Accounting firm strives to set up small business owners for success
Barb Fangman and Scott Williams had seen how most accounting firms do business — and they wanted something different.
And it’s been working.
The owners of Insight Accounting Solutions have seen their Richland company — which Fangman started in 2012 — grow.
“We are experiencing 50 to 70 percent growth a year,” said Williams, who joined the company in 2013 and became Fangman’s partner in 2015.
In 2013, Insight Accounting Solutions worked out of a 2,700-square-foot office near Highway 395 and Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick.
“We had two full-timers and two part-timers back then,” Williams said.
Today, the company occupies 7,500 square feet at 110 W. Gage Blvd., Suite 100, in Richland.
The additional space is necessary, as there are now 18 full-time and four part-time employees, with plans to add more, Williams said.
Being pro-active has been a major reason for the company’s success.
“The key to our growth is we take exceptional care with our clients,” said Fangman, who has 40 years of business experience. “National surveys will tell you the No. 1 complaint is that accountants aren’t very responsive. They won’t return phone calls.”
This doesn’t happen at Insight Accounting Solutions.
“Our key is taking care of people,” Williams said. “It forces you to be proactive. So we help people strategize with their business.”
Insight Accounting Solutions’ biggest component of its business is monthly bookkeeping, followed by business consulting and accounting services. And, of course, income taxes.
The company says its ideal clients are business owners who are optimistic, full of integrity and entrepreneurial spirit; clients whose goals are to grow their business, save on taxes and provide for a financially secure future; and those with a good reputation who care about their product or service.
Almost all the company’s clientele has come from referrals by current customers, or through business networking.
Insight Accounting Solutions is selective about those it works with.
“Either Scott or I need to meet with the new clients,” Fangman said. “My job is to ask them the hard questions. Sometimes they have the deer-in-the-headlights look. So many people start a business being good at their craft.”
Clients may not know much about the financial end of the business, Williams said.
“The reason I got into accounting was in my experience in commercial insurance. When I got them their insurance, I’d ask them if they have a good business plan,” Williams said. “If they don’t understand how everything works, they need someone who does know.”
Williams said if clients don’t understand the ins and outs of various state and federal taxes, “once you get too far into a (financial) hole, you can’t rescue yourself.”
The relationships are a two-way street, Williams said.
“We get to see a lot of lives and finance that other people don’t,” he said. “If we’re not going to have a good personality fit, then we can go our separate ways.”
Based on the company’s growth, Williams and Fangman are confident clients will be happy with their services.
“If people come to us in the beginning, we can get them to go down the right path,” Fangman said. “Our target market is basically business owners who are humble enough to take our advice. It’s our knowledge. I mean I wouldn’t do my own plumbing.”
It was Fangman who developed the business plan when she launched the company. She wanted Insight to be proactive, calling clients and setting up meetings to focus on plans for their clients’ business success.
She also had her current clients at the time in mind.
“Seven, eight years ago, I was thinking forward to when I’d retire,” she said. “I was concerned my clients wouldn’t have somebody to go to when I was gone. I’m retiring in five years. I wanted to create a process that everybody trusted.”
She and Williams also wanted to take care of their employees.
“We focus on having more balance in our employees’ lives,” Williams said. “During tax season, the maximum one of our employees can work is 55 hours a week.”
Fangman is a big believer in this.
“My first 18 years, I worked with other accountants. We’d work 80 hours a week during tax season,” she said.
In addition, Insight Accounting Solutions allows remote working, and staff can flex their work hours.
“We look at staff needs first,” Williams said. “In turn, they take care of our clients.”
Because of that, Williams believes, “we have an extra low turnover rate. We maybe lose one to one and half employees a year.”
Last May, the company added the Entrepreneurial Operating System program to help its clients clarify, simplify and achieve their vision.
It starts with a 90-minute meeting to get to know each other and talk about the process. That’s followed by a focus day; a two-day vision building meeting; quarterly “pulsing” meetings; and an annual meeting.
“It’s part of our business consulting,” Williams said. “It’s a (simpler) process to allow our clients to follow six things rather than 140 things they might need to follow. It’s something that is good for a business that is growing and trying to get to the next level.”
And that’s why Fangman and Williams do what they do.
“For me, it’s seeing our clients actually taking my advice and improve their business,” Fangman said.
And in turn, their success has a positive impact on the region’s economy, she said.
“It’s about having a positive effect on people’s lives and helping businesses to succeed,” he said. “And I love the people I work with.”