Abundant Accountant | Tommy Taylor | Business Transformation

 

Imagine working long hours, feeling overwhelmed, and barely making ends meet in your own accounting firm. That was the reality for Tommy Taylor before a dramatic turnaround. In this episode, Tommy shares his inspiring journey of transforming his business from a place of despair to one of joy and profitability with the help of The Abundant Accountant. He reveals how he overcame the fear of raising prices, built a sales process focused on ideal clients, and ultimately gained back his freedom and time—collecting $45k in A/R and added $100k in revenue to his firm. Through Tommy’s candid interview, you’ll discover actionable advice for any accounting or tax firm owner who wants to stop trading time for dollars and build a thriving business. This episode is your roadmap to overcoming challenges, achieving financial success, and enjoying the work-life balance you deserve.

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A Case Study On Business Transformation: From Despair To Profitability With Tommy Taylor

We have a special guest. Our special guest is a client here at the Abundant Accountant and owns a CPA firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has many years of experience in tax and accounting. His practice has four employees with over 450 individual and business return clients annually. He and his wife live in Tennessee. They have two adult children and also two grandkids. Before we welcome our special guests to the show, if you are an accounting tax or bookkeeping firm owner and you’ve wanted to stop trading time for dollars, let go of overly demanding clients and get paid based on your value and worthwhile massively boosting your revenue.

Here at The Abundant Accountant, I will show you the system to fill your firm with ideal clients who value your time so you can catapult your firm to the next level and work the hours you want to work while still having plenty of free time every single week for your family. Not only that, but I’m also going to show you how to do all of this in a way that feels simple, effortless, and automatic. If you want me to show you how to do this, go to TheAbundantCall.com and book a call with me and my team. Let’s welcome our special guest, Tommy Taylor, to the show.

Welcome Tommy to the show.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and wisdom with other firm owners who might want to be like you. They’ve had their firms for many years, or they’re starting out and don’t want to make the same mistakes as you. Before we dive into one of our special case study interviews with a lovely, amazing client here at The Abundant Accountant, Tommy, why don’t you share with everyone where you are in the country and what your firm specializes in?

We are in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We serve both Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama primarily. We have several other states. We primarily work with individuals and small businesses. We do bookkeeping and mainly a tax practice.

Before you found the Abundant Accountant, what was life like in your firm? What had you tried to seek something different?

In some ways, it was miserable because we were chasing our tails and not making any money. We were working ridiculous hours and didn’t enjoy the firm at all.

Finding The Abundant Accountant

That doesn’t sound like a fun experience. Since you’ve been doing this for many years, having your firm, you wanted to enjoy it and have joy again. Tommy, can you share how you found the Abundant Accountant and what it was like when you went on your search and your hunt for a change?

We had been hunting for a change on and off for a couple of years. We tripped over Michelle and her business. It was an email. It was Nate Haggerty. We used his website. We’ve used him for several years. I came across Michelle. I said, “This is different. I want to see what they’re about.” I contacted her, and my eyes opened. I’ve never thought about this before. I understand what she’s bringing to the table.

Looking back, Tommy has done our eight-week sales mastery training and ongoing coaching. He’s in our Abundant Millionaire Mastermind and still investing in coaching around sales. The way that you do your whole front-end process, from the time you get a lead in your firm to the time you get paid, what were the things that you tried before you found me, and why did those solutions not work?

For most of them, I was rehashing the same thing over and over again. You try to be more efficient. You get that, but that doesn’t bring any more dollars in, and it still doesn’t affect you. They pick clients that should be charged more, but you don’t know how to go about charging them more. That was a fear of losing many clients by raising fees.

In the last few years, you’ve made a bunch of changes. What was that moment that you decided to do something about your biggest fear? It was as if you hit rock bottom and you could no longer continue the way things were going. Share with us that story.

I did not have a good year one year. I was not happy with my net income, and I’d worked way too many hours for that money. I said, “I’ve got to change something.” When I came across Michelle, I did the work. I did a letter about raising my prices. I felt comfortable with it. I wanted to lose some clients. That’s an odd thing to say because I needed some capacity.

Everything that I tried that she’s put forth to me has worked what they said would work. I didn’t lose as much as I wanted to lose, but I paid more money. I wasn’t going to complain about that. I’ve been able to hire someone. That’s going to help hire an additional person to get up to four full-time employees besides myself. That’s going to give me some confidence going into 2024. I will not be working myself to death. We’ve instituted a 50-hour ban on work per week.

Return On Investment

You hit on a few good points. I’d like to dive deeper, Tommy, into those. One of the points you said is that everything that you tried that I suggested and in our coaching and teaching worked. You gave it that go. If you could share what that experience is like, it would be great because there are a lot of firm owners we talked to who have done a lot of other programs. They’ve had other coaching. The biggest thing I hear is, “I never got a return on that investment. I’m terrified to try something different.” What made our approach better and different than other approaches you’ve tried in the past? How much revenue have you gained from doing the things that we’ve suggested, and you implementing the work and doing all of it?

There are several questions there. The first one is I never valued my services. I said, “This is what I did last year. If inflation is 5%, I’ll go up 5%.” I never thought I started way too low. I value my services. When you gave me an exercise to look at that, I went, “I’ve got a lot of experience.” I had clients who told me, “We come to you because you’ve been around the block several times.” The gray hair is an indicator. I kept falling flat on my face every time I tried to raise prices. I was afraid. How do I word this? How do I tell a client that I’ve been charging $400 a year, and his fee is going to be $800 next year without looking like an idiot or losing every client I’ve got? I thought they would all leave.

When I wrote the letter with your coaching, I lost clients, but I was hoping to lose some for capacity. I was happy with the ones that stayed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for each one of them, but it was quite scary to do that. You gave me confidence not only in the value of my service but also in how to communicate. The most important thing is communicating with your clients. Yeah. What your fees are, what they are, what you can do for them, and what you will not do for them are important.

The most important thing is communicating with your clients—what your fees are, what they are, what you can do for them, and what you will not do for them are important. Share on X

What were the immediate financial results that you’ve seen in your firm? I understand it’s gone up because you were able to hire another full-time person. There are firm owners reading. I was talking to one of our other clients. She wants to be able to pay her staff more. She wants to hire someone of a higher level and get rid of someone who’s a bottleneck in her firm. It’s always like, “I don’t have money. I don’t even know how I’m going to pay payroll right now. I can’t make those shifts.”

When we increase our revenue and have that ability for increased profitability, you can afford someone amazing, take some of that pressure off your shoulders, and put the 50-hour ban in your firm anytime a year. You’re not working 15 or 20-hour days anymore. Can you share with us, Tommy, some of the immediate financial results that you experienced in your firm so far?

The immediate result was more revenue. There are two ways. One is I started collecting some of the bad debts, as I like to call them receivables. I collected almost everything that was owed. I’ve still got a few out there.

What was that total?

It was about $45,000. I have left, but they’ll pay as they bring their stuff. They’ve all said they would. I’m not overly concerned about that. I’ve been doing some of these for several years. It’s a case of taking the time to make a payment. They’re distracted. I’m not worried about those, but the big thing is I went from collecting 50% more. The revenue went up about 30%. From ‘22 to ‘23, the billing went up over 35%.

What did that equate to dollar-wise? You collected $45,000 of accounts receivable, and the total revenue increased with fewer clients.

It is under $100,000.

You can hire someone and take some of that burden off your shoulders and not feel like everything is weighing on you. I’d love it if you could share, Tommy, what you have done personally. You’ve been on many vacations. You’ve seen so much of your family. I would love it if you could share how all of these changes have had an impact on your life in general.

I have a son who lives overseas. We visit him for about 15 to 18 days at a time. We got to do that this past year and not worry about where the money is going to be when I come back. That was nice. We had a couple of other vacations and short trips. We spent time with my family. I lost my mother-in-law. I was able to spend some extra time with my wife on that. Time away from the practice has increased. It will increase even more with the addition of another person. I believe the growth in the practice is enough to pay for her.

Key Lessons Learned

What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned in our eight-week sales mastery training, ongoing coaching, and our higher-level mastermind? What are some of those lessons and key things that you’ve learned that were those a-ha moments and light bulb moments that you believe each other firm owner who’s either starting out that doesn’t want to make the same mistakes that you had, or they’ve had their firm for several years and not enjoying it anymore?

This is going to sound funny, but the first thing I learned was the clients that I did not want to take on and some of the clients I didn’t want to have. It’s not because they were bad people. I would rather do 4 or 5 things 100 times than 100 things 4 or 5 times. That freed up a lot of time, and I didn’t have to study how to do this return because I didn’t do those returns anymore. We had a red rope and said, “If you don’t meet this criteria, we will not work with you.”

Abundant Accountant | Tommy Taylor | Business Transformation

Business Transformation: I would rather do 4 or 5 things 100 times than 100 things 4 or 5 times.

 

If we know someone else in our profession locally who does that, we refer them to them because we want to help the people, but we don’t want to be the one doing the return. That’s not what we want to do. We could pick and choose our own clients to some degree. That was eye-opening. That made life a lot easier.

It’s not only making it easier but having you feel that freedom and peace. You’re chill now instead of stressed out. That goes to show that putting in this hard work for a shorter period of time has a significant payoff. I would love it if you could share the journey of making the decision to do something different. What were some of your initial skepticism, but you overcame them, being that they sounded too good to be true in the beginning?

There were several things that sounded too good to be true when you said, “Increase the revenue by a large percentage double.” If you communicate what you’re doing for your clients, you’re going to lose some. That’s okay. You don’t lose many. The reality is we lost quite a bit less than we wanted to lose. We worked extra hours, but we made enough money with the revenue we expect to gain this year, and new clients should be able to pay for that new person. I’m hoping that I get down to 50 to 55 hours a week instead of 75. The thing about it is I was making money. Seventy-five didn’t seem bad when you’re making more than you made the year before.

What were some of your other initial skepticism? I know we met through Nate, but some people meet us through a Facebook ad or an Instagram ad. They don’t know us, and we hear all the time, Tommy. They want to do some more research. It sounds like a scam. It sounded too good to be true for you. What had you made that decision to take the plunge and change and get past the skepticism that you could share with another firm owner who might be thinking about wanting to make the change? There’s this coach and coach there. There’s so much out there, and there’s so much noise. How are you able to sift through that for yourself?

That is a tough question because you do things, and you don’t remember every reason why you did it. At the same time, the confidence you exuded was good. The literature that I read was good. This is a process I had not tried. I tried to be more efficient. I tried to get more clients. If you get more of something that’s taking more hours and not paying, it doesn’t help. I thought raising the fees was my only choice. One is to reduce my client load. I could afford to live. If I got more money out of it, that was even better. The only thing I took a lot of was faith, and I was correct. What you say you do.

If you get more of something that's taking more hours and not paying, it doesn't help. Share on X

Thank you, Tommy. At some point in your career, you do have to rely on your faith or that gut instinct that you feel because there is a lot of noise. It’s similar to you meeting other clients in your area, and they’re price shopping. They’re like, “This firm said this. There’s a lot of hearsay.” There’s got to be some point where you do a gut check, and you say, “I’m going to continue to suffer or get real transformation and make a difference for me and my life.”

You made an extra $100,000, and you collected $45,000 of that bad debt that a lot of people think they’re never going to get paid, as you did. You forgot a big part. You’re getting paid upfront for everything that you do going forward. There will never be AR in your firm again. These are massive changes to the way you’ve been doing things for your whole career.

It’s a whole new mindset. We’re thinking of going left, and sometimes, you end up going right. Sometimes, it’s that big. Other times, it’s refining what you were thinking. When we get our CPA and our accounting degrees in college, they take that part of our brain out of our heads. We don’t think that way.

It’s not taught. It’s not your fault. The beautiful thing is that when you have a system to follow, like you now have Tommy, you’re willing to do something a few times, but you’re not willing to do something 100 times the wrong way. How did that go?

We’re trying to reduce some of the services that we do. We’ve got clients we’ve done for several years, and trying to get them to leave and find homes for them is a little bit difficult. However, it’s a whole lot better than trying to continue to do one-offs, a specific thing where we might do their individual and a couple of things. We don’t do this and that.

Those one-offs take a lot more time. There’s a lot more stress. I don’t feel like I do the client’s justice sometimes. I know we’re going to get it right because we spend the time to get it right. Something that should take me two hours takes 7 or 8 hours. I assume someone else has that revenue, and I have about another seven hours to work on a client who will provide me with the revenue that I would prefer.

The Abundant Accountant Family

Your sales process now in your firm is the same thing. You have repeatable steps to follow instead of winging it and flying from one meeting to the next. That’s why you have the results that you have. It’s similar to how you’re making decisions based on those ideal clients that you want to work with. Thank you for sharing that, Tommy. Being a part of the Abundant Accountant family, how does that make you feel?

It’s nice because you can bounce things off other people, everything from software to your mindset on this sale and how to improve our sales techniques. Little things like that don’t sound like you’re in the middle of it, and you go, “I learned a lot. I can apply this.” This is not something pie in the sky. This is practical. It has been good for me.

I had someone call at the beginning of tax season after we did the price increase letter. There were two different businesses. I would’ve recorded them 25% more than having one business. I quoted him at full rate on both of them. The guy said, “I’ll have the stuff for you tomorrow.” That was nice to get to get twice the revenue. I almost twice the revenue. That was even after raising the prices. They were two separate businesses, and they needed separate prices. I didn’t have to have that business, but I got it.

I’m proud of it. Proud of the courage that it took to make these changes. You get to see all of the fruits of your labor. Tommy, what words of wisdom do you have for people who might be reading your story and where you are now versus where you were before, and having your firm for so long and being frustrated, angry, resenting your clients, and thinking that 5% inflation was going to get you to where you wanted?

Words Of Wisdom

Having that ability to hire someone full-time and have the freedom to go visit your son and be gone for several days, not worry about where that revenue is coming from, and have that peace of mind and ease that you have now, what words of wisdom do you have for those firm owners who own a bookkeeping firm, an accounting or tax firm that you would love to share with them going through this experience and also being in their shoes?

My biggest thing is don’t be afraid to make a change. If you continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results, they’re not going to happen. Don’t be afraid to make a change. Do your due diligence. Make sure you’re doing the right thing. Michelle’s plan works. I can’t vouch for anybody else’s because I’ve never had another one work, but this one worked. It gave me the courage to increase the price. It gave me a way to communicate with clients before I get new clients. I get the ones I want. I can weed out the ones that are going to be headaches.

Abundant Accountant | Tommy Taylor | Business Transformation

Business Transformation: Don’t be afraid to make a change. If you continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results, they’re not going to happen.

 

Before we wrap up, Tommy, what’s in store for the future of your firm now? How do you see things transpiring in the next several years? What do you envision now that you have that ability to even see past?

We’ll continue the clients that we have. They’ll have an increase of some sort each year. Our big goal is our new 1040. We have minimum billings. A good example is, in ‘21, before Michelle, it was $400 for a new client. That was the minimum billing. Even that got broken quite a bit. In 2023, we did $900, and we broke it maybe twice. In 2024, it’s $1,200. That’s for 1040. There are some that we don’t take, but that’s okay.

Why would we take $300 1040 that’s going to take us an hour and a half when we can do $1,200 in three hours? It doesn’t make good business sense. We’ve made that change. That’s been a huge help for us. Going forward, we want to continue to raise the minimum billing. The goal is to have an average of 1040 billing at over $1,000 by the end of 2025.

Isn’t it at $1,200 now?

Yes. It’s the minimum. We have some that are still grandfathered in because we’re not the little old lady. She’s got a small thing, but you’ve been doing her return, or your predecessor’s been doing in return for many years. You’re not going to kick them to the curb.

You have a small percentage of your firm as pro bono, and you’ll keep them where they were. Everybody new will be coming in at this. One last question, Tommy. What does your wife feel about all of this and all the changes you made and now that she gets to see you and your grandkids a lot more?

They seem to like it. They hadn’t gotten mad at me yet for being in the room. At the same time, she says, “I can’t wait to see how this new person works.” She’s the one who brought the lady to my office because we’ve both known her for years. I didn’t realize that she’d been back in public accounting for a few years. We ran into her, and this was a real blessing.

Tommy, I’m proud of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story here on the show. I can’t wait to see how much you grow and how this new person works out. You take off four times a year to see your son overseas. Thank you again for taking the time to share your journey and everything with another firm owner who might be in your shoes.

Thank you, Michelle.

Thank you all so much for joining Tommy and me here on another wonderful episode. I always love having our current clients and past clients share their stories with you because you’re not alone. Sometimes, you’ve got all this work piling up. You’ve got all these low-value clients like Tommy had, and you all wish it could all disappear one day. Every year, you dread the busy season around April, and October. It feels like you barely see your family for months at a time.

You might be like Tommy. You are finding yourself responding to emails and taking work calls on the weekend to get your head above water. If that sounds like you, I have good news because none of those things are your true problem. The real problem is that you don’t have a system for working with your ideal clients, increasing your revenue, and gaining back your freedom and time. It’s the same problem Tommy had.

I will give you that system that will allow you to gain back your freedom, grow your firm, and enjoy work and family without working long hours, without stressful tax seasons, or even having to hound clients for paperwork and chase AR ever again. If you feel like Tommy did, where everything depended on you right now, and everything falls on your shoulders, I get it.

This is the same system that I have shown hundreds of firm owners like you use to create the firm they have always wanted to have. If you want me to show you exactly how to do this, like I showed Tommy, go to TheAbundantCall.com and book your call with me and my team. We would love to explore what is possible with you. Thank you so much for joining us, and have a beautiful day.

 

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About Tommy Taylor

Abundant Accountant | Tommy Taylor | Business TransformationWilliam Thomas Taylor, Jr. known as Tommy Taylor is a CPA practicing in Chattanooga Tennessee. He has over 35 years of experience in tax and accounting. His practice of 4 other employees prepares over 450 Individual and Business returns annually. Tommy and his wife, Kim, live in Ooltewah, Tennessee and they have two adult children and two grandkids.

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