Steve Schultz, VP Business Development, Supporting Strategies
Several weeks ago we published an article entitled “What does it take to be an outsourced CFO and/or BPO Business” in which we interviewed John and Laura Redmond and Peter Cullen, who separately run two businesses that in some cases blur the lines between being a BPO and/or a CFO type of business.
As we expected, the article was well read, so we are following up that article with a couple more in which we will continue to explore exactly what these types of businesses are, how they operate and how you can turn your business into one (if you are interested in going that route).
Today I am speaking with Steve Schultz, VP of Franchise Development for Supporting Strategies. Supporting Strategies is unique in that they offer turnkey solutions for outsourced work focused in the bookkeeper through controller level. However, they also offer a franchise model to entreprenuers, which we will take an in-depth look at as well.
IA: Tell me a little about your business. Are you BPO or outsourced CFO?
SS: We provide outsourced bookkeeping and operational support, we do transactional accounting (AP/AR/Payroll/revenue recognition) and month end close and financial reporting. Think bookkeeper through controller, so not the CFO. But our services involve improving the client process, instituting best practices, and developing the workflow to include as much automation as possible, so in most ways you could think of us as more like BPO than CFO.
IA: How would you differentiate between BPO and outsourced CFO?
SS: I believe a CFO is a strategic resource responsible for all operational and strategic financial accounting requirements, and as such is responsible for the institution of BPO in regards to the financial operations of the business.
IA: What is the scope and depth of the work you do for your clients?
SS: We offer “bookkeeper to controller” services. I won’t give you the full list for sake of time and space, but we offer core bookkeeping and accounting services like Bookkeeping and General Accounting Support, Payroll, Compliance and Management Reporting. We are unique in that we also offer help with providing operational support including HR and Benefits administrative duties.
IA: Many of our readers are interested in broadening their business to be more inclusive or the outsourced services you’ve described above, what were the biggest challenges you faced when starting this business?
SS: We needed to demonstrate that we can be more effective in a virtual outsourced environment than a traditional hire:
Our typical client uses us 5.5 hrs per week. By being remote and focusing on the process we automate the work flow to improve the process and save our clients money. Through the use of technology, and the direct alignment of talented resources our clients get the service when they need it with no waste.
IA: In the previous article I referenced earlier we had a husband and wife team. My understanding is that you and Leslie are a brother and sister team. What are the roles you two handle?
SS: Well Brother and Sister – in Law, I run Business development and Leslie manages Operations. Leslie is our CEO and our Leader, Leslie is our visionary!
IA: What is your core accounting software?
SS: QBE. We find it is broad enough to handle the requirements of all of our clients, one platform for all of our clients, this is how we specialize, get smart, and deliver service excellence.
IA: Is this an issue with any of your clients?
SS: They care more about their business than the platform we use, But don’t misunderstand me, QBE is a very powerful tool that effectively manages all types of businesses’ including those with inventory requirements.
IA: Have you looked at other accounting packages or are you 100% QB?
SS: Our Service Excellence team routinely evaluates new products They insure we always use the best products available
12. What would you share with anyone who is currently considering migrating to a BPO/Outsourced CFO business?
SS: Do it. There is currently a huge shift in how businesses manage their bookkeeping and accounting. They are outsourcing it, so the growth opportunities are endless.
IA: Before we get into your franchise business, I want to clarify that Supporting Strategies is still supporting business clients. Right?
SS: Absolutley, We currently have 9 locations supporting over 250 clients with over 65 employee’s.
IA: With that cleared up, let’s talk about your Franchise Business. Can you provide an overview of what the franchise is that you sell? What am I buying?
SS: We’ve developed a proven, scalable business model with highly automated systems and processes to deliver cost-effective accounting services to clients. Furthermore, our low overhead and variable cost delivery model enable franchisees to closely match costs to revenues.
As a Supporting Strategies franchisee, you’ll enjoy access to:
- A turn-key scalable business model
- A defined marketing territory for your Supporting Strategies Franchise that includes a minimum of 20,000 small businesses (those employing 1-100 employees)
- Access to our Virtual Key technology platform – this supported platform gives you and your team all of the technology tools necessary to manage your clients
- Business development system & support
- Team recruiting support & training programs
- Access to Supporting Strategies University & our team of SSU coaches
Help Desk support for your team and your clients – includes document management services and a support hotline
IA: How is it priced?
SS: Our Franchise fee is $35,000 and our Royalty is 10% of billed Revenues. This is a relatively low initial cost with a very manageable overhead.
IA: Do you offer protected territories?
SS: We offer A defined marketing territory for your Supporting Strategies Franchise that includes a minimum of 20,000 small businesses (those employing 1-100 employees) Yet clients can be located anywhere.
IA: How long does it typically take from introduction to contract to operational?
SS: 6 – 8 weeks.
IA: What other fees or expenses should an entrepreneur expect to pay outside of the franchise fee on the front end, monthly or annually?
SS: That is the beauty of our model, as almost all of the costs are directly tied to revenue. Sure you have some professional services and sales costs, but your royalty covers the vast majority of your overhead costs, including talent acquisition and training. Additionally your Virtual Key technology costs are set at $200 per month per employee. The Virtual Key includes all hardware/software/and support costs associated with the running your franchise.
IA: What other software are the franchises using besides QBE to be “compliant” with the Supporting Strategies franchise plan?
IA: If someone is interested in learning more about the opportunities involved with owning a franchise, how can they get in touch with you?
SS: Have the give me a call at 978-479-2871 or check us out at supportingstrategies.com
IA: I will give you the last word. What would you like to share with our audience?
SS: A huge transformation is about to take place with bookkeeping. Today, many small businesses still handle this function themselves. But that has already started to change — and Supporting Strategies is ahead of the curve.