Providing a timely solution during a pandemic

Brenner LLP
Jason Staats, CPA, MBA, Principal at Brenner LLP

Brenner LLP, founded in 1946, is a full-service firm with 40 employees and services approx. 2,500 clients. Principal Jason Staats, CPA, MBA, discusses how Practice Ignition not only helped transition his clients to a fixed-fee model during a pandemic, but how he was able to leverage Practice Ignition's multiple proposal options to provide pricing certainty in tough financial times.

There’s no doubt that Jason Staats, CPA, MBA, is a mover and a shaker.

When he came aboard as a new principal in 2017 for the Salem, Ore.-based Brenner LLP, he brought proven accounting and tech skills to the table.

But Jason brought something more—he came with a real passion for building upon and fine-tuning best practices using the latest, greatest tech tools and strategies.

No surprise, when the pandemic hit and many of Brenner LLP clients turned to the firm seeking unprecedented support, Jason led his team in a vital shift in business approach.

In the meantime and in addition to being a busy husband and a father to three young children, Jason has grown an online following through Twitter and YouTube, including webinars and DIY videos.

Super creative and a natural leader, he gets a kick out of sharing his favorite accounting-app tips and resources with the world. From so many perspectives, he’s a true entrepreneurial asset to Brenner, LLP.

A look at Brenner LLP

Founded in 1946, Brenner LLP operated historically as a tax firm until about 2016, when the firm started a shift toward Client Accounting Services (CAS), offering all-in-one bookkeeping, bill pay, payroll and more.

The shift, however, turned out to be rather seismic. This full-service aspect of business grew rapidly and now makes up 25% of its client base.

Today, with nearly 40 employees on board, Brenner LLP serves approximately 2,500 clients—a mix of legacy clients, individuals, business entities, nonprofits, trusts and estates—a growing number of whom have easily embraced or converted to Brenner LLP’s automated, cloud-based accounting approach.

Transitioning to fixed fee model during a pandemic

In his first couple of years at Brenner, LLP, Jason had started using Xero—an experience that, interestingly, kept driving him to get tech-tool advice and ideas through Practice Ignition’s blogs and resources to build more efficiencies into his own client approach.

Once Jason decided to see it in action, he was hooked. But as for really integrating this cloud-based, start-to-finish accounting solution into Brenner, LLP? That would take some real client wins.

Which came, unexpectedly, with the onset of the pandemic. Practically overnight, many clients—financially stressed and uncertain about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—turned to Brenner, LLP for help.

But Brenner, LLP under its current business model couldn’t cater to every single client. It simply didn’t have enough staff or time to manage the uptick in need.

This challenge pushed its partners, particularly Jason, to think differently about an out-of-the-box solution that would really position this firm as a proactive, trusted leader in its industry.

Giving clients pricing certainty during tough times

Fortunately, with Practice Ignition technology already part of Brenner, LLPs offering, the out-of-the-box solution was right there, readily available. But everyone at the firm—not just Jason—had to really use and leverage it.

The time was now. So while the team did its best to keep pace with regular business demands, it invested a solid month in creating a new subscription business model.

By leveraging Practice Ignition’s multiple proposal options, a feature that allows clients to choose up to three pricing options within proposals, the new model offered three “tiers” of services: a free DIY resource package, a mid-level package with heavily-assisted services, and a top-tier package, offering more of a “white glove” treatment.

Once created, the package rolled out to Brenner, LLP’s clients and, while some went the DIY route, many picked the for-fee packages, actually grateful to have fixed pricing in uncertain economic times, plus absolute transparency around the services received for their particular value-based fee.

For most, the switch just felt natural…after all, many other services in our lives are fee-based today. What’s more, the large-scale rollout appeased clients and gave them greater peace of mind amid all the COVID-19 challenges these businesses faced or feared.

No one really knew what would happen.

But through Brenner, LLP, clients came to truly know that this firm was one focused on relevant strategies and solutions.

And in experiencing such a strategic “win,” Brenner, LLP transformed its own mindset around how to do business differently—and better.

Jason’s Pro Tip:

The journey to achieving an automated, cloud-based accounting firm is not unlike other kinds of change management.

Recognize it takes time to change your business model and bite it off in digestible chunks — and Practice Ignition helps you get there.

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