When the financial crisis hit the United States in the late 2000s, Alabama was struck particularly hard. In fact, the state had the third-highest prevalence of economic loss during the peak of the crisis, according to an Economic Security Index report produced by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2012.
Businesses in all corners of the country struggled to keep their stake in the ground, and this was true in Dothan, Alabama. Lana Smitherman and her husband have owned Dothan Brace Shop, which provides orthotics, prosthetics and mobility equipment and services to patients with a wide range of physical disabilities, for nearly a quarter-century. In their industry during the mid-to-late 2000s, the cost of doing business was rising while reimbursements were going down.
“We were trying to understand what we could do in a very competitive environment in the medical field,” Smitherman said. “Lots of facilities in our industry were closing, especially the mom-and-pop shops. We had to find a way to do business more efficiently.”
In one element of her business structure, she recognized a compelling – yet unconventional – approach. Identifying and keeping qualified employees to handle Dothan Brace Shop’s accounting and bookkeeping needs had increasingly become a challenge, and in 2007, Smitherman turned to Mark Kilduff, who launched Remote Quality Bookkeeping in 2000 just outside of Boston. As part of a previous business consulting role in a different industry, Smitherman had seen the benefits of Kilduff’s remote bookkeeping services.
“We were at a suitable point for considering a progressive approach and we thought, ‘let’s give this a try’,” Smitherman said. “We felt strongly that we could improve our bookkeeping methodology in a way that would let us focus more on the core functions of our business. We knew it was worth making that move.”
Within just a few weeks of working closely with Kilduff and adopting Remote Quality Bookkeeping’s technological platform, Smitherman was blown away by how valuable the decision was for Dothan Brace Shop and, by extension, the well-being of its customers.
“All the way around, we were thrilled,” she said. “It was a no-brainer.”
The streamlined process allows Kilduff and his team to access Dothan Brace Shop’s industry-specific bookkeeping software and conduct a once-per-week download of the company’s every transaction – from invoices and refunds to Medicare and Medicaid tracking. RQB then balances Dothan Brace Shop’s checking account based on those transactions. Each Wednesday, Smitherman is delivered a complete, refreshed look at her company’s financial picture, allowing her to pay bills and distribute payroll.
For Smitherman, who travels frequently, having access to her company’s financial records from her laptop whenever she is on the road provides peace of mind – as does the fact that her information is highly secure and backed up. There is a level of trust that must be developed when outsourcing a core business functionality to an entity that is 1,300 miles away, as is the case for Smitherman. Before engaging with Mark, she saw from afar that her trust would be well-placed, and she now feels that it was.
“The heartbeat of the business is what happens to the numbers,” Smitherman said. “I am a visual person and I can see, on demand, any report I want, and Mark is great at explaining what the numbers mean. I feel like we have the full story of our books right at our fingertips.”
Cost savings and convenience have been important factors for the Smithermans over the last eight years. The move to Remote Quality Bookkeeping has saved them an estimated $35,000 per year, as they no longer have to pay the benefits associated with employing a full-time, salaried worker in an accounting role. Moreover, they have avoided the seemingly endless cycle of identifying and training capable bookkeepers, which had proven to be a frustrating pain point. But the positives go much deeper.
“It allows us to focus on what we’re most passionate about – helping people become more mobile,” Smitherman says. “Our satisfaction is in helping our customers, not in conducting the bookkeeping. We’ve been allowed to spend a lot more time focusing on individual patients and growing our business.”
To Lana Smitherman, using cloud bookkeeping is far from unconventional. In fact, it’s the only method she’ll use now. It’s helped her family run its business more efficiently while continuing to better the lives of people with disabilities.
If you own a business and have asked yourself if cloud bookkeeping is an option, we have a series of questions that will help frame your answer.