The right kind of technological support can help an accountant dramatically increase their firm revenue and profitability. Andrew Lassise specializes in providing this kind of support to accountants through his firm, Rush Tech. Joining Michelle Weinstein on the show, he tells us the story of a certain “Joe Sticky,” the stereotypical intransigent accountant who does things “old school.” Andrew demonstrates why this mode of operation never works anymore in this fast-paced, technological world. Doing your business on sticky notes is a recipe for frustration on the part of your clients. Nobody wants to refer an accountant who doesn’t remember to send the email he said he was going to send. Listen in and learn how you can take advantage of various technologies to increase your efficiency and set you up for an abundant practice.
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Andrew Lassise – Tech And Sticky Notes
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We have a very special guest. His name is Andrew Lassise. He’s a serial entrepreneur. He started his first company at sixteen. He grew a company which is a technology support for accountants. He founded it in 2014 and has grown it to a little over $4.5 million, not too shabby. He knows how to grow a business so he can help you. He helps accountants improve their technology so they can grow and scale firms like he did with Rush Tech. As an accounting professional, I know you feel frustrated and stress trying to get the right clients, or it might seem you have no control over who you work with or how much you can charge. It seems like charging a high monthly fee or a big consulting engagement is not even in the realm of possibility but that’s not your fault. There are not many people training you on how to fix these problems and connect the dots.
Up until now, most of my high-end clients have had access to this information, but I am very excited about sharing this with a few more of you. I’m offering a free coaching session to discover the possibilities you have within your firm with the clients that you already have. This is for a few of you. If you’ve had an accounting business, you own it and you’ve had at least two years, then you qualify to book a call over at TheAbundantCall.com. If you’re just sick and want to jump 2 feet in to discover what’s possible because what you’re doing isn’t working anymore, then head on over there. Let’s welcome Andrew to the show.
Michelle, thank you for having me.
Thank you for taking out the time to be here. I can’t wait to hear some of your stories about how being organized and having tech in place in an accounting firm can help an accountant increase their firm revenue and profitability, which equals abundance in my mind. Before we dive in, could you share with everyone who you are, where you’re from, and what it is that you created.
My name is Andrew Lassise. I’m originally from Maryland. I’ve been transplanted into Florida because the State of Maryland had a couple of differences in what I should and shouldn’t be doing so I did a pivot. I moved to Florida in 2013. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I built my first company when I was sixteen in the CD duplication industry, which now doesn’t even exist. Some people would be like, “What CDs? It’s all Spotify and digital now.” What we do in Rush Tech is we help accountants with their IT, organization and cybersecurity. I founded it in 2014 in my living room and went from $36,000 in the first year. I learned about scaling and growing a real business and got it to almost $2 million the following year. A 48X years of experience and growth was cool. That’s the 3,000-foot view.
What’s your revenue now?
If it weren’t for that pesky COVID.
All our revenues dropped, not accountants but the consultants to you guys. We’ve had a little bit of a dip let’s say, but just in general, to give the landscape a little bit more depth.
At the peak, we were at about $4.5 million was the height of it. However, we decided that we weren’t going to be everything to everybody. We started realizing that we have a particular skillset that we can hone in on with accountants. I have a financial planning degree and as timing would have it in 2009, we’re in one of the worst recessions in US history. Nobody is looking to hire a financial advisor straight out of college with zero experience.
There are many people who are taking a massive hit. I love how you said you can’t be everything to everybody. I’m not that way. For the audience, they already know me. I only work with accountants but they come to a sales class. It’s not like there’s a financial planner in there or a car dealer sales guy. It’s only accountants. At your peak, you guys were at $4.5 million, you’re helping more than just accountants, but how did you scale back and say, “We can’t be everything to everybody,” and what did you do?
At that point, we had about 50 full-time employees and we were everything to everyone. If you are a 95-year-old grandma that doesn’t know how to use Outlook, we’re your team. If you’re a Millennial that’s looking for insert whatever crazy thing it is, that’s us too. If you are a financial planner and you need your whole business set up, and you’ve got 50 employees in multiple locations, that’s us too. What we realized as time went on, even though the gross numbers were getting bigger, sales doesn’t solve every problem. Not all money is created equal. We would kill ourselves and bust our butts to lose money on some of these low-value deals. It would be taking away time from the clients that we’re bringing a lot to the business. It’s like, “Sorry, everybody is equal.”
That’s what we’re taught. Every customer is your most important customer. I do agree with that to an extent but if you’ve got somebody that’s paying 50 times on what another person is paying, and your company does everything you can possibly think of, what ends up happening is you spread yourself. The misconception that most people have in IT is most people know as much as they know about computers and technology. Anyone that knows more than them is a forensic cybersecurity expert that should be working for the CIA like someone who knows how to remove a virus which most people don’t know how to do, but things that you can YouTube and not having any background could knock out.You can’t be everything to everybody. Click To Tweet
What we realized was that there are a lot of parallels in IT with accountants, particularly in the compliance aspect. We don’t like the compliance piece of our job. It’s part of the job and what people expect from us so when we need to have the checklist of do’s and don’ts from the IRS, FTC and the GLBA with protecting client’s data, what we came to realize was a lot of our accounting clients had a lot of old-school mentality. They wanted all of the things, but at the same time, they didn’t want to learn a whole new system until you can demonstrate, “Here is the hidden cost of not making these changes and digitizing.” Here’s a perfect example. I have a friend, we’ll call him Joe Sticky. He does all of his business on a sticky note.
This is a real-life example. Maybe this is you. You maybe reading and you’re like, “I’m that old-school mentality and I don’t want to learn a thing.” Here’s the catch, it’s when we don’t adapt. You had to make a pivot, Andrew. Instead of serving the 98-year-old grandma in her Outlook and the Millennial, you’re now focused with the accountants. It’s worked in your favor and we’ll get to that in a little bit because I want to know what does abundance means to you. Let’s hear about Joe Sticky because he might be one of you reading right now. Pay close attention because I hate talking about the tech stuff too, but I got a helper on that. I can’t stand the tech stuff. It’s like speaking Japanese. I’m already trying to learn Spanish and it’s hard enough. Let’s hear about Joe Sticky.
We won’t get crazy technical with it but the way that Joe Sticky does things is, “My mind is a steel trap. Pen and paper have never failed me.” I had approached him about being my accountant. He was excited and he was like, “There’s a whole lot we can do here and I can help you with this. What about having your wife as a member of the LLC? We’ll orchestrate this.” I was like, “I love that we’re not just reactive to what happened last year. We’re going to be doing proactive. It’s going to be consultative. This is exactly what I’m looking for.” I ran into him a couple of weeks later, “Joe Sticky, remember all the stuff we were talking about may be the proactive?” He’s like, “Yeah, I was so backed up. What were we talking about again?”
We go over it and then 3, 4 weeks later, I still haven’t heard back from him again. I went with the person who’s now my accountant and an awesome person. That person had the opportunity to have me as their client. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all shooting for, but there weren’t any systems or process in place. On my own CRM, it’s virtually impossible for me to not follow up with somebody because it’s in my face 24/7 and it’s built-in. Humans don’t like having to remember and recall things. When you get a notification, “It’s time to call Andrew to get money from him. He is interested.” All he had to do was pick up the phone.
I do teach sales to accountants. The Abundant Accountant Show, Michelle, the pitch queen, who would have ever known that we’re having sales discussions. I’m curious to know how you define this as a hidden cost because I want everyone to understand what that means to you. I see this as a massively missed opportunity. Do you think Joe Sticky is ever going to get a good referral? It’s like, “Don’t contact that guy. He’s a waste of your time. He’s going to promise to send you this. You’ll never get the email.” It seems like he didn’t even take any notes because there was no process in place. He asked you, “What are we talking about again?”
I’ve shared this before, but do you feel it costs you any time as the client because you didn’t get it set up soon enough? There are implications if we don’t do things in time, especially when it gets to the November, December timeframe and you’re starting a business. If things aren’t done in time, then when you go to do the compliance work, it’s not in the best interest for your future prospects sitting in front of you.
People have this mindset about money like, “Money isn’t the be-all-end-all. There’s a whole lot more to life than money. I’m not going to be chasing the money.” If that’s your mindset, more power to you. In this example as you’re describing, me as the client, I’ve been sitting here waiting not able to get the things done that I needed to get done that I’m willing to pay money for because I know the value of it. As a client, they’re putting me in a disposition as well. They could look at it as black and white, “I didn’t charge you anything so I didn’t get your business,” and just looking at that dollar. You’re right because the accountant that I have now, I’ve given him referrals and other business too.
There was a missed opportunity and loss of trust. Joe Sticky is still a great person, don’t get me wrong, but if somebody says, “Andrew, would you recommend Joe Sticky?” My experience with Joe Sticky is he put my information on a sticky note and lost it or doesn’t have a process. It is what it is, but it’s having that process in place. It’s not like, “I don’t like asking for money because I have some weird feeling around it,” and that whole mindset piece. As the client, I needed that service at that time. The price wouldn’t have been one of my concern because he’s solving the need. It was a big missed opportunity and it’s not to be, “Don’t you know who I am?” I know people and stuff.
Joe Sticky obviously dropped the ball. There’s also the mindset like doing things new, pivoting, adding systems and tools into your process. Even the accountants that worked with me, the amount of homework I give you to create your whole sales process as we go through week-by-week. It’s only eight-week period but it’s a lot and I get it. As you said, money is not all equal but once you start getting the higher revenue money, very similar to this engagement you could have had with Andrew, Joe Sticky, those are higher value engagements that don’t require as much effort and are way more fun to do, but we have to make the shifts. If you were to have Joe Sticky as a user of your services, how does Rush Tech would have solved the problem for him? How do you see that helps accountants, small firms or solo firm to be able to create that firm of abundance that they’re looking for? They are not frazzled and dropping sticky notes or maybe it fell in his coffee, who knows?
The piece that any good tech company will recognize going into the sales process is not all people are going to be so excited to move things digitally, or to change the way that they’ve done things. Humans in general don’t like change. If you can say the sentence, “I’ve been doing it this way for years and everything is fine. We can’t uncover any missed opportunities or any pain point for you,” then maybe it’s not the best fit. Joe sticky, for instance, had he taken us on as a client, we would have sat down and look at the process. If you’re using Outlook, how crazy would it be if we put reminders inside of it? These are baby steps if they’re not trying to do a full CRM or whatever it is. If they’re looking for baby steps, we can put a reminder in Outlook and drag it each time you’re going to call this person.
There are way better systems than this, but it’s getting them used to it. I promise you’ll get a sale from someone that’s in your calendar to follow up with that you hadn’t thought about in a while. There are many ways you can automate and streamline. That’s when it gets complex and fun for us. They’ll pitch us like, “We’ll do this and you can get paid while you sleep.” I’ve gotten sales from strangers while I have been asleep through automation because we’ve set the process in place. There are measures that you can take, automation that you can put in and follow up. When someone is reluctant, it’s just dipping your toes in the water. At first there’s going to be reluctance. When most people hire us, they’re in the mindset of, “My name is Joe Sticky and I lost Andrew as a client.”
“I’ve lost Andrew’s brother, sister, and best friend. I’ve lost so much that I have to change.” It’s like, how much money do you want to leave on the table even though you might have the money isn’t the end-all-be-all mentality? It’s not a good look and reputation also. For those of you who want to show that you are credible and you do have a legit business, this process is key. This is how people see you. It’s not like they see your packaging on a shelf at a store. They see your systems, your services, and how you operate your business. That’s what I’ve been told about me. That’s great what you’re doing.
When you say for an accountant to dip their toes in the water and make some baby steps. Let’s say, they’re not going to hire you. They want to try something themselves. From the tech expert, what are the first two things that someone could do right now? They’re like, “This was a great chat. I am sick of it. I am no longer going to be like Joe Sticky. Thank you for the reminder again. I’ve heard that twenty times from other avenues.” What are the 1 or 2 things that they could implement?
The easiest thing for people dipping their toes in the water is a call reminder in Outlook. Let’s say, you have to do payroll for your client every other week, setting up the time in your calendar where it’s blocked out. You’re in front of the computer anyway, but it’s getting those push notifications. That’s why social media and all these things are so huge because as much as people say, “I don’t want to be told what to do,” we like to sit and be told what to do.Abundance is being able to provide for everybody else so that they can get their own abundance. Click To Tweet
If you’re telling yourself though and you have it blocked out, “At this time, follow up with this prospect,” it’s in my calendar. Those little push notifications can start moving the mountain or boulders. If you want to implement a full-scale CRM where you are supposed to call the person and they didn’t pick up, here’s the automated email that went out and whether or not they opened it. You can get very complex with it but keeping it simple. Just a push notification in your calendar is a huge step forward over a sticky note which is one step behind a text or a Word document on your desktop.
Joe Sticky, that is the greatest way to explain it to drop the ball. One of my good friends who’s not an accountant loves sticky notes. They’re only there for the day and all the sticky notes go into her calendar. If you are obsessed with sticky notes, you could write on it, put it in the Outlook calendar, or if you’re like me, use the Mac iCal, and then throw the sticky note away at the end, then you’ll have that little dopamine rush of feeling accomplished. I know all of you like to check something off a checklist. I had this whole list of things that I’ve been needing to do. By the way, Andrew, it’s on a sticky note. I like crossing it off.
They’re also in my notepad on my phone. I have two places because I know that sticky note sometimes gets legs and starts to move around on me. I’m like, “Where did I put that sticky note?” With that being said, the reminders and push notifications. We’re not going to get into the psychology of this, but the fact that people like to be told what to do from your technology is hilarious. All the push notifications on the apps prove that. Andrew, if they’re not going to hire you for full-blown CRM, is there anything else that you’ve seen work for the clients who aren’t a good fit. They haven’t lost 10, 20 clients. You didn’t find any major pain points. There’s not a ton of missed opportunities, but they want to start changing it because they know that the Joe Sticky way is not the way for the life of abundance at all, or the firm of abundance for that matter.
A lot of what we see are also the horror stories where everything gets erased or deleted. There are a million different things in the cybersecurity world, not so much in the sales side, but on the security which we hit on a lot. There’s two-factor authentication if you’re using Xero, QuickBooks, Sage or any of the major ones. They all have it built-in. It’s a little inconvenient to type in that code with all the data breaches that have happened especially since work from home became so big. For your client’s sake, put a little extra protection. We would go A to Z and make sure it’s 100%, but two-factor authentication is a low-hanging fruit and don’t make your password “password” or have a document on your desktop called passwords.
It’s not a good idea. Not only the two-step authentication but as you said, everything gets erased or that horror story of cybersecurity. What I’m hearing is back up your computers, devices and stuff.
We had a client who had told us, “Backup sounds expensive.” I got a text message from the person doing data recovery. It was $2,800 to get them back to where it was three weeks ago when we told them $300 would solve everything.
It sounds like they were slightly overwhelmed and thought $300 was a challenge upfront. Sometimes, you have to learn your lesson. In that case, it was a $2,500 lesson plus three weeks of lost data. It’s never the same when it comes back. I’ve had that happen on my iPhone. I’m like, “Where are half the text messages?” They’ve gone into outer space. I’m all about the backup process. My last question for you is, what is the business life of abundance look like to you?
I’ve been very blessed with having a successful company. For me, it’s providing value to others. Because of the systems that I put in place in year one when I only made $36,000 where it was just me for the most part, I was willing to take the time to dissect what I was doing, make systems, and then have ways to replicate them, I have employees and vendors, and their families are being provided for. Even though I may not always be the one doing the tech work, the abundance that I create is about being able to provide for everybody else so that they can get their own definition of abundance.
Thank you so much for being here with us on the show. It was such an honor to have you. How do people reach you or talk to you to see if they have any problems, or if they’re like Joe Sticky and fed up? They’re like, “Andrew, let’s do this.” You can help the audience, not everybody but there’s a couple of you that are like, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to call him because they keep missing the boat. My sticky notes in my Word document are not cutting it.”
People can reach me on LinkedIn Andrew Lassise. They can check out our company, RushTech.online. We’ve focused our offerings to the accountants, accountrepreneurs, firms, and the back and forth. We do offer free IT audits for peace of mind, especially now because with work from home, the biggest question that we get is, is my data secure? Is my client information even safe? We’re all doing work from home. I don’t know if I even got hacked or what that would even look like. We do a complimentary audit for accountants.
A complimentary audit is worth the call and email to Andrew. Go check Rush Tech. Thank you so much for being here with us, Andrew. It was an honor to have you.
Thank you so much for having me.
What an amazing episode with Andrew from Rush Tech. He’s doing a complimentary assessment. I do the same thing, a complimentary free coaching session with you if you’ve been in business for at least two years, and you want to clean up your sales system. With that being said, if you’re not going to take Andrew up on his complimentary assessment, it definitely might be worthwhile to go back up your computer, because to get back all of your data is expensive. I thought the $2,800 deal was good, but the two-step authentication is annoying and irritating. You have to type in six numbers every time you log in, but it’s for the safety of your clients. When we keep our clients safe, that means you’re safe. That’s one way you can improve your abundance.
For those of you who want to fix your sales part like Joe Sticky. He didn’t have tech in his backyard. He also had zero sales skills in his back pocket. If you want to create your dream practice, similar to what Andrew did with his business, if you want to have more time and more money because if you have a sales process then you’re no longer winging it anymore. It will slowly improve your confidence when you’re talking to clients and you want to charge them a lot. Maybe Joe Sticky didn’t want to charge a whole lot, that’s why he never followed up with Andrew but that’s a missed opportunity.
That one whole client could have paid for many different things than Joe Sticky’s accounting firm. If that’s you, I do complimentary assessments, coaching sessions to get to the truth and the bottom of what is missing in your sales process. If you want to explore more, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. You’ll have a call with me, and we’ll see if I could support you. If I can, I’ll let you know. If not, I will let you know that too and recommend some next best steps. The only requirement I have is that you’ve been in business for at least two years, and you have clients that have disappeared on you, or they may even fell off a sticky note. You never followed up with them, and you’re looking to improve your revenues. If you could please leave a written review on Apple Podcasts, that would be great. Thank you all for joining me here on another episode. It is always an honor and pleasure to be here with you. Have a beautiful day and I’ll see in the next episode.