Remember when you first started your firm and you’d take every call — it’s a potential client after all! — but many didn’t lead to any real revenue?
Or maybe you’re still dealing with intro calls that turn into free consulting calls too often.
In this episode of Gearing Up, we speak to a bookkeeper who cut her dead end calls by 50%. 🤯
Cindy Schroeder, owner of Bright Bookkeeping and founder of the community Bookkeeping Buds, shares in this episode how her lack of a process for qualifying clients was causing her major frustration and wasting a lot of time.
How to qualify prospects faster using Acuity Scheduling
Cindy runs a cloud-based bookkeeping firm that focuses primarily on residential painters across the country. She knows exactly who her ideal clients are — and who they are not. This laser focus allowed her to create an automated way to filter out potential clients that were not a fit without losing those she could excel at helping.
The challenge: Cindy recalls taking so many poorly qualified intro calls that she felt she was running out of time to do actual client work. She needed a plan to reduce the rising stress she felt about talking to people who were simply not a fit for her firm.
The solution: Cindy created a system of “tests” for prospects to navigate that would ensure each call was worthwhile and the business owner was an ideal client. The first step in this process is using the appointment scheduling tool Acuity Scheduling. It allows her to ask each potential client a series of questions that help her qualify them before she even gets on the phone. 📲
Watch the full episode to learn:
🏰 How she fulfilled one of her lifelong Mouseketeer dreams 🗓 How — and why — she uses Acuity Scheduling to qualify prospects 🙋♂️ The qualifying questions Cindy asks when they schedule an intro call with her 🤝 What she does when a potential client isn’t the right fit
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.Subscribe
Gearing Up episode transcript
Blake: Did I hear you correctly that you moved to Orlando to be near Disney World? Cindy: Yes, that was my dream when I started my business in 2007 was to create a business where my husband who's also an accountant, could quit his nine to five job. Blake: 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 talk to real accountants and bookkeepers about one challenge they faced in their firm and how to solve it. Today we have Cindy Schroeder of Bright Bookkeeping and founder of Bookkeeping Buds on the show. Thanks for joining Cindy. Cindy: Thanks for having me. It's wonderful to be here. Blake: Tell us a bit about yourself and your firm. Cindy: So my name's Cindy Schroeder. My company is, I have two companies, Bright Bookkeeping, where we help small businesses primarily residential painters across the country with QuickBooks Online. And I also run a bookkeeping community called Bookkeeping Buds. Blake: So what's your tech stack look like? Cindy: So we have two different tech stacks. We have one tech stack that we use primarily with our clients and then we have another one for our business. So I'll tell you about both of them. So our business is it's me and my husband out of Orlando, Florida. We moved here from Chicago because I wanted to live right next to Disney World. Thanks to being a remote bookkeeper, I was able to do that. Our main client base is all residential painters. Although we do help other service businesses as well. And we have about 30 to 40 clients that we help annually. So our app stack for our clients is fairly simple. We are primarily QuickBooks Online. We use a combination of Hubdoc, bill.com, and then ShareFile to help the clients. And then for our personal business tech stack, we also use, we use Acuity, which we'll talk a little bit more about. We use 17hats for quotes. We use Active Collab for our project management. We use SendOutCards for marketing, and then we use kind of a combination of Google Suite and Office 365 for everything else. Blake: Did I hear you correctly that you moved to Orlando to be near Disney World? Cindy: Yes, that was my dream when I started my business in 2007 was to create a business where my husband who's also an accountant could quit his nine-to-five job, come on board to our business, and we could move to Walt Disney World. Blake: Well, that's great. So you've been able to work completely remote. You've built this practice that allows you to live the lifestyle you wanna live, but it can't all be you know, what would I say, Mickey Mouse ears. There's gotta be some, and fireworks. There's gotta be some challenges too. Cindy: When I first started out, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was, you know, taking every call from every client, and you know, trying to get business. And so it just led me to just talking to a lot of people that I didn't necessarily need to be talking to that didn't result in any income. You know consulting calls or introduction calls that turned into consulting calls for no pay. So I was getting very frustrated and like, you know running out of time of doing the actual work. 'Cause I'm spending all this extra time talking to clients, or potential clients I didn't need. So I needed to come up with some way to reduce that stress and anxiety of talking to all these people that weren't my ideal client. Blake: So it's a good problem to have, right. It's better than not having the phone ring, but the phone is ringing too much. And now you don't have time to serve the clients. How do you, how do you reduce that volume of calls while still getting the right clients on board? Cindy: Right, yeah. And especially where we I was a one-woman show. So I didn't have anybody to be the, you know the gatekeeper of the calls and all that. So I had to figure out how to do it all on my own. Blake: So what do you do? Cindy: So what I did was I created a system where I wanted to put up kind of barriers or tests for clients to jump through to make sure that they're gonna be a good fit for us.
So the first thing I did was started using a program called Acuity. And it's similar to, I think there's Calendly. There's some other calendar programs like that as well where you can ask specific questions to the potential lead before you take them on as a client. So when I get an email from a client, I say the first thing you know, great to meet you, blah, blah, blah. I'd love to have a 15 minute introduction call with you. Here's a link to my calendar.
So it's kind of the first test that they have to know how to click a link and then pick time and pick a date. And if they can't even do that, like that kind of eliminated a lot of people right there just because they weren't really serious about wanting a bookkeeper, they just wanted to you know, reach out. So that's the first barrier. So that got rid of a bunch of calls that I didn't need to take.
And then on the Acuity site, I asked questions like you know, what type of software are you using? Because we're QuickBooks Online primarily, we didn't want people that used other programs. Did you want somebody on site? What industry you're in? Because we have specific industries that I call my anti-niche. So I don't help lawyers and I don't help POS, I don't help restaurants. So wanted to make that I didn't have to talk to those people.
And then I just have a very open ended question of what what help is needed. And so for that question, a lot of times they'll put exactly what they're contacting you for. So you can look at this pretty quickly, this form, and decide like is it gonna be worth having an introductory call with them or not? If they're using a different software or an industry that I don't handle, I just send them an email and say you know, sorry, it's not gonna be a good fit for me. And I either send them to like the pro-advisor site or send them to somebody else in our Bookkeeping Buds community that does help, you know, help that type of client. Blake: That's great. So, and it's simple, right? You just get an email once they've booked the appointment and it has the answers to the questions. And then if it's not a good fit, you just reply and cancel it. Is that- Or make a referral. Cindy: If it is a good fit, then they have already scheduled a 15 minute introductory call. So then I feel comfortable talking to them, and it puts that parameters around there that the call is 15 minutes. So if they do start to kind of start asking consulting type questions, you can quickly, you have a way out to say oh, this is only a 15 minute call. I have another call. Even if you didn't. I have another call I need to get on and continue like that. Blake: So when you think back to before you had this in place and now after having this in place, how many calls do you think it filtered out that weren't productive? Cindy: Oh, tons. I would say yeah, more, probably more than half. So I'm, and now I'm pretty particular in who I talk to just because I'm fortunate enough that I'm able to, but I think that it's something to, it's something that I like to teach the Buds about is that even if you are just starting out, it's your business, you get to decide who you work with. And so you kind of have to change your mindset from being an employee, to being an owner, and you get to make the rules. Blake: If the client can't use a calendar booking link, they're probably not gonna be a good fit for you as a tech savvy bookkeeper, right? Cindy: Right, yeah. 'Cause if they can't pick a calendar link, then you know how are they gonna use Hubdoc or be able to, you know, manage bill.com or- Blake: That's great, thanks. This is like super actionable, super helpful. If folks wanna get in touch with you online, learn about your community, where should they go? And tell us a bit about the community. Cindy: Yes, absolutely. So my community's called Bookkeeping Buds. So it's made up of bookkeeper owners. We connect through, we have a private Slack channel because a lot of our buds aren't on social media. And so, and when they ask questions about clients, or you know, things like that, you might not wanna post those on social media. So it's a really safe environment to ask your questions and basically have a whole team of mentors to help with the answers. So we have private Slack channel. We have member calls. We had a in person retreat that we have every year, which Cloud Podcast is a sponsor of. And Relay, like we got to meet Relay last year. Blake: Everyone take a look at Bookkeeping Buds if you need a bookkeeping community, and Cindy thanks so much for joining me today. It's been a real pleasure chatting with you. Cindy: Thank you so much. Have a great day.