Nicole Davis is a bustling professional. She’s a CPA, firm owner, wife, and mom of 5. Here’s how she expanded her tech stack to serve more clients with FreshBooks and the Accounting Partner Program.
Company: Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting
Location: Conyers, GA, USA
Not enough time to onboard clients to new accounting platforms
Got Certified in 5 hours and is able to serve more clients
Does “modern” come to mind when you think of an accountant?
If not, then you probably haven’t met Nicole Davis, CPA, MBA. She’s a tech-savvy industry thought leader with 10,000+ Twitter followers, 13,000+ LinkedIn followers, and a passion for helping small businesses.
Nicole is the sole owner of Butler-Davis Tax & Accounting, a full-service accounting firm based near Atlanta, Georgia. With over 8 years in business, her firm provides accounting, bookkeeping, advisory, tax planning, and payroll services to businesses across the country.
She knows firsthand the importance of having a diverse tech stack to meet each client’s unique needs. But, as a busy professional, it’s challenging to find the time to learn all about the latest platforms—let alone get certified in them.
We spoke with Nicole to find out more about why she chose to partner with FreshBooks and about her experience with FreshBooks Certification.
Why did you decide to start your own firm rather than work for someone else?
Nicole: I am a serial quitter of good corporate jobs. I was an excellent employee in the sense that I did my job, but I always felt that I could be doing more to help other small businesses.
Around the time I graduated from college, my dad started an auto repair shop. I was working for a paper company at the time, but I was also helping him on the side. And then, my mom started a theater company. I was helping both of my parents in their businesses, but I still kept my full-time job. Eventually, I got to the point where I thought to myself, “I can keep helping these corporate clients get bigger, or I can help my dad and my mom get better.”
For me, it was more about helping the entrepreneur or the small business get better and be better. So everything I bring to the table at my firm is from my experience in corporate America and from helping other small businesses.
What services do you provide and how do you work with your clients?
Nicole: We mainly do bookkeeping, client advisory services, tax planning, and payroll.
Most of our clients are spread throughout the U.S. On the bookkeeping side, we have very few that are actually local to us. With payroll, we serve over 140 local businesses. We serve a number of different industries, from entertainers, to service-based businesses, independent pharmacies, and construction companies. We have a few clients that come to our office, but probably less than 5% of our clients visit us in person.
What should accounting professionals consider when they’re choosing which accounting software to partner with?
Nicole: I think that the platform you’re deciding to use has to be customer friendly. It has to have an interface that’s easy to quickly learn. Of course, the cost is also a big issue for some clients, especially if they’re solopreneurs.
So I’d say the user interface, the cost, and the support—like with FreshBooks’ Accounting Community, where you can go and ask questions. You can research other people’s questions and comments or find answers to things you may want to know or may need to ask.
Also, having a dedicated support specialist is very important. A lot of times, I’ll join a partner program, and they switch out the support specialists, and you don’t know who your representative is, or who you should reach out to when there’s an issue.
What kind of accounting professional do you think would like using FreshBooks?
Nicole: One that is a modern firm. One that is tech-savvy. One that is future-focused. And one that enjoys working with service-based businesses. I also think one that has a high level of expertise in bookkeeping and accounting, that is innovative, honest, and able to provide constructive feedback.
What kinds of clients do you work with in FreshBooks?
Nicole: Our goal is to put most of our service-based business, Schedule C clients on FreshBooks because it’s something they can manage on their own. Or we can manage it on their behalf, and it doesn’t require a complicated or complex balance sheet. It’s a lighter lift for us to add those clients in our first phase of moving clients to FreshBooks.
I started working with my very first FreshBooks client 2 years ago. It was mostly just going in and running the reports to do her tax return because her bookkeeping is fairly simple. So she takes care of the bookkeeping 100% on her own.
Why did you decide that FreshBooks is the right fit for that first client?
Nicole: The first client I added was a 2-person partnership and startup. They were service-based and they were smaller. They didn’t have any history that we needed to capture to bring into the software. Their first year in business was the tax year we needed to complete. We were able to pull in the data fresh, get it all categorized, reconciled, and now we’re adding the data from their second year in business to get them caught up.
Because FreshBooks was fairly new to me, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with a very large client with many transactions and then have to figure out a lot of things at once. In the middle of tax season, I didn’t have time to do all that, so this client was a perfect fit.
My experience with the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program has been phenomenal.
What has your experience been like in the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program?
Nicole: My experience with the Accounting Partner Program has been phenomenal. I feel like this is an opportunity for me to learn more about the product and also have a voice. I think FreshBooks is really looking to hear from the accounting community, and it’s my chance to speak up for the accounting community.
How was the FreshBooks Certification process for you?
Nicole: I took the Certification on a Sunday—I remember it was a Sunday because I had my 4-year-old with me, so I tried to get through it as quickly as possible! That impressed me because I was able to get through the full Certification with a 4-year-old attached to my hip, within a reasonable amount of time.
Overall, it was a very easy, smooth process. The questions were pretty straightforward. I didn’t have to go back and search for answers because they were aligned with the material that was covered.
I was able to do it on my phone, which is important to me. I wasn’t at a computer, and actually did about 90% of it from my iPhone. I always say that I can run my firm for my phone, so that was very helpful that I could pretty much do the certification from anywhere, no matter where I was.
How does the FreshBooks Certification compare to other certifications you’ve done?
Nicole: There’s one certification program that has a more basic certification, and then they have an advanced certification. Well, for the more basic certification, you have to go through a lot of modules. Then at the end, you have to take, I think, 5 different tests. And these tests are not easy tests. They really require you to go back in and search for the answers within the modules.
You get 3 tries to take it—and I have a lot of peers who have not passed it on the third try—but if you don’t pass it on the third try, they make you wait a few months to take it again. So, we’re trying to get certified in the product that we’re trying to sell to our clients, but it can be difficult to do.
For me, I like things to be as simple as possible because, at the end of the day, the real learning comes from actually using the product. It doesn’t come from watching modules, it comes from actually going into the product, adding clients, and then figuring things out.
What has been the most helpful part of the FreshBooks Certification?
Nicole: This might seem very minute, but just seeing exactly where you need to go to find things in the software. The highlighted clicker in the videos that’s used to show those areas, so that you can remember where to find things. For me, it’s something very simple, but little things like that—where it’s important for me to know where to find something—I like that feature the most.