EP92: Brad Wolford - Why Client Communication MUST Be A Priority

How are you speaking with your clients?

If the way you communicate with them isn't transparent and open, it can lead to trouble.

Our guest, Brad Wolford, who is the CEO of Wolford Companies Inc., has made sure effective client communication is a top priority.

By doing so, he's able to find out what his customers need and they understand specifically what his firm requires to assist them.

This is one of the reasons why Brad's company has transformed from nothing to a large firm in a very short span of time.

Today, Wolford Companies Inc. (with 11 staff including Brad) provides financial accounting services for business owners to manage operations on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

During this interview, you'll also discover...

  • How to increase your rate and earn from $14,000/year to $65,000/year or even more

  • How having a checklist will make your life and business easier and healthier

  • How implementing the Pure Bookkeeping system can help your firm overcome challenges

To learn more about Wolford Companies Inc., visit here.

For Brad's Facebook page, click here.

To find Wolford Companies Inc. on LinkedIn, check this out.


Michael Palmer: 01:26 Welcome back to The Successful bookkeeper podcast. I'm your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a fun one. Our guest runs Wolford Companies Inc based in Washington, DC. His firm, which now has a staff of 11 plus himself, provides financial accounting services for business owners to manage operations on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I'm happy to have him here. Brad Wolford, Welcome to the podcast.

Brad Wolford: 01:53 Thank you, sir. Great to be here.

MP: 01:55 Yes. Well it's literally our, our pleasure to have you and I'm so excited to have you share your story, your journey, uh, and the bookkeeping world because you have gone from literally nothing to a very large business and a very short period of time and as well, you just chock a block. I mean, every time we have conversations, I mean, I learned so much from you. You have so much to share. You're so generous with your, your knowledge and information and experiences. So I want to get that in the, in the hands and ears really of our listeners. Before we get into all of that, Brad, tell us about how you got into accounting and why you decided to launch Wolford companies.

BW: 02:38 Alright. So I originally got interested in accounting when I turned 16 and I guess that was in 1996 and I got my first job at a restaurant. And so, of course, you were getting paid in cash and we had this extremely low hourly wage of like two and 14 cents or so. And so I ended up getting quicken for personal finance and cause I was like, well I have a job now I want to understand what these paychecks mean. I mean I see that there's social security deducted from it. Medicare income tax, like what does it all mean? And so that's kind of what peaked my interest right off the bat as well. I want to understand what money making money means and then I can live my life I guess. Right? I don't know. So many people go out in the world and they, you know, their goal is to make money, but they don't understand how they're paying taxes or anything like that.

BW: 03:37 So that's kind of originally how it started and it just became a little hobby on the side. And of course, when you go off to college you have no idea what you want to do. So I did just the general business administration, my one of my first classes, first semester freshman year. What principles of accounting one and so many people were like, don't do that your first semester. That's a tough class. Yeah. After I took that first course, I was like, this is more fun than I ever thought and that's kind of what got me interested in college alone. Just the specialization of it and I was actually enjoying like the three hours of the homework involved with the accounting course. I don't know how, I don't know why, but I could not make a balance sheet balance for the life of me and I just kept trying and I came into the class with the, with the balance sheet not balanced and I was actually interested in how in the heck this all worked.

BW: 04:34 So I would work with the professor, like to figure it out. Of course when a that was going after my associate's degree. So when I got my associates degree I was like, all right, I'm going to go out in the world and try to work for a living. And I had a few jobs. I was, I guess at the time when I was in school going for my associates degree, I had an internship as an accountant on a construction company and then when I graduated I got a full time job with a subsidiary of theirs. I'm move is a move management firm where we moved businesses, like a law firm in d c had three locations, bought a building and moved everybody into it in one, which was a terrible job. And so I quickly switched out of that, got a job with a friend and a title company.

BW: 05:23 And of course we, as we all know, oh five oh six oh seven was going through the roof with the real estate business and it kind of felt cyclical. You know, I was working 8:00 AM to 2:00 AM like almost daily and it was great. Had a bunch of fun doing it. The company I worked for was excellent. Obviously. I was telling myself, if life goes awry and things go belly up, I'd like to go back to school to get my bachelor's in accounting, and of course it was oh eight whenever the business finally took a dump and I was jobless and I was like, all right, now's the time. Going back for my bachelor's. That's when I started Wilford companies. It was December of Oh eight first semester in school. I went back for accounting, had a few classes, and then my, my goal was to figure out how to apply what I'm learning on paper on the streets.

BW: 06:18 So of course, right around that time, two of my buddies were starting businesses, one of which is still a client today is my first client, I guess. So I was telling him, I was like, Hey, I'm in school trying to figure out this accounting crap. Do you have any accounting yourself that you're planning on hiring? No. Okay. Can I do your accounting? And I did it for free just while I was in school to figure it out. And so then when I got my bachelor's, I ended up in school doing it for free. And as soon as I got out, I charged them $20 an hour, which was like dirt at the time, but I couldn't find a job. I had like double digit interviews and I just told them, I was like, look, I have to charge you now. And so that's how I started the business.

BW: 07:01 So I had two clients at $20 an hour and I shortly thereafter got a law firm client because it was like a spin off. I was doing some title work for them on the side and of course they needed an accountant so they were like, hey, you're in school for accounting, you do accounting. And so that's essentially how I started out. So it was literally from nothing like you said, to what we have today, which is 11 employees and we're going to be hitting the moon soon. But there, there's one thing I did want to say just so everybody knows how much of a struggle it really is to start a business. Um, the first year with those three clients when I actually graduated and while I was trying to interview for jobs that I thought I, because you're all confident in college and you're like, all right, I'm going to go out and I'm going to nail it. Like, this world is mine. I'm going to take it on. I'm smart, I graduated, I'm a Badass. And then you go out and you just get your

BW: 08:03 confidence shoved on the ground and you would tend to take the CPA exam and that just shows you how much you didn't learn in school and what you need to know. So meanwhile, my confidence is shattered. I've double-digit and interviews my head's way bigger than what it should've been. They'd ask questions like, you know, I'd go for a staff accounting position and they're like, hey, where do you want to be in five years? You know, like the standard questions. My responses were say, well, I want to go to law school, I'm going to get my CPA and then I want to pass the bar and be a tax attorney and I want to go into big corporations and I want to save them millions of dollars and make millions of dollars in return. And so the interviewers were like, all right, this is a staff accountant positions. So in five years what you're telling me is I'm going to be asking in interviewing somebody just like you all over again. So if you think about it, their perspective, I obviously said all the wrong things because they want to hire somebody once Shullman like the, you know, process wheel and hope that it just works for the next 20 years and they don't have to hire somebody again.

MP: 09:10 Yeah, that's generally how it works. Absolutely.

BW: 09:14 Yeah. And needless to say, that first year I made $14,000

BW: 09:20 well boom

BW: 09:22 money, but it kept doubling from there. Your one $14,000 year too. And that's what I'm saying. Then you're, and this is gross revenue by the way. So maybe seven when it was all said and done. So it was a struggle. And then year two, I did 30 in revenue, 50,000 in 100,000 and that's when I hired my first employee. It was like 2012 it was right when I got the first client that I actually changed my pricing with because you know, at the time I was making 20 bucks or charging $20 an hour and I went through some terrible clients along the way. I had a everybody, I was in this marketing network group where everyone wanted to barter for services. Like I'll give you a watch if you do my accounting.

MP: 10:16 Yeah,

MP: 10:17 sorry, my, my mortgage company doesn't take fish. Like I can't, I have to exchange services in cash. Like if I want to buy a watch from you. Sure. But yeah, mortgage company doesn't take watches. So I need cash brother.

BW: 10:37 That happens a lot. And, uh, I remember just coming home one night and it was after six months of like, somebody's not paying me and you know, working for plenty of clients at the time and I just had $0 million. I'd open the mail and there was no check and I would just like slam it on my coffee table. Just frustrated. Like I just wanted to kick my furniture, which I probably did. But yeah, it's not, it's not an easy deal. And eventually you start to get better, better clients and then you start to value yourself really because you think, you know, if you're charging $20 an hour, that's kind of where you're putting your self worth at. And then the moment you bill somebody $1,000 in a month, you're like, oh my God, I can't give them that kind of bill. They're normally used to 500. And I'm sure you've heard in the past, people talking about they use their spouse to do their invoicing because they're the ones that lived. The sacrifice that you make, putting all your time and effort into your business and sacrificing, you know, skipping the dinners that they make for you that you don't show up for or being there for whatever, you know, family situation or activity have. It's always a struggle. So people love to say, make your spouse do your invoicing so that you know, they, they get that thousand dollar invoice and they're like, hell yeah,

MP: 12:02 I've never heard that before. I love that. That is such an interesting comment. Even just to think about it, what would my right, how would my, my spouse feel about sending this invoice? I mean what an interesting perspective, right?

BW: 12:16 Yeah. Cause you get it from the other side, the people who deal with all the sacrifices you make. So it's, it's, there's value there. And of course my wife, she's an attorney so she works til, you know, eight o'clock at night sometimes. And it's funny, I just sit there and work until she comes home and she's like, did you eat? You know, she'll go to like an after-work little dinner Bar Association, get together and I'll just continue to work. She'll come home at like 10 o'clock sometimes you're like, did you eat? I'm like, no, I forgot. I just kept working. So hopefully you don't get yourself into that position, but

BW: 12:53 expensive expected to happen. If you want to go off and run your own business there are those times be.

MP: 13:06 Absolutely. So you, you, what was the turnaround point? Not Turnaround really breakthrough point you, you were saying you, you raised your prices a around, was it around the hundred thousand mark or before that?

BW: 13:20 The a hundred thousand is a result of my first price, like increase and it wasn't. I did increase my rate from like 25 20 to 25 then I did 35 and 45 and 55 then 65 which I can tell you how I got there, but that's probably two podcasts long. However, the first year that I earned 50 grand, it really started to get to the point where I was like, man, I kind of need some help. And of course, well luckily along the way, because I started taking on so many clients, I started developing my own checklist and that that's a really important task that you want to get yourself involved in because that's the only thing you can use to pass down to a new employee and communicate with them. Uh, tasks and duties and expectations. If you have it all in your head, it's damn near impossible to disseminate that information on to someone else because then they just receive it and go and they don't write anything down and it becomes a snowball effect of bad management and terrible books and it just gets convoluted and technical and disgusting.

BW: 14:32 So checklists are key. And Luckily for me, because I was charging dirt to clients, I had to take on and cast a wide net and have a lot of them in order to, you know, make a decent wage. So, as a result, I had to create checklists cause I was in and out of so many client throughout the day. I wouldn't remember anything about anything. Like I've made an American Express bill payments. One of my that jeweler client, you know, I paid his bills every single month and he was like, how much was my Amex last month? And I'm like, I don't know. And he's like, you're a my account, you should know. And I'm like, absolutely not. Like I've paid a lot of credit card bills here, brother. But that is a result of checklists whenever you have these sort of tasks documented and articulated so that you can jump into a client, knock it out, be confident it's completed correctly and move on.

BW: 15:25 You don't have to remember those sort of nuances about every individual client and yet you're still doing a good job and you know they're going to appreciate you. That's a critical, critical task. So as a result, my first employee got like the best checklist. He, he got the best training from me and we talk about it all the time. Every time we bring on a new employee, they get less and less of me. So obviously that's how critically important it is to have these checklists. And mind you, that's one of the things I know, I know you guys talk about the pure bookkeeping system a lot on this podcast, which was a huge deal with my business. If you want to scale it, you have to have this sort of information that, you know, these checklists are all built into the pure bookkeeping system. And the most value I get out of it is how it describes how to do things.

BW: 16:19 It's, it's the things you talk about to your employees everyday. Like, Hey, what I can see what I call perfect competition is like gasoline, stuff like that. Parking. Nobody cares that they're parking in a garage that's owned by PMI, parking or any various business because they're just looking for a spot to park in. So that's considered perfect competition. Gasoline, I don't, I don't, there are people that, you know, care about Exxon versus sho. But the truth is when you need gas, you're pulling into the first gas station. You see? So from an accounting, bookkeeping perspective, they do, they want to know how much they spent it on Exxon last year or do they want to know how much they spent in gasoline? So why have all these payees for all these millions of billions of gas stations that people go to instead just have one payee that's called gasoline.

BW: 17:14 Anything that's related to that goes there. And that is are some of the things that the pure bookkeeping system articulated for me without me having to have that same conversation with everybody every time they came on board and created an Exxon payee when there wasn't one before. But back to your original question from five minutes ago, how do I get from 50 to a hundred with the pricing? This client, they needed a full time person and they were looking to pay like $45,000 for the individual. The person before me was fired for stealing. So they brought me on as a temporary basis through friend of a friend while they were searching for a new accountant and they were paying the other person like $65,000. And so armed with that information, go back to this pure bookkeeping thing, but Debbie is another big benefit I get from it is that she has this thing called a health check that you provide a clients before they come on.

BW: 18:20 It's a courtesy deal. That's a great place to find out how much people are paying their bookkeeper. So you can use that to kind of gauge what their willingness and what their prices to pay. Now mind you, some people have been burned in the past by their accountant and so they understand the value in, you know, maybe they under, for example, there was one client that charged at that, there's one bookkeeper that charged a client $1,000 a month flat. He wasn't getting a lick of service from them. So we come in, show them all the things they do wrong that's through that health check and get an understanding of the pricing. Well, there are times where you could blow that pricing out the box and they're totally on board with it. I think we started that client at $33,000 a year or some sort and maybe 33 eight I think it shook out to be some number divided by 12 they were totally on board with it.

BW: 19:16 From there we, we picked up some HR, we picked up their invoicing that was produced by an employee in house at the time, so now as of today, it's been about five years. We've been with that client and we charge them 82,000 a year so there could be clients out there. You don't want to base your pricing on what it was in the past and either undercut it or just take it up a notch. You really do want to use that, you know your skills to kind of evaluate where it's going to be, but that's just a helpful gauge to use that health check courtesy situation. It's, that's also built in the pure bookkeeping system. There's a checklist what to look for, and that helps me a lot of times to kind of get an idea of what the client, obviously with the interview tool, you can get a feel for what their needs are. If they're more desperate than what they've been getting in the past. She kind of pick that out.

MP: 20:14 It's such an interesting journey and yes, lots of, lots of experiences. When did you start implementing the pure bookkeeping system into your business?

BW: 20:25 This was about three years ago at the time. Now they didn't have a QuickBooks desktop version of the Pure Bookkeeping system for the US so it was right after I read the e-myth bookkeeper edition. Did you ever hear you've heard of that Michael, right?

MP: 20:48 Absolutely. We wrote the book. Oh, you a part of it.

BW: 20:51 Yeah, absolutely. Well, I didn't write the book, but Deb and Pete, my business partner wrote, wrote it with Michael Gerber, but the story is I met Mike Gerber, so Michael Gerber wrote EMF 40 years ago. Now I think it is a, which is a fantastic book in any list. All the listeners listening, I mean it's definitely, you know, for a bookkeeper you want to read, I think both books because he goes deeper, deeper into, I mean it was the book e myth. The original book is the book that Debbie read and got from Peter in the beginning and said, look, you need to create a system-dependent business. You need to get everything that's in your head and to documentation and in a way that other people can follow it so that you can train people to do it your way and know that you can trust them.

BW: 21:36 Right? So I had a chance to meet, I was going to be interviewing Michael Gerber, uh, for another big event that I was a part of where we brought in big thought leaders into the, the Toronto area. And so Michael Gerber was one of our keynote speakers. So I said, well told Pete. And he's like, Hey, could you get Devaa signed copy? Cause she's just a big Fan, right? So I, I bring in and I brought in some of the systems and process and manuals and showed Michael and he was, he just lost his mind. He's like, oh my goodness, I can't believe this. You know, here's a woman who took my book, uh, created a system-dependent business, grew it to 12 bookkeepers and then then now is helping and now over 800 bookkeepers around the world use those systems. And so he invited them to write the, the e-myth bookkeeper with him. And that's the book that you read that helped you find us.

MP: 22:24 Yeah, that is, that is like the quintessential person. I mean, talk about Michael Gerber must've felt like 1 million bucks. Like hell yeah, this is exactly why I wrote the book and this is it in flux. That's awesome.

BW: 22:41 Yeah, I mean, Michael, yeah, great guy. And really has, has impacted hundreds of thousands of businesses and help them get more freedom, make more money, more certainty for the future and you know, help build better communities through it. Right. So he's a, he's a hero. Maher and our hearts

BW: 22:58 was the um, e-myth bookkeeper or does the myth revisited? So it was like his kind of rewrite and that was through a friend that was just talking about it and I was like, all right, pick it up. And how I found the bookkeeper edition was I was thrilled with the book and one of my clients, he was a state farm insurance agent. I was talking to him about it and it was right as we started our engagement and I was like, I'm going to buy this guy, this book. So as soon as I go back, you know, send them the engagement with the book. But as I was searching for it, I must have got it on Amazon or something. And I saw that there were these industry-specific additions and I was like, let me look through these. And of course it blew my mind to see a bookkeeper. I was like, people even know that bookkeeper's exist. This is great.

MP: 23:50 Okay.

BW: 23:50 That's how I came across that book. So mind you, at the time I, I was gonna buy them the e myth revisited. I saw that there was an insurance-specific book and a bookkeeper. So I bought that from myself and the insurance one for him.

MP: 24:05 Beautiful.

BW: 24:06 Yup. So Do, do we want to go back to that whole pricing increase thing?

MP: 24:11 Absolutely. Well tell, so you um, uh, you, you ready math. How did it happen and then how did it impact your business? I mean you've gone, I mean you've gone from a hundred years, 100,000 was your first employee. How, how did you get from get getting beyond a hundred thousand mark?

BW: 24:31 I think that because of this whole new like realization with asking well beyond what you were originally going to ask the client for. Cause at the time I was going to tell him I would do it for like $25,000 and then I found out that he was trying to hire that somebody for around 45 but he was paying 65. I kind of just threw it out there. I was like, I'll do it. I'll, I'll come in here every day and I'll work for you full time. Cause he actually had me interview the bookkeepers and I was like giving him my feedback and so then he goes, can you just do it? Can you just work for us? I was like sure. So I go back to write up the engagement and I was going to put $25,000 on it and I just said, you know, it's screwed.

BW: 25:25 I'm shooting for the moon and I often put it up for 55 grand that I would do it full time and I wanted to offices cause right at that time it was, I was kind of stretched to where I was. Like if I, if he says yes to 55,000 that means I can hire somebody and if I'm coming into DC every day to work at their office, I'm going to need two offices. And so I threw that into the deal too. I was like 55 grand in two offices and I thought for sure there'd be pushback. He didn't even push back, signed the engagement and it was off to the races. From there all you get this whole new level of confidence like I'm better than I think I am. And so of course I immediately wrote all my clients, I'm increasing another $10 an hour and with my letter I basically wrote the letter and said, sign here if you do not want the increase, and this is also you acknowledging that the agreement is going to be terminated within 30 days of the day that you return this document signed and if I don't hear back from you, that means that starting on this date you except the increase in price.

MP: 26:42 Beautiful.

BW: 26:44 That was a cool little concept that you know, and the funny thing is not a single person signed the thing that is continued services.

MP: 26:54 I love that. I love the, the, the reverse psychology, right? It's like you can either make them work to remain a client, like sign this back if you are okaying this or it's like you're just creating a path of least resistance. Right? It's like make them work to actually leave as a client or do something different. Right. I love that. Such a, such a nice context shift, right?

BW: 27:15 Yeah. Do not thing. And this is what's going to happen if you don't agree with it or you don't want it sign here and yeah, do a little legwork and send it back to me.

BW: 27:32 Now of course as you get more expensive, you get more complaints. So as a result, and this is a very difficult thing to do, is shift from billing people by the hour to the flat fee. And I'm constantly working on it. We're, we're heading in that direction, but it's still imperfect and I am pretty good at getting the pricing right, but it's not perfect yet. And that's a, that's a tough concept to understand and praise yourself effectively so that it makes sense to both you and the client. Because the truth is is I don't want to screw anybody out of money. I don't want to say, Hey, I want you to pay this much a month and we're going to do half the work or something. Ha Ha. Jokes on, you know, I try to get it priced to where there definitely months where you know we're going to get screwed a little bit and there are months that they're going to get screwed a little bit so that in the end it falls right where you were, you expected to be.

BW: 28:32 Cause there's nothing worse than feeling like you're getting one over on somebody but you also do want to want the prices so that you can have a little bit of wiggle room because whenever you have a issue or something that you want to figure out what the client, you don't want to not give it the time of day because you're stretched so thin and you know that it's going to break the budget. So you give some, give your clients some haphazard, you know, quick fix for a problem that you could really dive into and provide a good solution for. Like a lot of times there's payroll issues when you're using third-party services and you just, you want to go down the rabbit hole of, you know, reconciling unemployment insurance over the last three years or something. If it hadn't been done in the past. So you want to price those into your engagements.

MP: 29:22 Beautiful. Now you, you've gone and hired a lot of people. Tell us about your hiring process.

BW: 29:30 That too is another challenge. I've tried the whole interview questions and that seems to not be the most effective. What I've found as shooting as another peer bookkeeping thing is the most effective is the skills test that's included with that package. And it's an actual QuickBooks accounting system file that you basically invite somebody that passes through the sniff test on your phone interview to come in and take this test. So you can actually see, it's basically a month worth of bookkeeping in the test. And so you, you get to see what the person would do on a monthly basis. And if that test is booby trap to hell, not to deceit anybody, but it basically, you know, it's an accrual-based business. So at the end of the month, you know, there's prepaid expensive insurance built into it. There's no instruction on booking the or expense, you know, for that, that monthly period.

BW: 30:35 But it exists and you just, I just like to use that and it's actually not graded in the test either, but certain little nuances like that are built throughout the entire program so you can get an understanding of what someone's strengths and weaknesses are so that you can make sure when they start with you that you have an idea of the sort of things that they're going to miss. If you give them, you know, a certain client that has a certain need, hey, this client is cruel based and you know, know that you didn't pick up on the accrual entries at the end of the month. So let's make sure to cover that. And No, you're not going to do something. You don't have to sit with the employee if you know that they have a strength in, you know, entering the tax id for a law firm because you know that they have to be 10 90 times in the US no matter what the entity type is, LLP corporation doesn't matter. Lawyers get 10 99 they know that, you know that, oh, why cover it?

MP: 31:34 Do you have [inaudible]? You know, it's interesting and I imagine, I'd love to hear your take on this, but when you're using a test like that, you're seeing, it's like the perfect scenario of evaluating somebody because you're evaluating them when they don't know you're really evaluating them. What, what have you seen about people's character? Cause a big, big, big part of having people join your team and hiring people is you're going to spending time with these people. You gotta make sure they're a fit. Culturally, you got to make sure that they're a fit culturally into your culture of your business. And then from a personality perspective, what have you seen using the skills and speed test? What has that enabled you to glean about the people you've hired?

BW: 32:16 All right, so to test, once it was finally completed and we were going to roll out the skills test to all the new recruits, I had everybody in the company take it and we did like a little competition. Whoever got the best guy, like I don't know, a hundred dollar bonus or something. And I realized that I have created, if you were to take every single person at will for companies and they were one damn good accountant, it was amazing to see how some people pick up. Like one of our employees was really insist, insistent on making the charter of accounts perfect. The other one had all the vendor details in there and everything looked good and I was like, man, you guys make one great employee. If we were to put up everyone's strengths together, it would have been awesome.

BW: 33:08 But so that's one of the things I picked up on, which is what's so critical, equally effective about that skills test is that you can pick up on the weaknesses. So if you're giving responsibilities and duties to people, you can, you know, understand that you're not, it just helps you from throwing people in the fire and then getting mad at them because they didn't know how to do something. Like whose fault is it really? Is it yours for giving somebody something they weren't skilled at or is it there is for not being skilled at that. Whenever you know you have an expectation. So you set expectations with it. It's really, so it's really good for

MP: 33:47 Brad, you have uh, hired a lot of people in your business and you are a student of Michael Gerber's work and the concept that Michael Gerber put forth and EMF was, you know, build a system-dependent business, which is, you know, you can trust your systems versus relying and trusting on staff. Like in a, in a business that relies on staff, they come and they run the business and if you were, if you assemble a bunch of people in your business to do work, you train them all to do the work and they each retain that information. If those people leave a, you're out. You don't have a business anymore. So it's a people dependent business, which is a chaotic business. It's what causes a lot of stress and anxiety and, and businesses. Whereas a system-dependent businesses, you've documented the processes and procedures of the business. People know exactly what to do. They know exactly how to do it and they know when they've done a good job of it, which leads to high retention rate of staff, a high customer, not customer but high staff satisfaction, employee satisfaction if you will. And so you've, you started building this using the help of pure bookkeeping, but what is, what, what has it been like having a system driven and a system dependent business?

BW: 35:02 Yeah. What's so good about it is it cuts the fat. It helps you as the educator, I guess you could say whenever you're giving employees, you're disseminating duties unto them from yourself. It helps with you not being required to talk to them about every nuance of the client. Because as we all know, as accountants, our work is cognitive, which means, well my definition of that is there's not always a right answer. It's kind of like, you know, civil litigation's like 50 50 you know, a little bit tip the scales this way to scale that way in an audit. Would it pass? Well? Yes it would pass. If you stand behind it, you have a process written and you stick to it. So the critical piece of a well-documented system is that it is your industry best practice. It's not here, Mr. Robot, do this.

BW: 36:06 Don't veer from the, from the path of the system. I don't, I haven't been able to create such a specific way that you could actually, you know, give somebody a book and say, follow this to the t for every single client. That's never going to happen. So there's always individual specific needs with the client, but that's the conversation you want to have with your employees. You don't want to have the stupid conversation about, like we've talked about earlier, for perfect competition businesses such as gasoline, creating all these various payees and vendors and them asking you, Hey, uh, why isn't should I create Exxon? You know, no can use the gasoline thing. You don't want to have that conversation with every single employee anytime they come across a problem. So those systems, the best industry, best practices will knock out those sorts of conversations so that you can have the more meaty conversations that actually mean something beautiful.

MP: 37:07 And I'm sure that that, you know, having 12 staff has, has changed your life as well from the days of just working on your own and cranking it out while your wife's out doing, you know, you'd be, you'd be up 24, seven all the time. How right. How has this impacted your life?

BW: 37:28 Uh, it's extremely challenging to deal with all the people and all the personalities. I, you wouldn't believe how many stories I get every day about, you know, who has to leave and for what reason and blah, blah, blah. It, it gets overwhelming for sure. So what we're trying to do now in the business, because right now there's Matt and me who are essentially the guys that anytime an associate has a question, they go up the chain to us. So it's kind of a flat structure. Well, we're finally getting to that point where our business is like a, it's maturing. It's like the awkward teenage phase of a business where we want this hierarchy so that there can be levels of authority and Instruction provided by other knowledgeable people instead of everything coming to Matt and I because now we're, we have to, I spend a lot of time like writing engagements in specifying our duties and statement of work with clients to the point where if someone has a small problem that it just takes me away from it.

BW: 38:39 And I've actually this week, since Monday I've been writing an HR statement of work because somebody wants us to do HR since Monday. I could have finished it halfway through Monday if there were zero people around. But right now it is still not a complete, so that's the challenge or the distractions by having all the employees. So inevitably that's what causes you to start to bring those people up in and develop a management role. And you know, for us, we've never had to have a manager, so we don't have the, haven't had those conversations before. It's, it's a new concept to us. And you know what? I always tell what actually my cousin told me years ago, he said, if the revenue drives it, do it. And so he's got like a $30 million business. And so I kind of looked to him for advice cause you know, we're not even doing $1 million yet.

BW: 39:38 And so I'd like always like to pick his brain to find out how to get places that I want to go. And one of the Times years ago how that came up was I was just starting out in business. I had like, you know, I wasn't making anything from money as you guys heard thus far and I want him to get an a satellite office in DC. And so it was like some stupid expensive $2,000 a month and I may have been making like $3,000 a month at this time. I don't know. And so I was telling them, well, if I can get into DC then I'll get the business. Well, he was like, uh, do you have the business? No. Do you think if you get into DC and get that place, you'll get the business? Yes. Okay. Why don't you just go into DC and try to get the business.

BW: 40:22 And if you get, if you're so busy, you're going to DC because you have so many clients, then it makes sense to get an office. So I liked that concept of if the revenue drives a do it and I've kind of lived by that ever since. So as a result, you know, we get to this point where there's 12 employees and there's so many distractions that we say we need a third level of management here. So we need the executive level, the middle management level, and then the associates so that we can have a buffer. So that's some of the, most of the questions can be answered by the manager that I can actually get my job done in price jobs and get more business in the door. So inevitably it gets to that point. And so my advice would be if the revenue drives to do it.

MP: 41:11 I love that. What a beautiful piece of advice, Brad. This has been, this has been awesome. I've got like at least I, a handful of other questions we're going to have to have you come back and share cause you just, like I said in the beginning, you're so generous with your, your, your stories and where you're at and you just, you tell it from just the way that it, I personally think it's refreshing and I love hearing the stories and the real true story. Right. So I'm gonna ask that you come on back sometime in the future and share a few other tidbits as we go. But this is, this is awesome. If people want to learn more about you, what's the best way to do that?

BW: 41:53 That's sweet. Do that would be to send me a text message. We have the most terrible website. It is literally one page and it's some brochure that we kind of just plastered as a wallpaper on the background. Funny thing about that is some people do look at your website before they call you. That's what happens nowadays. And so I will actually get calls. Most of our calls are referral based, but you know, I'll get calls and someone's like, oh, I was looking on the internet and I couldn't really find anything about you. And I was like, Oh, I guess that my website worked because it has my phone number on it. And you called me and I'm our best billboard right now. But needless to say, you could go to www.wolfordcompanies.com and Woolford is w o l f o r d and companies is plural, c o m p a n I s.com. And uh, I took some advice from you and I'm very close to getting that intercom, which is like a text messaging capabilities. So if you visited the website, hopefully I'll be there to say, hey, take a look around even though there's nothing to look at.

MP: 43:03 Yeah,

MP: 43:04 maybe instead of texting me directly we could use intercom.

BW: 43:08 Absolutely. conversation.

MP: 43:10 Yeah, absolutely. Well there were, there you have it folks, if you have questions, more questions, you want to connect with this awesome human being, go and do it. And we're going to have Brad come back and share more of his knowledge for those that want to follow in his footsteps and learn from his mistakes and also from his successes. And, and uh, and so again, Brad, thank you for being on the show.

BW: 43:32 Thank you so much.

MP: 43:34 Well, that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com. Until next time,

MP: 43:47 goodbye.