“We do not aspire to be the largest CPA firm in Chicago, but we do aspire to deliver services that rival the largest firms. We like to say we offer large firm expertise at small firm prices.”
That’s how John Bovard describes Bovard CPA Group, an accounting, tax, and consulting firm he founded four years ago; today, the firm has seven employees.
A failed American dream
John started exploring a career in accounting based on advice from his school counselor. “She told me, ‘Well, you’re good at math, so how about accounting or engineering?’” he says.
However, John drew the most motivation from his uncle. “He realized the American dream by starting a carpentry business with a partner who handled the accounting, but 18 months later, my uncle found out that this partner had been embezzling every dollar. My uncle lost his home and went into financial ruin. When he told me that story, I realized that even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I knew I never want that to happen to someone else.”
Helping others who put everything on the line
John spent the bulk of his career working in a top-tier CPA firm. Four years ago, he decided to set up his own firm and went from working with $100 million plus businesses to much smaller ones that wanted to know, first, what their fees would be.
“Knowing the fees would be the same every month allowed these smaller businesses to compare an outsourced solution with the cost of an internal function,” he says.
With this knowledge, John implemented a fixed price model, eliminated accounts receivable, and a lot of the traditional problems he experienced in the large firm. With each new client, he told the story about his uncle – something he still does today.
“I remind every client what can happen if their business fails, and that’s what drives me. I started my own firm because I wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to work with small business community entrepreneurs – people who are putting everything on the line, and give them access to the same financial tools and resources large businesses have.”
The non-negotiable for choosing technology
Even though John came from a large firm with all its resources, he still experienced struggles with technology. When he started his firm, he knew he had some careful decisions ahead of him to select the right tools, but had one tool that was non-negotiable.
“From day one, I was only interested in cloud-based solutions. Coming from a large firm, I saw lots of issues with technology. There were always conflicts between hosted technology with lots of finger pointing. I was adamant we would be different.”
Two tools John chose early on played a particularly significant role, and helped lay the foundation for what Bovard CPA Group has now grown into.
“The two single most important decisions I made when launching my firm was to use QuickBooks® Online and ProConnect™ Tax for accounting and tax, and Karbon for workflow.” Today, this is known as Intuit® Practice Management powered by Karbon.
Like a lot of Chicagoans, baseball is a big part of John’s life. He is a committed White Sox fan, but due to his chosen profession, always had to miss one of the most exciting times on the calendar. Recently, that changed.
“Like every tax accountant, I’m always busy from January to April,” he says. “However, I was actually able to go to spring training for the first time, so I went to Arizona without interrupting my work. I could attend games and work around them, whenever and wherever I needed to.”
Choosing 100 percent cloud-based software has also given John the flexibility he needs to prioritize what’s most important to him.
“I learned early on about the importance of making time for your family. In my previous role, the hours were extremely demanding and I didn’t have any free time, but after starting my own firm, I was able to coach my son’s baseball team. When people found out I was an accountant, they wondered how I had the time. The cloud has given me so much freedom. It’s easy for me to find a balance and make time for my family. I can go to practice or a game, and can go back to work at home or in the office later if I need to.”
A single source of truth for information
Another advantage of choosing cloud-based solutions such as Intuit Practice Management and QuickBooks is the efficiency John and his team gain with apps that integrate.
“It’s always a big challenge working with lots of different technologies, so we prefer products that work together,” he says. “The way Intuit Practice Management works with Microsoft Office 365 is a great example. People are amazed that we’re not operating in Office and that it’s all integrated into one seamless solution. We’re not constantly switching back and forth between things because it’s all in one program.”
John is excited about the prospect of taking this one step further by syncing his data with ProConnect Tax.
“I love the seamlessness of QuickBooks Online, and with Karbon and Intuit working together, I know we will improve our efficiency even more.”
Bovard CPA Group’s clients also benefit from John’s approach to technology. He takes advantage of automated tools to improve his team’s timeliness and the overall client experience. This extends to what has traditionally been a challenging task: collecting information from clients.
“Now we’re automating the process in Intuit Practice Management, we just set it and forget it. What we need comes in, all without us doing anything or upsetting the client.”
Never sacrificing personal service
Although John automates many of his firm’s processes to make things more efficient, he makes sure that his clients always get the high level of service promised by Bovard CPA.
“Technology allows you to make processes so efficient that you can almost eliminate all human interaction, but that can be a problem for any long-term relationship. As a result, we make sure we balance give each client highly personal attention.”
Karbon assists in providing this level of service, helping the entire team stay on top of every client relationship.
“Karbon gives visibility over valuable information, including every email with a client from across the team, which lets me know what’s going on in their lives. The information I can see in Karbon helps us provide more personal service. We work with lots of clients, but I always know what’s going on when I speak with one on the phone.”
The personal touch is a reminder of why John continues to help clients and grow Bovard CPA at a rapid rate.
“What really excites me is when a client lets me know years later how impactful the story about my uncle was to them,” he says. “Working with those business owners and helping them achieve their goals is what keeps me going. Those clients remind me why I do what I do.”
Find out more about how Intuit Practice Management powered by Karbon can benefit your firm.