CEO's Corner

Is there really such a thing as bookkeeping fairies?

Is there really such a thing as bookkeeping fairies? According to an NCI client that coined that phrase, yes they absolutely do exist. These wonderful little creatures perform miracles for accountants all over the U.S. and beyond. While these fortunate accountants and their staff are home safely tucked into their beds at night is when the fairies begin their work on the other side of the globe. And boy, do they work, cranking out financial statements and bank reconciliations at an incredible rate and unbeatable price. 

So who are these bookkeeping fairies? They’re the highly trained staff at GKM Global who have worked with NCI clients for the past seven years and with our sister accounting firm America’s Choice for the past 18 months now. My staff at America’s Choice continue to be astounded at the speed and accuracy of their work, as do I. What really amazes me though, is this, why are more of our clients not already signed up with GKM? The benefits are obvious and often touted by NCI. They will lower your processing cost and speed up your production, for starters. It also takes away the pain of staff management including hiring, training, firing and retiring personnel. I have not once in the past 18 months had to sit anyone from GKM down to have a heart to heart talk about their showing up late or not meeting deadlines and neither have any of my in-house staff. How’s that for pain-free practice management?! 

There's also the savings of no payroll taxes and an incredibly low hourly work rate, averaging just $11 per hour. They just keep working their magic night after night while we go home and have sweet dreams of completed work and stress-free client processing. Then low and behold, you arrive at work in the morning to find completed client files awaiting your final review. It’s truly a magical experience.

Are you ready to reap the rewards by putting your own group of “bookkeeping fairies” to work? If so, contact Viji Sudhakar at 609-240-5130 or email her at [email protected] and let her know that NCI sent you.


Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs Beyond the NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

CEO's Corner: Lessons Learned

As some of you may know already, NCI started an accounting firm in November of 2014 called America’s Choice. This firm was started for several reasons. One was to create a recurring revenue stream that the NCI business model does not allow for. Another reason was to “practice what we preach” by using the NCI marketing program in our own accounting firm. This also opened the door for us to test new marketing strategies and see if anything about the NCI marketing program needed adjusting or improving. We are now almost a year and a half into this new venture and we are having great success. We’ve also learned a lot. The purpose of this interview is to impart some of what we have learned to our readers for their benefit. The interview is with NCI and America’s Choice founder and CEO, Bruce Clark. In it we discuss what he has learned in running an accounting practice using the NCI marketing method for the first time in almost 30 years.



What was it that made you decide to start an accounting firm after taking a 28 year hiatus from running a practice?

That’s a good question and one that I’ve asked myself a number of times since I started this venture. The reality is, a couple years ago I started looking into buying another business. Something outside the realm of what New Clients, Inc. has been doing for the past 30 years. There were a couple reasons for me wanting to do this. NCI is great business model. It is a wonderful company that has helped thousands of accounting firms across the country become more successful through marketing and better management. We have also helped sell many of those accounting firms that we helped to build over the years. The one big drawback with the NCI model is that there was never a reoccurring revenue stream to what we were doing. Over the years that was something I always wished for. If I could go back in time and change one thing about NCI, that would be it. So I was looking into other businesses to find something that would provide a consistent income stream without having to constantly be on the sales treadmill. 

I looked at a number of different businesses, we looked at Cold Stone Creamery, we looked at Steak n’ Shake which is a fast food burger franchise. Long story short, Tyler, my younger son, suggested we build an accounting firm. What a novel idea, right? At first I thought it was ludicrous, I haven’t practiced accounting in 28 years, I had no desire to go back to practicing accounting and I hadn’t kept up with all the tax law changes and so on. At first I dismissed the idea out of hand but Tyler being the persistent little cuss that he can be at times, he kept bringing it up and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I thought if I was going to hire someone who would run one of those other businesses I had considered, why couldn’t I do the same thing with an accounting firm? Plus, the accounting industry is one that I know very well. That is what lead us to getting started. I had an accountant in mind to run the business, Robert Azar, who’s been an associate and a friend to my family and he even worked with me 30 years ago when I first started New Clients, Inc. We had someone available who is an enrolled agent with many years of accounting and tax experience to run the accounting firm, I didn’t have to go looking for that person. So in November of 2014, we pulled the trigger and we started our accounting firm. 

How much business has America’s Choice brought in so far?

Like many of our NCI clients, we started our accounting practice with 0 clients. We’ve been in business for 18 months and we project that by the end of this year we’ll be around $300,000 in annualized billing.

Since this is your first time running an accounting business in almost 30 years, what has changed about the industry?

Let’s start out with what we are not doing differently. What we are not doing differently is changing what we know works. What we know works is the basic NCI concept. That core concept is using outbound calling to generate leads targeting small to medium sized businesses for accounting, tax and payroll services. So we are following that model. We have tried some other things but we stuck to the fundamentals, things like using telemarketing to generate appointments and that has produced the lion’s share of opportunities. Having said that, the marketplace is changing, everything is evolving constantly and you have to stay on top of that, so we have done a lot of things differently. 

One of those things we’ve done differently is that instead of just marketing in the South Jersey area where we are located, we decided to expand those borders. That was for several reasons, first, New Jersey’s economy is not robust. The way to combat that was to market in places that had greater opportunity. So we started marketing outside our boundaries into other states and we’ve had great success with that approach. We’ve done this in a number of different ways, one was with telemarketing into those areas and the other was through using local sales reps, who we were familiar with the NCI sales methods, to go out and sign the clients up locally. We’ve had good and bad results with that approach which I’ll get to later on in the interview. 

The other thing we’ve done differently is to utilize strategic partnerships, which have been an important way of bringing business into the firm. Doing so has allowed us to secure clients we would not have had access to otherwise. One example is that we work with ADP where we refer business to them. We did this to open up another profit center by offering payroll services. One of the things that we’re doing differently is, rather than us providing some of these services, we are partnering with companies who can provide that service to our clients. They are the experts in those areas that can provide value added service to our clients while we earn a fee in the process. That is a way to leverage these opportunities and scale the business to help us continue to grow it.

Another company that we partnered with does entity formations in the United States. We have an exclusive arrangement with them where we refer them to our accounting clients to help set up corporations and we get a small fee for doing so. This company also refers business back to us, every entity they help to form that requests information on accounting services, those leads come to us and we have signed up a lot of clients that way. We’ve broadened our outreach and the opportunities by doing this. In some markets you may not have to take these extra steps to grow. If you are in Phoenix, AZ where the business growth rate is very high you might not need these extra steps, but in the South Jersey market we needed to expand our approach and so we have found ways to do that.  

Are these companies open to partnering with other NCI clients?

That’s a great question, and the answer is generally, yes. ADP has a program that we promote for NCI clients where they can run and process their payroll through ADP and they earn a fee for doing that. The difference here was, we pushed ADP to refer business back to us. Let’s say you are in Phoenix, AZ and you are running the NCI program and you want to offer payroll services but you don’t want to tie yourself up with having to process it in your office. So you partner with ADP, they send in a local rep. when you sign up a small business client. That rep handles the sale, signs up the client, sets everything up. Then you partner with that rep and they will refer your accounting service to some of their payroll clients who need it or express interest in those types of services.

The situation we have with the entity formation company is an exclusive arrangement but there is nothing stopping NCI clients from going out and forging their own partnerships with companies that offer entity formation services. The key for those reading this is to broaden your horizons, don’t think inside the box. We hear the term all the time to “think outside the box” but how many people really do it? We get stuck in our ways, our habits, our boxes and it’s hard to look outside of that. In today’s environment with the economy and technology shifting and changing so much, if you want to grow you need to broaden your horizons. If you’re happy and content where you are and with what you have then obviously keep doing what you are doing. 

What has been your biggest challenge in running this marketing program that you are so familiar with?

There have been numerous challenges. The first, and this doesn’t really apply to most NCI clients and the people reading this but I live in Florida six months out of the year, during the tax season from October until early May. While I still work from Florida, it’s harder to manage the accounting operation from a remote location. That’s been a bit of a challenge. The other thing is not following my own advice, to be brutally honest. I did things that I would tell an NCI client or someone considering an NCI program not to do. One example, I’ve had many NCI clients when they were first starting out say that they wanted to start the program with two CSR sales reps or maybe even three and I would tell them, don’t do that, start with one, get that down and get your processing squared away first and we can always add more CSRs later. I disregarded this advice. 

We started with three CSRs and six appointment setters making appointments. We picked up clients this way but not all of the CSRs were producing the way they needed to, one in particular dragged the whole effort down. That was one thing where if I had to do it over again, I would have done things differently. We did a course correction and made some changes and eventually narrowed it down to one CSR that is working much better for us. So that was the biggest mistake we’ve made and it cost the company a lot of money that could have been better spent in other areas. I was mad at myself for doing it.

Our other big challenge has been processing. One of the biggest challenges they have is getting the work in and out. That has been no different for us, we had to get our systems worked out. An advantage we’ve had that many NCI clients don’t, although we have been recommending it for years now, is that we started outsourced processing from day one. That really helped us tremendously to absorb the rapid client acquisition we were experiencing while keeping up with the work flow. Now that we have our in-house systems for processing smoothed out, things are going more smoothly.

Going off of that response, what are some of the major changes you’ve noted when it comes to processing accounting work now as opposed to 30 years ago?

In a word, everything. Back then computers were just coming into play and most things were still being done manually. Software and computing technology has changed all of that, obviously. It continues to evolve and change. I would urge people to again think outside the box and not just think in terms of local marketing because that is going to change over the next ten years. There are now major players in the marketplace that are targeting clients all over the United States. NCI clients may not see them as a threat at this point in time but they are and will continue to be, more so as we moving into the future. How do you get on even footing? You do the same thing, you widen your target market boundaries. This might be a problem for CPAs since they have the issue of being certified in the states where they practice. My understanding is that if they are not doing attest functions and not doing audit work and just providing accounting and tax services it might not be an issue. They would have to check with their independent state boards to look into that.

What additional advice can you offer to NCI clients reading this?

The first point I’d make is to follow the program. It sounds like easy advice but I found out the hard way that it’s not. You tend to want to gravitate to things you are comfortable with and away from what is uncomfortable to you. You have to do the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. If you want to grow, you have to be marketing. This is the thing that amazes me, a lot of people contact me every month about wanting to build an accounting practice. Very few of them do anything about it. There are many reasons for that, but the bottom line is that if you call me about wanting to grow your business and you don’t do something about it, you’re not really interested in growing. If you are truly interested you have to go about it in several ways. You have to be actively out in the marketplace, you need to have a good website and take advantage of internet marketing and search engine optimization although in our experience, even using aggressive search engine optimization does not compare, in terms of results and sales made, versus a more proactive approach of reaching out to prospective clients directly. When I say proactive, I mean setting up networking relationships, calling out into the marketplace, contacting business owners, setting up appointments. You need to have an outreach program to bring in new business, it’s not just going to find its way to your door. Eventually, as you build up your base of business, you can then develop a lot of new business and additional revenue streams from your existing client base. But you have to get there first and to do that you have to be constantly, actively marketing.

Another thing I want to touch on is the importance of signing up clients for auto-draft payment processing. Almost all of our clients, with the exception of a small handful, are on direct draft for their monthly payment. So we either draft it from their bank account or charge their credit card. This is a Godsend, it largely eliminates accounts receivable problems. This is a big thing that has changed from the last time I ran an accounting firm. We used to spend a lot of time chasing money that was owed to us back then. As an accounting firm, for some reason that I’m not quite sure of, you go to the end of the list when it comes to people paying their bills each month. When you auto-draft your fees it happens automatically and it’s really a beautiful thing. Each month we get $14,000 that goes right into our checking account from our monthly accounting fees alone and that amount is growing every month. It’s convenient for the client too, because they don’t need to do anything, no need to write a check and mail it or anything like that.  

What is the largest client you’ve been able to sign so far for America’s Choice?

Our largest client to date, including monthly fees and year end work, is about $8,500 annually. His monthly fees are $650 per month. Many of the CPAs and accountants I talk to, who are interested in the NCI marketing program, express concern over our model of accumulating a lot of small business clients at relatively smaller fees. I don’t care about small fees, we have some clients, and this may shock some of the people reading this, who pay us only $100 a month. I’m sure they are asking themselves, “How can you possibly make money on that client?” We can because we outsource a large portion of the work to India, primarily the data entry for the monthly accounting work to be able to create the financial statement. That allows us to offer rates you generally can’t touch in the United States, which helps us price competitively while still earning a reasonable profit. When you factor in year-end tax work and other ancillary billing services, you start to really see nice returns. Also, mighty oaks from little acorns grow. These clients’ fees will grow as their businesses grow, we’re already seeing that in the 18 months we’ve been in business. We picked up one software company that is growing by leaps and bounds already and he’ll end up a large fee client. He started out at, I think, $175 a month.  Plus I’ve seen this happen with NCI clients over the years. I’ve heard the first-hand accounts of a CPA firm that signs up a start-up business for $100 per month and years later they’re paying $5,000 per month and are the firm’s largest client. I’ve witnessed similar scenarios play out many times over the years.

So I don’t subscribe to the idea that these smaller clients will amount to nothing, I know better, but you have to be set up so that you are making a profit from them. Outsourcing to India is one of the best things we did with this venture. The company we work with for outsourcing, GKM, does excellent work. They are fast, efficient, accurate and cost-effective. By working through them you get rid of issues such as sick time, payroll taxes, maternity leave and the task of having to train new employees when staff needs to be replaced. What more could you ask for? One more thing, actually. I know this is very important to people reading this, not one single client of ours has ever spoken with anyone in India, nor will they. This is important because many Americans can be turned off by dealing with heavily accented foreign support personnel. Many large companies handle support this way and it has a negative stigma as a result. All of the communication with India is done by America’s Choice personnel and all of it is done through email. Then America’s Choice employees would relay any relevant information to our clients directly.

Do you need to disclose to America’s Choice clients that their accounting work is being processed overseas?

We do not disclose that the accounting work is being done in India. We don’t have to disclose that because we are not a CPA firm and we are not sending social security numbers overseas. The only work that GKM processes for America’s Choice is the monthly accounting work. They are not doing the tax returns. There is an IRS regulation that states if you are sending social security numbers overseas that the clients must be informed of that. Since we aren’t doing that, we don’t have to disclose it. Should we disclose it? I don’t think so. A lot of work is being done around the world, it is an international economy. 

For those who have an issue with us sending jobs overseas I’d say that we are still creating jobs in America. We’ve hired four people since America’s Choice started. These employees setup the clients, send the information to GKM, code the bank statements, do the tax work and support our clients. So we have created opportunity here in the United States while also creating some opportunity internationally, so I don’t see anything wrong with that. Many firms are doing business this way today and that number will continue to grow. It also allows us to offer our services at more affordable prices. This allows us to do business with and help small business owners who, under different circumstances, would not be able to afford our services. These are all good things which also allow us to be more competitive locally and nationally.

What about back work, what is the largest back work amount America’s Choice has secured so far?

I don’t know the number specifically but I can say we’ve gotten a lot of back work from most of our clients. Our accountant Robert is constantly telling me about all the extra work we are getting from our clients beyond the standard accounting and tax services. We’ve had numerous clients with multiple years of back work and/or back taxes to do. It’s been a big revenue generator for the firm. I was surprised as the business progressed over the number of people with these types of issues. I know we’ve had several clients with at least $3,000 to $4,000 in back work. 

You’ve said that one of the reasons you started America’s Choice was to be able to test out marketing ideas for potential implementation in the NCI marketing program. What have you learned so far in this regard?

There have been a couple things. We tried outsourcing our telemarketing to a company in the Philippines and initially the concept sounded great. The issue with outsourcing this type of work overseas is the accents. When people call, if the appointment setter has a heavy accent it affects the results. Telemarketing is difficult enough even when you can speak clear, articulate English, so adding a thick accent on top of that just makes it even more difficult. So what this company did was record American people reading our scripts and rebuttals in non-accented English. Then they have a person sitting at a computer in the Philippines with access to a soundboard of those recorded responses using auto-dialer software to call business owners in the U.S. To communicate they could activate the recorded scripts and responses to questions and rebuttals with prospects on the phone. This was supposed to be pretty seamless and not obvious that they were hearing recorded responses. When it came time to schedule an appointment, the call was to be transferred to a live America’s Choice appointment setter to handle that final portion of the call. 

It sounds good in theory but it didn’t work well. You could tell it was a robo-call, the transition process had a long delay from when the call was transferred and when it was picked up in the United States and in many cases people would hang up while waiting to be transferred. The bottom line is that it did not work. So we found that the best way to generate appointments, as we have maintained at NCI all along, is to hire and train local people to dial from the office. That of course comes with its own set of unique challenges. We’ve gone through a number of appointment setter hires, it’s just part of the process.  

Another concept that we have tried that is working, is going outside your immediate area for marketing and securing new clients. Even if you don’t want to leave your home state, consider at least marketing to the entire state. With technology today you can process clients from anywhere. QuickBooks Online allows you to do that. Clients email their work to you and you send it over to India. You can process clients from anywhere in the United States. The thing that proved this to me is when we were starting and thinking about doing this, I asked my wife, who was handling our accounting work for NCI, how often she spoke with our CPA at the time. She looked at me like I had ten heads and said she never spoke to him. She just sent the work to him, she had never even met him. That showed me that people don’t necessarily need to meet their accountant in person or see them in person on a regular basis, as long as the work they are doing is good. So we started marketing our services outside of New Jersey and the clients are open to it. We have software that allows us to process tax returns all across the country and we’re still only a phone call or email away for support and questions. So you can and should expand your market territory. 

Another new aspect we are trying is using a software program called Infusionsoft. This was another idea that was brought to me by my son Tyler. This is a company that is based out of Chandler, AZ that combines customer relationship management software with marketing software. It allows you to communicate internally among various sections of your company seamlessly and it also allows you to create a marketing outreach program, so you can develop automated marketing drip campaigns to market to people in various stages of your sales pipeline. This can be done without having to spend a lot of time on it, beyond setting up the initial campaigns and periodically adjusting them or adding new ones. We now market this software to NCI clients. Using these marketing tools keeps your name in front of potential clients which is very valuable in turning more of them from potential to actual clients.

One final point, regarding the pickup and delivery service of client records and payments each month. This is something that NCI had advocated for a long time, as a value added service that provides convenience to your client and increases communication. Instead of the clients having to drop off their work each month, our NCI accounting clients would provide their clients with postage paid envelopes for that purpose. We now recommend you only offer this service to clients who specifically request it and then you only do it for the first three months. Many of our NCI clients opt not to offer this service at all and with technology the way it is, it’s not really necessary anymore. Most of America’s Choice accounting clients decline the pick-up option, they prefer to email the work instead.

Where do you see America’s Choice and the accounting industry in general heading in the future?

With America’s Choice, our goal is to reach one million dollars in annualized billings within five years and we are well on our way to achieving that. As for the accounting industry as a whole, I see seismic shifts happening over the next five to ten years. As I’ve already stated, I think expanding marketing horizons for accounting firms is critical. More and more firms are going to move into the space of providing accounting services to small businesses nationwide via the internet. You won’t just be competing with the accountant across the street, you're now also competing with the accountant across the country. So why not be that guy? There is no reason to limit yourself, especially if you live in a depressed market or a rural market. How do you grow if you are in a very small market? You’re limited right? Wrong! You’re only limited now by your imagination and willingness to embrace change, which is never easy but always necessary. I see the whole profession changing over the next several years. You’ll have more people working from home, less people ever visiting their accountant’s office and outsourcing will continue to expand within the industry. You want to position yourself to take advantage of these things now or risk becoming obsolete. With an eye on the future, you’ll want to position your firm for sale by being a forward-thinking firm.

NCI’s New Website is Live!

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Over the winter, while all you accountants were busy cranking out tax returns, the team members here at NCI were busy recreating our website. It’s amazing to me how the younger generation at NCI can never seem to leave well enough alone. They kept saying "We need to update the look of our website, it looks somewhat dated.” I’m thinking, yeah, just like me, right? Anyway, after enough cajoling by my sons Tyler and Chris, I relented. 

As usual, any sizable undertaking of a technological nature never goes without a hitch or three. The first web designer we hired missed some deadlines and were weren’t thrilled with their overall progress. So when my daughter-in-law Kathy, Chris's wife and our accounting manager, said she thought she could create the new site for us. I asked her to put together a rough mock-up of what she had in mind and boy did she deliver. Her mock-up proved to me that she was more than up to the task so I asked her to continue her work on the site. It was and still is a collaborative effort by everyone here at NCI, but I especially want to thank Kathy for all her hard work on developing the site from the ground up and in record time. She also developed many of the various graphics that you see on the site. 

I also want to thank Todd Steinberg for his outstanding professional delivery on several new videos we added to the site, and another round of thanks go to Tyler who shot and edited these videos. I want to thank Marge DiCamillo for her oversight and both her and Chris for their help editing and checking links on the various webpages. A total team effort from start to finish! 

We invite you to check out our new website where you’ll find a more focused and streamlined affair with better graphics, new videos explaining our services, easier ways to sign up for our various programs and overall a fresh new look for NCI from our team. As always, any suggestions from our ever-expanding client base are encouraged and welcome. Shoot me an email at [email protected] to tell me what you like or what you think we could do better. For those of you reading this who have yet to sign up for one of our practice building programs, I encourage you to watch our video client testimonials or read our success story interviews that have been featured on the pages of this newsletter in the past. If these inspiring stories of growth and prosperity don't spur you to action, then nothing we say or do here at NCI will.

Gratefully,

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs Beyond the NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

There’s Still Time to Grow and Save This Tax Season

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If you’ve been considering the NCI Plan 2 Client Acquisition Program I want to let you know we have dates available in March and April that quality for $3,500 in savings. Sign up now and receive a guaranteed increase of $300,000 in annualized billing in 24 months while you save thousands off the initial investment for this our most successful marketing plan for CPAs and accountants. And with the remaining months of tax season you can capitalize on the best time of the year to begin this proven practice builder. Here’s an overview of what you’ll receive: Benefits of the program include:

  • Guaranteed $300,000 annualized billings in 24 months. We offer the only money-back guarantee in the industry.
  • Recruiting and training of your Client Service Representative (CSR) and appointment setters.
  • Attendance at our Plan I - NCI will provide a $500 credit towards airfare to attend the Practice Development Seminar, NCI will provide hotel accommodations, breakfast, and lunch daily.
  • Five full days of field/class training for your client service representative at your location.
  • Monitoring of your accounting practice marketing effort via a series of sales-management reports.
  • Six months of weekly coaching webinars designed to help your marketing program stay on track and producing.  Various successful guest speakers are frequently featured.  The coaching program offers a platform to collaborate with other successful client service representatives nationwide.
  • Retraining of client service representatives at our live Practice Development Seminar or our online version.
  • FREE retraining feature for a second client service representative.
  • Customized website, encompassing all aspects of the NCI accounting and web marketing program.
  • Office site selection information for new practices.
  • Suggestions for phone system selection and other equipment needs for new practices.
  • NCI’s new sales presentation designed for the iPad or laptop.  Wow prospects in the field with the latest technology.
  • Unlimited support in all areas of marketing motivation and administration for a full two-year period

If you’re a former NCI client who has attended our Plan 1 Practice Development Seminar or purchased our home study marketing program you’ll receive a credit off the investment for the Plan 2 program. Call today at 1-800-338-0778 and lock in one of the few remaining dates we have available before it’s too late to save big!

To Your Success,

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs Beyond the NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practicewww.ncieffect.com

How Well Does Pay-Per-Click Advertising Really Work?

I was speaking to one of NCI’s longstanding clients recently when the issue of pay-per-click advertising came up. We were discussing various marketing techniques and what’s working and not working for him in his practice. This successful CPA, who built a 5 million dollar firm with our help, told me he had spent $400,000 in the past year with Google AdWords with little to no results to show for it. Needless to say, I was stunned. There has been much hype around pay-per-click advertising and social media over the past few years. Some of it is well deserved and some not so much. So it begs the question, does pay-per-click work for accounting firms? The answer depends on who you talk to and what you define as “working.” If you’re only looking for a few leads each month and are willing to spend $500 to $1,000 per month, it may be a good bet. If you’re looking for more than that you may be barking up the wrong tree. One issue with pay-per-click is that Google is constantly changing their search algorithms and you need to keep up with this to maintain relevance. This alone can become a full time job and get very expensive. Sung Tzu’s The Art of War states, “be where your enemy isn’t.” Translated to marketing terms it means do things your competitors aren’t doing. There are hundreds of firms, thousands in some markets, competing for the same search phrases. This drives up cost and makes showing up on page one of the search results difficult, if not impossible. So what’s an accountant to do? Go where your competitors are not by using outbound calling to develop leads. Many accountants I talk to think it doesn’t work or it’s outdated, both are incorrect assumptions. Others feel that it is unprofessional or desperate, I actually had a CPA say that to me just the other day. Again, nothing could be further from reality.

Over the past several weeks I’ve talked to 15 to 20 of our most successful clients. These are people that have garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in annual billing from our Client Acquisition Program. They have told me outbound calling is still the main driver of leads and sales for their respective firms. One CPA told me he still has the same appointment setter we hired and trained for him four years ago and she still produces 5 appointments per week on average during her 20 hour work week. So if you’re looking for ways to grow your practice using old school but effective methods, pick up the phone and call us today (1-888-639-2543) or shoot me an email ([email protected].) I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and see how we can help you grow as we’ve done for thousands of others.

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs Beyond the NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

“If You Have No Sales, You Have No Business”

If you have no sales, you have no business.
— Kevin O’Leary, billionaire entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor
 Kevin O'Leary

Kevin O'Leary

I was watching Shark Tank recently when Kevin O’Leary, or Mr. Wonderful as he likes to call himself, counseled a would-be entrepreneur on the absolute necessity of having a sound sales and marketing plan to succeed in business. That’s when he spoke the quoted line in the title. My question for you is, do you have such a plan in place? If the answer is no or kind of, you should heed Mr. Wonderful’s words. To most accountants, sales and marketing are as foreign as accounting and taxes are to the clients they want to service. You would not tell those clients to try to handle their own accounting and tax filings, yet we see accountants do this very thing when it comes to sales and marketing by trying to do it on their own or mostly ignoring it. This is a recipe for disaster at worst and snail paced growth at best.

So what’s the answer to the sales and marketing equation? What would you advise a small business to do about their taxes? You would tell them go to an expert, someone with proven expertise (such as yourself) for exactly what they need, right? Perhaps it time to follow your own advice by coming to NCI. After all no one has created more growth for accounting firms across the U.S. than NCI and we have some new and exciting ways for you to grow your business and better manage that growth through technology. Call us today at 1-888-NewClients (1-888-639-2543) or visit our website, www.newclientsinc.com and find out how NCI can help you grow and prosper.

Sincerely,

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountant and CPAs Beyond the NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow and Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

CEO's Corner - Can a Non-Accountant Really Sell Accounting Services?

It amazes me that I still get this question, but unequivocally, the answer is yes! Just read this month’s success story on Randy Harrison, the Client Service Representative for a CPA firm in Las Vegas. He brought on over 100 clients in a single year! Then there is Arun Kumar, a CPA from Toronto, Canada who called me last week to tell me his CSR has signed up $50,000 in new business over the past three months, $40,000 of which he’s collected. The list of these NCI success stories goes on and on. I’ll tell you something else that amazes me: people who read success stories such as these and then still question the value or wisdom of adding a salesperson to their marketing effort. Look, if you really want to have exponential growth there is simply no better way to achieve it than by putting a salesperson on staff. This is what NCI specializes in doing for our clients for the past 30 years: The pre-screening, hiring, training and support of a salesperson to bring in clients for your practice. While there are many other aspects to implement a successful sales and marketing effort this one is extremely important. If you’re ready to take your practice to record levels of growth and if you want to work with a firm that has 30 years of experience building successful accounting firms then look no further. We have what you need to launch a successful client acquisition program. Call us today 1-888-New Clients, (639-2543) for more information and available start dates. With tax season just around the corner now is the best time to launch one of our marketing programs.

Sincerely,

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs; Beyond The NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

CEO's Corner: Marketing Automation to Help You Grow

For the past 18 months NCI has been using a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software program called Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft is much more than simply another CRM, it encompasses so much more. Among its many features it ties together information that can automatically be disseminated to various departments in your firm on a need to know basis. It also allows you to develop sales, marketing and support campaigns for prospects and clients alike. You can set it and forget it as the program goes to work dripping information at selected intervals to help create value and name branding for your firm through a series of automated emails. Then using the dashboard feature, anyone in the firm can see who is engaged and opening the emails delivered to their inbox and which emails are of interest to each individual.

These features allow a CSR, or you, to contact an engaged prospect as opposed to someone who doesn’t even know you exist. I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that the difference in response rate is simply amazing! Now you’re speaking with someone who has shown active interest and that makes all the difference in the world.

The ability to instantly communicate between departments is another game changer. As an example, accounts receivable makes a note in the database regarding a billing issue and notifies the relevant processing and sales staff. Everything is recorded and automatically sent to any pertinent member of your staff, increasing effective communication exponentially.

Like with any decent CRM you can also set reminders and schedule appointments for call backs or processing related deadlines. The list of features is truly impressive and growing. NCI is in the process of creating readymade marketing campaigns that will allow you to start branding and selling your firm’s services using automation that’s affordable and effective. We do the heavy lifting and you bring in the new clients and reap the rewards.

For more information contact us at 800-338-0778.

Sincerely,

Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs; Beyond The NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice www.ncieffect.com

Becoming a Master Marketer

In last month’s issue of NCN I wrote about becoming a black belt marketer. This month we'll look at going even further to becoming a Master marketer. Once again I'll use my martial arts background and experience in becoming a Master to guide my thinking. Once you reach black belt, in order to advance up to Master you must keep training and testing. For each degree of black belt you reach you must train that number of years before you can take the next test. For example after receiving your black belt you must then train for two years to be able to test for your 2nd degree black belt. From 2nd degree to 3rd degree it takes three more years and so on. It takes at least 12 years of training to be able to test for 4th degree black belt and when you pass that test you are considered a Master. The core concept I’m getting at here is commitment. It takes a tremendous level of commitment, sacrifice and desire to pursue a goal for that long. When I took my test in 2001 for 4th degree black belt I'll never forget the way the test began. Grandmaster Yi, after a perfunctory opening statement congratulating us on getting this far, issued the following command, “We’ll begin the test with 500 jumping jacks." I thought I must have heard him wrong, 500 jumping jacks as a warm-up? I had never done 500 jumping jacks at one time in all my years of training. By 200 my calves felt like they were on fire, by 400 I could no longer feel my calves but when I reached 500 it was amazing to know I just did something I never would have thought possible. That was just the beginning, we still had two hours of intense testing to go. The lesson I learned is that you don't know what you can do until you put your mind to it and have trained very hard to achieve it.

The rest of the test that day revolved around demonstrating the skill and precision I had attained and worked to improve over the previous 12 years. This included executing multiple forms that consisted of up to 60 separate movements in a prearranged sequence, sparring two black belts half my age simultaneously and basically showcasing all that I had learned and mastered during my karate training. You can watch a video clip of some of that test and my first black belt test here.

So how does this apply to growing your accounting firm? The same qualities it took for me to achieve all of the above apply to building and growing a business: commitment, persistence, adapting, learning, growing and the struggle to excel at something so challenging. Pushing through the pain of setbacks and saying to yourself "I will not quit until I reach my objectives." Attempting things you never thought possible and marveling at the sheer exhilaration of achieving them. Earning my 4th degree black belt taught me once again I can achieve anything I put my mind to if I want it badly enough and am willing to do what it takes to get there.

I've had the pleasure of training and working with many Master Marketers in the accounting field. But they are the exception rather than the rule. So it is in Karate, less than 1% of the people who ever strap on a white belt reach the revered title of Karate Master. But that position is available to anyone who's willing to do all of the above and who has the desire to excel at something few others ever will. As Jim Rohn, the late motivational and success coach, has stated "the ladder of success its crowed at the bottom but there's plenty of room at the top."

Master Clark

P.S. At age 63 I still train two to three days per week and train one of our team members at NCI who is almost ready to test for his Black Belt.

Tang Soo!

What is the Most Effective Thing You’ve Done to Grow Your Practice?

From former clients who have implemented our Plan 2 or Plan 3 program, the answer we hear to the above question more than anything else is NCI. And I have to tell you nothing makes us prouder here at New Clients, Inc. to know this is what the vast majority of our clients think of us and the impact we‘ve had on their businesses. Many of you have come back to us time and time again over the years to reach higher and higher with your practice development goals. I often speak to former clients who are ready to grow again but think NCI’s marketing system may be dated considering all the changes that have occurred over the years with technology. I assure them nothing could be further from the truth. While many aspects have remained the same with what we do, if it’s not broken-don’t fix it, many new methods have emerged and have been integrated into the program that helped grow your business.

I thought it a good idea to outline some of those changes for those of you considering working with us once again. I’ll do so in a question and answer format for clarity.

Q: Does NCI still use outbound calling to generate appointments with prospective clients?

A: Yes we do and here’s why: it works better than anything else we’ve tried. We updated our phone scripts and added some new rebuttals to objections, but the basic premise is still the same and still generates the bulk of opportunities.

Q: What about social media, isn’t that the new best practice when it comes to bringing on more business?

A: While it’s important to maintain a social media presence, the bottom line is very few leads will come from social media. How do we know this? Our clients have told us through our interactions with them and in surveys we send out. Plus in my new accounting firm I started in November 2014, we went all out with social media. The results in six months are one client that we can trace came from our social media efforts and 80 new clients came from good old-fashioned outbound calling. There’s just no comparison when you look at the results.

Q: What about the use of a salesperson to sell accounting services, is that still recommended?

A: Using a salesperson, or CSR as we refer to them, is still the best way to grow. That’s how the majority of our most successful clients obtained their staggering results. It’s also how my new accounting firm achieved those 80 clients in our first six months. Having said that, some of you know firsthand the risks associated with this approach. To help mitigate those risks NCI now uses a simple but effective online sales test/personality profile that helps us identify the best candidates for this positon. It greatly diminishes the risk of making a wrong choice and improves the odds for a successful hire.

Q: What about client processing and fees, has anything changed there?

A: Yes and no. We still use a standardized package of services along with numerous add-ons that are optional and our transaction-based pricing model for monthly accounting work. As far as processing, we still offer seminar training for this by Joe Pancerella, CPA who is a Plan 2 client who built a 1.2 million dollar firm with our help. We have also partnered with GKM to provide outsourced accounting processing to our clients who prefer that approach. Having now experienced what they do first hand for my clients I can say unequivocally this is the way to go if you are going to handle high volume billing. They are fast, efficient and cost effective--what more could you ask for? I can scale up and not deal with hiring, firing, payroll taxes, sick time etc. and at the same time provide quality service to my clients for about $11.00 per hour for a full-time bookkeeper. My clients never talk to anyone in India, all communication from India is to us via email. For those who are shouting right now “great, but you’re sending jobs overseas“ I say this: I’m creating jobs here in the United States. As we grow I’ll need more accountants and clerical people, maybe even more sales people and appointment setters, so I’m creating opportunity right here in this country. Not to mention that by helping our clients grow (both through NCI and our accounting service) I am helping create numerous jobs across the U.S.

Q: What else has changed with the NCI marketing approach?

A: A lot depending on how long ago you did your program or considered doing one. We have developed several new promotional videos that may be utilized on your website. We have the sales presentation available in digital format so it can be presented on a laptop or tablet in the field. We’ve created more visually arresting tabs for the presentation book and we have new and improved hiring processes that now utilize a variety of websites including Monster.com, Indeed.com, your state’s workforce commission website, Craigslist.com and others to better promote the sales and appointment setting positions. We also provide weekly coaching webinars for you and your CSR to work on skill refinement and other issues. Finally, we’ve updated all of our seminar training material.

That covers the new and improved NCI which is still the number one marketing and consulting firm for CPAs and accountants in the country. If you’re thinking about growing your practice remember what helped get you where you are today and call us so we can have the honor of working with you again.


Bruce J. Clark, CEO Author, NCI Effect, Explosive Client Growth Plan for Accountants and CPAs; Beyond The NCI Effect, Sales Strategies That Matter to Grow an Accounting Practice

P.S. We know some of you are approaching retirement. If that’s the case lets us know, we’ll help you sell for a great return and a smaller fee than any practice broker in the market. Our experience in the industry paired with our thousands of accounting contacts will ensure a smooth transition and a quick sale.