Name: Jody Grunden, CPA
- Onboarding Team:
- Kelly Schuknecht, Director of Marketing
- Jamie Nau, Virtual CFO
- Lydia Rapp, Project Manager
Title: CEO, Co-founder Summit CPA Group
Years of Experience: 27 years
College Name & Degree: Indiana University Bloomington; BS, Business & Accounting
Firm Name: Summit CPA Group (Expertise: Virtual CFO services)
Firm City & State: Fort Wayne, IN (fully remote/distributed across US and internationally)
Firm Size: 50 employees
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Memberships: AAM, AICPA, Indiana CPAs Society Council, named Innovative Practitioner of the Year by cpa.com
Twitter Handle: @jgrunden
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodygrunden/
How do you handle client onboarding at your firm? What are your best practices?
We videotape all sales calls and have a transparent hand-off to the project manager for onboarding. We come in as the experts and define client priorities, deliverables, and milestones.
Can you offer scalable onboarding advice for smaller firms with a marketing department?
Standardization. Perhaps create a checklist or slideshow for each new client. Make your onboarding process as automated as possible. We use an 80/20 rule for onboarding. We standardize 80 percent of our process and give our team the flexibility for 20 percent of the process to be specialized to the new client. There are many templates out there for onboarding. Standardize your communications, deliverables, and milestones. Good documentation of your standardized items makes it much easier to identify what is not working so well.
Do you have any tips for marketers on good communication related to client onboarding?
Our marketing team does a weekly survey of onboarding clients to see how they are feeling during the process. We have a red, yellow, and green system. That way we know right away if there is an issue. We are constantly requesting feedback from the customer.
What is the structure of your marketing department?
Jamie and Lydia are part of our accounting team (which handles onboarding). Our marketing team is separate and consists of three team members:
- Director of marketing
- Inbound marketing specialist
- Social media marketing specialist
What have you learned the hard way?
We have learned not to be afraid to take risks and incorporate change. Our culture of embracing change has been instrumental in our success. When we failed to look for change is when we fell short. If we fail, we fail forward. For example, our onboarding process used to end with a dead stop. We realized we needed a follow-up call to celebrate our accomplishments and to hear from the client if there is anything else they need.
What is a “must know” for new accounting marketers?
It is critical to understand your audience. Where are they online, and what are they doing? Know your niche, and understand your clients. If you do not have a niche, identify that.
What are your special skills or what is something people may not know about you?
The power to delegate and freely give up responsibility to other team members (Jody).
What is the biggest benefit you receive from your AAM membership or what affect has AAM had on your career?
AAM gives us perspective on what others are doing. It is no different than reading books. I read a ton of books. You can take bits and pieces away or take ideas and make them better. The benefit of AAM is we can listen, take a tidbit away, and utilize.
What do you feel is the biggest issue is facing accounting marketers today?
The need for thought leaders. You want to drive people to your business. Thought leadership can come from anyone in the firm. Also, do not try to be a generalist. It does not work. We need to be specialists.
What would you be doing if you had not become a marketer?
What is the biggest project you are working on right now?
We have launched a course called The Virtual CFO Playbook to teach CPA firms how to do what we do. Our staff teach the modules, and we are currently promoting the course.
If you had an unlimited budget, what is one thing you would implement immediately?
We have grown profitably and have a nice cash reserve (though I wouldn’t say it is unlimited). We are still growing and looking to bring on 15 new people. It is hard to say what we would do with an unlimited budget. What we really need is people to add to our team, and they are not easy to find right now.
What books have you read recently that you feel would be beneficial to other AAM members?
- Positioning for Professionals by Tim Williams
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
- Systemology by David Jenyns
- The “E” Myth by Michael E. Gerber
Jody Grunden was interviewed by Susan Ross Wells.
Susan Ross Wells is the Marketing Manager for Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD, the largest locally-owned public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay, Ohio. With the firm since 2015, her responsibilities include marketing & branding strategy, web development, content creation, media relations and social media management.
A member of the Findlay Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, and the RSM US Alliance Marketing Advisory Board, Susan also volunteers her time in support of Flag City Honor Flight, the local hub of the national Honor Flight Network.