7 Experts Weigh In On the Future of Accounting
Every industry is impacted by the rise of technology and automation, and for many, that can be an...
Jeiver Gonzalez founded GNO International Business Center with a vision to support the hispanic community’s tax preparation needs in Louisiana. After being asked to help an existing client clean up their accounting, Jeiver would soon learn of an untapped stream of revenue his firm was holding.
In 2019, GNO experienced a rapid firm growth rate of 58% resulting from word-of-mouth referrals from their existing clients about their accounting services. Shadowed by the events of the 2019 Covid-19 crisis, Jeiver and wife Maria were faced with a capacity shortage and now a new remote environment. There was too much work and not enough manpower to complete it all.
“I knew we wanted to learn how to optimize everything at GNO. Everyone in my class was talking about AI and ML, and I thought there had to be something in the accounting or bookkeeping space that was providing this to firms.”
After exploring what hiring might mean for the firm, both in the U.S. and abroad, GNO realized that an automated solution may be more beneficial. With Botkeeper’s 99.7% accuracy rate and GNO’s commitment to always doing what’s right for their clients, they decided to become a Botkeeper Partner.
Since implementing the Botkeeper solution, GNO has been able to save 200 hours per month on their first 30 clients they’ve onboarded to Botkeeper. They are using the Botkeeper platform as a project management tool to manage their firm, their process, and their clients. The firm is now focused on growth objectives for 2022, which is to have a 28% firm growth rate and bring a total of 60 clients onto the Botkeeper Platform.
Hours Saved Per Month with Botkeeper
Saved in Annual Bookkeeping Salaries with Botkeeper
Growth Rate Forecasted in 2022 with Botkeeper as a Partner
GNO International Business Center is an accounting, bookkeeping and tax resolution firm, led by Jeiver Gonzalez. With a strong team of talented individuals, they focus on providing the utmost transparency to the clients they support. Their services enable their clients to dedicate more of their time to their business and offer peace of mind when it comes to having the right analytical data to make informed business decisions. Their menu of services includes accounting, federal, state, and local tax consulting, payroll and certified payroll, advising in IRS controversy, workers’ compensation, and GL auditing, as well as startup businesses, construction licenses, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) consulting.
GNO considers themselves a one-stop-shop that assists clients with all of their needs, from securing a house loan to prepping workers' comp paperwork. The firm is located in Kenner, LA, and was established in March of 2014.
After years of being a tax preparer experiencing a steady growth rate, in 2016 Jeiver received a simple request. One of the firm's construction clients was experiencing an issue with the IRS and needed someone to clean up their bookkeeping and accounting. Jeiver had done accounting in Colombia, but he had not tried his hand at accounting in the U.S. With no hesitation, he decided to study up and step in to help his client.
The impact of Jeiver’s decisions to do accounting services drastically changed GNO’s landscape. They saw a 58% client growth rate from 2019 to 2020 alone. As he watched his accounting business boom by word of mouth referrals from existing clients, Jeiver's wife, Maria decided to leave her full-time job as a nurse, get her MBA, and join the practice.
“At GNO, our core values are that we do everything right,” Jeiver said. “If you want someone to do your taxes and accounting the right way, then come to us. This motto has helped GNO see amazing growth at the end of 2019 into 2020. Our clients were referring us to their entire networks because of how happy they had been with our work. Maria decided that it was the right time for her to get involved in the practice and help me balance some of the work.”
“Onboarding with Botkeeper was easy,” Jose said. “Of course there was some trust building at the beginning from both sides, but once that was achieved, it was smooth sailing."
With exponential growth also came challenges, and soon the couple was faced with a 11:1 client to employee ratio in just one of their service lines. They had 42 clients who needed their accounting expertise, and that was in addition to their tax preparation clients. GNO desperately needed more staff but found that their specifications of finding bilingual employees who were willing to learn specific industry tax and accounting practices was hard to come by.
“A majority of our work is in the Hispanic community,” Jevier said. “Anytime we hire at GNO, it is imperative that the person we bring on speak both English and Spanish. English because everything is in English, including our general ledger software QuickBooks, but we also wanted employees who could communicate with our clients, so speaking Spanish was also a must. Then, once we hired new employees, we had to train them on bookkeeping for construction companies, which was very different from traditional bookkeeping. We found this to be a real challenge, and Maria kept asking, ‘Who will have time to train these employees if we do find them?’”
In 2020, when COVID-19 swept the world, the realities of GNO’s employee shortage came to head.
“When COVID started, we couldn’t go into the office,” Maria said. “Jevier and I were balancing our home life of work, kids, the dog, and it was distracting. That's when the reality of our employee shortage really set in for me. Our clients still needed their accounting done because they were still operating during COVID—still transacting and using their bank accounts. We had set a goal to close the books within 2 months so we could review the financials with the clients, but we weren’t able to hit our goal. This was a BIG issue for us because we work with our clients on DBE certificates. When we have their books done in a timely manner, they can apply for these licenses and start bidding on big projects to help boost their business. We were also finding that we were getting new clients coming in who needed clean-up and catch-up work, making me wonder how we would possibly get other clients' books done while someone devoted their time to these new clients' books. It was a nightmare.”
To alleviate the capacity challenge, Jevier, Maria, and their son Jose decided to consider their options. Maria had taken a growth analysis course and wanted to explore hiring bookkeepers at more efficient rates back in Colombia where she’s from. Her idea was an outsourced accounting model for GNO’s strained capacity. She figured she could pay a few accountants in Colombia a decent wage, $300 per week over the $62,400 it would cost to hire 2 new bookkeepers in the U.S. She soon found that new challenges arose with her international option: who would take care of the employees and train them? How would she be able to easily transfer funds to pay their salaries? Government rules and regulations would create barriers.
"These are the guys!’ It seemed like the perfect option with their 99.7% accuracy rate and their ability to support our construction clients who needed back-office support. We knew we had found the Partner.”
With hiring ruled out as an option, the team decided to do some research. They wanted to find a solution that could assist their overworked employees, deliver month-end close to their clients on time, and take the burden of training new employees on industry nuances off their plates.
“I was getting my doctorate degree when we started searching for an alternative solution,” Maria said. “I knew we wanted to learn how to optimize everything at GNO. Everyone in my class was talking about AI and ML, and I thought there had to be something in the accounting or bookkeeping space that was providing this to firms.”
After finding a few potential solutions, the team dove in on what each solution could offer GNO.
“We looked through a bunch of different marketing brochures,” Jevier said. “What stood out to us was the level of error these solutions offered. Priding ourselves on doing things right, we could not afford this level of error when it came to our clients' books. We wanted a solution that could seamlessly run in the background and deliver perfect bookkeeping. None of the options seemed like the right solution—until we got to Botkeeper. Maria, Jose, and I all simultaneously said ‘That is what we need. These are the guys!’ It seemed like the perfect option with their 99.7% accuracy rate and their ability to support our construction clients who needed back-office support. We knew we had found the Partner.”
With a unanimous “yes” across the board from the GNO team, they brought on Botkeeper.
“Onboarding with Botkeeper was easy,” Jose said. “Of course there was some trust building at the beginning from both sides, but once that was achieved, it was smooth sailing. We love how Botkeeper leverages the Tasks feature to project manage what they need from us. When we receive a task, we know exactly what they are talking about, why they need it, and when they need it for. This was the best part for me. It ensured nothing got left behind; all bases were covered.”
"I love the potential this is going to have on our business long-term. We are even considering bringing GNO non-bookkeeping and accounting clients onto Botkeeper to use the tool as a project management and real-time view for all our clients.”
Botkeeper has created the capacity that GNO needed and has modernized the firm to be cloud-based.
“Botkeeper has completely solved our capacity challenges,” Jevier said. “We are saving over 200 hours per month between receipt management and transaction categorizing on just our first 30 clients on Botkeeper! We can support clients of every industry, including construction clients, without having to get anyone up to speed. We have eliminated the pressure and the switching from client to client account in the weeds of bookkeeping because we have dedicated portals and are now looking at these clients' accounts from what is missing and what advice we can provide based on their books. We used to be all QuickBooks Desktop, but not anymore. Now we are all QuickBooks Online with Botkeeper. It is now how we run our practice. Botkeeper has pushed us into modern times and provided us with the most amazing QuickBooks dashboards that help paint the picture for clients in real-time. Every new client we bring on is immediately moved to QuickBooks so we can get them up and running on Botkeeper when the time is right. Cloud is the way of the future, and Botkeeper gave us the push we needed to shift with that future.”
GNO is leveraging Botkeeper as an organization and project management tool for all their clients.
“We want to start having our clients interacting with the Botkeeper Client Portal,” Jose said. “We are using the Portal to store clients' EIN numbers, sales tax accounts, and the articles for organization from the Louisiana Secretary of State. It has worked out great to keep us organized and our clients' information in one place. I had a meeting with a client today, and I was walking them through the demo Portal Botkeeper provided us. I showed the client all the functionality. I explained how they could easily pull the Portal up on their phone to have a real-time view of their business financials, accounts, and month-end statements in one convenient spot. I showed them how they could communicate with GNO right in the Portal and see any outstanding questions we had for them. I love the potential this is going to have on our business long-term. We are even considering bringing GNO non-bookkeeping and accounting clients onto Botkeeper to use the tool as a project management and real-time view for all our clients.”
Now as an extension of the GNO team, Botkeeper serves as a colleague-level advisory solution for accounting issues that arise with GNO’s clients.
“Some of our accounts are very tricky,” Maria said. “Botkeeper’s accounting team has been an amazing advisor, helping us think through certain accounting issues that aren’t so black and white. We feel so lucky to have a team we can trust and rely on that is also working to ensure our client’s bookkeeping is perfect.”
Botkeeper has provided GNO the bandwidth to begin considering what’s next for the firm.
“Botkeeper has allowed us the time to think about what is next!,” Jevier said. “With our immense capacity savings because of Botkeeper, we are no longer focused on the here and now. We are focused on bringing on more clients and forecasting what the future of our firm is going to look like. Our team can start working with businesses who haven’t had accounting before, new industries, and larger, more complex clients that we haven’t ever had the bandwidth or the manpower to take on.”
As for the future, GNO has leaned into what the Botkeeper solution can offer and is full speed ahead.
“We have been prepping the Client Portals with links and videos for when we bring all of our clients onto Botkeeper,” Jevier said. “Our existing clients absolutely love the Portal. They love seeing everything in one place, so we set a company challenge: by July 31, 2021, we plan to bring on 7 more clients to Botkeeper, bringing our total to 37, and then start using the Botkeeper communication tools to interact with them through their Client Portals. And we aren’t going to stop there! We are trying to reach 60 bookkeeping clients by the end of 2021, and we plan to have them all on Botkeeper. For 2022, we are predicting a 28% growth rate, and because of Botkeeper, we know we are not only going to hit it, but that we will also be able to support this growth year over year.”
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