Inspiring Success in the Accounting World: Christy Shepherd Ervin
Marketing Manager at Next Generation Company
In our ongoing series ‘Voices of the Industry’, we delve into conversations with remarkable individuals who’ve made their mark in the accounting world.
Today, we’re privileged to introduce you to an exceptional professional with over 25 years of experience in the field – the founder of Christy’s Accounting and Tax Services. Known for her dedication to providing what she calls a “luxury accounting experience”, she’s been helping clients navigate their financial waters with ease and confidence.
Short Personal BIO
I’ve been in accounting for over 25 years, starting when I was still in college.
After working for a large franchise company’s corporate offices for 10 years,
I launched my own business around a decade ago. Many of the store owners I had been working closely with on accounting came with me, and many are still with me today!
Over the past 4 years, I’ve expanded greatly, especially into more “advisory” services.
Besides my professional life, I have 11-year-old twins, an amazing husband of 3 ½ years, and a whole squad of pets. I’m passionate about the gym, dance fitness, family trips, good books, and learning new things about tax strategy and savings.
Accounting Practice’s Name
Christy’s Accounting and Tax Services.
Our online home is christysaccounting.com
Background and Entry into the Accounting Industry
Ha! See Question #1! 😉
In which ways do your services help your clients? And even further, can you describe to our audience who is your ideal client?
My ultimate goal is to provide a “luxury accounting experience” (sounds funny, right?!)
I like to take very good care of my clients and develop a long-term relationship with them and help take that stress off their plate (the accounting), as well as save them thousands of dollars by helping them implement tax strategies!
And again, carry those savings out on a tax return. This can be a stressful process, but I try to make it very pleasant and different from other CPA firms out there!
From your perspective, what's the toughest problem today's accounting practices have to face?
I think one of the great challenges is learning how to convey your value.
Many people look at accountants as an expense and just try to find the cheapest person out there – or one that does NOT understand their value (or has not sufficiently invested in their education and providing great value!)
Also, for GROWTH setting yourself up as an accounting firm with the right processes and procedures to scale. That is a challenge too.
How has the accounting industry changed since you first started practicing?
The industry, as I see it, is gradually leaning more towards advisory services rather than just crunching numbers and producing reports.
I think that’s where it’s at, and I’m trying to make sure I’m the best at it (lol)! 🙂
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in accounting, and what resources do you rely on?
I train with a few really amazing tax groups that I meet with regularly to talk about what is going on in the world, how to grow your firm, changing technologies, changes to tax laws, changing everything!
I also try to learn not just things changing but understand tax laws and try to cater to each new client I begin working with as I’m getting new clients constantly too.
What are the most significant challenges facing accounting practice owners today, and how can they overcome them?
I always think about the following:
- How to grow and get more clients;
- How to juggle that growth (processes/procedures);
- How to get the right people on your team;
- How to price the services you offer;
- How to expand your service offering;
- How to continually learn most effectively – constantly growing and staying a bit uncomfortable – STRETCH yourself in a good way! (which isn’t always easy)
Can you share tips or advice for new accountants or accounting practice owners just starting?
Well, for me, I started with a good “agreement” in place that outlined my service offering, pricing, and details about me and my business. And then I revise that baby year by year!
Don’t be afraid to increase prices! Don’t be afraid to set those boundaries up front! Always get signatures!
I’ve learned so much along the way by making assumptions – assuming, for example, clients have READ the agreement to understand pricing and services and how I operate.. but the client needs to “resold” regularly, so to speak.
It is important to keep those communication lines open, those regular “touches,” and continue to “sell yourself” (also, marketing to your database is a must)
Personal Tip: Get a lot of reviews! Word of mouth is priceless!
Finally, what do you see as the future of the accounting industry, and how do you think it will evolve in the coming years?
I think software will make accounting practices easier in different ways, but it cannot replace the personal touches or customized advice that business owners have to offer.
That being said, I think it is very important for all accountants to learn how to become more “advisory.” Marketing skills are very important in addition to knowing things such as tax laws and how to use accounting software.
Position yourself as the expert in the client’s mind. Convey your value to the client in a way they understand it.
When they see your value, they are willing to pay for that peace of mind and security.
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