How Gusto helped Dark Horse CPAs drive efficiencies – and double its revenue

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With Gusto, Dark Horse CPAs has been able to:

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More than double its year-over-year revenue, from $6 million in 2022 to north of $12 million in 2023

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Switch from ADP to save time and drive efficiencies through Gusto’s centralized platform

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Reduce payroll issues and tax notices by 70 to 80%

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Offer more clients health insurance and 401(k) plans

About Dark Horse CPAs

Dark Horse CPAs provides integrated tax, accounting and CFO services to small businesses and individuals across the U.S. The firm was founded to save small businesses (and their owners) from subpar accounting and tax services and subpar client experiences. These small businesses are Dark Horses among their larger and more well-known competition. Being a Dark Horse CPA means advocating for small businesses by bringing to them the tax strategies and accounting insights previously reserved for big business. 

Where: Fully remote, with CPAs across the U.S.
Industry: Accounting
Employees: 100+
Clients on Gusto: 250+
Joined Gusto: July 2021

When Chase Birky, co-founder and CEO of Dark Horse CPAs, started his firm, he wanted to give it a name that truly captured its mission. He and his team landed on “Dark Horse,” as the firm empowers their “dark horse” small business clients to surprise the competition through advisory services historically reserved for those with deep pockets.

The name also reflects Dark Horse’s unique strategy in supporting its accountants – one that’s very different from the traditional firm model. As a flat organization providing on-demand resources, its structure allows CPAs to be front and center with their clients. This enables them to focus on providing strategic guidance through an array of tax, outsourced accounting, fractional CFO and wealth management services. As the firm’s brand story puts it – “we’re the Dark Horse that no one saw coming, and we intend to win the race.”

Today, Dark Horse CPAs offers payroll and benefits to more than 250 clients on the Gusto platform. Having one centralized platform for Dark Horse’s accountants, their clients, and their clients’ employees has been a win-win-win across the board.

Why Dark Horse partners with Gusto

Dark Horse focuses on empowering its people with the right technology, the right tools, and the right resources. Before partnering with Gusto, Dark Horse primarily used ADP. But they soon had clients asking them to try Gusto. 

Initially, the Dark Horse team was concerned about the level of customer support it could expect. They soon realized that not only did Gusto provide a high level of support – but the number of payroll issues and tax notices their clients were receiving had been reduced by 70 to 80%. 

Gusto has empowered the Dark Horse team to drive efficiencies across the firm – freeing up its CPAs to provide higher-level client service. Chase has shared:

  • “A big reason we chose Gusto was just the user interface and the way that it was intuitive for both an accountant and a business owner to use. It’s clear that [Gusto] is more of a technology company that was doing payroll services versus a payroll company that was trying to build some technology on the backend to support it. If we’re working through Gusto, we’ve got a lot of efficiencies that we don’t have if we’re working on five, six different one-off platforms.”
  • “A lot of those other providers – it’s hit or miss in terms of the customer support. You might have to call an 800 number and wait a half an hour  depending on the hours of the day. So it’s just been a totally different and more white glove experience with Gusto.”
  • “What [Gusto] really brings to the table that is powerful is a passion for what they’re doing – serving small businesses in payroll and other areas, whereas some of the other payroll providers out there can be a little bit more of a sales organization. And payroll is what they sell, but that’s not showing up in the way that they serve clients.” 
  • “With Gusto, it’s just very obvious that there’s a huge focus on accountants and small businesses … It’s just a totally different feel than any other payroll provider that we’ve worked with in the past.”

Dark Horse’s growth with Gusto

  • “We’ve grown from just under $6 million last year to north of $12 million this year. Efficiencies gained from Gusto is a huge part of that. The less time we’re spending doing the minutiae in the administration, the fact that we’re able to free up our mind to focus on providing value to our clients because of what we get through Gusto absolutely is a major driver of that growth.”

How Dark Horse offers clients benefits with Gusto

Having a centralized platform through Gusto has made it easy for Dark Horse to provide benefits to its clients, like 401(k) plans and health insurance. With Gusto’s all-in-one platform, CPAs don’t need to worry payrolls and deductions will be done accurately and on-time – which is vital as they scale the number of clients they serve. And clients and their employees can handle all of their payroll and benefits needs through Gusto, also saving them time. 

Chase shares that:

  • “[Gusto] is an open platform that brings in best-of-class service providers across benefits, 401k, all of that. From the employer side and the employee side, it was just a huge win across the board.”
  • “Our CPAs recommend insurance through Gusto not because they’re insurance experts but because the platform is great. The expertise on Gusto’s side is great … Anytime you can sell something that you believe in that you use, that just carries so much more weight.”
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