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How Jeffery Davidson removed time-consuming & manual processes from his firm with Practice Ignition

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Jeffery Davidson is President of Jeffery Davidson & Associates, a full-service accounting practice based in the outskirts of Houston, U.S. We caught up with Jeffery to learn how Ignition has liberated his firm from time-consuming, manual practices, resulting in the firm:

  • Spending 97% less time on billing clients and creating engagement letters;

  • No longer spending 15 - 20 hours per month fielding awkward billing-related questions;

  • Improving cash flow and dropping aged receivables by 80%;

  • Eliminating scope creep once and for all;

  • Sending rapid, comprehensive proposals to prospective clients just 15 minutes after meeting with them.

This has given them more time to focus on value-add activities, strengthened their relationships with existing clients, put more money in the bank, and helped them attract new business on an ongoing basis.

Let’s hear more from Jeffery and dig into how this happened.

How did your practice operate before you introduced Ignition?

When I started my firm three years ago, I knew a ton about accounting but very little about running a successful CPA practice. I simply dived in and started doing everything manually, thinking this was how everyone did it.

How wrong I was.

Being a CPA, we need to have an engagement letter for pretty much everything we do: tax returns, monthly compilation, preparations, etc. Creating these engagement letters in Word was cumbersome and inefficient. Even when they were finished, our work was far from over — we had to then sort all relevant payment and billing details into their own system.

At the beginning of the year, I’d have to issue something like 600 - 700 engagement letters. Every one of those had to be created from scratch, cutting and pasting templates into Word, updating the details, and so on.

Worse still, we were all working on independent apps on our phones. Everyone had their own spreadsheets and nothing was standardized. I’d spend countless hours going through dense spreadsheets working out which client was billed at which rate, which services were/weren’t included, and whether or not I’d already billed them.

It was a nightmare.

Inevitably this led to errors creeping in. Every two weeks or so, when I had sent out my latest set of invoices, I’d receive angry calls from customers who I’d either misbilled or who didn’t understand why the bill was so high. I spent about 15 - 20 hours per month walking clients through their bill.

All in all, I’d literally spend a month and a half of what could be billable time on billing admin tasks every year!

How did you get started with Ignition?

I was first introduced to Ignition back in May 2018 by a local Xero rep. We were having a chat about my practice’s needs when they recommended we use your tool alongside Xero Practice Manager (XPM). I liked the sound of it, so I thought: “Sure, let’s give it a go!”.

We haven’t looked back since.

Once it was all set up, it was night and day. We went from constantly stressing about admin to knowing that it’s all just automatically taken care of. You still have to do a bit of legwork when onboarding new clients, but once that’s sorted, you’re good to go.

I’m a massive fan of the way that Ignition integrates with other tools. I'll send a contract to a client and they accept it within Ignition. Ignition then ignites a couple of workflows with XPM and to Xero — meaning invoices are automatically created in Xero once the proposal has been accepted.

We’ve gone from spending three months on admin (billing clients and creating engagement letters) to about two days. That’s a 97% reduction. It’s incredible to think of how much time we wasted simply because we didn’t know a better alternative method existed.

I now spend my time on solving my customers’ problems — not on worrying about admin.

It sounds like Ignition has transformed things internally, but have your clients noticed any difference?

Existing clients have definitely noticed the impact. First, we’re not making any more errors — meaning they don't have to hop on the phone and have that awkward conversation with us. There’s also a lot more clarity, especially when we charge for additional services.

Scope creep happens to the best of us. When you don’t have a clearly laid-out pricing structure for each service, clients sometimes assume it’s just part and parcel of your offering. Now, with Ignition, we can directly show them that each service has an associated cost. This means we spend less time explaining why we’re charging extra, and clients appreciate the clarity from their end too.

But I think new clients have also benefited. As you all know, when it comes to sales, it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot. Now, I can have an introductory call with a client and ping over a proposal or letter of engagement within 15 minutes. Our chat’s still fresh in their mind and they’re generally amazed that I responded to them so quickly.

This does wonders for their perception of our firm. They can also electronically sign all proposals/engagements within PI and set up billing there and then. There are no checks that need to be sent back and forth and no waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail.

Lastly, do you have any advice for firms looking to implement Ignition?

Don’t wait until you think you’re ‘big enough’ to start using tech. The best time to start is when you’re still small — this means you can spend time getting to grips with the entire array of awesome features the tool offers.

By the time you do have a ton of clients and you’re snowed under with work, you’ll be a true ignition aficionado.

This will do wonders for your firm — take my word for it.

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Angela Gosnell
Angela Gosnell

Global Content Marketing Lead 

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Published 01 Jun 2021 Last updated 19 Mar 2024