How Direct Management combined bookkeeping, consulting and technology [Case Study]

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Direct Management was established in 2006. Founder Diane Lucas describes their mission as, “To help simplify businesses by working out the best ways to make them more efficient.”Diane's success has not gone unnoticed in the industry. In May 2017 she won Bookkeeper of the Year at the Accountants Daily Australian Accounting Awards.

Accurate, real-time knowledge

The end result provides business owners with accurate, real time knowledge of what's going on in their business, empowering them to make better business decisions. It is a strategy that Direct Management's committed and passionate team of bookkeepers and consultants embrace wholeheartedly. Having two service lines that complement each other is an approach that works well for Direct Management.

"A lot of the consultancy work will lead onto bookkeeping. If someone's using us on consultancy basis, as their business grows it gets harder to manage. They know that we get it right so they often hand over their bookkeeping to us as well,” explains Diane.

"Bookkeeper of the Year is definitely not an individual award - it's a total thank you to my team. Without them I couldn't be doing what I'm doing to get accolades like that (Diane has previously won top international ProAdviser at the Insightful Accountant’s ProAdvisor of the Year awards).'

“Our niche is that we are QuickBooks Online experts. People say you've got to be agnostic to the software and although I'm confident enough to navigate around any number of packages I'm going to recommend what I think are best ones.”

Providing information before the client asks for it

Diane believes that bookkeeping is so valuable in part because it is such a good barometer for wider issues clients face.

“As the trusted adviser, if you can position yourself to proactively provide information, before the client asks for it, that's quite amazing. My mind is always ten steps ahead of the information in front of me, extrapolating what it could lead to, and therefore the business's potential.”

“We position ourselves as the bookkeeper that accountants want you to use. Our client books are spot on so the accountant doesn’t have much to do. When we hand over our year end folder to our accountants, typically very little changes because it's been done perfectly.”

A new line of solutions

Diane believes that cloud solutions are the core to today's business strategy. ”'If you follow the new line of solutions with regard to cloud software there is no reason your business can’t be geared for growth.”

Direct Management originally used desktop accounting software and later a hosted solution. Troublesome issues with the hosted environment coincided with the arrival of QuickBooks Online (QBO) into Australia. 'So in 2013/14 I took my clients on another journey. Over a 6 month period I moved 80% of client base. It was hard work. I got really good at doing conversions! Business growth requires that you become systems orientated and process driven and that's where many people fall down.”

'My first QBO client was early 2013. He didn't have payroll so was the perfect guinea pig. He was an auto electrician, always on the road, and he was carrying a printer around and printing from his car. He just went "Oh, wow, this is amazing!".'

That's where Receipt Bank comes in too. With its seamless integration to QuickBooks Online, the technology enables a truly paperless environment and removes laborious data entry.

Why do data entry?

'Why do data entry when you can use something to help you do things more efficiently?' says Diane. 'Not just that, it also captures those things in a digital format so you never lose papers again. The efficiencies that Receipt Bank drives in regards to data entry also assists with internal administrative tasks.'

'We tell our clients - for us to do our job effectively, we need you to have RB + QuickBooks Online so we can support you. For me it's a no brainer.'

She believes it is particularly good when dealing with clients who are not accessible. 'They're busy. They don't want us on their doorstep to do data entry. Having our clients use Receipt Bank means that there is so much less chasing up required.”

These new process are a steep learning curve for some clients. However. “After they get their knuckles rapped for not uploading their paperwork, they get into the habit and it becomes second nature. One of my clients recently introduced me to an accountant at a meeting. This accountant wasn't familiar with Receipt Bank. In my client's words: "All you do is take photos and they (Direct Management) do everything else! I’ve never been so up to date with my bookkeeping before".'

Diane has an insatiable appetite for success and is looking forward to what lies ahead.

'Four years into a five year business plan and I can tick off most of my goals. I wanted to have a half million dollar bookkeeping practice and by the end of this year I'll have one. Can I get it to AUD$600,00? Maybe the year after. We're in the market to drive growth.'

The right clients to drive growthIdeal_Client.png

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