Gearing Up
11 min read

How to move clients from a manual accounting process to your preferred tech stack

By Leigh Doyle

If you work with clients that have outdated, manual accounting workflows — tune in to this episode of Gearing Up to learn how to convince them to switch to your preferred tech stack. 

This week, we speak to Garrett Alexander, CPA, who juggles his work between two firms. First, he’s the owner and Co-Founder of Orsini & Associates, a traditional accounting firm, and he also runs Game On Financial, a tax, finance, and business firm for gamers and content creators. 

Garrett’s experience serving two vastly different types of business owners has taught him how to get clients to buy into his preferred tools no matter their background. 

As a result, he’s not only improved his own workflow and efficiency, but he’s also saved his clients a lot of money. In fact, thanks to Garrett’s in-depth client conversations, he saved one logistics and shipping client over $12,000 just by changing banking over to Relay. Talk about a significant sum money!

A modern, integrated technology stack is key to efficiency

Garrett often comes across clients who have an outdated, manual accounting process. They use Quickbooks Desktop, process payroll manually and work with a local bank with no integrations. For a modern accounting firm — this is unsustainable. 

Watch to see how Garrett presents a clear vision to his clients through in-depth conversations and demonstrates how much time and money they can save with a modern, integrated technology stack. 

Watch the full episode now to learn 

  • 💰 How Relay helped save one client over $12K 

  • 🤝 Garrett’s approach to working with clients from various backgrounds 

  • 🤔 His “hub and spoke” model for accounting tech 

  • 🛠 How to convince your clients to switch their tech 

Gearing Up is dedicated to amplifying the creative and smart ways accountants and bookkeepers overcome the day-to-day challenges of running a successful firm.

If you’d like to share your knowledge on an upcoming episode of Gearing Up, submit your challenge + solution using the form.

How do successful firms solve day-to-day challenges?

Find out in Gearing Up — our bi-weekly video series. Blake Oliver talks to practicing accountants and bookkeepers about what tools and strategies they use to thrive.

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Gearing Up episode transcript

Garrett: Most of them, if you talk to them as a business owner and say like, this doesn't make sense to do, they're okay with that.

Blake: You're talking to them business owner to business owner. Hello, Blake Oliver here, and this is Gearing up, a series by Relay. Relay is business banking, designed for accountants and their clients, just like me, they're obsessed with making firms more effective and efficient. So in each episode I talked to real accountants and bookkeepers about one challenge they faced in their firm and how to solve it. Today we have Garrett Alexander of Orsini & Associates on the show. Thank you for joining me, Garrett.

Garrett: Yeah, great to be here. glad you're having me.

Blake: So, tell me about your firm, where you're located, what do you do, who do you serve?

Garrett: Yeah, yeah, so we're located in Savannah, Georgia, we serve, right now a multitude of industries, Orsini & Associates is more of our brick and mortar practice, we actually just recently bought a firm, and so we've kind of inherited a good mix of industries in there, bunch of real estate, bunch of, you know, naturally we're on the port, we have some shipping stuff, stuff like that, and then we have Game On Financial which is more of our outreach to content creators, gamers, and that is obviously nationwide, they're located everywhere.

Blake: So when you say content creators, I hear that the name Game On, are you talking about like Twitch streamers and YouTubers.

Garrett: Oh, yes, yeah, Twitch streamers, YouTubers, Instagram, I mean, you name it, whatever the platform of choice, TikTok, big one, but yeah, yeah, not just gamers, I know, Game On Financial, obviously you guys kind of leading, but at the same time a lot of these content creators that we have as clients, they actually don't stream on Twitch at all, most of them do, but yeah, yeah.

Blake: So, how do you find them? Do you go on their like channels on Twitch and do you like subscribe?

Garrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I've been in the industry, at that specific industry for quite a while now, so I have a lot of creators that I've subscribed to previously before we kind of decided this was what we wanted to do, but, yeah, yeah, I'm just kind of in the, you know, like we have our communities within the tax world, they have their own specific communities, so I try and stay pretty involved in those, and honestly it's happened pretty organically just being in the space.

Blake: So when you get these clients, I mean, they've probably never worked with an accountant before, right?

Garrett: No. most of the time, the bigger ones have, I mean, they're coming from other CPA firms a lot of times, but yeah, most of them haven't.

Blake: When they come to you from other CPA firms, like why do they leave?

Garrett: I think it's a communication thing, I mean, I'm a little bit younger and I think there's obviously the disconnect between the millennial and the boomer generations, I mean, that's a big thing in and of itself, but, you know, it's just, I'm in the space, I can talk metrics with them that they understand, you know, CCVs, concurrent viewers, stuff like that, that I don't think other people really grasp, I think they just drop their stuff off at their accountant and that's it, and most of them use their parents' accountant, versus with me I think that's, kind of, you know, they're independent, they wanna get with somebody that can speak their language, so to speak, and I think that's a big hit with them, or I know it is.

Blake: I mean, it's got to be kind of strange to be working with a CPA that like doesn't know what Twitch is, right? And that's your main source of income.

Garrett: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Blake: Explain the concept to them.

Garrett: It's an easy sale for me, that's why I said it was organic, I mean, it's not like I'm out there hard selling anything, you know, I just love the space, and I think people see that, I think there's an authenticity to it, and so when I speak with these folks, it just kind of flows, I don't know

Blake: How'd you get into it?

Garrett: We just got into it, we just decided we wanted to, like I said, Orsini & Associates, we kind of have the traditional firm backbone, we have an office in Savannah, Georgia, you know, anybody, almost anybody local can look us up, they can step into our office, all that stuff, and we decided we wanted more, to kind of niche down into a specific space, and that one was just a passion of mine, my partner, when we started the firm, she was bringing a lot of clients with her from her previous firm, I was not, again, I'm younger, so the firm I was leaving I didn't have just a client base, so I brought nothing, and so I thought it was a good idea just to, you know, go out there and start building my book of business that way.

Blake: So, that's fascinating, because you really have two different firms going on, you've got this Game on Financial, bringing in new clients, who probably have not worked extensively with accountants in the past. So the onboarding process, you know, you have a chance to educate them as to how this relationship should work. Then on the traditional side, you've got a whole book of business that you've acquired. Like, how is it different?

Garrett: The content creators we're getting a lot of them, we can go to them with any tech stack and make recommendations, and there's an inherent level of trust I think, again, built based on just, honestly me being able to speak their language, and so they'll do, honestly whatever I recommend, I truly feel like I am the expert in their eyes, and then the traditional client base, they've been working with somebody for 40 years and their motto is more of, we've never done it this way before why should we change, right? It's always worked in the past. So it's difficult when something is not working very well, they don't see the behind the scenes of it, and presenting that to them has been difficult, it's been great experience honestly, great learning opportunity for me and my partner, but, yeah, one is definitely easier to pitch to than the other one.

Blake: I'm sure many of our viewers have been in that situation where, you get this client that's been doing things a certain way, for five, 10, hey, maybe 20 years, and now you're coming in with new technology, cloud based technology often, trying to get them to switch. How do you make that pitch to them?

Garrett: I have to be, so what helps me with the content creators of being younger and recommending these items, I have to actually, it flips on me the other way, so now I'm all of a sudden the young kid that's coming in to change everything, so I have to have it down to a science, I have to be able to communicate the value almost immediately, right?

And I do that with, I mean, a multitude of ways, but the most consistent way I've found is with, I have a slide deck, and I have a set process of, you know, once we evaluate the client file, usually all of them, you've got payroll, you've got bookkeeping, and then, I mean, you've got banking and stuff like that, so, you can kind of tailor your tech stack to what the client needs, and present it to them in a slide deck, something they understand, make it bite size for them, and show the value immediately, I mean, you have to, 'cause otherwise, again, I'm just the new kid coming in to change everything and they don't like that.

Blake: So they come to you on desktop, QuickBooks Desktop, they're doing manual payroll, they're going into a branch to go to the bank. What are you moving them on to?

Garrett: Yeah, good question. So we've tested a lot of things, QuickBooks Online predominantly, that's gonna be the hub of everything, and then you kind of, from the hub, you go to the spokes and so, I like Gusto, in fact, I love Gusto, big proponent of Gusto, I think I have one client on ADP, and all the rest are on Gusto, and then I still have a few that are manual that we are converting, we've been doing this over a period of time and had good success but, so Gusto and then Relay, obviously for the banking needs, we are pushing Relay as hard as we can, and we've had, you know, good success with QBO, Gusto, Relay, and, I don't like changing it up too much, 'cause again, I have to have something set and I need to know what I'm doing when I'm making, 'cause once I get past the pitch I have to do the conversion and I need to know kind of what's going on, and it's easier when I have that defined tech stack to take to them.

I try to give the carrot before I give the stick, right? I try and give you the good reason, the good reasons for doing it, and then for Relay that's actually, probably one of the, I wanna say easier ones because the benefits are obviously numerous, I can pull that up online and walk them through, but for, you know, if they're hard set on talking to a person, I would actually tell them, you can keep the local branch, you know, you're depositing cash, you're gonna need the local branch anyway, keep that, let's just move all of your actual, true operating your activity into Relay, and that's gonna save us a lot of time with the data entry, everything like that, the data coming over to QuickBooks is gonna be cleaner than you've ever seen it, it'll give us, the accountant on our end, it'll give us so many more options as far as like, how to do things, 'cause we'll actually be able to see the data, and I think at the end of the day, when I tell them I need to be able to see the data and advise you, and I can't do that on the system you're currently on, that's what they're after, they want that advice, and I tell them I can't do it without this model.

Banking with Relay has helped in unexpected ways, I've for example, talked to a client about switching to Relay, but they said do you charge for incoming wire fees? And there it is a shipping company, 'cause we're, again, we're in Savannah, so big port in Savannah, and I said, that's a great question, you know, I haven't been asked that before, let's pull it up, pulled it up online, right then, incoming wire fee, zero dollars, that right there saved them $12,000, give or take, I mean, right just above $12,000.

Blake: Wow.

Garrett: And I was very upset, 'cause I was like, I didn't bill enough, right away, you know, I knew right away.

Blake: Your minimum price could have been $12,000 a year, right? Just for that.

Garrett: Yeah, all of their business, all of their customers pay them incoming wires, and so that right there, that was a chunk of change for them, I mean, this is, small business now not massive, not a lot of business here, so that 12,000 means a lot to them, and that, right then they were like, okay, we're done, yep, that's all we need to see, and so it's been different.

Blake: Yeah, and you learned, you took the time to learn a little bit about their business.

Garrett: Yeah.

Blake: And the other thing I love that you said is that, you say to your clients or your prospects that this is what's gonna allow me to advise you, because I can access all of these tools, so, if they're all in your office on a desktop, I can't do that.

Garrett: Yeah, I think the technology these days, I don't try and compete with the technology itself, I mean, most of our clients want the advice, most of them, if you talk to them as a business owner and say like, this doesn't make sense to do, they're okay with that.

Blake: You're talking to them business owner to business owner. Garrett, thank you so much for sharing your sales tips with us, your insights, we're not calling it sales though. Whatever we call it, the way that you get your clients onto the cloud tech stack, thank you for sharing that with us. If people wanna learn more about you, connect with you online, where should they do that?

Garrett: Oh yeah, absolutely, so I am your local tax guy on Twitter, follow me there, I am on Facebook, I'm gonna be completely honest, I'm not as involved there, but yeah, you can go to our website, orsiniandassociates.com.

Find more about just Melanie and I, my partner Melanie give a little bit of background on the website and all so you can get to know us, but yeah, Twitter is probably the main space if you wanna interact, DM me, let me know, you know, any questions you may have.

Blake: And let us know when you get up your Twitch channel for, you know, doing tax returns or reconciling.

Garrett: Yeah, on Twitch, livestream tax returns, that's right.

Blake: Or bank recs, livestream at bank rec in QBO.

Garrett: With Relay

Blake: With Relay. We should do it sometime.

Garrett: With Relay.

Blake: That would be fun, I would be up for that.

Garrett: There we go.

Blake: Thanks Garrett. Talk to you soon.

Garrett: Yep.