An Organisation for all
Accountants in Practice

Practice Technology Take-Off    

By David Oliver

insightlogo

We held a question-and-answer session with David Oliver, founder and director of Insight Marketing, about the benefits an App can bring.

Q: I’m an accountant in practice with a steady business – why should I have an App?

A: There are many reasons why an accountant in practice should get an App. I think AP readers may be aware that I was one of the biggest sceptics about Apps – I told our team 18 months ago that they were wasting their time. Apps, I said, “are a gimmick, a fad and an accountant’s clients simply will not use them”. How wrong I was! We have sold over 300 Apps in that 18-month period, and when I checked the stats recently I found in excess of 25,000 clients and potential clients have downloaded one. Simply staggering numbers. It tells me that Apps are genuinely engaging huge numbers – and that number can only increase.

Here are the top six reasons why our customers are launching Apps.

1. To save time – save up to one hour a week per client.

2. To engage with existing customers in a way they love and are now used to.

3. To stay contemporary and avoid getting left behind.

4. To stand out and differentiate their firm from their local competitors.

5. To win new customers by making their App available for free.

6. To generate more referrals via the App.

We are told that 65% of us check our smartphones first thing in the morning after kissing our spouse or patting the dog. Put another way, your clients and prospects carry you around with them on their smartphone or tablet from the bedroom to the bathroom to the boardroom to the bar and back to the bedroom.

Q: How much work will my App create for me?

A: Implementation – or time available for implementation – is one of the big reasons many of us don’t do something. That’s why App developers like us develop them to require the minimal amount of time possible on the part of the accountant. A good App developer will be keenly aware of the time pressure felt by accountants, so will do everything for you from design, development and coding to launching in both the Apple and Android stores. What’s more, once it’s live, it’s not about having to do anything new or time consuming. Having your App simply makes what you do even more effective.

The next time you go out networking, instead of worrying or wondering about what to say, simply give out your App flyers. When you talk to customers you can chat about your App. The next time you ask for referrals, you do it using your App. Tony Margaritelli from the ICPA told me that the Push Notification on his App achieves 95% a response rate. That’s a huge response booster compared with all other types of communication and a huge time saver, too – this one method of communication achieves the critical mass of response your firm needs, without multiple emails and follow-up telephone calls.

Q: What features should I be looking for?

A: This depends on what you want the App to do. If you are simply launching an App to ‘have one’ then the features are less important. If you are looking to engage with clients, save time and win new business key features are customised design; photo receipt management; income tracker; mileage tracker; push notifications; and post live support with marketing and promotion.

Q: What will it cost me – and not just the initial fee?
 
A: Will I have to pay Apple or Android? Is there a monthly fee? We charge anything from £789–£2,500 for the initial one-off fee. This covers the design, development and build, and approval for both the Apple and Android stores. There is a monthly fee for hosting, management, support and updates from £29–£49, depending on the package chosen.

Q: I’ve heard my website should be ‘mobile-friendly’. What does this mean?

A: Having a ‘mobile friendly’ site is often how firms respond the growth in ‘mobile’. What they don’t realise is that despite the growth in mobile, growth is being driven by Apps. According to Techcrunch in February of this year: “In-App searching overtook Google searches.” In 2013, over 80% of time spent browsing was ‘in-App’.

Q: We last spoke to you in Summer 2013. Has the market for Apps changed since then? What developments have there been?
 
A: The developments have been considerable. When we chatted in 2013 Apps were relatively new and viewed with scepticism. Since then we have launched hundreds of Apps for accountancy firms of all sizes. With over 30,000 end users, and glowing end-user reviews, the App is well proven, tried and tested.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
 
A: I am a reluctant convert and my conversion has been ‘forced’ on me by the testimony of users. The sheer number of downloads by clients (over 30,000) at the time of going to press and the success of accountancy firms using the App – new clients, new services offered, referrals gained and operational savings – are the proof.

Published October 2014