Most people don't want to be sold to.
They want to feel special. They want their voice heard and have their needs taken care of.
Most importantly, they desire a service provider that will truly look out for them in their time of need.
According to Intuit Canada's Quickbooks Online Senior Product Manager, Melika Hope, the best way to do that for bookkeepers is to create an authentic relationship with potential clients.
If you do, you'll open the door to opportunity.
In this interview, you’ll learn...
Why meeting your prospects in person to understand their small business and its challenges are great ways to build trust and rapport
Why prioritizing time to develop meaningful client relationships is a must
And why having a mindset of service will endear you to stressed small business owners who urgently need help with their finances
To find out more about the resources Melika mentioned in this episode, visit any of the below:
(Nov 20-22 at the Fairmont Royal York hotel) for more details, check out www.intuitthrive.ca
**Training resources found at www.ProAdvisor.ca and within the ProAdvisor portal**
This includes bi-weekly certification webinars and in-person classes offered in Fall and Spring. We also offer a Getting Started webinar for new ProAdvisors, and we’ll be adding other webinars to our line-up in Fall.
Michael Palmer: 00:57 Welcome to another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper. I'm your host, Michael Palmer and today I am super excited because we have a very valuable guest on today. We're being joined with a talented product and business leader with a mind for strategy, communications, problem solving, and finance who works for Intuit Canada. And as you probably know, Intuit is a world leader in developing financial and tax preparation software and is widely recognized for its small business accounting program. Quickbooks now our guest is familiar with quickbooks and is actually a senior product manager for quickbooks online, which I think is very cool up and coming trend that we're seeing in the industry. We are happy to welcome Melika hope to the podcast. Thank you for joining us.
Melika Hope: 01:44 Thank you for having me. This is so fun.
MP: 01:46 Awesome. Yeah. So it's, um, why I wanted you on the podcast because in our community bookkeepers, we're talking to them every day and they're constantly talking about the things that you're doing over there that are hugely valuable to them. Resources, webinars, events, a product knowledge, uh, just all sorts of stuff that, you know, you think you're going just going to get sales stuff, but it's not, you guys aren't just putting out sales information about your software, you're putting out resources and tools to help bookkeepers be more successful. So that's really why I wanted to have you on and I'm excited about what we're going to get into today. Great. So little personal thing that I thought was really cool is that you're actually a cross-fit training expert as well. So how did you get into that and how do you bring that experience into your career at Intuit?
MH: 02:38 Um, well I think expert might be a bit of an enthusiastic description.
MP: 02:43 I don't know. I saw a video of you. You look pretty expert with, uh, with what you're doing there. So,
MH: 02:51 um, yeah, so like I used to play soccer and ran track my whole life and after I got into school I needed a way to stay competitive and stay super athletic. So I found constant and I, I really liked it. Um, I found it was a really good way to push myself, keep disciplined. Uh, I got really intense about it and then eventually became a constant trainer and I'm a personal trainer as well. Um, and one of the things I really love about it is I've expanded since then and I have a personal training business, so I'm a small business owner as well. Um, and that helps me relate to my clients a lot. So that's one way I've brought things to my office. But, um, I just find that having a passion of spread of what you do in your day job is really important, uh, keeps you grounded and it kinda helps you have perspective and not, and not work too hard. So I'm glad to have multiple passions in my life.
MP: 03:37 Awesome. And I can tell already that into it must be an incredible, incredible place to have that flourish and be, be available you to take that on in your life.
MH: 03:47 Yeah, totally. And I coach a class at the intuit office, so once a week as well for my colleagues. So that's been really fun.
MP: 03:53 Yeah. Well that's, that's cool. You know, I, when I went out to the Intuit office and met with a few people, there was, I did get that sense that it's a very upbeat organization that gets the balance of life that people are trying to achieve in and have people do work that they love and that they can bring meaning to. And it's not just about work, but about, you know, human beings working together. So it's pretty cool.
MH: 04:15 Yeah, totally.
MP: 04:17 And I can see that from the fact that you're running that small business and doing classes at work. What a transformational story that is for the corporate world. I think a lot of other, we should, you should see on a, a few other podcasts about how to transform the corporate environment today. It's pretty cool. So now you're not just into fitness and that's not just one of your passengers. But if we talk about your life, you're also a CPA, so incredible credibility, right? You’re a small business owner, you’re a CPA, you've got a lot of the experience that's going on that's very valuable to the industry. So when did you first realize that accounting and being in the finance world would be part of your path? How did you, how'd it get over to that direction?
MH: 05:02 Yeah, it's an interesting question. I was really, uh, really into math when I was in school. So when I applied to universities, I applied, actually half of them were music and half of them were economics. So I ended up studying music at a university for the first two years I was in piano and opera major. And I took an accounting class in my second year and I loved it and I'd already kind of had the sense that I wanted to switch out in music. I wasn't totally happy with that. And everyone I talked to said if I liked an intro to accounting class, like that definitely should be my career path. So, um, I switched into the business program and my third year and uh, I just, I love working with numbers and I think the culture of, uh, of accounting and the type of work we do suits my personality a lot more than a lot of the, the career opportunities and finance. So that's why I was more on the accounting path.
MP: 05:54 Okay, cool. And then how did that transition then going and working for a company like Intuit?
MH: 06:00 I, so I got my CPA and you find a lot of known accountants, get their, get their certification and then kind of want to branch out and see what else is out there. And a lot of them don't end up staying with their firms forever. So I just applied to a lot of different firms or different companies and I ended up getting a position at caser international as a product manager and I really had no idea what it was or what was going to be doing. I went into my first day still pretty unsure about what product management was, but it was a new challenge and I liked the company and the woman that hired me and never looked back. Really product management, working with technology and that type of position really, really worked for me. And uh, and then a few years later into a micro Shania with an opportunity and I'm super stoked that that happened.
MP: 06:53 oh, it's an amazing story how it just sort of evolved that way and going into something completely different. You're obviously somebody who likes challenges based on what you've said so far. This is cool. So tell us a little bit about that now being a senior product manager, what, what is that? What are your responsibilities? What does it, how help our listeners understand your role inside of Intuit?
MH: 07:16 Sure. So a traditional product manager, a lot of what you're doing is working with development teams, feeding and requirements. Um, it's a very organizational based role. And the fun thing with Intuit is, my role is very strategic and I have a lot of opportunities to meet with small business owners. So what my company asks for me is to understand the needs of the Canadian small business owners. Um, and that includes bookkeepers and accountants. That's not, it's not just the small business owners themselves, um, for to learn who they are, how they use the product, what they're happy with and what they aren't. But it goes so much farther than just the product. I learned about what their lives are like. What are the things that keep them up at night? What are the ways that we can help these people be more successful in what they do?
MH: 08:02 Not just from a perspective of using our software but the more successful business owners in general. So I take the knowledge that I gained and ID and a lot of that from meeting directly with the small business owners, visiting them on-site, spending a day with them and learning what they do. And then I take that information back to my office, um, educate the office on it. I work with my other fellow product managers, sales, marketing care, and at the end of the day, all we do again is, is try to do whatever we can to help those small business owners succeed.
MP: 08:32 Wow. So very, very interesting. And in terms of just getting to know it is always, I find it interesting. That's why I love about the bookkeeping industry is that you're working obviously with accountants and you're working with business owners, but bookkeepers, they're business owners, right? And working with business owners. So they're in such a critical role, which I think is my personal, and I'm sure we'll hear more from you about it, personal take is that bookkeepers will start to play an even more powerful and important role in the success of small businesses. And it's a great opportunity for a company like Intuit to help bookkeepers understand the market, understand their customers so that they can help them be more successful. Because when small businesses are successful, everybody's successful.
MH: 09:19 Absolutely.
MP: 09:20 So tell me a little bit about these learnings. I'm curious, what have you learned out there? What are some things that have blown you away in your journey of getting to be a, if you will, at a small business whisperer, we could call it?
MH: 09:33 Well, a lot of what I've learned, I guess, you know, no one goes into his mouth, no one starts their own business because they're forced to. Most of them are out there day to day living their passion. And it, it's something I admire and I would say almost envy them in that they're just able to do what they love all the time. But there's a lot of challenges that come along with it. Um, and a lot of them have to do with finance. Like you never become a small business owner because you're really excited about doing your own accounting or most people definitely are excited about that. So what I've learned from a lot of them that basic things like filing their GST and getting attacked or turnout out can be a real struggle for them. And it's a skill set that they never learned and didn't really necessarily want to learn. And they found themselves in a position now where they have to find that type of expertise. And I think that's where we have an opportunity together into it, bookkeepers, accountants, all of us who use to help those small business owners with those skills and help them be successful.
MP: 10:27 Ah, that's so great. I love it. I feel that you've really, you are a small business whisper or when you're just listening to you, I'm inspired by the conversation and I'm sure, I'm sure our listeners will as well. So, and it's might be a redundant question, but what do you think is the best part of your job so far at Intuit and working with these people?
MH: 10:50 Yeah. Well, this might be a redundant answer, but uh, it's, it's absolutely getting to meet and interact with all the small business owners and learn about their businesses. I'm super passionate about small business. I think it's such an important part of, of our economy and it's just such a beautiful thing that people in Canada have the opportunity to do. So for me, like it's such a treat that it's actually my job to go ahead and meet them, spend time with them, learn about what they do. Um, I can't really imagine a better way to spend my day.
MP: 11:17 So I think, it leads into what I think is valuable around your knowledge is to look at, you know, what are some of the things that you're seeing the successful business owners, you know, we can talk generally here because I think, again, they're all business owners, bookkeepers, accountants, and the entrepreneurs and business owners you work with. What is it that they're doing that's having them be more successful than the other ones that might not be so successful?
MH: 11:44 Um, I mean there's obviously a certain amount of right place, right time or having the right type of business achievement or having the right idea. But I think at the end of the day, and this is what I find in my business myself, it's really building a positive relationship with the people that you serve. So taking the time to build relationships with the clients that you have at building a strong level of trust with them, getting them to really see you as more than just someone that's trying to sell them something or trying to get money out of them. Um, I think, and then you see this a lot with small business owners because they're so passionate about what they do that they really care about their customers or their clients or whatever they're doing. And I find that that really sets apart certain small business owners that are super successful, valuable building relationships.
MP: 12:26 So you know, in your own experience, I can just imagine like we're working with bookkeepers, all the time. We're hearing, we just had a guest on the podcast. It was a productivity expert. You know, we hear is there's not enough time in the day to get the things that need to get done. How do you find the time to, to build these types of relationships with your customers?
MH: 12:52 I mean it takes time and you have to prioritize and I'm kind of a ruthless prioritizer and you have to think about what's really important to you. So if, uh, building a relationship with a certain handful of clients is the most important, you make that a priority and other things have to fall behind. But I think, having the right tools as you're running your business and not to no totally self promote, but to have like QuickBooks online or, or other business tools that can take away some of those day to day tasks that are pretty tedious and arduous and give you the time to focus on doing what you love and building that client base and doing the things that are really exciting about being a small business owner.
MP: 13:29 Yeah, I think the key thing here is that priority and, and knowing that it's one of the most important things cause its people, you know, looking at their day. It's easy just to do the things that are right in front of us. But if we start to think about what's on the other side of having strong relationships with our customers, I mean life changes when people see you as being a valuable asset to their team. Right? It's like there's a whole bunch of other problems you'll never have, which you know, losing customers, you know, having people want to grind you down on, on the work that you're doing, those sorts of things. So I think it's a really great angle and thought for, for our listeners to think about is, you know, take the time to build those relationships with your customers and start to look at what are tools that can help you be more successful from a time perspective and so that you can focus on the more valuable things in your job.
MH: 14:21 Yeah, exactly. And I think for bookkeepers especially, I mean a lot of this small business owner in there, they're kind of scared when it comes to their finances. They're unsure when they send in their, their tax returns, but they're also scared to let someone into that part of their world because they're uncertain about the records that they've made. Keeping are they, they're just not comfortable working with numbers. So it's a big step for them to ask someone for help and to show someone, you know, this is what I've been doing so far. Is this, okay. So I think for bookkeepers, accountants, especially being able to build up that level of trust with the clients is such a critical part of what they do. And a real key to that type of success.
MP: 15:03 Oh yeah. Nice angle to that as well. In all of our lives, we, when we're good at things we think everybody is. And so, you know, obviously, anybody in the accounting world would be, you know, for them it's just second nature. But for a lot of the business owners out there, it's not, and I appreciate that because it's not my background and it almost feels like there's something wrong with me because I'm not good at it, you know? So I think being gracious and compassionate for people gives, puts you in a different place. It helps you build a stronger relationship.
MH: 15:35 Totally, totally. And either these are smart, educated people, they just need a little help with certain expertise that they just don't have.
MP: 15:42 Absolutely. And when it becomes, when it's about money, money is, has all sorts of meaning and people meaning on it and it's a very personal thing. So that's, that's where it's delicate. And so if we're trying to expand our reach and expand our relationship with customers, that's the probably the path to go.
MH: 16:01 Absolutely.
MP: 16:02 So let's talk a little bit about what Intuit's doing in your business that's coming. Like what are you doing now and what are you, what's coming that's going to be valuable for bookkeepers and why they should be really paying attention?
MH: 16:16 Totally. So we, we've started doing a big conference called Thrive. It's happening in November again this year in Toronto. We ran some of our code.net partners. We have presentations. I'm, I'll be giving a presentation. We bring in a lot of industry leaders, keynote speakers to really get people excited about what's coming in the product. But what's happening in the industry and we have like the best part of it to me is having other accountants and bookkeepers share their success stories and where they feel the industry is going and how they've been able to be successful and what tools they've been using to be successful. So it's, there's definitely a lot on QuickBooks at the conference, but a lot of it is really just more, again, how to be successful as a bookkeeper in a, in a small business owner and not so much just product-focused. So I think that's a great opportunity and I encourage people to attend that conference. We also have a pro advisor portal crew, advisor.ca where we didn't post a lot of webinars recently and we're starting to record those more and more. And those are really focused on getting people highly educated about the product, learning about what's coming new and things that we've released. And I'm just tips and tricks on how they can use the products and manage their business more effectively.
MH: 17:25 Yeah, inside of there, there's some real success secrets or success clues we could call them. And the first one being the power of association. So the event, I wasn't there last year, but some of our team members were down at thrive was absolutely a great event and extremely valuable. And I've heard from a lot of our community members, they loved it. I'm going to be there this year. I'm looking forward to it. I love the lineup. I think it's really exciting. I love the IPBC conference, the Institute of Professional bookkeepers here in Canada. Their events are great. Yeah. And a well that's awesome. I'll look forward to connecting with you there. But the power, it's like we had, um, Louie prosperity who's the CEO of IPPC. Um, and we were talking about how powerful these events are. It's like you, you know, we're here a lot of the times is as business owners, we're by ourselves.
MP: 18:16 So anytime you can step out and be with other people that are doing similar things, you start to take advantage of things that you can explain, which is the, the emotional aspect, the confidence aspect and educational experience that happens at some of these events. So I think it's, that's a successful, you want to be out there with people that are ambitious and want to be successful in the business. And then the second bit is sharpening the saw, which is one of the seven habits of highly effective people is going and learning about all these different technologies that's out there. And intuit has got a lot that's going on and lots of changes coming. And I've seen development and improvement happening, which is exciting. But there's lots of other technology out there that works with Intuit. And um, and I've seen that you, you're, you're both cross-promoting other tools. You have to stop and, and spend that time to be more, uh, effective at the work that you do. So some great success clues. Now tell me a little bit more about the, the thrive this year. I know I've read about it, but for the listeners, what do you think was most valuable from last year and that you're looking forward to this year?
MH: 19:25 Oh man, there was so much that happened last year. I need to think back. I mean, the keynote speaker I found last year was so inspirational and I loved seeing that. And for me, it's just meeting all the, the accounts and bookkeepers in person. I like, that's the value I get out of it. I don't know if that's a value that they get out of it and meeting me, but I again, I just love being able to connect with them and hear about, you know, in the last year what's changed in the product. What did you like about that? Where's Your Business Gone? And as we see more and more bookkeepers going to the cloud and building up their business in the cloud, it's within one year you can see a dramatic difference with what they're doing and ways that they've been able to find efficiencies in running their business. So, um, I think you hit the nail on the head with getting people together and having them learn from each other. And you know, it's not a competitive environment. It's not like I'm, you know, bookkeepers are out there trying to steal clients from each other. Everyone wants to help each other succeed. And I think it's just like a beautiful environment and the relationships that people build, they're so valuable.
MP: 20:27 Yeah, totally agree. And those that attend will find out about it and experience it. Now what I think is going to happen is that you're going to have a lot of people coming that have listened to this. They're going to come and they're going to find you and have great conversations with you. I can tell already, I know I want to myself now, this is a North America actually a global podcast. We have members in the UK, Australia as well, right across North America. So I know Intuit is a global organization and Thrive is such a cool event. Is it happening other places other than just Toronto right now?
MH: 21:04 Oh totally. I'm like, we have QB connected that's happening in San Jose in October, which I'll be down there for as well. So that is the biggest conference that Intuit holds a, the accountants, bookkeepers, small business owners, developers. I go to it every year and it's like an, again, a super exciting, thrilling event. Last year, Oprah spoke there, which was really inspiring. So they had some very exciting speakers. Um, and they're posting similar events like QB. And I have Thrive in a bunch of different cities across the state. I'm not sure about or across Canada if there's anything else, but I can definitely look into that.
MP: 21:37 Well, you know, we'll have some links to go to your site and find out all about it so we can certainly do that. But I wanted to make sure people were aware of the opportunities that exist all over the place into it really is committed to outreach to the community and being a valuable asset in the world of the accounting professional's lives. So that's pretty awesome. So let's talk a little bit, we're kind of coming up on time and I want to get a few more questions over, which is, it's all about building a successful business and what do you see as being the two most direct route to being successful in their business?
MH: 22:15 Hmm, well I, I mean I think I kind of shared earlier that the relationships with the clients are probably the most successful. But I think more and more as you see businesses going to the cloud is finding the right tools that are right for your business and that's where intuit can help a lot. But there are so many tools out there, you know, receipt capture tools where you can take a picture of your receipt and automatically have that transaction recorded like so many exciting new things that are happening that takes so much time away from you know, busy work, tedious work and allow people to focus on strategy and how do I find new customers and spending time building those relationships. So I think it's a matter of sitting down, assessing what do I really need to succeed and then talking to the right people and finding the appropriate tools to do that and see that time that we'll really see the really savvy businesses succeed that way.
MP: 23:16 I think it's a bang on and I think if we just focused on that one, but I mean you've given us tons of gold, this entire conversation about what business owners are experiencing in as well. Bookkeepers specifically. However, this one is an important one because it is the future. I mean it's coming and there's going to be so much change. And I know for me at times I, I think, wow, you know what? I might be able even able to keep up with all the change that is happening. So if we let
MP: 23:46 it just go and change without us, it's going to get worse and worse and worse. So if there was one, if we could help people's sort of focus in on, Gee, I need to get more educated or I need to know more about what's going on out there in the marketplace around technology and, and what companies like intuit are doing, what, what's that one thing that you would recommend? They go and book an hour or half an hour to go sit, get onto a website and start reading. Is there one place or one piece of advice you'd give around that? Hmm. Well, I think value billing is something that, you know, we're big fans of add into it. And I think it's an exciting concept that we're starting to see accounting and bookkeeping firm gradually take on this idea that, you know, I can charge customers for the value I'm providing them rather than the amount of hours and spending working for them.
MH: 24:35 And I think that as we're providing drawings with tools to become more efficient, the downside some people see in that is, oh, now it's going to take me less time so you can't bill as much. But if you start billing based on value instead, those efficiencies become really valuable to the business. So I think that's an area where, you know, once people really understand that they'll start to see the value of saving time and getting some of these new tools and getting on the cloud. So that's a cool concept that I would definitely suggest with that, into.
MP: 25:04 Okay. Great. And so on your website, where can they go and find out more about value? Uh, pricing and billing?
MH: 25:14 Um, I'm not sure exactly which resource they could find that for, but uh, like I have a ton of resources that I can share with you and I'm sure it's on one of those. Um, I think the Firmofthefuture.ca would definitely have information on value going on it.
MP: 25:27 Okay, great. So we'll get that information. We'll post it all. Oh, if you go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com go to episodes, you'll find the episode here with Melika and we'll have a whole bunch of resources and we can always add stuff as time goes. We can always put it on there because obviously podcasts live, live in the world and just keep on going for new listeners all the time so we can update that as we go as well. We have Ron Baker that's going to be on our podcast coming soon in the future here. We've got him scheduled, so I think he's his well speaking. Is he speaking this year at Thrive at Wa now that you say
MH: 26:02 No, I think so. Yeah. I wouldn't..
MP: 26:03 I would be surprised if Ryan Baker was not speaking at Thrive. I know he is definitely at, uh, the Institute of professional bookkeepers at in Richmond, British Columbia this year. So, lots of cool information there. I actually was watching a link to Ron Baker on your, off of your website actually. So maybe I'll post that up. There was, I believe last year's keynote from Ron was a, was that thrive? So that's a whole hour of it and a streamline valuable and it's on youtube so anybody can watch it. Great. Well, this has been really great. Melika, I really want to thank you for all of the, you know, just your openness and your sharing and your, you have a vast background that I think is extremely valuable. I think people can reach out. What should reach out to you if that's okay? How, what's the best way to connect with you or to be involved in what you're up to at intuit?
MH: 26:56 Um, I'd say, um, I'm going to be at IPBC. I'm going to be at Thrive. I would love for people to come to connect with me at either of those conferences and, or if, with any of my partners and me, I'd be happy to have a chat about their business and learn more about, um, about what they're doing.
MP: 27:11 That's great. Well, I'm sure that's what they're going to be doing, so we'll look forward to that. I'll look forward to seeing you in the future. And again, thank you for being on the show.
MH: 27:19 Thank you so much. This was fun.
MP: 27:21 Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper. You can find us at Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com and we'd love to hear from you. We'd love to hear what we're doing. Well, what you'd like to see differently. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com/questions where you can record a commentary right there. You don't have to send an email or anything like that. Just go and record a question or give us some feedback. Let us know how we're doing and what you'd like to see coming in the future. And we'll see you next time on the successful bookkeeper. I'm Michael Palmer.
MP: 27:51 Bye.