Joe Woodard, Founder of Woodard Events and Woodard Consulting, unlocks how to turn tiny bookkeeping retainers into 6-figure contracts.

It boils down to one of the least “sexy” terms in accounting — workflow. Joe’s been preaching about workflow and having the right processes for 2-3 years. If you can upgrade your firm’s workflow, you’ll be at the forefront of what’s happening in the accounting industry.

In this episode of Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Joe Woodard dive into:

  • Steps to automate your bookkeeping up to 80%
  • The major mistake you make when buying an automation software solution (most firms make this mistake)
  • How to turn a small bookkeeping retainer into a 6-figure client in Year 1


The Most Important Piece To Focus On In Your Firm:


Joe Woodard, a contributor to Accounting Today, leads his team at Woodard events with the vision statement: “Transform small business through small business advisors.”

The key point — bookkeepers and CPAs have, at their fingertips, the pieces needed to educate, consult and lead small business owners. They just miss out on the opportunities.

They miss out on the opportunities because of “time.” Team members don’t have enough time to add value to clients.

The answer? Better workflow and processes. Woodard’s been preaching about this for years and firms won’t listen.

Workflow efficiencies have been the goal of accounting firms for as far back as you can remember. The topic’s been beaten to death. Everyone knows they need to get better, but they don’t have a good enough reason to.

When you learn how Woodard can turn small retainers into 6-figure contracts, you’ll sit up.

Having the right workflow and processes opens up your team to have more time. Meaning higher margins. Getting your arms wrapped around it now will put your accounting firm ahead of most. If you do nothing now, you’ll be late to get your workflow in order, and others will catch up. You don’t want to play catch-up.

Tools To Begin Automating Bookkeeping To Save Time Up to 80% :

Joe Woodard firmly believes if you can get your bookkeeping automated — no single-entry — you can save up to 80% of the grunt work.
Apps you can use to automate your bookkeeping:

For some, you can simply take a picture of a receipt, the software decodes ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘how,’ and codes it into the books. That’s it. No more sorting receipts and entering manually.

Many firms struggle to implement the process because:

  • They resist change as it’s uncomfortable
  • They don’t trust automation and the cloud
  • They question whether the solution can really be as accurate as a human

For the last point, the tests show that software has 95-99% accuracy compared to 80-90% of humans. That solves your worries there.

The Bookkeeper of “Tomorrow”

When bookkeepers are spending 80% less time doing entries…they free up time to become INTERPRETERS.

What that means is: Instead of just checking entries, they are digging into the numbers to find opportunities for the client to benefit.

This is critical for turning simple $1,500/month retainers into 6-figure contracts. More on that in a second.

In the past, CPAs and bookkeepers didn’t have the ‘holy grail’ of financial reporting — Accounting data in REAL-TIME and ACCURATE.

Most would have to wait until the month closed. Not anymore.

Now, you, as a bookkeeper, can look through what the client does, where they need help, and have the time to discuss with the client on various strategies. You must remember: Most small business owners aren’t looking at their financial picture on a regular basis.

They are quietly crying out to help for someone to interpret the data for them. That’s where the big money is made.

That’s where you step in. You really start cooking with fire when you NICHE DOWN.

If you can understand how a basement remodeler runs his business, you can be an experienced consultant (and bookkeeper) to any basement remodeler. The word about you will spread, Joe promises.

The Major Mistake You Make When Buying A Software Solution:

Just pulling up to the store, grabbing a software off the shelf, and buying it does not equate to improving your processes.

The major mistake firms make is they think: “I bought a workflow solution, so I have a better workflow.”

That’s just the first step.

The key ingredient missing…a standardized process.

Because, right now, you have smart individuals on your team who each have intellectual capital that is worth money to you and clients.

Intellectual capital is the information stored inside your brain — your expertise —. It needs to get documented and pulled out of your brain.

A standardized process should implement the “best of” intellectual capital strategies your team needs.

DAVID’S TIP: When I go to a Starbucks, I know what type of coffee I’m getting. Sure, there are some mom and pop coffee shops with higher quality coffee, but Starbucks makes their coffee STANDARD at each shop and so, for me, it is PREDICTABLE. I love predictableness…

Most CPA firms, Woodard finds, don’t have a standard process across a mere 5 team members.


  1. Sit down with each team member individually
  2. Listen to their own processes
  3. Document it privately
  4. Call a team meeting and share your results
  5. Choose a “Best Of” process and workflow for each task

For each individual client, 50-70% of the work should remain standard. Yes, each client is different, but you don’t want each client to be drastically different in their processes. What happens when a team member leaves?…

The client will feel that. You need seamless transitions so any team member can pick up the work.

Turn $1,500/Month Retainers Into 6-Figure Contracts

Ron Baker stresses the point, I am not a success with a client until I increase their wealth. It doesn’t always need to be financial wealth. It could be infrastructure, peace of mind, better team culture…

Become an Interpreter, not just a bookkeeper. Then, improve your workflow to open up your time to increase the wealth of your client.

You want to do this through value creation.

The example Joe uses is:

If I have a $10M wholesale account, I do a deep dive into their books. I’ll analyze where they could save money in terms of Cost of Goods Sold, how their prices compare to the industries, shelf life losses, expiration losses etc. After analyzing these points, I’ll approach the client with a goal.
I will increase your wealth by $500,000 this year. In return, I’ll take 25% of that wealth creation.”

Suddenly, your small bookkeeping retainer catapulted into a $125,000 contract! All from doing a deep dive analysis into their books and finding an opportunity. In this example, using strategic pricing, estimating waste, and more, you could find $500,000 of wealth to create for them. Then, you take a small percentage.

It takes some guts to do, but clients will gladly pay a percentage of the wealth you create for them.

We talked a lot about workflow and processes. I was gladly surprised when Woodard brought it up. Here, at Jetpack Workflow, that’s what we specialize in — creating a software to better your workflow so nothing falls through the cracks. Learn more HERE.

Related Articles:

  1. Building a 7 Figure Firm: The Darren Root Interview
  2. A Curated Directory of 100+ Accounting Resources & Tools
  3. [Double Your Firm] One Trick to Double Employee’s Capacity

See Jetpack Worflow In Action

Get under the hood of Jetpack Workflow’s accounting workflow and project management platform. See some of the top features and how it helps your firm standardize, automate, and track client work more efficiently.