The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Accounting Podcast

Lorilyn meets up with Geni Whitehouse, founder of The Impactful Advisor to talk about all things advisory services, including tools, techniques, approaches, and struggles.

Show Notes


Thank you to our sponsor, Avalara. Avalara’s award-winning tax automation solutions help accounting practitioners and businesses of all sizes simplify sales tax compliance and with real-time rates, automated returns filing, and more.

In October 2021 IDC MarketScape named Avalara a Leader in tax automation in three categories (small and midsize business, enterprise, and VAT).  If you’re considering tax automation, check out Avalara


In less than 10 minutes, you can earn 1 hour of NASBA-approved accounting CPE after listening to this episode. Download our mobile app, sign up, and look for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Accounting channel. Register for the course, complete a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate.

Download the app:


Questions? Need help? Email

Connect with Geni Whitehouse:

Connect with Lorilyn Wilson :


Full transcript available upon request 

Creators & Guests

Lorilyn Wilson, CPA
SMB Tax & Accounting Expert | Honorary Matt

What is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Accounting Podcast?

Avalara brings you a podcast by accountants for accountants. Hear from some of the biggest thought leaders in the industry on the current and future state of accounting, as well as lessons they've learned along the way.

Please note that this is a machine-generated transcript. There will be some errors in accuracy and spelling throughout. Thank you!

Lorilyn: [00:00:00] Avila proudly sponsors this podcast series about accountants by accountants and featuring some of the best thought leaders in the industry. Thank you to our sponsor, Avalere. Avalere is award winning tax automation solutions help accounting practitioners and businesses of all sizes simplify sales tax compliance with real time rates, automated returns, filing and more. Learn more at avaliacao. Hey, everyone, this is Lorilynn. And you're listening to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Accounting podcast. More accountants than ever are experimenting and shaping our profession in new and interesting ways. On this show, I sit down with these rock stars to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, the struggles and the strategies that they're taking advantage of. So the rest of us can do the same. Accountants can earn free CPE credit from listening to this podcast. Just download the earmark CPE app in the App Store or visit earmark CPE. Hello, everyone. This is Laura Lynn Wilson. And you are listening to another episode of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Accounting Podcast. Today's guest is Jeanie Whitehouse, and the title of today's episode is Back in Black Advising for profitability. If you can see it all my video, I have my AC DC shirt on. I mean producer Zach, are we going to get any copyright violations from you? Yeah, don't worry. Hey, we're good, everyone. So back in Black AC DC. I'm taking all credit for these names now. Do we have copyright issues? Maybe we feel good. It's still good. Yes. All right. Okay. So, Jeanie Whitehouse, if you have been to any accounting conference within the past, how many years, Jeanie? How many how long have you been speaking at accounting?

Geni: [00:01:55] What are too many, like 20 years before you were born?

Lorilyn: [00:02:00] If you have been to any accounting conference in the past 20 years, Jeannie has been either on stage keynoting it or she's had breakout sessions. So I'm sure you already all know who Jeanie is, but this is something you might not know. So I was like poking around her websites and because I was like, okay, I need some bio info and it's a little dry, I realized when I ask it for them. So I'm like, I wouldn't make up my own bio in that discovery process. She has a book, everyone. She has a book, it's on Amazon. And if you have Kindle Unlimited, it's actually free, but it's called How to Make a Boring Subject. Interesting. Jeanie, tell us about that book a little bit, because once I saw that, I was like, wait, what? Why? Why haven't I heard of this?

Geni: [00:02:48] Well, you left out the second part of that title, which is 52 ways even a nerd can be heard. And the name of my business is Even a nerd can be heard. And it came from the idea to write the book. When I read another book called Even a Geek Can Speak, and I read it, I loved it. I called the author who was an Atlanta attorney and said, I'm going to write this sequel to your book and it's going to be called Even a Nerd Can Be Heard. Oh, he said, go for it. And it really was ten years before I wrote the book, ten years before the book idea. And then when I started my own business, I had use that name. And then I figured out I talked to somebody who said, you need to change the title and start with boring stuff and then bring in the nerd thing later. So because if you're a nerd, you don't know it. And if I'm being the nerd that I am, it's like I'm not going to buy a book about nerdy stuff because I'm not a nerd. Right. But I do have a boring subject, so it's not my fault.

Lorilyn: [00:03:38] Yes. Yes. So there's 50. It's 52 ways, right? 52 ways.

Geni: [00:03:44] 50 to 1 for each day of each week. One tip for each week.

Lorilyn: [00:03:48] We're nice. So then out of those 52, could you just give us like three main highlights from your book?

Geni: [00:03:55] Oh, want me to list all 52 come.

Lorilyn: [00:03:57] No, no, just three. Just give us three. I mean, we have as many hours as you want. Let's go. Actually, we're going to do an audio reading of the book, everyone.

Geni: [00:04:06] So that would violate my first tip. Give people stuff they don't care about. So one of my first tips is to adapt your presentation to fit. I mean, what is tip number eight team adapt your presentation to fit the style of the listener. And that's one of the biggest things that I learned when I first started speaking. I learned a methodology called Disc. It's about how people communicate differently. And one of the things we account to is communicate the way we like to hear stuff. And that is in a very detailed way, and most of our audience is not that way. So one of the things you need to do is figure out how to communicate best for the audience that you're talking to. So that's a pretty basic tip. It's something most of us don't ever think about.

Lorilyn: [00:04:46] Such a good tip. Such a good tip.

Geni: [00:04:48] Second thing, this is a biggie for us accountants. So don't talk about your f bars and your section 179 and your DAP and your finances and your blah blah blah. That's jargon. Nobody else speaks that language. If you want to be non boring, stop using those those acronyms that only make sense to your fellow nerd community. And then the next tip I would say is tip number 14 and for counting is make it personal. And this is something that really changes the nature of the way you connect with an audience when you cannot just talk about concepts and theories and things that are not concrete, but when you can connect something that you've learned to something that reflects your own personality, it stands out better. And it also shows your audience that you're an actual human being, not a robot. Okay, my personal connection that you can make to whatever point you're trying to make, and then it has far greater value and is much more interesting generally.

Lorilyn: [00:05:42] Yes. And I feel this ties so closely with your other kind of big program that you're you have you rolled out and you rolled it out a couple of years ago, is that correct?

Geni: [00:05:53] Rolled it out in the middle of COVID. I'm sitting there thinking, I need to change stuff. Yep, here's what I want to do and start really getting in front of more advisors, get more people trained.

Lorilyn: [00:06:01] And it is the impactful advisor program. And then it says also make. Enter plus level five. So what does that mean? Explain that to me.

Geni: [00:06:09] So I have a business called the Impactful Advisor and I try to create advisors who make a difference. And I use an online training program that was created by Mentor Plus and that was a founder Osborne. And they package the training and I have a license to use the training and to teach it and to coach people in it. And it's the same training that I got and that I use in the CPA firm in Napa Valley, where I'm an advisor myself. So this is something I'm using all day. And now I acquired the rights to teach coach and train people in how the toolkit can be used and applied.

Lorilyn: [00:06:43] Yeah, and I went to that website and it looked around and to me that's a very the price point is incredibly reasonable. Incredibly reasonable. I'm like, that's the cost of one business tax return right there that you could.

Geni: [00:06:56] Say, Yeah, yeah, you could do a bunch of bunch of work and make more money and do less work. Sorry, you're talking over.

Lorilyn: [00:07:04] Literally, that's how I calculate anything is how many business tax returns would I have to do to afford this.

Geni: [00:07:11] Right? It should be. You do one, you recoup your investment in the training. And that's there's a DIY option where you just go online, you take all the training, you download over 100 different tools, and they're videos that walk you through each of the tools. And it's how to do service with the client. It's not theory about you should, you should, you should. It's you accepted the fact that you need to be an advisor. What the heck do I do now when I'm sitting across from a client and that's what I'm teaching people to do? It's the stuff that I think we need in order to be successful as advisors. A process we can follow and apply.

Lorilyn: [00:07:44] Yeah. So then people who've gone through it, what have they said is like been the one thing or the tool that they use. What's been like kind of the game changer for them that they've learned from that program?

Geni: [00:07:54] Well, there's a couple I mean, there's a million different things, but the number one challenge that people have is confidence, which is surprising to me. It's more a technical, highly skilled group of people, but we don't have confidence when it comes to advisory, future focused work, asking questions that we haven't asked before, getting more comfortable with the people side of businesses, and really bringing everything together to drive the financial results. We're used to counting stuff and adding up stuff and balancing things and in advisory there isn't anything to reconcile back to. So what people come away with and what I've gotten and I do, I do some live streams where I have called advisory in real life, where I talk to people that have come through the training about why they did it and what they get. And it's it ultimately always comes back to confidence that I have processes I can rely on to help my clients. And also I don't have to be the expert. That's the biggest gift of the training. And what we teach people is you don't have expertise in that client's business. They do, but you have accounting expertise, you have insights, and you have perspective that they need. And if you have the right questions to ask, you can empower that person to feel like more of an expert when they in fact really are. So our job is to not fine them with all the answers and tell them what to do, but to help them see things that they may not see on their own. And that really pressure that we have to have everything before we can even ask questions of clients.

Lorilyn: [00:09:23] Yeah, no, that's that's a really great standpoint or point because I've I've been in situations where I've done financial forecasting. It's like I can tell they're sometimes looking at me like I need to know these answers in regards to like their business model and certain revenue lines and stuff. And I'm like, I don't I don't run a bike shop. I'm like, I don't know this stuff like you tell me. And so it's figuring out how to have that conversation. Yeah. And empower that client to know. Wait, I do know this and just drawing it out of them.

Geni: [00:09:54] So we have some questions of elements of this training. There are things like when when a client comes to us as an accountant and says, you know, so-and-so, Sally is a bad employee. And we ask them why or what's going on? And they say, Well, she just doesn't do what I need her to do. One of the first questions we teach people to ask is, is it a people or a process issue?

Lorilyn: [00:10:16] Mm hmm.

Geni: [00:10:17] And that kind of question is one of the core elements of what we believe, that typically it's a process problem in a company. And we put Sally in a role and gave her a lousy process or no process. Yeah. Or we can go in and help them document the processes they have and then help improve things along the way. In that process, that might be places for improvements to happen. So it's this whole sort of systemic way of looking at everything that goes on with the client and helping them move the needle forward in the direction of whatever their goal is.

Lorilyn: [00:10:48] That yes. Avalere helps businesses of all sizes get indirect tax compliance right. Their sales tax solutions, help you manage sales and use tax complexities while lessening risk for your business and clients. Whether you are a small business or global enterprise, Lara can help you deliver tax compliant services confidently and efficiently. Over 30,000 organizations across the globe use Avila's cloud based compliance solutions to solve transaction tax compliance needs, including sales and use VAT and other direct and indirect taxes. Okay. So then kind of segueing a little bit what does so we're kind of discussing what advising mean. And then if we narrow it down a little more specifically, what does advising for profitability mean? So how do we speak in a way that clients can actually understand this when we're talking in terms of profitability, which is like I would say, we're getting to the weeds a little bit like we're done in the forest now. We're kind of getting into the nitty gritty.

Geni: [00:11:55] So I want to back you up there first because all clients are not focused on profitability. Some clients don't care about profitability. They only care about cash flow, which we know they're connected with. The first thing we do is find out what is it you do care about? I mean, I've got clients who just want to make a lifestyle living and don't care about profit or bottom line or anything. I just want enough cash to cover my bills and I'm happy. So profitability and margins, things that we think matter may not matter to them all. I have a client that we try to do some consulting with and asked them, you know, what do we need to do to help you achieve your goals? And they said, Well, we don't really have a financial goal. We just wake up every day and decide if we want to keep doing this or not. And that was literally they didn't have a plan, they didn't have a financial. And I was like, Well, okay, then you're doing exactly what you need to do and we don't need to change anything.

Geni: [00:12:43] But it was okay. But it's really important to us and the way we look at this to find out what it is they're trying to accomplish. So that's where we start. And then for me, advising is, first of all, knowing where they're trying to go and then helping them move the needle forward in the direction of their dreams. That is what advising is about being anything else. That's how I have a I have a bright line cut off with that. If it's something that will help you achieve your dream and I can move the needle in the right direction, then that's advisory. And to me, tax planning is not that tax planning is helping minimize taxes, which may be part of an overall goal of having enough money to do some other things. But it's not necessarily I reducing my taxes. I am not making my business better. Yep, I'm making my expense side maybe, but I'm not necessarily moving forward. So to me that's where the the line gets drawn. If I'm doing something that helps you work towards a goal, then I'm doing advisory service.

Lorilyn: [00:13:46] I think that's a really great, easy to understand definition. So why are accountants traditionally so bad at that? Why do they not even think to ask those questions?

Geni: [00:13:57] First of all, I mean, you know, I'm a CPA. I was raised I started at Deloitte and I worked in corporate tax. I had a tax background at 15 years of accounting, if you ask me how to improve your cash flow. Laura Lynn When I was a tax partner, I would have said, Oh, no, I didn't have any tools for that. I didn't know what to tell you. I didn't not even look at it that way. I could tell you that your taxes were this and I could look at your financials and say, you have bad, bad result, right? You have negative net income. But if you ask me where to fix it, I have. I didn't know. But if people never did asking because they knew that we CPA types didn't really know how to help them run a business better. And so when I left the county to go into tech, I thought I could solve that with technology and clearly technology piece of us helping make businesses better. But I think the core problem is we don't know how to think this way because it's not how we're trained. Trained in rule, following and advisory is thinking more out of the box. It's not following a set series of things and checking boxes and things like that. It's really listening to the client. And then you can bring different tools to bear on whatever problem comes up.

Geni: [00:15:08] But it's not a black and white. Here's the balance kind of a thing. And so we're not trained, but also. We have a lot of fear in our own minds about asking different questions, and we're immersed in our subject matter so much that we think the way we speak is the way our clients speak, the terminology and the details that we like to share when in fact our clients are typically don't want details, just give me the answer. And instead we tell them how to build the engine instead of just putting the oil in or whatever it is. They need to go through all this detail. Yep. So we have we're not trying. Typically, the people that come to accounting don't want to communicate. Right? We're numbers people. We don't want to talk to these scary people. So the tradition is that we used to draw into the profession, did it because they didn't have to deal with people as much. Yeah. So it's wiring thing, but it's a, we're in a complex space, so there's a lot of complex stuff that we deal with and it requires training and investment and commitment, I think, to break down that complex stuff so that our our audience, our clients, our customers can understand what we're talking about. And most of us don't have that information or the time to do it. We're busy.

Lorilyn: [00:16:23] Yeah. Yeah. So it sounds like what I'm hearing you say is the big disconnect comes to accountants not understanding what's important to the client.

Geni: [00:16:33] That's right. Not listening, not asking and doing what? Like what you said. I mean, like I'm going to jump in there. If you bring me your financial I'm going to jump in there and start working on your profitability before I ask you if that's what you care about, because I know profitability is critical.

Lorilyn: [00:16:46] Yeah.

Geni: [00:16:48] That may not be in your case.

Lorilyn: [00:16:50] Yes. Okay. So I thought it would be fun to kind of role play an example of how you would interact with a client and kind of guide that conversation because it'll help accountants understand the type of questions you're asking at in response to the answers I'm giving you. And so I think this is going to be really beneficial to them. So I'm the new client and I'm coming to you. We're sitting down, Jeannie. I have no money. What do I.

Geni: [00:17:16] Do? Well, first of all, I have to evaluate if I want you as a client or not. Laura Lynn, if you can't pay me, then, you know. But the first thing I would find out is what does that mean to you? What do you mean you don't have money? Is that your bank account? Is that your accounting software? What are you getting that information from? Yeah, that says you have no money.

Lorilyn: [00:17:37] Yes. And I'm going to be a typical client who does bank balance accounting. So that just means I'm looking at my bank account and it's always low. So that's what I mean by I have no money. I'm going to my bank account to do stuff and there's none in there.

Geni: [00:17:51] Okay, I get that and I'm sorry for that. But we'd also want to find out what kind of a business you're in and the method that we use all. Then what I do is I understand that you have an issue that you're focused on, and that's a financial one. But what we understand as advisors is that many financial issues are caused by other things in the business. And so what we want to do, but I want to understand first before I dive into that, as much as I would love to get out my spreadsheet and start doing stuff, I want to find out more about your business and what's really going on there and what you're really trying to accomplish. So then I can figure out how we go about working on the cash flow problem that you shared with me. So what we do is start with the five areas of your business, and that would be the financial aspects, the customers, operations people. And then the most critical one to me is the end in mind. Where are you trying to go with your business? What's this business about? Why did you start it and where do you want to go with it? Do you want to sell it? Do you want to create a family legacy? Do you want to go public? Do you just want to have a lifestyle? What is it you're trying to do with that business? Because that's going to determine everything else that we need to do for you in order to support you in achieving that goal. So what would you say? Yes, we're trying.

Lorilyn: [00:19:04] Yes. So I own a restaurant business and I have owned it for the past nine years and I just started it with a loan from my mother. And since then I've grown it to include a food cart. I'm at the Saturday market and I have seven employees working for me, and my end goal with this is I'd like to open up another location and become passive in the business so I don't have to actively be working in it every day.

Geni: [00:19:38] Okay. And that's a that's a great objective. And that really helps me because that means we need to structure some things so that you can get out of the weeds of running that business and empower your teams to help you more. So that's great information and I appreciate that. But tell me why a restaurant what is it about that industry that attracts you to the business? Because that's another critical thing for us to understand is why are you doing what you're doing?

Lorilyn: [00:20:00] Yep. I just love making tasty foods. I love making tasty foods for people, nourishing people, taking care of them in that way. So it's really a passion. I love cooking and I wanted to turn that passion into money.

Geni: [00:20:17] That's fantastic. Great. And I can't wait to go try your food. That's one of the first things I would do is go go sample the wares. I got to go see what you got going on. Do you happen to have grits? If so, I'm a customer for life.

Lorilyn: [00:20:29] It's like it's a purely great restaurant. So that's it? That's my restaurant. All grits all the time.

Geni: [00:20:37] Oh, God. Heaven on earth. Then I'll bring the wine. You bring the grits. So with that understanding that you're trying to get yourself disconnected but still generate some some funds out of the business, you want it to be at least positive on on the cash flow side. Then let's talk about some of the things that you've done that you're proud of, what things have worked in the financial customers, operations people and in the mine side of the business. Are you on track or what are you celebrating that you've done correctly and you don't have to share all that right now. So I have a little grid I'm going to send you. I'm going to want you to fill this out and think about it. If it's just you that's involved in some of the management of the business, then you can do it yourself. But if you've got a team of leaders, you can take a copy of the stock and have them fill it out as well. And it's just, as I said, it's five areas of the business, but it's what works. We want to celebrate the good stuff that we've done right and then what's not working well or what we'd like to improve. That's the next row, and then the final row is your ideal outcome in each of those areas.

Geni: [00:21:36] So what is it ideally you want on the financial side? How much positive cash flow would you like to see in the business or you try to have more profit? Or do you want to increase your long term value so you can sell it? Or what's the financial thing we're striving for? It sounds like more cash. What does that mean? How much more cash? Mm hmm. So that's saying to get clear on. And obviously, since we've just met, you haven't had time to really think through it. But I'm going to give you this document to complete. You can send it back to me or we can complete it together in an interview online so that you have time to fill, trying to do. And then once you send that back to me or once I transcribe it, if you want to do it now, I'll send it back to you. You can validate that I captured what you wanted to share with me. Then we'll talk about what priorities jump out at you. Based on what you've shared with me, what do you want to do first? And then I'll give you some ideas about things that we can do to help uncover what's really driving that symptom.

Geni: [00:22:33] One of the things we've learned worldwide is that the financial problem is typically just a small indicator of something else going on in the business and maybe people related, maybe operational or software related. It may be custom decision making or pricing or something like that, or it may be something that's going on in the financial side of the business, like a failure to collect for some of the stuff that you sell. And if you're at a retail facility or restaurant, most of your cash is coming in in the moment. So you're probably not doing a lot of billing of people. And so we look at what you're doing on the items that you're selling and if you're making enough money on those individual meals or food items that you're selling, but until you give me this this bigger picture framework, I'm not going to jump in there and tell you what to do because you're the expert in your business. I'm good at helping you to organize it and get the insights from that data so you can make better decisions going forward. And that's how we can help you address whatever issue you're struggling with.

Lorilyn: [00:23:33] Okay. So then let's say for this example that we've realized the issue is because this is so common, I've seen with restaurants is my margins on my items aren't big enough. So I don't my gross margins are way too small. So let's say in this example, this is what we determine what the issue was, what are next steps.

Geni: [00:23:51] So generally what we find is there if your pricing and margins are the challenges that you're working on. And one of the things we have to do is identify what you're making on each item and then look at the frequency of sales of different items and then educate your teams on where you have the most profit and try to get them to come up with ideas that can help you sell more of those profitable items. So one of the things we want to do is take the burden of addressing the challenges off of your plate solely and spread the knowledge across your team so that everybody in your company understands what you're trying to accomplish and how they can help you get there. So we have models that we build. We have a tool called a profit equation planner, which helps individual frontline workers connect their decisions they make every day to your revenue and profitability target. So we would look at creating some impact. So one of the things we know is sometimes you can just change the mix of products that you're selling and drive your overall profitability up. So we would do some models like that so that your team could go, okay, if I can throw in a dessert with every sale and we make more profit on the different items. And that's how we move the needle on overall profitability. But I've got to educate you and your teams on how these things all fit together to drive financial results. And that's where we see a lot of the challenge is we have uneducated people who don't understand financial stuff, which is 99% of the world. Right. Because it's all nerdy and we make it all. And if we can break those barriers and teach people some basic things, then they will be empowered to help you achieve your financial goals.

Lorilyn: [00:25:26] Yeah. Did you know that 52% of accounting practitioners, large and small, still rely on spreadsheets and manual processes for sales tax compliance? Why not move your accounting practice to the 21st century? Using Avalere for accountants to Avalere for accountants? Automation platform helps accounting service providers of any size grow their service offerings with sales tax prep and filing transfer pricing, research, business, license management and more. Scale your practice efficiently with award winning automation that brings efficiency and accuracy to sales tax compliance. Want to learn more? Email accountants at avaliacao or visit avaliacao. So when you when you do this this engagement, like you're in this process of it, all right. We're like figuring out what's profitable, what's not, training up the team members. How long does that process usually take? Are you connecting with them weekly, biweekly, monthly?

Geni: [00:26:26] It is it is totally dependent on what we're trying to do with the client and what their availability is. So what I do initially is an initial assessment project in most cases to figure out what you've got and what you need. I got to look at your what, your software systems. How are you moving funds through the business? What are you doing to track? And I would do a needs analysis of the overall business stuff first and then make recommendations from that and then decide what we want to tackle first and then set up a fee for that and only build by the project initially. And then if you want ongoing support for me, then we would set up some sort of a monthly retainer or project based fee. It totally depends on what you want to do and how critical it is for you to get that issue addressed and how quickly.

Lorilyn: [00:27:13] Okay. So that's interesting. So do you do our most your engagements just kind of these one off projects or do they turn into monthly engagements?

Geni: [00:27:21] It's all over the map. Again, we are driven by what the customer not needs. So that's one of the things that makes it hard. Right? I just want you to give me a checklist and tell me what I'm going to do every month or what I'm going to do. It's not that way. Advisory is What do you need client and how can I help you get there and within your own budgetary requirements as well as your availability of staff? Right. I've got to you've got to have time for me to get in there. I don't want to have a weekly meeting and shut down the restaurant. So we have to work around whatever the framework is. Again, that's why this is scary because I can't just tell you you're going to do this first, then that and then that, because if the client wants this thing first, then that's where we need to go. But you're going to have tools that you can bring to bear on anything that that client comes up with. Because we've been training people and doing this ourselves for so long that we know what's going to come up in most cases. Yeah. So that's where you have the confidence that if you can pull something out of your toolkit and use it and make a difference, you're not going to be afraid to walk this path with your client.

Lorilyn: [00:28:22] Uh huh. Do you feel like that model lends itself to scalability or not? Like, can you grow this huge $50 Million firm with that model? Or do you think it's more boutique?

Geni: [00:28:36] You can do it a lot easier this way than you can do in tax returns. I can take I can take ten clients and really serve them. To move the needle on their business. Do you know what that means to a client? If I can help them. You had no money, Laura. Lynn, if I can show you, you're going to get more money in the bank. Yeah. And train your lawyers to make it possible and get you to set up systems and processes so that you don't have to be there every day. Mm hmm. Are you going to pay me a lot more, or do you want me to just do your taxes?

Lorilyn: [00:29:07] Right? I won't pay you all. I'm going to give you my whole bank account. All $3 of it.

Geni: [00:29:13] I got I got to make sure if I'm taking you on, then I can give you the cash flow quickly. Right. That's one of the things I can do. Right. We're going to take your QuickBooks Farm and look at it and go, is she going to be able to afford me? Yep. Where's the money going? But I'm going to do that analysis and I'm going to take money upfront for that analysis. Oh, yes. You tell me you're going to be able to fund me before I'll take it on, and then I'll write up an analysis, make recommendations, and then if I'm going to do something ongoing, I'll give you a price for that after that. But typically it's a I'm going to phase it so that I don't commit to a fixed fee without knowing what's going on. And so I phase the project. This is going to be a fixed fee. And then after that, we'll decide what the next step is based on what I see. Mm hmm. And I know this cash flow thing is a priority, so there are three or four things I can do right off the bat to show you where the problems are. And then we can get your team thinking about it differently and start doing some things differently very quickly.

Lorilyn: [00:30:09] Yeah. So that's part of I didn't pick this part up as part of this. Like you do this initial assessment, are you giving them an actual deliverable like these are all the problems you have? Like, is that part of it?

Geni: [00:30:21] Well, the first first meeting, the scope grid is what we that's what we call the thing where I go across the business is a deliverable that you get free. I give this this tool, you complete it. And there's value in that because you've never looked at your business this way and defined some of your goals and ideal outcome. And so that's something you can use yourself and also share with your teams and get input. So you get that from the first meeting. And then the next thing I would propose is I'm going to do a needs analysis. I'm going to look at the flow of your information, the money through your business, document it for you and show you some things and make recommendations about the the technology that you have employed to make sure that we're getting it all in the right places. And that's a fixed fee. And you get it right. You get a document from me that says, here's what's going on.

Lorilyn: [00:31:02] So these tools you're giving them and working with, are these all part of the impactful advisor program?

Geni: [00:31:08] They are. They're part of the level five training and they're 100 tools in there. Yeah, they teach their spreadsheets. They're there's a tool, the profit equation planner. It's a what if model that you get that you can build for any kind of company and help them figure out how to drive revenues up. I have a checklist of things you can do using fathoms goal seek skills. Fathom is an electronic board. It's one of the critical tools in what I use. You bring up the client's data and you show them Here's your cash flow is -500,000. Move the needle on these three things and it gets to positive 100. And let's work on these three things. I know how to help you do that. And we can get your cash flow improve.

Lorilyn: [00:31:47] Not, not.

Geni: [00:31:48] And then I have deck software, PowerPoint, slide decks that teach you how to communicate financial information in a very different way. There's all that stuff. That's what we're training people to do. You've got everything you need. You just have to get in front of a client and ask different questions and the tool kit will get you there. And the client, that's awesome.

Lorilyn: [00:32:06] Do you have any good stories of like a client whose life, let's say you changed, you know, with this framework that you use with them?

Geni: [00:32:16] I can tell you how the projects flow. Somebody comes to us with a problem. Like I had a I had a client call and said they wanted a budget and it was a family winery. And I said, okay. And I went out there to meet with them and all the family members. I think there were five family members at the table. And I said, okay, what are we budgeting for? What are we doing? Why do we exist as a company and what are we what's this budget about? Right? I mean, normally we would just jump in and start building a spreadsheet and create a budget.

Lorilyn: [00:32:46] Yep. Yeah. That's what we. That's what it comes like to do. Give me a spreadsheet. Let me put things in it. Exactly.

Geni: [00:32:52] That's our that's normally our goal. How fast can I get into a spreadsheet and do the fun stuff? Right. Because, I mean, who doesn't love Excel? We can do anything in Excel. But but what I know is I mean, first I said, why are we a winery? And I had five family members at the table and I got five different answer answers. I got five different priorities. And yet I'm going to do a budget with five different no agreement on what we're doing. So I well, I can do a budget, but it's going to be very difficult because you guys aren't in agreement about who we are as a company and what we want to do. So there are some former generational people and new generation and they needed to come to agreement. So I said, we've got to back up. Let's get alignment around why we exist as a winery. Let's figure out what we need to do and then we can build the budget on that. And, and I showed him the scope stuff, but we backed it up and we had a meeting to determine the why we had disagreement. We came up with a story that that connected to why these people were so committed to doing what they did. And it always gets back to, in the wine industry, a love of the land and wanting to produce something that is then shareable and can be part of celebration.

Geni: [00:33:59] So some aspect of that that tends to come out. People put up with a lot of wine industry because they care about what, and most people have a passion story that drives them. So we got that. We got alignment, but it ended up that one of the family members just didn't fit. Oh, it came very clear. And so as a result of that, that family member went out. They hired a gene which they needed a non-family member to run the business. And that came out of all the consulting that we did. And we kept having additional meetings and that happened. And then that person could then do the budget once she knew exactly what we were trying to do. The But I didn't even do the budget after that. We didn't need to. But what we needed was this alignment around where we were trying to go. Yeah. And that leads to the budget. Those are the kind of things we do a whole bunch of. We really want to make sure we're putting a Band-Aid on a thing when there's a much bigger disease going on in that whole system we want to look for, but we really want to understand what they want so we can get them there. That's really the goal.

Lorilyn: [00:35:01] On any given of these engagements. How many team members are working on it? Like is it usually one or two? Is it just one? Like how do how do you structure that.

Geni: [00:35:10] On our side? It depends on the engagement with the time. It starts with one person. And in my firm I'm doing just advisory. So I'm in a unique position that I don't have compliance work that keeps me busy around. And so I bring in other people to work with the engagements. We have a managing partner doing consulting. It tends to be one person driven, but depending on what else is on and we bring in other team members. But one of the benefits of the training is you can bring in other staff members and use one of the tools in the tool kit and get them going. That and we bring in people on the initial onboarding interview if somebody's a prospective client, so they see how the scope grid works. But we also use that ourselves in our firm. So everybody in our firm is familiar with that document and in how it works. So it's just a standard part of how we think as a firm.

Lorilyn: [00:36:00] Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, part of the reason why I was asking, because I feel like we're this program. I mean, it benefits everyone, but especially those solo practitioners who are weighed down with compliance work and have a bunch of potential clients who could use advisory services. But they're just like, I don't I don't know, how do I start this? So then that's like actually a good segue way. So how would I? Let's say I only had tax clients and I want to get into advising. I don't yet have any money for your program, but I want to buy it. So what are some free ways? Or how could I start presenting myself as an advisor to my current client base to get them to start buying those services? So then I can run off and buy your program?

Geni: [00:36:41] First of all, I would start. We have not ever had a better time than now to start doing advisory because we've had the the COVID chaos. We have recessionary concerns right now. We're we're in the last phase of the year, right? We're in the downhill side of of the year end. We're approaching year end. So now is the time to call an existing business client and say, I want to check in and see how you're doing. I want to understand more clearly what you're trying to accomplish as a business and see if you're on track for this year. What are your goals and how are you feeling about where you are and what keeps you up at? Yes, I would open a dialog with the client, every single client that I have right now, whether you're doing tax audit or anything. Bookkeeping. Yes. And make that phone call now because it's not our busiest time of year, even though it's the beginning of the month. If you're keeping, it's busy every bit every month. And Tax Facts fifteenths are always busy. But this is a time to reach out and show that you're looking to connect with them without asking them for stuff. Right? We're going to make a phone call to every single client and just check in and see how they're doing. What are you worried about? The question that I like to ask is, how do you know right now if your business is on track, where do you go? If I asked you today or not, where would you go right now to check in on your business? That question tells you a lot about what that owner cares about. And if they say, I go to the bank and, you know, bank cash, not book cash.

Lorilyn: [00:38:10] Yeah.

Geni: [00:38:11] Is managing, which means they're not planning ahead and they're really in a bind, probably from a managerial perspective. Or if they go to QuickBooks every day, then they're pretty savvy. If they're looking at that or I'm looking at my point of sale software to see what I sold every day, which isn't even looking at profit. So just looking at gross. Just asking some feeling questions are going to open the door. And then what they answer is going to give you some insight about where you might be able to help them. Maybe they're struggling with their software. Maybe their bills are getting paid too slowly. Those of us that know technology, a billion ways to help make that better. So but it's the dialog that has to happen that we're not having.

Lorilyn: [00:38:51] Mm hmm.

Geni: [00:38:51] Yes. Chip, the way you're saying in the eyes of that client, because our clients have been trained by us, that we only do X, whatever X is, if it's tax, if it's bookkeeping, if it's audit and nothing else. And so we've got to open the door with conversations to change that perception. That's the easiest thing to do. Yeah. And I give away bread. I give away tools. Every time I speak. We're going to share a scope grid, pull that tool out and say, Walk you through this document. You're going to help me fill in all these squares on this bingo card, and then I'll give it back to you. And then this can help you get clarity around what you need to be working on in your business. Mm hmm.

Lorilyn: [00:39:28] And that.

Geni: [00:39:28] For free.

Lorilyn: [00:39:29] Gosh, that's fantastic. One of, like, I put little notes, two of free ways we can do this. And if you guys have a newsletter at all, you send up to your clients, start putting in little video clips of you doing a two minute video with one of Jeannie's PowerPoint presentations about, Hey, you want to see where you are in your business right now to digital? To want to talk more about this, here's a link to my calendar.

Geni: [00:39:53] I have a slide deck on SlideShare called Understanding Financial Statements that you can just access and share. And it just gives me info on what a financial statement means. And it uses a demo tree analogy because I like these dumb old stuff because the user.

Lorilyn: [00:40:10] Is going to put these in the show notes. Everyone.

Geni: [00:40:14] Yeah. Understanding financial statements. It's SlideShare dot net. Yeah. And it has like 100,000 downloads and that shows you that there are a hundred thousand people somewhere looking for this stuff, which is believable. Yeah, that's what a challenge it is for normal humans to understand this stuff.

Lorilyn: [00:40:31] Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think, too, it's like, if you guys want to get into this, it's not that hard. Like Jeannie said, just pick up your phone and talk to your current clients. You know, if even if you have only convert 10% of them, that's a start, you know? And then, of course, as you get more under your belt, you're going to get more and more confident. You're going to get be able to sell it better, etcetera, etcetera. But it doesn't take I feel like the actual knowledge you need, the technical knowledge is there. You just need to learn like the the EQ side of it, right?

Geni: [00:41:04] You just need the confidence to ask different questions and you need to know what to do when they answer those questions. That's the thing. Than question. You're going to go, I'm worried about this. I need a forecast and a projection. You go, That's nice. By I mean, you've got to or my people aren't doing what I want them to do or, you know, they ask me too many questions or I can't ever go on vacation. Those are all indications that you need to help them systematize and standardize their procedures and processes. They may not have a budget. They may not have trained their leaders in what they can do to contribute to financial success. There's all kinds of stuff that we can do, but you've got to have something to do when you start asking these questions, right? What are you going to do when they say, I can't get my leaders to do the right things and you're going to go, oh, okay.

Lorilyn: [00:41:54] Good luck with that. Thumbs up.

Geni: [00:41:57] And I'll check back next year and ask you this question again, which is what we do with the financial statements. Right. Here's your here's your answer. Go forth. Too bad it's not good. I'll see you next year.

Lorilyn: [00:42:06] Course. Better prayers. Good luck.

Geni: [00:42:11] Best. Which is exactly what we do. And so that's why the toolkits here. So go to this thing, bring up this document based on that scope grid. Now we prioritize what they want to do based on their ideal outcome. Say, which one of these is the most important? Okay, what can we do to start in on this? I've got some ideas for you. Let's convene and find out what they think is going on, compare their scope with yours, and then let's drill into what we need to do to get your teams moving in the right direction.

Lorilyn: [00:42:39] Yeah, and I just. I want to hark on that. Like, there is no one better position to be that person than accountants. Like, there's life coaches out there crushing it. I promise you, no more than these life coaches and can actually tangibly help these people with more than just like a rah rah speech. You know.

Geni: [00:42:57] That's really that's why I did this, because I know how valuable good accountants are. I was a bad accountant, y'all. I was a bad. I mean, I was so bad at detail. I was doing taxes and I was struggling. And I had these accountants around me that were amazing. It had these great insights, that new tax law that were way more detailed. It did great stuff. I mean, I did great stuff when it came to the technology. I can sit down with a client and help them make sense of the books through their software, which is really where I shine. It was a tax person, so I had to go back at night and do the tax stuff. But I had such an appreciation for what we do as a profession. Good accountants are amazing, but we don't value ourselves and we also overburden ourselves with all this low value crap that just wears this out. So I started speaking because of my own passion for us getting recognized for what we can do. And because I have a passion for clients who are struggling without our help, we've got to get out there and make life better for these people because they're powering the world. These small business people are paying the salaries of so many families. If we can help them, then we can change the world. And I believe I think we really are the key. The accounting community powers, the economic engine. So if we can get out there and really do better about helping these people. We're going to have a big impact. So sorry I got on my soapbox.

Lorilyn: [00:44:19] Yes. No, it's great, though. So if you think so, here's my question. If accountants were more like X, so pick like people within some type of industry, we would be better at our job, happier with our work. What people and what industry do we need to be more like to really fulfill our potential?

Geni: [00:44:36] I think we got it. I don't think we need to change who we are. I just think we need to be more confident in ourselves. So who's somebody more confident? I'll say the S word and freak out the account is. I think if we could be more like sales people.

Lorilyn: [00:44:49] Yeah. I was wondering what you were going to say.

Geni: [00:44:54] The s were the salespeople, not six star or whatever. You were thinking of one other s but s the sales word is like a bad word in our in our vocabulary. Right? It's like a four letter word, even those five letters, because we don't like when we think of sales, we think of the bad ones, the used car salesmen. But sales people that are good are great listeners and they have confidence. And our biggest barrier to being good at consulting is we don't trust ourselves enough to see what we can do that has real value. We think we have to know everything to even start and we don't. We just have to know how to listen, which we are great at. We need to know how to ask different questions and we need to know how to organize information in a way that the insights can become apparent to our clients. And that's the big opportunity we have as a profession. We can be the insight people that help our clients make our decisions, and that's where we need to be in order to, I think, make a big difference. You really get the value that we deserve.

Lorilyn: [00:45:55] Yeah, well, here's a better se word for you. Instead of being a salesperson, you are a solutions person, so that's what you're really trying. We're offering solutions to problems they have, whether they know it or not.

Geni: [00:46:09] That's right. But but the important twist on that is we aren't supposed to have the solutions. We're supposed to ask the questions like a therapist, Laura Lynn. They don't come in and say, What's the jerk? What are you doing it? They make you come to that conclusion yourself. That's what we're doing with client them feel smarter and giving them the data to back up stuff that they really already know. Mm hmm. So we're helping them find the answers, helping the front line workers come up with the answers. And that's very different from imposing solutions on people.

Lorilyn: [00:46:40] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. That's a I really like that. That twist in that way of looking at things. I think that's really important because I think it's important people feel involved in the process, too, so they're going to buy it if they're like, This was my idea, which it is essentially, you're just helping draw it out.

Geni: [00:46:58] So that's right.

Lorilyn: [00:46:59] Awesome. So, Jeanie, people want to connect for you. Where do they find the impactful advisor program? What's the best way to do this?

Geni: [00:47:06] Yeah, it's online. The impactful advisor. You can find me. I have a Jeanie Whitehouse dot com website under my name. I have even an intercom. That's my speaking brand. You can just look me up somewhere on me on the.

Lorilyn: [00:47:21] Are there any classes coming up that you'll be speaking at?

Geni: [00:47:25] I'm going to be. Hmm. That's a good question. I'm going to be.

Lorilyn: [00:47:28] Are you zero k?

Geni: [00:47:31] I'm not.

Lorilyn: [00:47:31] Sure. Oh, never mind. This is will be released after zero con ignore that question.

Geni: [00:47:36] There quick QuickBooks Connect. I'm hoping to be there. Yes.

Lorilyn: [00:47:39] Which is that first weekend in Vegas. In Vegas. First weekend in December. In Vegas. Right. Awesome. What's your Twitter what's your Twitter handle again?

Geni: [00:47:49] Not even a nerd.

Lorilyn: [00:47:50] At even a nerd. Jeanie, thank you so much for coming on. I'm going to go back and listen to this episode again because I just I think you really nail and understand the business owner. And that's what every accountant I think needs to get better at, including myself. So just thank you so much for your thoughts, your expertise around this. And 100%, everyone, go check out the impactful advisor like I am. I will 100% be buying this once I do. One more business return.

Geni: [00:48:24] All right. One more business return.

Lorilyn: [00:48:27] Yeah. Thank you so much.

Geni: [00:48:29] It's been a pleasure. Thank you.