phone number, and email, Zapier kicks in and starts running the “zap,” or integration, that’s been set up.

At this point, there are multiple background tasks that are happening simultaneously, thanks to Zapier automation: 

  1. Setting the client up in a specific Google contacts group
  2. Adding them as a client to Jetpack Workflow, QuickBooks, Sharefile and ProConnect tax online 

Brady further explains stating, “[Zapier will] set them up with a specific folder structure that I want each individual client to have.” It also sets them up in Jetpack Workflow. Brady also mentions:

“What I do want to add on eventually is during the onboarding process, have the [client select] the initial service we're going to offer and then have that also set up: that respective job in Jetpack and kickoff any additional information requests, whether it's a 1040 or just some consulting.”

Technology Stack

Before diving into apps to create automations yourself, it would be a good idea to map your firm's existing processes so you can best identify what apps would work best for your firm. Again, the sky's the limit for what you can automate; however, for those just getting started, Brady has given a list of some of his tech stack, and each application’s use:

  • Intuit + the online accountant version of QuickBooks. Many accounting firms use QuickBooks specifically for their own firm’s accounting.
  • ProConnect tax online. This is used as tax software for Meaux and Co.
  • HubSpot. This is used to help manage leads.
  • ShareFile by Citrix. This is used for document management as well as a portal for clients.
  • G suite + Google Contacts. These are used to help manage contacts and communications going out to clients via email.
  • Boomerang. Boomerang is an add-on to Gmail that allows the user to schedule recurring messages. Brady uses it to send reminders to clients every month. 
  • Slack. Slack is similar to Microsoft Teams but doesn’t require any Microsoft software. Monthly Meaux and Co clients have their own Slack channel.
  • Acuity. Acuity offers a lot of flexibility, allowing clients to schedule time.

If you are interested in other automation ideas or you would like to try out different apps, Brady recommends subscribing to Gary DeHart’s newsletter “The Insightful Accountant,” which is distributed daily via email. The newsletter presents new and upcoming trends in technology for accounting. Sometimes they offer 15- or 30-day trials for certain apps and programs. 

To reach out to Brady, shoot him an email at brady@meauxcpas.com.

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