EP46: Bob Wang - Hiring Tips To Attract Great Bookkeeping Staff

Hiring mistakes.

Unfortunately, many bookkeeping business owners make them.

Those poor decisions likely cause emotional and financial stress in addition to the large amount of time used to mop up the bookkeeping messes of those you thought could do the job.

One man who has cracked the code on how to hire great and loyal staff is our guest today, Bob Wang.

He is the owner of Legacy Advantage which has 16 staff and will make $1 million in sales this year.

During this interview, you'll learn...

  • The importance of building a powerful company vision that will inspire others to want to be on your team

  • Why having the right culture fit is a huge requirement when hiring someone new

  • How to craft an effective and unique job advertisement that will attract your ideal future employees

To learn more about Bob and his company, visit here.


Michael Palmer: 01:06 Welcome back to another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be another great one. Our guest is Bob Wang, who was the owner of Legacy Advantage, a bookkeeping company that started in 2015 and we'll make 1 million in sales this year. What a number, what a growth result. Welcome to the show, Bob.

Bob Wang: 01:30 Thank you. Glad to be here.

MP: 01:37 It's great to have you listen. Bob, before we get too far into this, let's have you introduce yourself to our listener.

BW: 01:49 Yeah, sure. Um, my name is Bob. I used to work at a big four accounting firm and I really enjoyed it. I throw the whole process. I realized that generally speaking, people have a hard time finding good quality bookkeepers. So as an accountant when I got really, really, uh, bad books, I just had to a lot, spend a lot of time kind of fix them all up. And it was just a bad experience for all parties involved. It was bad for me that the accountants that the partners need to build more of, which wasn't a happy conversation, a, their clients didn't know what was going on on the books and we got defensive. So, you know, I just thought there has to be a service out there that provides this high-quality keeping service. And so I wanted to start a legacy. It provides just at a high-quality brand that people can trust in a world of bookkeeping. So a, that that's our vision. And in my spare time as I shared, Michael, I, we just have a one-year-old is she turns one year, one-year-old in two days and a super cute. She just learned how to clap, clap new recently. So she's kind of congratulate herself when she's done something good, which is quite hilarious. 

MP: 02:57 Beautiful. I uh, yeah, just, just such a joy to have small children and watching them grow. So, uh, I can relate having a to just a little over two years old. So I'm a year ahead of you and there are good things to come. Let me tell you. It just keeps getting visitors. Yeah. And that's a lot to take on growing a business and growing a family. It's, you know, it definitely, I'm probably getting a few punches there and some sleepless nights and all that good stuff on both ends. But uh, your growth is, is been incredible. Bob, you started with a bang and the bang just kept going. And can you share with us what has been the, what that journey's been like and, and I'd love to get into some of those success strategies that you've used? 

BW: 03:47 Yeah, there is the difference right off the bat is a, you know, thankfully I had some inheritance from my grandparents. Uh, they save their entire lives to give me a headstart. I think Kim for about six years, $70,000 Canadian because they saved their money in a Chinese yuan. They got translator over and you know, same 70,008 could be a part of down payment, could be a really nice car. But you know, I thought, I want to invest in this business because when my grandparents passed away and they stayed their entire life, they wanted me to get ahead and not spend on frivolous things, things that'd be sets as what I think that the intention was. And I thought, well, 70 grand, that's enough for one year's salary. Let me invest in a new employee right away. So I think that made a huge difference because that allowed me to be out there and do a lot of sales and then have a competent employee, do a lot of the work and obviously I'll review. 

BW: 04:42 But I just allowed me to do quickly myself right away. So that investment was a huge difference. And then actually one of the things I wanted to share with you guys today is just how our hiring process has gained from day one to two. Now, in the beginning, I was super busy. I had breakfast networking events such as BNI. I had morning coffees, lunches, and the Collins after the coffee's dinner event after party because I wanted to get more business, I want to do more networking. So I was super busy and uh, the entire time I thought, pay up, we're doing so much in your business, uh, I need someone to come on board and just execute it because I just don't have time to train people. That was a huge mistake. So recently I wrote an article called hire for fit and train for skill. 

BW: 05:33 But in the beginning, I didn't know that I hired for skill. And you know, even now, not a lot of people know how to use quickbooks online. So I just hire people and look for people and knew how to use QuickBooks desktop thinking that well, hey, the transition is not going to be so, so hard. So, so I did that and that was a huge mistake because even though they're the same brand, the technology, it's so people that I've hired didn't know the difference between managing and adding transactions and the bank feeds. They didn't know how the other uh, GSTs modules work. And it ended up happening. I had to stop sales efforts, any office, uh, fix all the mistakes, eventually let them go hire new employees and fix all know the other remaining mistakes. And you know, I want to, when I put it all together, I counted all the salaries, miss sales wasted time. BW: 06:25 I didn't come to do a $15,000 mistake. So that was a $50,000 HR at VA right there. Yeah. Remarkable. Remarkable learnings. What have you done to correct it? Yeah. So from that, I just realized that having a cultural and a baseline understanding of technology was actually a much better foundation, um, in building a team rather than I was with a skill set I need. So we put together a whole interview selection process. I made sure we have the right people. Now we have two offices, 1516 staff, and each one is a tremendous contributor, both in a team culture perspective as well as a, uh, you know, the contribution.

MP: 07:19 Beautiful to remark is remarkable. 

MP: 07:29 What would you say your ideal tactic to attract the staff in has been? I think, yeah, I don't mind a, I know I love to get into kind of the, our hiring process, but I think taking a few steps by, I really do think the hiring process and the tracking process starts way before that. It starts with having a compelling vision that people can bite into and really follow you for, especially millennials space, you know, I was one, we want more than just a job, who wants a vision that we can fight for a cause, that we can range a reality. And I think if you want to talk to the right talent, you got to have that foundation in place. And for us, um, you know, our vision is to be, um, the most trusted bookkeeping grant in Canada. And that's like one of our first clients in our hiring advertisement. 

BW: 08:20 We want to attract people that believe in that cause. So I wanna say, uh, yeah, right off the bat, you got to make sure that you have a very competitive [inaudible] vision, uh, that people can understand and they can buy into. That's the petition. And then he has gone, it comes down to the tactics such as kind of the Java. So right off the bat, our job ad is very different. It stands out. So traditionally in the job ad is something like, uh, oh, keeping associate or county's use and job description and then, you know, the conversation. It's a very kind of template. It looks like any other job, SARS, say something like that. So our title says we're looking for an accounting associate. So right off the bat, it stands out. And then, uh, we'd go ahead and get to a description of, of who we are. 

BW: 09:07 We say like, I see the advantage is a bookkeeping firm. Uh, though we are a startup, our dream is to become the mall, most trusted bookkeeping brand in the world. So right off the bat, we say it, this is our dream, this is our vision and we only want people that can bind to and contribute to this vision. And then we say, uh, we continually wow our clients by providing them with peace of mind, clarity, financial intelligence. So those are our three brand promises. So again, right off the bat, they know what we stand for, what we're trying to achieve. Um, and then we get into, um, kind of describing what characteristics, what character traits we want from the candidate. So the next section is you want to add value to clients. You want to be part of the team. You appreciate a good debate. Even with your boss, you never settle, you believe in a meritocracy because you love learning, et Cetera. 

BW: 10:00 So right off the bat, you know, people that have these characteristics or tracking this job ad because it describes who they are. And then the next section is about us. We, so we legacy care more about your intelligence and values and your experience. We aren't afraid to make mistakes. If we worked for by the best working experience, we want our associates to become competent SPEC independent business in this office. And then we get into the job description, then we'll get into compensation. So we kind of flipped that job description and a job ad upside down and we talked about the full focus on core values, the results. Uh, we have, we actually have a lot of candidates tell us like your ad was the snow unique and I just want it to be part of the team. So I brought right off that we get the right candidates. 

MP: 10:45 It's remarkable. And sounds like it's helping. You're up to 16 staff, sounds like your, your team is growing and growing and you want to keep on, on growing it. When you hire staff, what would you say your process would look like for training them? What would, what could you help our listener understand around the training? 

BW: 11:08 Yeah, so the training process that takes many forms. So when we first, uh, onboard them, there is a one day aim that first focuses on core values. I went through my behaviors are, and then we get into the technology. So we primarily use QuickBooks online and Podio and we make sure that they know how to use that software and they want, so that's our one-day training. And then we have, uh, an education budget. So we'd give everyone a set amount every year to go to conferences to go to courses. And then we have a very unique program that would have an element, a nonfiction book by bit. So any book that's nonfiction, that's educational, that is not what by for you agile, the legacy library. And you can read it when you're done, come back. And we, the whole point is we encourage our associates to grow as individuals and, and people and not just as an accounting professional. 

BW: 12:12 And the other things that we do is we have individual mentoring programs. We do file reviews. And in the salary process, we sit down with them and tell them where they're wrong, uh, where they can improve and increase our accounting knowledge. That way to other really unique programs that we had internally is when is the leadership development program. So in any business, my, my true belief is everything rises and falls of leadership. And if we want to grow with one, have multiple locations and have a couple of in Calgary carry out, so on and so forth. When you have leaders in everything, a location, and we've got to start training now we've got to start the train started training from day one. So every month we have one Saturday that we meet together for an hour and a half or two hours. Everybody reads a, you should book that we have assigned and then talk together like a mastermind group. 

MP: 13:04 Talk about what your ship is, what are the challenges you faced and where can we grow and help each other out in that way?

BW: 13:10 So it's a very mutually educational environment. The last one is we train our people, what we call financial intelligence. Some people call it financial monitoring, but it's things like controllership services. So we teach people what to keep that as, how to look up for opportunities, how to think like a CFO so we can be that trusted financial advisor to, uh, to our clients. So, you know, in, in pure bookkeeping terms, how do we empower our clients around our finances? You've got to know what those KPIs we can use, basically have two boxes and then using those to educate our clients. 

MP: 13:48 That's fantastic. And I can really care how that would be powerful for, for not only educating your people, uh, satisfying your customers and improving the deliverable to your customer but as well re retention of your staff. I mean, you're, you're helping them get more meaning and, and drive more value in their career and their job at, uh, I'm sure that helps with retention. 

BW: 14:14 Yeah. And, and the on that, um, you know, I've put a lot of thought and intentionality in designing a job. So there's a book called drive by, I think it was Daniel Pink, and he says, motivation comes from three things. Uh, the job has to have autonomy as to have mastery and has to have purpose. And we designed our job to have all these, you know, we give our associates purpose cause you're on this journey to build an incredible brand and they have autonomy. You know, we have a rover environment that says for results work environment and uh, they also have opportunities for mastery. So again, we pulled even even we are a bookkeeping firm, we don't do any taxes, we don't do any audits. But there's so much depth that we can go into in you using that bookkeeping data about providing CFO level services, kind of one of those an inch wide and a mile deep. So that's where we want to focus and that's our position in the market. We want to train our associates to be CFOs and controllers for clients. 

MP: 15:11 It's great.

MP: 15:17 You know, in terms of the technology you mentioned you're using QuickBooks online. That's been kind of where you started and technology is a hot conversation. There are lots of apps not only for bookkeeping but for the general running of your company. You've must've seen a whole bunch of different, uh, tools and different technologies. What have, what have you seen, what have you liked? What have you used? Um, I'm sure the listener would love to hear about that. 

BW: 15:48 Yeah. You know, it's so interesting. There are just so many apps out there. There are new ones coming in all the time that it's actually a full-time job just to even keep up with all that changing. Because you know, even if a new app comes out in the market, you can fully integrate it into your system. You've got to test it, you gotta know how to use it, you better know how to introduce you to clients. You've got to know the pros and cons. And I take this a lot of times, so again, we just chose to focus on a few that we really love and roll it out to as many clients as possible. And then just slowly introducing these new ones as they become more mature and work out their own bugs. So, as I said, QuickBooks online as it had been a platform at our, uh, our nation for all the other pieces of technology we use hopped off a lot for retrieving documents. 

BW: 16:37 We use Cleo for paying our suppliers and teaching ops, uh, clients to pay their suppliers. Pluto has actually been tremendous for the clients because they could get multiple authorizations without actually physically being in there. And then we also use a Tessa for a preauthorized debit for some of our clients. And we have a daycare that they basically get the same amount every single month. It's kind of getting pre precise x, uh, I should say postdated checks. It would just be for tests that you do. Direct belly has made a huge difference for our client actually. Yeah. Michael, I, you raised a really good point in how important Knology is in our firm in any firm, uh, in the future in place for keeping space. And you know, we use a lot of technology. We're not really a remote team, but we use a lot of biology to leverage our time and, and to, into improving our client experience. 

BW: 17:30 And in order to execute that, we actually need our members to know how to use technology and be intuitive about it. So I, going back to our hiring process, one of the key things that we do is we actually put our team members through a technology test. Uh, so they go through the, um, some of the jobs, a lot of forms do the phone interviews. We actually send them an email with a list of questions and a to software so they can learn on their own, demonstrate to back to us. So we use podio a lot as part of our CRM and then quickbooks online. So we would literally send them a list of questions to said, hey Joe, please learn Podio and show us how to create a task, creative, a training task, create a contact and so on. And then quickbooks online, I would say, uh, show us how to create a bill. 

BW: 18:23 I pay a bill. What's the post in general entry behind that out of al GSD NSA. Go Golar. I, they don't know any of those programs before from your, into this interview. So we give them, you know, three to five days, they can schedule a, uh, you know, 15-minute call with us and then they would actually demonstrate through video on how to do those things. So that's been a huge difference in how we hire it because a lot of people say they're good with technology, but they're not really learning new things very quickly. So that this test allows us to assess that. And, you know, three hours might go others within 30 seconds, you can kinda tell somewhat the two of it, they acknowledge it or not. And then we just want to make sure that we're hiring the right people that fit within this ecosystem. 

MP: 19:06 Absolutely. And I'm sure having a barrier like that, it's going to tell a lot about the person, just through the act of them going through that process, how they react to it, what their responses and, and how timely they are to do it, the questions that they send back. There's a lot that can be learned through just something as simple as, as having them do something like this. So it, uh, it's a powerful move. Yeah. 

MP: 19:38 Podio? Podio is a new one. I have not heard of that. Right. I'm not, I have not heard of anyone using Podio. I mean it's not like on the know it all of all technology too in the industry, but that's the first time I've heard someone speak of it. What's, what's your thoughts on, it sounds like you're using it, you're loving it, you talked about it.

BW: 19:55 Yeah. Do you, do you know about the program at all? I guess I should just start from a, from the top or if your listeners, yeah, yeah. It's basically a very malleable platform. It's basically got one template and you can customize however way you want. What I love about it is that it's got so many things to go in. It's got a workspace function. So, you know, we have two teams. We have a management workspace, they have sales and marketing space and this is, allows that information to be centralized and not get too cluttered. It's got a chat function. Um, it's got tasks, bickering tasks. Um, it allows me to at a glance view what my day looks like and look at all my tasks. It synchronizes, we mail chance. So when we add a new contact to our contact database, you know, it adds, it should a male champion as to our newsletter.

MP: 20:45 Is this a tremendous app? 

BW: 20:47 It's great.

MP: 20:49 I look forward to learning more about it and we'll keep it on the radar. Certainly. Uh, certainly. Cool. Cool to hear about new technologies. And I know you're a person that, that uses a lot of it. So you're constantly probably on the lookout and testing all sorts of different stuff. 

BW: 21:02 And this is not a very, uh, accounting, uh, focused, uh, system, but, but we make it work. Uh, you know, we try to sauna pride Insightly, can we, and then we settled on Podio being the best. Yeah, we like it cause it's very customizable. You can add different fields. For example, we want to track who the accountant is. We just add a field to the, uh, the forms. Uh, we want to track what the dollar monthly contribution is in terms of monthly recurring revenue. We added there. So it just allows you to track all sorts of things. 

MP: 21:39 Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, listen, Bob, I like to always ask, you know, you've gone through this, you've, you've got some very great experience from your, your accounting experience. You brought that into your firm, your firms just growing like a weed. I'm sure there's been lots of ups and downs and learnings, but for you as an owner, what, what would, what tips or advice would you give back to a fellow or owner and growing their business from a mindset perspective?

BW: 22:08 Mindset? Oh man, dream big, dream big. I just think, you know, whenever you think is possible, you're right or whatever you think is not possible. You're right. And you know, my big dream is to build a global bookkeeping brand that people can recognize and trust. And we started right here in Vancouver, you know, hitting half a million dollars in year $1 million in year two and then we're going to open a few in Calgary. It's going to happen. And you know, universities are a funny play as you say. It's going to happen. They say people around you are going to help you. I just, I think, you know, Dream Deck, don't be afraid. That was my thought would be my biggest advice. 

MP: 22:48 I think it's fantastic advice and uh, hopefully, our listener will, will take that and, and rethink their own dreams and uh, give them a bit of a, a boost booster shot. 

BW: 23:00 Yeah. What we have, we have what we hope so as well. I was the one that had been big and, and uh, develop your own set of core values as a bar. Cause again, you can't feel the team around you if you don't know who you want. Uh, if you don't know who you are and what you represent, where you're going, then it's kind of hard to find people to go along with you because you don't necessarily know where you're going. So having a great, great vision will help you define who you want in your journey. And a, I think a lot of good things come out of just putting it out there and see what happens. 

MP: 23:31 Beautiful. Well, Bob, it's been a real pleasure having you on and I'm, I'm excited to have you back again to see where you are in a year from now. I May and you may already be at global, a global brand in a year based on the speed at which you're growing. And my hat is off to you for, for building such a wonderful business and providing 16 other families with income at a facility, isn't it? Yeah, it's a huge responsibility and it's also a huge, an impact that it makes on, on our communities. So, uh, my hats off to you and I'm sure the listener as well. My hat is off, the, their hat is as likely off to you as well. So, uh, we hope you'll come back and, and join us again, but thanks for being on the podcast.

BW: 24:15 Um, then good luck to all you guys to the atoll of you who are growing your own teams. You know, don't make the mistake, hire for fit, train for the skill to not look for scale. You can always train for scale. Again, thank you, Michael, for having me on this podcast.

MP: 24: 35 Absolutely. Thanks, Bob. That wraps up another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, 

MP: 24:46 goodbye