This case study provides a summary of a discussion with Aaron Wallace, who is the Operations Director of Nudge Accounting, a completely online accounting services provider, specialising in providing accounting, tax and bookkeeping services to small business and start-ups.
As part of the Digital Business Kits website we have been reviewing a number of professional services organisations who have made a strong commitment to running their businesses online. We consider that some of the lessons learnt and advice offered by these firms can be very helpful for other SME professional services firms who may be at different stages of their digital strategy development.
Part 1: About Nudge Accounting
Like most service providers nowadays, accounting firms are rapidly changing to meet the demands of clients who look for timely information about their accounts and financial situations, especially if they operate small businesses with little time to worry about the more prosaic features of book-keeping.
In fact, Nudge Accounting believes the traditional approach to accounts and book-keeping is increasingly becoming a ‘broken model’ because it cannot provide the timely numbers SMEs seek to stay on top of their fast-moving business finances.
Nudge believe that because small business clients more typically want to treat their accountant as a ‘trusted advisor’ they need almost ‘always available’ access to advice and suggestions about their accounts.
They say that building a digital business has allowed them to ‘flip the model’ of how an accounting works for its clients.
Most larger accounting firms started out as bricks and mortar businesses and are now adapting and various speeds to moving their systems and business models online; in some cases this means little difference between paper and digital. Nudge however set out two years ago as a completely online provider from the start, so their initial sunk costs were lower, allowing them to pass on savings to clients in fixed-fee subscription-based monthly pricing arrangements, and increasing their ability to be nimble.
Part 2: Our Digital Advantage
Being online from the start saved Nudge a lot of time and money; all of their software systems are hosted in the cloud, and subscription based fees means the accountants can spend more time on what they’re good at. Staff are not needed to chase up outstanding fees because of the subscription system.
Expensive offices and old-world physical storage systems are also not required, allowing more savings for Nudge. Aaron notes however, that constant updating of the systems is necessary to keep abreast of technology advances.
Since more than 50 percent of their clients have never met Nudge accountants in person, excellent communications systems are always needed, especially as small business values quick responses and advice.
All forms, CRM, quality assurance and client communications are managed in the cloud with a suite of different solutions. Secure document transfer and back-up systems via the cloud are essential for Nudge’s business, and Aaron notes they are constantly looking at ways to improve their service offerings.
Part 3: Advice and insights from Nudge
All firms providing this type of service need to transition to a digitally driven business model as soon as possible or risk the danger going backwards as their competitors offer more of what customers want.
The use of digital tools saves time and money, which can then be passed on as savings to clients.
Nudge uses social media primarily to ‘start a conversation’ with clients and prospects and has used blogs and articles to establish their credentials in the financial and accounting field. They have also used paid ad words marketing campaigns in the past, but now find that organic growth and referrals is working more strongly for them.
Aaron observes that Nudge would not have achieved its growth rates had it been set up in a bricks and mortar environment, and planned future strategies include offering better service to meet clients’ increasing expectations through better use of technology.
You can learn more about Nudge at www.nudgeaccounting.com.au