About Kacee Johnson EVP

Kacee Johnson, Cloud9′s EVP, has been recognized as one of the 2012 and 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” Executives by CPA Practice Advisor. Overseeing its marketing, sales and business development operations since early 2009, Kacee has led Cloud9 Real Time growth to nearly 20,000 users and climbing. Recognized as an industry expert on the subject of how businesses can implement and utilize Cloud technologies, Kacee is a regular speaker and commentator at accounting and technology events nationwide.

Webinar Friday: 3.9 – Avoid Professional Burnout with Cloud Computing

Webinar Friday Host: Cloud9 CEO Robert Chandler

In this struggling economy, many employees feel fortunate to have jobs right now. Combined with Tax Season, you have a perfect storm for professional burn out.  This is another scenario where cloud computing and cloud accounting can help!

Register:  Fri, Mar 9, 2012 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PST 

More work while you’re at work is one thing, but a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that nearly 1 in 10 employees bring work home on weekdays. Couple this with the fact that Americans are among workers who receive the fewest number of vacation days per year—a meager 15 on average, compared to workers in France or Finland who get about 30—and you have a surefire equation for employee burnout.

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Private Server Cloud Computing Accountants

Cloud Computing For Accountants White Paper

Accounting Cloud Service and Cloud Computing Accountants White Paper from Cloud9Accounting Professionals are bombarded in literature, emails, conferences and by consultants to move to cloud computing for accountants. They think they know what it means and they know there are some benefits to the technology, but have a hard time grasping exactly how it can benefit their firm, and more importantly – their clients. In an attempt to gain a competitive advantage over their competition, they want to stay ahead of the game, offer the latest in services, technology and security while minimizing costs during a global economic downturn.* (The answer of course is Cloud Computing For Accountants)

*Related – 2012 Accountants’ New Year’s Resolution Survey

This conundrum has led to many questions that will be addressed here, but first lets answer the most important question: What is Cloud Computing For Accountants?

What is Cloud Computing for Accountants?

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iPad Your Practice For Productivity
– With iPad QuickBooks Hosting Access

iPad quickbooks hosting access for ipad and ipad mini

Access Cloud9 with iPad

The iPad was a phenomenon overnight. It has spurred a tablet craze that rendered your local Best Buy sold out for months and every employee vying to get one. The question then becomes, is it really a useful tool for my practice or a “toy” that could lead to distractions? How about “iPad QuickBooks Hosting?”

See also – Cloud9 Delivers True iPad Cloud Computing

iPad quickbooks hosting access is hereI can attest that when traveling my productivity has more than tripled due to the iPad. Not only does it save me time and money by not having to power up the laptop every time I want to get on my email or Skype but it also saves my battery life on the laptop for more intensive projects. Additionally, I find that while I may use the iPad for Internet browsing or the occasional movie on a plane, at least 75% of the usage is work related, like QuickBooks accounting via iPad QuickBooks Hosting access.

Benefits of iPad QuickBooks Hosting & Cloud Access:

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Office Server Security Still Under the Mattress?

Office Server Security Under-the-Mattress I get asked daily about office server security and the Cloud and I welcome these questions as it is not only important for users to understand but also opens the discussion about moving to the Cloud, meaning progress for the acceptance of our technologies.

Office Server Security: Truly Secure in the Cloud?  

Recently I was speaking at a seminar and during the lunch break a gentleman said to me, “I don’t know, I just feel so much better about office server security knowing I can go in the back room of my office and see my server.” This thought and sense of security is not only misguided but it also seemed almost antiquated in today’s modern society. I responded by asking him if he still keeps his money under his mattress and he said, “Of course not” and I think he understood from there where I was going with this. Continue reading

What If I Lose Internet Access?

No Internet Service for my CloudWe hear this question asked more and more: if I don’t have internet access and I’m in the Cloud, I won’t have access to any of my data?

Yes, correct – but I think the bigger question is – if you were on your current system and lost internet, what would you do? You wouldn’t have email. If you are on a network server you would not have access, and any type of online services that you use now would be down. If you have VoiP phones, you wouldn’t have that either. The benefits of moving to the Cloud far outweigh the possibility of a minor negative like if you lose internet (cost savings, security, disaster recovery plan, convenience and reliability).

If you do lose your web connection – just grab your laptop or tablet and head down to Starbucks!

And if you are in an area that is at high risk of losing internet access, or you have an unstable provider – I recommend having a backup plan. We keep a cell phone in the office at all times charged in case the phones go down so we can redirect lines there. The same should be done for internet, invest in a wireless device like the Verizon Hotspot so that you can be back up in no time. It is a small price to pay for a backup plan that could save you days of lost productivity waiting on the internet company to get you back online.

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Top 10 for QuickBooks Hosting

There are a myriad of reasons to move to the Cloud and utilize QuickBooks hosting solutions. Here are our Top 10 reasons and we think David Letterman would be proud…

10.   Work Anytime, Anywhere

9.      Automatic offsite backups

8.      No more sending Accountant’s Copies back and forth

7.      Full Desktop version in a multi-user environment (not like QuickBooks Online)

6.      Disaster Recovery Plan

5.     You don’t want to go through the hassle of becoming a “self-host” with Intuit

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Time Out! When Load Speed Isn’t Everything

When Cloud Hosted Application & Load Speed Isn’t Everything

It’s funny the things that are “deal breakers” for firms looking to move to the Cloud. Recently, a colleague asked me about the approximate connect time with hosted solutions. “Is it 3 minutes, 2.5, under two minutes?” I believe this was her exact question. In fact, she had been testing multiple hosted solutions and recording and evaluating connectivity speeds. She was so focused on this one small factor that she was completely missing the true value that cloud-based applications offer.

Cloud Application Load TimeThe benefits of moving to web-based cloud solutions far out weigh the extra seconds it may take to connect—

Especially when you consider the overall time saved by operating in a virtual environment. The Cloud eliminates the need to manually backup client data, update and maintain software onsite, or coordinate data exchange with clients. Trust me…this adds up to hours of time savings! But wait! There’s more. Within my cloud system, I can collaborate with my clients in real time— accessing files and data simultaneously, while assured that I’m always working with the most current data. I no longer have to ask a client to close a file when I need to get into it, or log in after hours to avoid disrupting the client’s workflow.

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Marketing Tip #6 – Keep Score!

Management guru Peter Drucker once famously said, “that which can be measured, can be managed.” And this certainly applies to marketing. Think of it as keeping score. You want to find out what’s working and what’s not, what are the hot buttons of your prospects. Keeping score will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and react accordingly.

WHAT'S YOUR MARKETING SCORE?Make sure you collect metrics from all of your marketing activities. Collect open, bounce and click rates for your email newsletter, and a call to action or freebie will help you measure the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns. In terms of measuring the effectiveness of your website, Google Analytics is the best tool for quality feedback, and it’s free.

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Marketing Tip #5 – Get a Dedicated Marketing Person

No-one should have ‘/Marketing’ in their job title. When Marketing gets added to a job description it immediately becomes the second priority. In tax season there’s no way marketing is going to happen when it falls to the Admin/ Marketing person. And while marketing is everyone’s responsibility, it’s also an important function that requires a dedicated person to coordinate the activities in the marketing plan.

Not every firm needs someone in a full time role. A part-time position 2 days a week to coordinate direct mail, the email newsletter and make 20 phone calls to prospects might be all you need. An intern from the local college is the perfect candidate, in fact they’d love the experience for their resume. Larger firms with more ambitious growth aspirations will need someone, with a marketing background, in a more permanent, formalized role. Look at what you want to achieve, how much you want to spend and go from there.

Some of the responsibilities for the marketing person include:

  • Adding prospects names to the database
  • Coordinating the direct mail
  • Updating the website and social media platforms
  • Setting up breakfast/coffee/ lunch appointments for the Partners
  • Coordinating seminars
  • Telemarketing
  • Coordinating the email newsletter
  • Finding events for partners and team members to participate in.

And the list can go on.

If you’re serious about marketing, make it a dedicated role. Establish your needs and then find the right person. Make sure they have the right attitude – that business is great and we’re looking for more.

 

Marketing Tip #3 – Be Consistent in Your Activities and Message

Accounting practice Marketing-Tips

Too often marketing is only done when there is capacity to fill. If this is your strategy, you will be disappointed with the results. For best results, marketing needs to be consistent. You need to create an activity plan outlining the activities you are going to do, who is going to do them and when they need to get done by. A simple spreadsheet is all you need to plan and track your activities. You don’t need an exhaustive list on your marketing mix. One direct mail piece a quarter and a monthly e-newsletter might be sufficient to keep your firm top of mind with your clients and prospects. Just make sure it happens every quarter or every month. Your phone won’t immediately start ringing, and don’t be disheartened by this, but the more regular and consistent you market to your prospect list, the more your phone will ring.

To help make marketing more consistent dedicate a particular day to marketing, for example Monday. Also make marketing everyone’s responsibility in the firm. Make sure everyone has business cards and knows the 30 second elevator pitch. Brainstorm with your team on how to respond to “what do you do?”

When developing your marketing materials make sure you do more than just promote. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the value you could potentially bring.

A final tip developing your marketing pieces, use twice as many ‘you’ and ‘yours’ than ‘I’, ‘we’, and ‘ours’.

Look for technology and implement systems that that will make this easier. An email newsletter is the perfect starting point. Once it’s created, it should look after itself.

 

Marketing Tip #2 – Ask Your Clients What They Want

 

NAccounting practice Marketing-Tipsever assume you know what your clients want or what they’re thinking. If you do you risk losing them. In a survey done by the 2020 Group of over 12,000 entrepreneurs, more than 45% of respondents said they are “open to talking to a new accountant”. This number is significantly higher than accounts think. Unfortunately many accountants overestimate their level of client satisfaction. Ask your clients how your firm is doing. Find out from your client how you can better serve them. You’ll be surprised how much new work you generate, both with current clients and new clients.

There are many ways to survey your clients. You could:

  1. Have them fill out an online survey
  2. Conduct a survey internally
  3. Have a 3rd party survey your clients on your behalf

Each method has advantages and disadvantages. For example, an online survey is inexpensive, but the response numbers are likely to be low and the responses will lack detail. If you have someone from your office call to survey your clients, you’ll likely get a better response rate, but the respondents might be unwilling to be completely honest in their responses in fear of offending you. A 3rd party is more expensive, but the response rate is highest and the value of the information from respondents is most valuable.

Some suggested questions that should be a part of your survey include:

  • Based on your most recent engagement with us, rate how satisfied you are with:
    • How often we keep in contact with you
    • How quickly we return your calls and reply to your emails
    • How quickly we are able to get your work completed
    • Our level of technical expertise
    • The overall level of service you receive
    • How aware are you of the complete range of services we offer our clients?
      • Tax preparation
      • Accounting/ Bookkeeping
      • Benchmarking
      • KPI Analysis
      • Strategic Planning
      • Estate Planning
      • Financial Planning

(You’d be surprised how much business this question generates.)

  • Other than reduce fees, how could we better serve you?
  • Based on your most recent engagement how likely are you to introduce or recommend us to a friend or colleague?

The questions can go on and on, but try to limit people’s time to 10 – 20 minutes and inform them of that at the front end. For online surveys, offer an anonymous response option. And also think about offering a reward for completing the survey. Sending a coffee reward card is a great and inexpensive way to thank you for the feedback.

 

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Marketing Tip #1 – Say thank you

When was the last time you said thank you? Unfortunately it’s something we don’t say often enough. However from a marketing standpoint a sincere thank you will immediately set you apart from the competition. Just start with the top 20% of your clients. Thank them following an engagement; thank them for being a longstanding client; and make sure you thank them for a referral or introduction.

Encourage your team to get involved, 5 thank you cards a week shouldn’t be too much of a burden, and before you know it your client base will be covered. For the greatest impact, handwrite your cards – blank cards with your logo on the front are extremely versatile and inexpensive. If you’re sending a printed letter, make sure you sign them as a printed image of a signature lacks sincerity.

So what do you say? Keep it simple.

Hi John,

Just wanted to drop a quick line to say thank you for being a client. We truly value our relationship with you and hope we are able to bring value to you and your business. We’re always here to help, so please give us a call if there’s anything we can do.

Best wishes

So what results can you expect? It’s difficult to measure, however increased referrals, improved goodwill will certainly flow from regularly saying thank you.

Another tip. In addition to saying thank you – also say welcome. A welcome letter (and “welcome to ABC Accounting” in the first line of an engagement letter doesn’t count) for new clients will definitely differentiate you from firms they have previously worked with.

 

OUR CEO RANKED ‘TOP 40 UNDER 40′: CPA TECHNOLOGY ADVISOR

Cloud9 Real Time CEO, Robert J. Chandler, has been honored with the award of “Top 40 Under 40” by CPA Technology Advisor and the NSA Technology Advisor. The magazine’s 2010 list of honorees recognizes Mr. Chandler for the 3rd time in four years making him an acknowledged industry visionary and leader.

Robert J. Chandler Cloud ComputingRobert J. Chandler is the founder and CEO of Cloud 9 Real Time , a managed service provider and application hosting company.

Cloud9 Real Time received accreditation by MSP Alliance in 2010 as well as licensing by Intuit for their Commercial Host program. Cloud9 Real Time provides QuickBooks hosting for anytime, anywhere access to both Accountants and their clients through a privately labeled virtual office. Cloud9 Real Time virtual portal is a proprietary software called the e-Dashboard which includes a Document Management and Storage system as well as gives users access to their 3rd party applications and QuickBooks files.

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Marketing Tips from a Lemonade Stand

lemonade_stand marketing for accountsThe title alone is eye-catching however the content from a recent article, and the lessons learned, are priceless.  Incorporate a few more marketing ideas below based on the lessons from the lemonade stand.

Free Information
Plenty of great content, helpful information and free articles with practical solutions, are to be included with this content. Having this information, “you’ll not only build trust, but also develop relationships with potential clients.”

Your Blog
Your firm’s blog helps communicate what you offer. It provides a way to showcase beyond the basic services. The blog also offers a window into future service offerings from your firm. Free information, updates, and details of future offerings serve to help convert potential clients to actual clients.

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SmartVault versus QuickBooks

The SmartVault & QuickBooks Comparison

SmartVault Document Cloud Management & StorageWith the release of QuickBooks™ 2010 and the new feature of being able to attach documents directly to QuickBooks transactions, SmartVault™ and other advanced toolbar systems are becoming increasingly popular. So what’s the difference between the two services? Both are a Document Management System (DMS) that allows users to attach documents directly to QuickBooks transactions.

How DMS works in SmartVault
The patent-pending SmartVault Toolbar always appears in the same place inside the QuickBooks window, allowing you to attach documents and notes to the current entry in QuickBooks. Documents are stored in the cloud in SmartVault’s SAS 70 Type II compliant data center and can be accessed from within QuickBooks or using a Web browser.

How DMS works in QuickBooks 2010
Intuit is investing in a new cloud computing platform and Software-as-a-Service subscription model to deliver document management functionality to its customers of QuickBooks 2010.

QuickBooks 2010 has out-of-the-box support for attaching documents to entries in QuickBooks via a Paperclip button. Documents are stored in the cloud in Intuit’s data center and can be accessed from within QuickBooks or using a Web browser.

What’s the same?
• Attach documents directly to entries in QuickBooks for instant organization
• Store documents in the cloud so they can be accessed anytime, anywhere
• Collaborate using an electronic Inbox to store documents for processing
• Have a Paperclip button you can click to attach a document
• Have a scanning wizard that supports TWAIN scanners for digitizing documents
• Allow uploading files from your local computer
• Allow you to invite users to share documents via an e-mail invitation system

What’s different?
• QuickBooks versions supported
• Scanners supported
• Inbox access
• Accountant and bookkeeper support
• Quality of the user experience
• Key features
• SmartVault bills per document (the SmartVault available to RTB clients is billed per file)
• QuickBooks 2010 DMS bills by storage space used

The SmartVault Advantage
The key advantages of the SmartVault system to the QB 2010 DMS are:
• Support for more versions of QuickBooks (2006-2010)
• User experience and functionality
• Great for accountants managing multiple clients
• Works well in a hosted environment
• Broader Scanning capabilities
• Order an archive of all your documents at any time
• Attach sticky notes to entries in QuickBooks, including the ability to flag a note as urgent
• Attach documents to the Home, Report Center, and Company Snapshot windows
• Drag-and-drop documents, e-mails, and attachments
• View documents from an iPhone and other smart phones, on-the-go

Find out more today!

SmartVault Launches Authorized Reseller Program

HOUSTON, TX–(Marketwire – November 5, 2009) – SmartVault™, a leading Software-as-a-Service provider of document management solutions designed for QuickBooks®, today announced a program specifically designed for hosting companies, application service providers, and full-service providers who currently host QuickBooks for their clients, to grow their business and offer an award-winning paperless solution that is uniquely optimized for QuickBooks. SmartVault is pleased to announce immediate availability via our pilot partners: InsynQ™, LinkedCPA™, RealTime Bookkeeping™ and Right Networks®. To get more information about our Authorized Reseller Program, visit SmartVault’s web site.

SmartVault provides resellers with training, support and tools for sales and marketing, as well as enablement tools for integrating SmartVault into their existing infrastructure. Resellers will bill their customers directly, enabling them to retain a direct relationship with customers while offering enhanced value to users that take advantage of hosted QuickBooks environments. SmartVault’s Authorized Reseller Program includes:

– Sales training, technical training, access to an online support
portal, and customer marketing materials
– A reseller portal to provision their customers for SmartVault
– Partner promotion including company listing on SmartVault’s corporate
site

“The virtual desktop market is growing rapidly, and our goal is to give our partners the tools they need to accelerate and ensure the successful deployment of a simple document management solution,” said Eric Pulaski, founder and CEO, SmartVault. “Our partners see an immediate value in offering a solution that is integrated with QuickBooks, so users can start going paperless in minutes with no training or consulting required. Working together, we can have an even greater impact on the success of our customers’ document management implementations.”

SmartVault offers a unique value to customers in a hosted environment. The SmartVault Inbox addresses the challenges of scanning, saving and uploading files to the hosted environment. Users can leverage the SmartVault Inbox to simply scan and upload files using a local scanner or upload files and emails directly from their local computer. Once files are in the Inbox, it’s simple to attach them to a QuickBooks transaction using the integrated SmartVault Toolbar within QuickBooks. Users do not need QuickBooks or access to the hosted environment to use the SmartVault Inbox, which means non-QuickBooks users can leverage the benefits of a paperless environment, getting their documents in digital format in seconds. Accountants working with clients as well as businesses using QuickBooks in a hosted environment benefit from the ability to scan and upload directly from their local PC, then leverage their hosted desktop to process the documents directly into QuickBooks.

About SmartVault

Privately held SmartVault, a leading Software-as-a-Service document management provider for QuickBooks, transforms QuickBooks into a simple document management solution. Users can scan and attach documents directly to 30 different QuickBooks entries. Documents can be accessed directly from QuickBooks or anytime, anywhere from a Web browser, enabling collaboration between accounting professionals and their clients. SmartVault has earned top honors from Intuit as a QuickBooks Gold Certified Developer.

SmartVault is a trademark of SmartVault Corporation. All other company and product names mentioned are used only for identification purposes and may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Smartvault-1071752.html

Accountants’ Website Necessities

Custom-Website-Design for accountants

It is essential in today’s technology based world that accounting practices establish a professional presence and utilize premier websites to communicate with clients as well as prospective customers.

Some of the benefits to having a professional website are:

• Increase Visibility
• Define Vision
• Service for your Clients
• Ability to Release Time Sensitive Material
• Sell your Products/Services
• Increase Target Demographic
• Answer Frequently Asked Questions
• Banish Geographic Boundaries
• Automated Lead Generation
• Create a 24/7 Marketing Tool

Cloud9 provides custom website design services to assist the 21st Century Accountant to grow their practice and offer the latest technological advances in marketing. For more information on the Cloud9 Website Design services visit: www.realtimebookkeeping.com or contact customer service at (888) 869-0076 ext. 0 for more information.

If you already have a Website, there are multiple things you can do to improve your rankings in the search engines. Here are some tips for building traffic and improving your search engine rankings:

1. Choose an easy-to-remember name, and then use that name often (on cards, e-mail, brochures, etc.). Add new content to your site at least once a month (preferably once a week!). The fresher the content, the more interesting the site appears to search engines.

2. Create partnerships and get other sites to link to you. Ensure that these partners are legitimate and if they have heavy traffic to their sites already – all the better!

3. Have somebody independent write a usable and acceptable Wikipedia article about your company. You can’t write one about yourself, but if you can get a client or partner company to post an article – this creates larger internet visibility.

4. Post videos, webinars, and multi-media to the site. These attractions cause consumers to spend more time at the site and thus increase the search engine rankings.

5. Create content that’s unique and interesting. If the search engines can find your content on multiple sites, it lowers your ranking.

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Cloud Computing: What’s all the Buzz?

You’ve seen it on the IBM commercials, you’ve read about it in tech magazines – so what exactly is “cloud computing” and does my business need it?

Cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet, combined with Computing – you have virtual servers hosting all of your services and software online. Virtual servers allow users a way to increase capacity or add capabilities quickly and without a large investment in new infrastructure. One of the great benefits is that users don’t need the knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the “cloud” that supports them. Cloud computing also allows businesses the savings of not having to train new personnel, or license new software. Cloud computing services often provide common business applications online that are accessed through a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription services or pay for usage components that extend IT’s existing capabilities and provides real-time access.

Cloud9RealTime is one of the early adopters in this technology infrastructure and is at the forefront of incorporating this service to all of our users. Virtual servers and the benefits of cloud computing are available to all Cloud9 clients, stay tuned on ways we can help you grow your business the smarter way…