Fundamentally Flexible: How four Fs and Virtual Office CS make one firm a Best Place to Work
February 22, 2016
The article below was originally published on Thomson Reuters' website.
When Scott Nuttall, managing partner of Kmetz, Nuttall, Elwell, Graham, PLLC in Vero Beach, Florida says, "I think you would have to use the F words" to describe the culture of his firm, don't worry—it's not what you think.
"We like to think of ourselves as fast, fun and furious," says Nuttall, "and I'll even add in flexible, which I think is a key word." Key because KNEG prides itself on providing staff with a flexible work environment, which has helped the firm win a "Best Places to Work" award for the past five years running.
Nuttall also believes in another important key: technology. "As managing partner I wear a few different hats, and one of them is establishing an infrastructure for my staff. I feel it's very important for new hires—especially the younger kids just graduating from college—to be in an environment where they've got access to the latest and greatest in terms of technology, resources and materials to help them grow in their career. We want to provide them with those tools."
Ten years ago, Nuttall found a tool that gave him the flexibility he sought: Virtual Office CS, the Thomson Reuters product that enables firms to access their CS Professional Suite® tax and accounting software in the cloud. KNEG, a Thomson Reuters customer for the past 20 years, began using Virtual Office CS ten years ago so they didn't have to worry about constant technology updates or software upgrades.
And they've continued not worrying in the decade since.
"It's all turnkey," Nuttall says. "Everything pretty much runs on autopilot, which has taken away the need for us to worry about our technology and allowed us focus on our core business."
It didn't take long for the entire firm to realize the benefits of Virtual Office CS. According to Nuttall, "One of the things we're big on at our office is that our staff members have a great office setup both at work and at home. Scanners, printers, laptops—we're buying, and allowing them to take it all home, because we don't care how the work gets done, just that it does get done. Our staff can go home early, have dinner with the kids, and put in a few hours of work in the evening. Or when they're traveling, it's easy for them to check in here and there. We all appreciate the flexibility and the ability to connect at any time, and we're a lot more productive as a result of our relationship with Virtual Office CS."
Has there been a tangible impact on the firm—for instance, on the bottom line? That answer would be an unequivocal yes.
"Twenty years ago, our 15 staff members did about $800,000 of billings per year. Ten years ago [when the firm implemented Virtual Office CS], we did $2 million with the same number of staff. And here we are today, doing $3.2 million in gross revenue, with just 17 staff members. The number of employees has obviously changed little; what has changed is the technology and the ability for us to get things done much faster and more effectively."
Nuttall tells another story that makes his case.
"It's not easy to find good, competent staff CPAs. We had a very strong audit manager, who before Virtual Office CS was spending about half his time working on the technology side, servicing and maintaining our internal server. Once we got onto the Virtual Office CS environment, we got back our full-time audit manager—which we needed much more than we did an IT person."
Does Nuttall have a favorite Virtual Office CS feature?
"The ability for us to have portals available for our clients, so they can access their information or upload files directly to us, whether it's their 1040 or business data, a QuickBooks® update or just to communicate with us.
"Our clients tend to be, for the most part, on the elderly side. In the past we had a little trouble getting them enveloped into technology, but we're starting to find as we deal with the 50- and 60-year-olds that they're more adapted to technology. They're used to checking their medical records through a medical portal. Now we're actually finding that more and more of our clients want that technology. Virtual Office CS lets us do that."
So would Scott Nuttall advise other firms to consider Virtual Office CS? In a heartbeat.
"I'd strongly recommend Virtual Office CS. I feel it's been a huge success in our firm. Looking back to where we were ten years ago and where we are today—it's simply night and day. And a good part of that is due to the Virtual Office CS environment and the offerings it made available to our firm."