Recently I decided that “I couldn’t be all things, to all people.” I guess it really started with a call from someone wanting help with their QuickBooks Online. Last Fall I got certified in QBO for the first time, but there never has been a ‘love relationship’ there for me, and to be honest, I don’t think there really ever will be. I can get around in QBO, and even write a few choice ‘user oriented tidbits' with which to answer “What If (for QBO)” questions. But I just am not going to spend the time to make QBO my best friend.
In the past when someone would call about QBO I would do my best to help them out, usually in a free consultation for an hour and be done with it. Of course, before I got certified I didn’t really get that many calls, but since then because I am pretty much at the top of the local lists, I get more and more QBO users calling. I even thought about having my brother sign-up for the ‘free’ QBO ProAdvisor program and then pawning the calls off on him, but he has plenty to do with the Information Technology side of our house, and handling basic QuickBooks Networked installs.
So what to do, what to do when those QBO callers are on the phone? You guessed it ‘refer’, it is the winning move for everyone concerned. As it happens, last summer on my way to Scaling New Heights, there was one seat left on the plane and it was ‘next to me of course’ (Murphy's law would normally be that the only guy bigger than me on the plane would be the one to come sit next to me). Well as it happens, a young lady approached from the front of the plane, obviously the last person to board, and it has 'changed my life.' (No we didn't get married.) She took the seat next to me and after buckling up made some remark about the plane being so crowded. I think I said something about perhaps everyone was heading to a conference, and she promptly said she was, and I said “me too.” Within a moment’s time we realized that we were both heading to SNH-2014. She introduced herself, telling me that it was her first conference, how long she had been a ProAdvisor and that ‘she just loved QBO.’ Of course, any self-respecting ‘desktop’ lover would have written her off right there, but no, I just went right on expounding, as only I can do, about all of my own accolades. I really had her baffled with all my BS.
In reality by the time we got to San Antonio, I felt like we were ‘old friends’, ‘best buddies’, and not in the least did I consider her my competition. But at that moment in time, I didn’t have a clue that I would ever have a need to make her my ‘go to’ referral ProAdvisor for QBO. We chat off and on both during SNH and then at the Sleeter Conference in November, it was there that I realized that ‘hey dummy, Liz is the perfect ProAdvisor to partner with in terms of referring all those QBO callers.’ It seems like hardly a week went buy after I got back from Sleeter that the first opportunity arose, I carried on with the guy that called discussing options as if I was going to personally accomplish any and everything he needed for his multi-company QBO operations. About 20 minutes into the conversation, I said, you know I have a young lady who works with me in regard to QBO clients, “Liz is like Oklahoma ‘queen bee of QBO’ so let me have her call you to get all your needs scheduled.”
Within 10 minutes I was chatting-up my first referral to Liz, she took the information and ran with it, and before long I was getting a big ‘thank you call’ from the client saying how happy he was with all that Liz was doing for him. I spent barely any time at all and I was like ‘Captain Crunchberry’ for what little effort I had put into it. Believe me I was ‘relieved’ that I didn’t have to deal with all that QBO stuff, and that Liz was getting the extra business.
A half-dozen or so referrals later, Liz is handling all those QBO clients calling me within a day or so of the referral. If I were going to fit them into my schedule they would probably be looking at 4 to 6 weeks out. The clients are happy, I am happy and Liz is happy, it is a ‘win, win, win’ situation.
In a couple of past Blogs I have written about ‘putting the “Pro” in ProAdvisor', now I recognize that part of doing that is knowing when to refer a client to another ProAdvisor. There are a lot of reasons why it might be in the best interest for you to refer a client to another ProAdvisor, but I don't need to go into all of them. Just do it when it is the right thing to do! There is nothing improper about referrals; the only thing wrong with the referral process, is ‘not making a referral’ when it is the right thing to do.
So you are probably wondering what “I’m” getting out of these referrals? Well there are no referral fees or percentages in this formula, what I get is the peace of mind in knowing that those calling are not going away mad when I might have been forced to tell them “so sorry, you are just too small time for me, why would I spend hours helping you with QBO at $85 per hour when I can be implementing a manufacturing system at $210 per hour…” (After all there is only ‘one’ of me, I can only get so much done... “do you hear that Gary…”). [I'm always teasing him about having too much to do.]
I also have the peace of mind in knowing those callers are being served well, in a professional manner, by someone who really enjoys working with QBO clients. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am helping build another ProAdvisor’s client base, not because I think she will one day ‘run me out of business’, but because I realize that in the ever expanding market of people taking that first step into managing their small business with QuickBooks Online, I now have someone who can ‘bail me out.’ Thanks Liz!
Liz Scott is a Certified ProAdvisor in QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online working for Accounting Lifeline in Midwest City, OK.