Renae Pitargue, Owner: First Class Accountants Ovens & Murray
I wanted to grow my business and I wanted it to be able to stand alone, to continue operating without me in the long term. I wanted to have a business but not be the business. That’s why I made the conscious decision to engage with a business coach. That was in 2015. Before that, I had been operating First Class Accountants Ovens & Murray successfully on my own for a number of years in the regional base of Albury and Wadonga.
With bookkeeping and management accounting services being our core business, First Class Accountants Ovens & Murray filled a gap for small companies that that don’t have these skills and resources in house.
Of course, being a franchisee within the First Class Accounts group laid the foundation for a well performing business. The technical and marketing support, quality control measures and product training provided by the franchisor is second to none. But, I knew that to grow the business and to make it sustainable without me, I had to hone things, and employ, train and develop staff. Very few bookkeepers in regional areas are operated as a practice; they tend to be single operators. I was ready to turn First Class Accountants Ovens & Murray into a practice.
In September 2015, I began my coaching journey with ActionCOACH Phil Badura who provided the management and guidance of a ‘virtual’ CEO to assist me through this growth phase. The accountability Phil provides has ensured that we have kept moving forward, and keep pushing for the next growth and development in the business.
Since I began working with Phil, my business has grown year on year. In 2016, our turnover grew by 82%, followed by a growth of 53.7% and 33.2% in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Turnover growth is not the only reward. In 2018, I achieved the ultimate accolade of Franchisee of the Year out of 198 franchisees in the First Class Accounting group. Having been named Runner Up twice before, this was a firm goal for me. There is no doubt in my mind that the structure and disciplines implemented through the use of the ActionCOACH systems helped us to achieve this prestigious accolade. Continued business growth has seen the business reach Xero Champion Gold Partner, specialising in conversion, integration and training. I have certainly found my niche consulting in these fields!
A recent focus has been to move from hourly rate services and offer value added package pricing instead. This removes the price comparisons and allows us to educate our clients in the services we offer and the quality and value that they will receive. We are now focusing on delivering AddOn App Integrations, specialising in the areas of Job Management, Retail, Inventory and Workforce Management.
Yes, our core business is bookkeeping, payroll, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Business Activity Statement (BAS) accounting systems setup and implementation and training. However, our mission is to equip small and medium sized business owners with tools to make their businesses efficient. We want to empower them to control the financial path of their business.
We provide an integral link between accountant and client. However, just as I wanted my business to be self sufficient, we want to empower self sufficiency within our client’s businesses. If a client has internal resources that can complete some of the bookkeeping tasks, we help with training and up-skilling them. We also encourage system and process reviews, largely through system add-ons, which often deliver efficiency improvements. This is what differentiates us from other bookkeeping and accounting services providers.
A service business, such as bookkeeping, is all about the growing team to be able to deliver the same quality service with consistency, each time, to each client. I provide the framework, training and feedback. However, I am able to rely on my team to provide the deliverables. This is a great source of pride. This is what I set out to do.
Bookkeeping practices are not common in regional centres and I am especially proud of what I have been able to achieve here in Albury and Wodonga – and to be recognised and referred by two of the biggest accounting firms here on the border, RSM and BMG.
We are on the cusp of more changes and growth. We are in the early stages of strategically moving the business from operating only within the First Class Accounts franchise framework, to operating as a standalone consulting business. We are working with a Marketing Consultant to develop our own website and marketing collateral. The website for this company, Busy01 Consulting, is live at https://busy01.com.au/, giving us the opportunity to have more content, including blogs, staff profiles, and additional information on our App implantation services.
Looking back on the past three years, I am amazed at the growth we have achieved with the processes and diligence of Phil and the ActionCoach system. Best of all, there is still more to come.