Introducing the One and Only Accounting Department
February 25, 2019
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Dennis Najjar, Co-Founder of AccountingDepartment.com, has always been ahead of the curve. For him, accounting goes deeper than numbers on a screen. The job extends past a back office. It’s about building relationships and thinking forward.
Dennis started out in public accounting in 1982 and then created his own practice. He discovered his passion working with small businesses and helping them grow.
When accounting software became readily available to the public, he encountered a mess in businesses’ accounting. “It wasn’t as simple as they made it seem and how they marketed it.” But as more businesses started using Quickbooks, believing the promise that it was possible to scrap their accountants, Dennis had a lot of fixing to do.
“When home-use accounting software was released to the public, businesses thought they could get rid of their accountants who cost thousands each year. Accountants laid down and rolled over. We let these companies take it all away.”
Dennis took a proactive role in making sure his clients’ books were sound. He turned into an outside controller, going to his small business clients monthly or quarterly, and fixing their books to make sure they had good financial reports.
Instead of driving around to service each client, he realized that remote work would be more cost efficient, sparking the beginning of his own practice: AccountingDepartment.com.
This demand grew, and eventually, one man wasn’t enough.
While overwhelmed with providing his services to businesses with rocky books, he decided to take back. Instead of driving around to service each client, he realized that remote work would be more cost-efficient, sparking the beginning of his own practice: AccountingDepartment.com.
But a good accountant needs a good salesperson.
Bill Gerber, Co-Founder of AccountingDepartment.com, was working as a salesman when he met Dennis. He had previously lost two businesses to poor accounting and was looking for a way to help other businesses avoid this issue. He stumbled upon Najjar’s website and called him up.
“We were ‘married’ in three weeks,” says Najjar.
Their journey started in 2004. Najjar was the backend, with Gerber seeking clients and talking to business owners.
Najjar jokes that “good salespeople think the glass is always half full. But accountants think the glass is half empty.” But the new year brought a little more optimism. In December 2004, Gerber told Najjar he had some clients. It ended up that he had rounded up seven clients to start in the first week of January, 2005. “And we haven’t looked back since.”
From Legacy to Virtual Accounting
Najjar began his accounting work in the 80s using green ledger paper. That all changed in 1990 when he bought his first Compact 286 and immediately started to digitize all of his clients. True love.
While technology was entering mainstream use, Najjar understood how it could convert the industry. He recognized the business opportunity that digitization could create and the efficiency of remote work.
“I was always inclined towards technology. When I first started the model, I didn’t want faxes coming in so I had a fax card put into the printer. I was always thinking about paperless methods. Paper is inefficient and binds you to a physical location; it doesn’t allow you to be virtual.”
Paper is inefficient and binds you to a physical location; it doesn’t allow you to be virtual.
“We don’t kill any trees in this practice,” Najjar says with a chuckle.
“Going paperless is a given. Even a brick and mortar business could work without paper. Everything coming in gets scanned and added to the cloud and everything going out goes as a PDF. Why would you want to do it any other way?”
Najjar didn’t hesitate to jump onto the tech wagon. And that helped him stand out in accounting both then and now.
“We were always ahead of the curve, looking to use more technologies to do less manual work.”
Developing the Mission
Najjar’s business has had two stages: education and differentiation. Initially, they went out and told people what they do, educating business owners on the option for remote services. Since then, they’ve entered the “differentiation” stage.
Business owners now understand the aspects that are outside of their core competencies and seek external, expert help. Businesses are finding out about all the complexities involved in running a business.
“When you go into business, you’re expected to be an expert in everything. But a lot of it is a foreign language. When you can’t speak that language, you avoid it and that causes problems.”
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On the other hand, businesses will often pay full-time for a bookkeeper that they don’t need. “They don’t know any better. Then the job becomes bloated. We can use our process and our people, and technology, to create a whole package for the same price.”
“Initially, I was referring to us as ‘the AccountingDepartment.com’ because that’s what we do for our businesses. We take over the accounting and provide the heavy lifting and accounting skills. Eventually it turned into what we are now, providing the equivalent to a whole department for our small business clients.”
AccountingDepartment.com helps their clients with checks and balances and ensures they have accountability. “The market is there, and businesses need a little more than once in a while, but not to the point when they need multiple people.”
AccountingDepartment.com’s mission couldn’t work without their essentials: “We’re about people, process, and technology. We maintain properly trained staff that can communicate, a process they can follow for consistent results, and technology for efficient workflow. The combination of these things is a cornerstone for every business. That’s our mission. That’s what we’re after.”
Technology Rising: A Sign of the Times
“There were challenges. All of the things I envisioned needing didn’t really exist. We set up servers in New Jersey to allow people to connect but it wasn’t scalable. Data centers weren’t commercially available yet. When they were, we got rid of our internal servers and we out-sourced our IT.”
“We were always looking for the next thing, not as heads-down accountants with eyes pinned to the top of a desk. While looking ahead, AccountingDepartment.com was constantly wondering what they could do to make their process more efficient, and how they could implement more technologies to do less manual work.
“The less you have to touch, the more cost-efficient, competitive, and profitable you become.”
Since Account Department is remote, paper checks, and many old-fashioned methods are off the table. “We require our clients to use these technologies. It’s about systemization, a process. The tools are important and we’ve come up with our toolsets. We require clients to use them. It’s not an option because time is money. Our process is only two steps while using Veem, where manual processes can have up to twelve steps. We drive efficiency using our process.”
Where Quickbooks initially threatened accounting positions and made a mess of work for Najjar, he admits that the technology is essential to the job. It’s not just about saving trees, but also about communication. There’s no better way to collaborate than cloud computing.
“Virtual bookkeepers absolutely have to use the cloud. Cloud computing allows for business owners and the accounting community to collaborate effectively. Every bookkeeper and accountant should be thinking about how they can collaborating, whether checking in weekly with a client. But they can’t do that without sharing information.”
And no, despite the playing dead of accountancy in the 90s, technology is bringing people together, and not so much taking over.
Yes, AI is going to reduce keystrokes but it’s not going to reduce the skill required to verify that information. You can build rules around the routine stuff, but you can’t replace the human interaction involved. Technology can do the heavy lifting so people can do four times the amount of work.”
The People & The Process
Najjar suggests his job is all about building relationships with clients. “When you bond with clients and businesses, you become an invaluable resource. It’s so much more rewarding to be partners with your clients than when you’re a number cruncher in a back office and they can’t see what you’re doing.”
AccountingDepartment.com insists on monthly meetings with bookkeepers. “We keep that dialogue open, listen to what they’re saying, and try to understand what the numbers are saying. Sometimes business owners are on one page and the numbers are on another page. Until you bring those two things together, they don’t get the full picture of what’s happening.”
Communication is key for accounting. Najjar helps his clients understand the process by translates the language of accounting. He sees his business as a resource for helping small businesses develop.
Of course, in order to develop, businesses need to understand the numbers from their past while keeping their eyes on the road in front of them. However, as Najjar suggests, “the numbers looking forward are only as good as the numbers from the past.”
We teach our clients how to use the information and help their businesses grow and succeed. There will always be the need for somebody to talk to.
“Hindsight is nice, and AI is going to allow for less time to be spent on gathering data and more time on how to use it, but it’s ultimately all about thinking forward. We teach our clients how to use the information and help their businesses grow and succeed. There will always be the need for somebody to talk to. We’ve aligned our objectives to be forward-thinking, involved with the information, not just providers of the information.”
AccountingDepartment.com is focused on helping its clients, using the most cost and time-efficient technologies and procedures. From bookkeeping advice to financial literacy, they have their clients best interests in mind.
“We’re focused on providing the best practices for our clients.” That’s why they started looking for a payment processor that could offer transparency, scalability, and international payments. That’s why they use Veem.
An International Solution
“We’ve been a bill.com user for many years, but it’s lacking the ability to pay internationally. We’ve found that more of our clients are dealing internationally and they need to make payments. We needed to bring a solution to the table that’s efficient. Nothing else provides a good workflow. Other companies lack sound accounting which is what we’re all about when we’re dealing with small business clients. Trying to find something that’s scalable for them has been our challenge, until we learned about Veem.”
AccountingDepartment.com discovered Veem while attending a trade show. Initially, they had some concerns in terms of segregation of duties. “We weren’t able to handle the transaction from end to end. There was some kind of approval process that prevented us from getting in there.
The company was smart and expressed their concerns to Veem. “We gave Veem our feedback and they worked out the concerns we had. They took our feedback and changed things.”
“Now, Veem is our solution for international payments.”
AccountingDepartment.com hopes to provide their clients with a holistic service. They work as a “one-stop-shop” which is evident in the way they introduce technologies that meet their clients’ needs while benefiting still all parties. Their expertise regarding the most efficient technology and their passion for helping small businesses grow gives them a great advantage.
“We wanted one fit for clients doing domestic and international. So for those clients, we use Veem. We were using a kind of hodgepodge of different applications. Some clients were using Paypal, some doing wire transfers. We didn’t have anything cohesive or cost-effective. It was a weak spot in our offering. Veem has a higher value. There’s not a lot of companies out there and I believe there’s a big demand for international payments.”
While international payments become more and more of a demand for small businesses, Veem is the frontrunner.
Together, Veem and AccountingDepartment.com work to make the work of small business owners more efficient so they can grow and grow.
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