Transforming to a full-service firm overnight

Sherwood Tax & Accounting is founded on the principles of integrity, honesty and a commitment to servicing their clients, their families, and their community. Practice Owner Kristen Keats discusses how Ignition helped transform their traditional practice to a full-service advisory firm overnight with an automated fee-based business model helping them achieve one single source of truth for their clients, and a 60% client conversion rate to fixed fees within 6 months.

Sherwood Accounting & Tax
Kristen Keats (Owner), Photo by Stephanie Schmidt Photography

“With all the templates and a touch of a button, client engagement gets done within a day versus weeks. Ignition has been life-changing for our team.”

- Kristen Keats, Owner, Sherwood Accounting & Tax

The Challenge: growing clientele while transforming a traditional business into a cloud-based firm

It wasn’t ever part of Kristen Keats’ life plan to own a full-service tax, accounting and advisory firm. But when a great opportunity to purchase Sherwood Tax & Accounting, it just felt right.

Taking the helm September 2020, Kristen immediately got to work putting her own spin on the Oregon-based business, utilizing remote and offshore staff and catering to small owner-managed businesses. For starters, she wanted her firm to be very relationship driven—a client-centric model, where clients would always come first. She also wanted complete transparency around the processes, procedures, deliverables and communication, a core value practiced by her team.

But upholding those commitments would require fast-tracking some cutting-edge strategies already in the works when she bought the company, plus additional improvements in how business would run. Specifically, she wanted to get away from paper—things like multiple client lists, A/R via checks, client proposals and engagement letters that took weeks to draft and deliver, putting sales and closing ratios at risk. She didn’t want her clients feeling like the “taxi meter” was running every time they needed help. And, Kristen wanted to create efficiencies to free up staff so they could spend more time doing what they do best: leveraging their expertise to help clients excel in business and life.

"In my pre-Ignition experience, other than a standard tax or audit engagement letter, it was impossible to get a custom engagement completed. Now when I’ve got a client lead, I can strike when it’s hot and quickly close the deal."

The Solution: An automated, subscription-based business model that facilitates account conversion to the cloud and deepens client relationships

When Kristen bought the firm, Sherwood Tax & Accounting had been using a somewhat antiquated program called Office Tools. That said, the company had also started using Ignition’s cloud-based accounting platform for a small percentage of clients.

Upon learning the Office Tools licence was expiring just one month into her new role, Kristen realized it was now or never in terms of fast-tracking Ignition and really integrating the powerful platform, tools and features into her business.

She knew the changeover would come with some challenges (some clients could push back). But the system totally synced with her progressive business vision and the transparent, fee-based model of service her firm wanted to pursue. So, she went for it!

And her team bought into it, too, embracing a growth-focused mindset and Ignition’s automated customized proposals, engagement experience, and Review and Pay. To quickly initiate and manage workflows post-contract-signing, they capitalized on Intuit Practice Management as well.

Leveraging change-of-scope requests and other points of customer contact, Kristen and her team capitalized on honest conversations around their new business model, the advantages of automatic payments and a fee-based approach, plus other Ignition benefits. The one-on-one conversations took time, but most clients converted after understanding the genuine value of this approach.

“As we changed into a more automated, fee-based business model, Ignition helped set us apart from the competition. Clients find it really easy and appreciate not having a big year-end bill.”

The Result: A robust client base, a dynamic staff and relationships that build customer loyalty

“Revenue and growth are always nice and good, but we’d rather have a few higher-quality clients and a larger bottom line than a higher top line. And that’s what we’ve got.”

Over a period of six months, Sherwood Tax & Accounting worked hard and fast to transition from its traditional model to a full-service advisory firm. The efficiencies created in adopting Ignition and Intuit Practice Management enabled the team to recover and shift countless work hours...hours spent coaching and advising clients year round versus once a year, or only at tax time.

The client relationships now run deeper, too. Clients love knowing that they can turn to Sherwood Tax & Accounting anytime and view their experience as a partnership, not simply a product or service.

Today, with the firm’s goals rooted in that “quality over quantity” philosophy, this innovative company serves 1,100 clients. It has the freedom to grow its staff as needed and tap their team’s talent and expertise. With Ignition, Sherwood Tax & Accounting sits primed and poised to innovate, further differentiate, and keep exceeding client expectations. And, it goes without saying, no “taxi meters” running here!

About Sherwood Accounting & Tax

Sherwood Tax & Accounting is founded on the core principles of integrity, honesty and a commitment to serving their clients, their families and our community. Their approach is to tailor accounting and income tax solutions that provide their clients with a bottom line that’s always on target and on time, and that fits the way they live and do business. As they work with their clients on their bookkeeping, accounting and tax returns, they'll educate you on what they're doing as well as their options. They do this because they believe that if you are well informed you’re in a position to make wiser financial decisions.

About Kristen Keats

Kristen Keats, CPA is a community leader with over twenty years of experience serving small businesses and self-employed clients. Kristen has worked for both large and small firms over the course of her career, most recently as a senior manager at a regional tax firm. She has also served in industry positions. In addition to her work as a CPA, is the proud founder of Breakaway Bookkeeping + Advising, an innovative small business advisory firm focusing on technology and community.

Kristen is dedicated to her clients, always going above and beyond, and using the best tools and technology available to help her do so. She understands that being a CPA means so much more than just making sure her clients are tax compliant. Her work allows clients to set and achieve meaningful goals and grow their businesses in the ways that work for them.

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