Gusto for Partners

How Accountants Use Reports to Give Clients Better Advice: A Case Study

Leah Brite Product Marketing, Partner 

When Josh Lance started his own firm nearly 6 years ago, he knew he wanted to run a cloud based practice. Now, he’s using Gusto – and Gusto’s new suite of reporting tools – to give clients industry-level insights, provide mission-critical people operations advice, and increase revenue at his firm. We caught up with Josh to learn more. 

Clients are asking for industry-wide data to benchmark their businesses performance. Gusto reporting makes this easy. 

In an uncertain environment, small businesses often ask their accountants whether their financials are in good shape: Am I spending too much? What’s a ‘normal’ amount to pay? Understanding what’s normal or typical is key to providing sound financial advice, but it hasn’t always been easy.   

“If I wanted data across clients, I’d have to go into each one of my clients and pull that data over and over and over again,” a time consuming, manual process that was a major drain on his business, Josh said. 

That all changed with the new Payroll Journal Report on Gusto Pro. The report, which helps him aggregate payroll information across clients, was a game changer. In fact, he used it to help a client decide how much to pay key employees. “A client asked how much they should be paying their sales people… Using the Payroll journal, we were able to get the data that we needed quickly without opening up each client’s Gusto account and pulling each set of data. That just saved us a ton of time.” 

The report is especially useful for accountants like Josh, who specialize certain industries. Josh, who focuses on microbreweries, uses the report to analyze clients’ data to uncover industry-wide trends and benchmarks. “When you work with a lot of clients in the same industry like we do, they want to know how they are doing compared to others. Am I profitable enough? Am I paying people the right wage? Am I spending too much on my rent?” The payroll journal gives him the data he needs to answer those questions, so he can bring valuable perspective and subject-matter expertise to the table. 

Saving time on reporting means more time to advise clients. 

Josh says that overall, being able to answer clients’ questions quickly frees up time for him to have conversations that matter.  When digging into the Payroll journal data, he could more quickly identify which clients were on a strong growth trajectory. “If we see high growth and that they’ve reached a certain number of employees, it might be the right time to talk about benefits — so it opens up that people advisory conversation. It helps us see what bonuses are getting paid out, which might signal to us that it’s the right time to offer other financial benefits.”

One of the ways that Josh has built such a strong, resilient practice is looking for ways to advise clients beyond traditional accounting. In fact, solidifying a new offering is one of his company’s goals as he closes out 2020 and looks to 2021. “Our goals for our firm are to expand our offering beyond accounting. We are in the process of launching a sister company that is all about HR and employees. It is about giving employees a seat at the table in the company and helping them build a great culture.” Josh says that the pandemic has really shaken up a lot of his clients’ businesses, especially with so many of them in the food and beverage industry. They need more help than ever understanding HR and what it means to build a  great culture proactively instead of being reactionary, and Josh is passionate and committed to guiding clients as they build great places to work. 

Reporting helps firms build strong practices

Another way that Josh has been able to build a strong business is through a persistent focus on pricing and packaging of his firm’s services. The recently released Partner billed summary report helped him strengthen his billing practice. He explained that when they examined the report, “we uncovered revenue that we should have been billing for and weren’t.” For this client, Josh explained, “we put in their engagement letter that after a certain number of employees, we were going to start charging more. But we had lost track of that and hadn’t updated their billing.” The Partner billed summary report brought this to their addition and “we got more money in our pocket as a result.”

What’s next for Josh – and for Gusto?

After a new launch like reporting, we are always curious to hear what products our partners want us to build next. When I asked Josh, he said, “Fringe benefits for employees.”

“Whether it’s integrations with software like Zestful for self care benefits or integrations with other benefits companies, these can be great add ons that provide benefits instantly to our company and clients’ companies, ” Josh said. 

His clients are all at different stages of growth, which naturally means they’re at different places when it comes to offering benefits. Having multiple options for low-cost, no-cost, and premium benefits helps him construct packages that meet clients where they are. “Clients often ask, What are benefits that I can offer outside of health insurance? It’s all the little ways that you can make your workplace more employee friendly,” he said.

We are so glad that Josh brought this up and thrilled to announce that we just launched a new suite of low-cost and no-cost benefits that offer great ways to make workplaces more people-centric. Read more about how you can help clients take care of their hard-working team and access these benefits here.

Updated: November 9, 2020

Leah Brite
Leah Brite Leah leads Product Marketing for the Partners Program at Gusto. With a passion for telling compelling stories about well-designed products, Leah has built her career helping tech companies put the voice of the customer front and center. On the weekends, you can find her gardening with a Colorado craft brew in hand.

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