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Running the Numbers With Drue Schofield

Josh: I've always said, "You can teach a man to fish and he'll have food for life, but some people just don't like fishing."

Drue: That's right.

Josh: They just don't.

Drue: Some people don't like fish either.

Find out what they're talking about. 

Josh: Good day everyone out there in podcast world. We've got a special guest here, Drue, and he does some pretty cool stuff. And actually, you know what? I'm going to get you to tell me what you do, the voodoo that you do, and how that's impacting businesses around Southeast Queensland?

Drue: Yeah, thanks Josh. Nice intro. I don't know that we're that exciting.

Josh: Aww, come on.

Drue: But that was a very exciting introduction. We're accountants. Look, no, all jokes aside, we think we're quite personable people. Yeah, we're accountants. We're a full-service accounting and advisory taxation business or service. We deal mainly in the small to medium business space. We do self-managed super fund administration and advisory with our SMSF clients, whether they are still working, building businesses, contributing to super or they're self-funded retirees, and we also do quite a bit of work with property investors and developers, making sure they're structured well and giving them advice along the way, whilst being in a position to help our clients leverage our network.

I spend a lot of time, personally, networking with allied professionals and pretty much anyone. I just like to be a conduit for business and people that are doing things and have ambition, and if I can connect you, or one of my clients, or someone with someone else that they need to talk to, to solve their problem, then that makes me really happy.

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Josh: Cool. Okay. So I guess you covered a couple of things there that spiked my interest. One of them was the podcast worldwide audience, in Australia, we call a small to medium business, I would have said, five to 200 employees. Yeah? Would you agree? About that?

Drue: Yeah, about that. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah. Where in America, anything less than 200 is small, it's backyard mom and dad shop, isn't it?

Drue: Yeah, they seem to have a different view on business over there. Unless you're over 250 employees or whatever, they don't really even count.

Josh: A blimp. Nothing.

brisbane accountantsDrue: To a degree. I mean, I had some association with businesses and professionals over there when clients needed to utilise services in the U.S. and Europe as well. But yeah, certainly, everything's bigger and better in America. Sometimes.

Josh: So one of the things that I've noticed when I've been talking with you versus other accountants, in bits and pieces that we've spoken with is, you seem down to earth, to the point, and humanable.

Drue: Oh, thanks.

Josh: If that makes sense.

Drue: Yeah, yeah.

Josh: Less robotic.

Drue: Yeah, yeah. Look, accountants have a bad stereotype. Look, I like to think I'm the new wave or part of the new wave or the new age of accountants.

Josh: I'm not helping the IT look!

Drue: No, you look very trendy, except for the glasses that have no lenses by the way, for people out there. But no, they look really good. I was offered to wear some, but I chose not to. I'm a contact lens wearer, anyway.

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Drue: Look, we are. We're approachable. I don't know if fun loving is the right word, but we enjoy what we do. That said, we're serious. We give serious advice and sophisticated advice to people when they need it. We're succinct, we're to the point, we remove jargon. If a client doesn't understand what we're doing, we just go over it again and again until they do. Hopefully, not too many times, and usually not too many times.

We usually get it on the first or second go, but we're not here to preach to people, we're not here to talk down to people, we're here to educate people. And if clients don't understand what they're doing and getting themselves into, you can bet your bottom dollar, that's where there's going to be problems, so we want to avoid that at all costs. We have those full and frank conversations without fear or favour. The clients know what they're doing, why they want to do it. We get a good understanding of that, and then we give the advice tailored to that particular situation.

Josh: I think you listed four F's then. And I guess if everything's going right, you don't hear a fifth one.

Drue: No, that's right. We won't talk about the fifth one. There's enough doom and gloom out there today and we don't need to feed any more panic or doom and gloom, I don't think.

Josh: Not at all. So I can see a lot of similarities in what you guys do and what we do. We try to simplify technical problems. We try to make sure that people are able to understand and assimilate with what their end goal is. And we use technology as the fulcrum to achieve that. And in a non technical, gobbledygook, terahertz and gigaflops type words, we try and make sure it's all human understandable, readable stuff. It doesn't matter if you're a mechanic or a doctor or whatever it is, or anything in between, you're able to work out. You know there's a problem, we can see that there's a solution, and we use, as I said, technology for that.

Josh: So one of the things, I know, when I first started out in business, was I was scared shitless about doing the accounting thing and doing it wrong. So I went and bought a bunch of a bunch of books and got any of the different government books that I could get on GST, and I don't know if you've ever had the opportunity to read those, their ...

Drue: I've read them all.

Josh: They're exciting, aren't they?

Drue: No, they're not.

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Josh: No they're not. So I'm reading all this stuff, and at that stage I was at uni reading all these books on GST and BAS, and everything else, when I'm on the train to uni. It wasn't fun and it didn't make me feel any better off, because I guess it's kind of like me trying to pretend I'm a doctor or pretend I'm a mechanic, when I'm not.

Drue: Sometimes it's good to just eat the sausage, Josh, and not know what gone into it.

Josh: Exactly. I agree.

Drue: If you use that as an analogy. Not that we don't explain what goes into it.

Josh: I like that. That's good. I've always said, "You can teach a man to fish and he'll have food for life, but some people just don't like fishing."

brisbane business partnerDrue: That's right.

Josh: They just don't.

Drue: Some people don't like fish either.

Josh: Exactly. So that's getting a professional to do the voodoo that they do, is better than you trying to do everything and wear another hat.

Drue: Yeah, it's crucial. I can't underline, underscore, bold, italic, asterisk enough that it's crucial to get really good advice. Whether you're just starting out in business, or starting out doing a development, or considering setting up a self-managed super fund, or whatever the case may be. Or you've been in business for two, three years and things are going well, or you're an established business, I can't stress enough how important it is to get accurate, timely advice, from someone that wants to be a key partner in your business.

I mean that's our tagline. "Your key partner in business," that's who we aim to be. I believe we achieve that all the time with all of our clients. We want to see businesses survive and thrive, and grow and flourish, and do really well. And if we can be a part of that journey and connect them to good people and give good advice, then again, as I said before, that makes us really happy.

Josh: Cool, cool, cool. And I think that's important there. Key. Good advice. And knowing what's out there, one of the things that I found out about years into business, was the R&D grants in bits and pieces.

Drue: Yeah, sure.

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Josh: Do you guys work with those?

Drue: We do a little bit in that space. Those things become more technical and more specialised. What I'd rather do more so than try to do it, is we've got people we work with, people we will then refer our clients to that are specialists in that area. And then I guess that's another thing that is a benefit of myself and 4Front Accountants. If we don't know something, we're not afraid to put our hand up and say, "Hey, we've got a rough idea about this, we know enough to be dangerous, but it's now time to go and talk to a professional."

Josh: Yep.

Drue: And the other thing we'll do there in that situation, is rather than just push the boat out and say, "See you later, hopefully, you hit land," we'll make the connection with that person, and if needs be, we'll attend the meeting and facilitate the process. So again, we want to be your key partner, our client's key partner in business. We'll really hold their hand through that process.

Drue: And R&D is a really good example. Whilst we know enough about it, again, to be dangerous and how it all comes together, there's specialists that we work with and that's all they do. R&D in grant work. So R&D is research and development. Sorry, I'm using an acronym and I should explain it.

Josh: I should have as well.

Drue: That's all right. Not a problem. It's easy when you're a professional and you're working with ABCs and one, two, threes, and EFDs, and ATOs, and ELDs, to just rattle things off. But yeah, R&D, research and development. And whilst I'm there, a little plug for the current government and preceding governments, that someone had the foresight to bring that sort of thing in, because that's helped a lot of our clients tremendously. And I'm not even joking, millions of dollars.

Josh: Absolutely. It was a game-changer for us.

Drue: In real cash.

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Josh: We've already been developing products, already been developing integrations into LinkedIn that can speed up the process to find new clients. We've developed these different processes within businesses to be able to integrate phones in bits and pieces, and we were already doing all this stuff, and then someone told me about it and I went, "Oh shit, this exists? This is a thing? Why isn't this spoken about more?"

Drue: It's an often overlooked or ill-considered thing, it feels like the ATO and the government's always here to do things to you, but when you're a small business person, within reason, it does do things for you as well. I mean, we'll probably touch on it later, but the government's just neutered some stimulus package that's aimed mainly at business and it's actually really good, and it should get things going and hopefully quell some of the fear and panic out there that business owners have.

God, I've had three phone calls today and two emails last night about it already. So we're actually sending out communication and a newsletter form that summaries things clearly, succinctly, no jargon, so that clients have one source. So 4Front Accountants clients have one source to go to, look at, and say, "Okay, great, now I understand it." And we'll get more phone calls and that's fine, we'll explain it.

Drue: But going back to what I was talking about, things like the R&D concessions and grants, and those sorts of things, governments are there to do things for business, not always to business.

Josh: Yeah. And that's something that I was a big mindset shift that I had around 2016, 2015, 2016, when I started going for the R&D concession. I didn't know it existed, already been in business at that stage since 2007, so I'd been around for long enough that I should have heard something out there, but I hadn't. That was kind of a, "Oh I mean all this wasted money," but I went, "Well, I'm not going out of business." All this potential. And it's only one of the things that I've seen out there. Like there's advantages to employing, there's digital business grants and bits and pieces out there. There's a whole bunch of different things where the government is giving out a whole bunch of money.

Josh: There was a programme which I was involved with a little while ago that would subsidise the hourly rates of IT staff, and all sorts of things like that. And I just went, "Wow, this is this cool stuff. How didn't I know about this?" And it's just everyone has that predefined thought, belief system that they're out there to take and not give.

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Drue: Look, it's a symptom that we see with clients all the time. They're too busy doing it, doing it, doing it. They're stuck working in their business and not on it. And that's the sort of focus that we try to shift, and a mindset we try to change with clients that, "Hey, you need to work on your business and not in it." We've got the tools, the expertise, and the advice and products to actually help clients work more on their business and not in it. And things like that come up all the time.

Drue: Now it's quite possible that your accountant that you're working with at the time knew about it and didn't tell you or may not have known about it at all. But I can assure people listening that at 4Front Accountants, there are the sorts of things that we've got a finger on the pulse with. Again, we're not experts, we don't understand those things, but we're certainly aware of them. We find out enough about it. I certainly do read about it, and I know my people at 4Front Accountants do as well. We read about it enough and know enough about it to be dangerous, and then to know who to hand that on to, so that we can explain that situation to that particular expert, and then guide our client in the right path, with the right person, so that they get the result that they want.

Josh: And that's what you want to get with anyone in the professional services industry. You don't necessarily want them to be the one-stop shop. You want to them to know the shops you can go to

Drue: You can't be all things to all people. And when you do, you will fail, immediately.

Josh: Yep.

Drue: And you shouldn't be. I mean, there are specialists in every field. I mean if you've got a problem with your knee, you might start at the GP, but you'll soon be referred to, potentially, an orthopedic surgeon. The GP isn't going to be there, but he's developed a relationship with that person to know that's the best orthopedic surgeon for your particular problem. I mean, we're the same. We're not solicitors, we're not finance brokers, we're not financial advisors yet. We're not R&D grant specialists or whatever the case might be, but we've got a really good network and we spend a lot of time building relationships with the people that will help our clients, so that we can continually prove our mantra or our motto, tagline, that we are your key partner in business.

Josh: That's really important. Just knowing that you've got that one point of contact and that-

Drue: It's terrific when people come to you and they say, "Drue, I need this," or my business partner, Carmine Decorso, they might go to Carmine and say, "Hey Carmine, we need this," and we'd say, "Yep, sure. We know someone. We'll give them a call now. We'll connect you. If you want us to come to the meeting, we can do that as well."

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Josh: Yep. So where would you say you sit with businesses? Do you start at anything from bookkeepers and all the way up, like a CFO type level?

Drue: Yeah, we do a lot, I mean I guess our core competency is compliance work. When people think of accountants, they think of people that will do financial statements and tax returns to a solid, accurate level. They'll complete those income tax returns to a point where they're not paying a dollar more or less tax than they should. And if they're lucky, they might get a little bit of business advice.

board of advice program brisbane - dorks deliveredDrue: Now, we kind of turn that on its head a little bit, insofar that we recognise and realise the compliance is important, and certainly we feel our clients don't pay a dollar more or less tax than they should. And we work really hard to make sure that things are done properly, correctly, and legally. You certainly don't want to do anything that's illegal, nor do we. Where our point difference is, we do sort of act in that external CFO type arrangement, where we like to work with our clients more often than once or twice a year. We do that through something we've termed our Board of Advice programme, where we sit down with our clients quarterly, and I like to call them 90-day success cycles, which I believe is a McKinsey & Co term, the management consultants. So again, shows you the literature that people at 4Front Accountants are reading.

We're not just reading the boring textbooks. Whilst they are important, they're not terribly exciting, but we've got to go through them. I'm more interested in things that are going to help our business clients survive, grow, and thrive. But yeah, we run our Board of Advice program with most of our business clients or as many as we can. They see a lot of value in that.

Drue: So what is the Board of Advice programme? As I alluded to, we work in quarterly cycles with our clients. We run to an agenda. We focus on the financial performance of the business and we do some business analysis around that on quarterly numbers, usually comparing the current quarter to the same quarter this time last year. And then the December quarter that we've just finished with our Board of Advice clients now, it's really interesting, because you've got six months of data this year, and you've got six months of data from the previous year, so you can really have a really good snapshot of where the business is at. Sometimes just comparing this quarter this year to this quarter last year isn't enough. Likewise, comparing the 2019 year, we've just finished it, to the 2018 year, doesn't really tell you a lot. It's a little bit too far in the past. I always tease clients that we're not here to write history with them, we're here to make history, and that's what we really try to do.

Josh: I guess one of the things that I've always thought is, "Man, okay, you'll have a good quarter, you have an awesome quarter, and then you'll have a bad quarter." And when you've been in business long enough, they can't all be home runs, can they?

Drue: Sadly, not.

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Josh: No. Well I think you can't enjoy the good without the bad, so it really lets you appreciate the good.

Drue: Your sweet and savoury.

Josh: Yeah, that's right. So I think and I see a lot of people around the place that are, "Oh my goodness, you wouldn't believe what happened, the line was so long at the shops." Well, there's kids starving in Africa and you're worried about the line at the shops.

Drue: They're probably buying toilet paper.

Josh: That's exactly right. So you have a look at these things and you think, "Okay, you need to get a bit of reality check." And I think the best thing to do is to have the bad times so that you can appreciate the good times. And not necessarily, I'm not wishing anything upon anyone that complains about mundane and first world problems, but yeah, you definitely need to have the bad ones. But if you have a bad one, sometimes that could be something that's spread further than just your business, and a lot of people are worried about a recession and things. Nevertheless, the data that you have, that you can help businesses out with, you mentioned forecasting. Are you able to see trends across the businesses that you work with?

Drue: Absolutely. We see stuff all the time.

Josh: So if someone said, "Oh, I've had a bad quarter," and you go, "Look, I understand. We've got five other businesses that are in the same sector as you that are also feeling the pressure." Is that something-

Drue: Yeah, it is. I mean, we're growing, we're growing all the time. And we want to keep growing. We've got fairly big aspirations as to where 4Front Accountants will land in my lifetime as a business, so the more clients we have, the more data we have. Now, obviously everything's confidential so we don't share other people's information, but we can talk about things generally.

Drue: So we're seeing that with particular trade's clients, or we're seeing that with medical professional clients, or we're seeing that with

Josh: Retails.

Drue: Clients in, yeah, retail, whatever the case may be. You get a general feel, you work with enough clients, you just end up with, as an accounting firm, you end up with a natural cluster, because if you've got an accounting business like we do, you're dealing with a lot of different businesses all the time, and we're almost solely business these days, which is the path we want to keep going on. So you see little clusters.

Drue: It's really important, though, to not have a five week view of things. You need to have a quarterly, that 90 day success cycle view of things, or that six monthly, one year, three years, five years. Now, the further you stretch out, the harder it is to plan.

Josh: Otherwise, it gets a bit wonky, but at least you're walking it.

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Drue: You can, but you've got to have a plan. You've got to have a plan. So one of the things that's really important, I think, for clients is to do some forecasting, and then you give yourself some measurements or some numbers to measure your current performance against. Like you said, Josh, you're going to have bad quarters, and that's just how things are. It might be because of seasonality, it might be because there's a hereto incurable virus sweeping across the world, who knows? But it's important to take a longer-term view of things and look at your business and say, "Okay, is there anything that's fundamentally wrong with the business now?"

business planning, brainstorming - dorks deliveredMost business people will have a gut feeling, that's why they are entrepreneurs and that's why they are business people, they tend to go with their gut. Perhaps more. It's sort of an intuitive thing, but I think probably harking right back to the advice piece I was talking about before, you can't underestimate the power and the value of good, succinct, solid, financial advice, sitting down with your accountant or your advisor. We're becoming more advisors than accountants these days because of the number of clients that are starting to take up our Board of Advice program.

Drue: And if you do it in a logical, methodical way, with some structure, I mean all our Board of Advice program meetings that we have each quarter run to an agenda. We talk about the financial analysis of the business, sure, but there are other things that come up as well. They become a bit open slather, we like to look at whatever clients are comfortable talking about, and that sway into personal issues as well, which means you've got to have a whole subset of other networks available to you. That might be psychologists and psychiatrists or other healthcare professional people.

Josh: You're offering counselling, nearly.

Drue: Well not quite.

Josh: You're not wanting to but

Drue: Well, look, unless you're in business, you really don't understand and appreciate how much it really becomes part of your psyche, and it becomes your identity.

Josh: Absolutely.

Drue: And we've had clients, unfortunately, that have had businesses go under, where we haven't been appointed as advisors quick enough, and we haven't been able to make changes early enough. And it's really sad. And sometimes these aren't young people, sometimes these are well-established people in their 30's or 40's or 50's where industries have changed and they've been left behind. And that's really, really sad.

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Drue: Now in some instances, there's probably not much you can do, but I think if you had the chance to get to them early, maybe run this Board of Advice program that's quite structured, which is almost like a mini board of directors, the way we run it, given its got an agenda, and it really does add a bit of corporate governance and accountability, which is important. It's something that I think is lacking more generally in the small business world. People sort of get their hammer and level, and off they go, and they're a builder, or they take their-

Josh: All the cowboys out there. They try their best-

Drue: Yeah, they are. I guess there are Cowboys out there and they do try their best, but they may not have appreciated the advice that they could get off a good accountant and business advisor. And I like to think that if our clients, and future clients, start to work with us closer with this Board of Advice program, the amount of accountability adds is tremendous. And it's going to get good results, because we're spending that time to sit with our clients and we're their professional sounding board. They can throw anything they like at us. We'll have our own insights and our own observations, which we can give advice around and make changes. And I've done that with clients recently.

Drue: I had a plumbing client recently that is new to the firm, and he reported a $20,000 loss last year, and he couldn't work out why. I sat down with-

Josh: I bet he pulled that coin from out of his house or something like that, or a personal asset, or that's, I guess, advice that you'd be giving.

Drue: Yeah, so I've sat down with him, looked at the numbers, and he said, "Okay, well there's a $20,000 loss here." Yeah. And the businesses is now in lost territory again for the last two quarters. On a quick analysis, I've worked out that his GP, his gross profit line is wrong. So he didn't have the right numbers in there. Once I put the right numbers in there, whilst it was still bad, it made the data more realistic, and it told a better story.

Josh: So gutter in, gutter out.

Drue: That's right. So the issue in this particular, and this is a real life example here, in this particular client situation, he was having an over reliance on subcontractors and labour hire, and we feel he wasn't marking up the materials he was buying enough. So we did just a quick little "for example" calculation of if he replaced this person with this person and this with that and perhaps got rid of some of the labour hire and some of subcontractor at work, and replace that with a more permanent workforce, and then changed the markup he was putting on the cost of sales, we were able to turn it into an $86,000 profit.

Josh: Yep. Huge.

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Drue: Massive turnaround. That's a $106,000 turn around. Now it's easy to say, "Oh yeah, that's great, Drue, but that's all theory. You may not get that immediately." But if you change your mindset, and you're working with your advisor or your accountant each quarter, and you're looking at those things and making that the most important thing, I always say that which is measured is that which is achieved, you're going to get somewhere near it. You might not get to the $86,000 profit the first year, but gosh, you might get $20,000 profit or $30,000. Going to be better than a $20,000 loss, surely.

Josh: You can't turn a ship on a dime.

Drue: No.

Josh: It takes time.

Drue: It takes time. And I guess the Board of Advice programme we're running, it's really helping clients to see the power of accountability and meeting and taking advice and acting on it.

Josh: I agree. It's something that people need to have. And this is something ... I was talking to someone else earlier on today-

Drue: And if you haven't worked out, I'm pretty passionate about it.

Josh: I've noticed. Yeah, yeah.

Drue: Well, I want to see people do well. I mean my parents were small business owners and-

Josh: Yeah, what did they do?

Drue: Builder. Dad's a builder. Had some really good success over the years, but I think he could have done better if he'd had, perhaps better advice, more frequently. And I really think any business, whether you're really successful or you're moderately successful or you're doing okay, will benefit from better quality advice more frequently.

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Josh: Well, I found, when I first started out in business, my uncle at a company that he was running for many years, and engineers or teachers is pretty much everyone else. So I always thought you can do anything you put your mind to, but that was misinterpreted as you do everything that you can and you put your mind to. And so that then meant when I became a business, started, I'll put in my prepubescent voice, "Let's start a business. I'm really excited to see where this goes." And then I went, "Shit, there's a lot to do." And so I had to become the marketer, the salesperson, the manager, the entrepreneur.

Drue: Chief cook and bottle washer.

job interview - dorks deliveredJosh: Exactly. Exactly. All and everything of the above. So I slowly, slowly worked out that this isn't for me. And then went, "Let's stop this and start employing the right people and having the right people do what they enjoy doing," and do what brings you the money in. So that was a great shift and I've never looked back. Having the right people there to give you the advice though, and make sure you are making the right decisions is important.

Drue: I think it's critical. It's critical to the success of success or failure of a particular business or enterprise. It just really is.

Josh: It doesn't matter the size of your business either. I think it's critical straightaway. We go into people's networks a lot and we see problems and problems and we go, "Oh, why is it set up like that?" Or, "Why is it done like that?" And it's just because the advice that they were given was they thought they know, liked, and trusted that person, trusted the advice, and it was just poor advice. And so for all of our clients that we work with, we say, "Look, we want you, every six months or however often you feel necessary, get another IT company in here and see if we're doing the best job for you." And that gives them the full input and knowledge that we're fully transparent, we're very confident in what we're doing, and we know we're doing right for businesses.

Drue: The fact that you're prepared to frank your ability with that, I'd imagine no clients do that, because they know that you back yourself.

Josh: Very few. And one of them said, "Oh, who would you suggest?" And I said, "That kind of takes away from the point of it, doesn't it?"

Drue: Yeah, that's not independent. If you're suggesting someone, it's not really independent.

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Josh: Any professional services that they have that they're employing in their business, whether it be financial advisors, accountants, solicitors, IT people, anyone that is doing something that you can't touch and feel and know that the product is good and the outcome is good.

Drue: Intangible.

Josh: Yeah, intangible products or intangible services, you need to be able to have someone go in there and make sure that Oz behind the curtain is pulling the right strings and doing the right thing for you.

Josh: So we had someone come to us about a month ago and they were asking us if we could help them out with some of their LinkedIn marketing stuff. And I said, "Yeah, we can definitely do that. We can go through the process and do the voodoo that we do." And I bought the pricing, he goes, "Oh. Okay, we'll have a think about it." And I thought, "Oh, 'have a think about it' means you're probably going to check out someone else. That doesn't matter.

Josh: Anyway, he called us back a month later. So just the Monday just gone. And said, "Josh, I need you to review what's going on with my LinkedIn." I had a look and he went with this company to go through and market him on LinkedIn. And I thought, "All right." And I had a look and they were doing nothing. They bought a $50 product. They took his scripts, and they were using this $50 product to automate the messages that were being sent out, and then charging them $1,500 a month to try and make new connections on LinkedIn. And I said, "You are absolutely been being taken for a run mate." I said, "This is terrible." I said, "The product they're using is this ... " and pointed it out here. And I said, "This is what they're using. It's $50." And that's $50 U.S. I said, "But that's $50. And then you've shown me what you've given me and all of this information, they've just entered that, copied it out of your document into these fields. Then they've just set the days of when they're going to send these messages to people."

I said, This is terrible. You're really spending $1,500?" He goes, "I feel sick." I said, "Maybe $500 if they're managing everything and they're doing a phone call." For what they're doing, I said, "They're on selling a product with 30 times mark up, 3000% mark up." I'm like, "That's ridiculous."

Drue: Vaporware.

Josh: Yeah. And anyway, what I'm getting at is it's always important to have someone there check out what's going on. I myself have had only a couple of bookkeepers over the 13 years we've been in business, and when I got the second bookkeeper, she went, "Oh man, look what the first bookkeeper's been doing," and I thought, "Oh, well that's probably what you're going to say anyway," but it's good just to have people double check, just to make sure that your work is aligned.

Drue: Yeah. It can't hurt.

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Josh: Right. What's the hurt in it? Nothing, yeah.

Drue: Look, very rarely do we have clients do that, because they're confident in what we do and how we do it. Now, I will say often I have meetings with prospective clients. It probably starts out as a second opinion meeting, but once I start talking about what we're going to do and demonstrate that, it soon becomes a first opinion meeting, because they've become clients, which is nice.

Josh: Yeah. But that's what you want.

Drue: Absolutely.

Josh: And that just shows when you think, obviously without knowing the relationship-

Drue: And it doesn't mean their advisors aren't good, it just means they're not as good as us.

Josh: Yeah. Not on the ball enough or not keeping in contact enough. And that's imperative, like relationships. We're all about automation and everything that we produce is all around automation and uptime for businesses, but we'd never suggest to automate the human touch. Now we're sitting here having a podcast together, doing an interview together.

Drue: In the same room.

Josh: In the same room.

Drue: As humans.

Josh: We can high five.

Drue: Yep.

Josh: That was terrible, let's try one that makes a noise. There we go. And when you look at, we could have done this over Zoom, we could have used technology, we could have done all these other different things, but that's a start and end, and then there's nothing there. And I think the world is becoming too digitised in ways that they should be humanised.

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Drue: Yeah. It's not as organic. Our Board of Advice meetings, we have a handful, occasionally, that are done on a Zoom or a Skype call, but for the most part, I like to do them face to face, either in our office or in our boardroom, which is all kitted out and nice and comfortable and easy to have the meetings there, or at the client's premises, more than happy to do that. But I prefer and okay, yeah, it would be quicker, it would save me half an hour, 45 minutes each way in a car. It would save the client half an hour, 45 minutes each way in the car. So okay, you'd pick up an hour, an hour and a half. Big deal. In the overall scheme of things, more than happy to go to a client's premises and meet with them or their home, if that's where they're comfortable doing it. I don't mind.

board room, meeting, conference room - dorks deliveredDrue: But the important thing is they're in the flesh, eyeballing each other. It's seeing body language, seeing expression.

Josh: You can feel the emotion.

Drue: And they can see, I hope, sometimes our passion or my passion for what I'm trying to do and where I'm trying to help them get with their business. And I can see their passion or their frustration or their concern or fear or panic or jubilation that they've .... We've had an action list that we set last time and they've done it all and they'll say, "See Drue, I did it all. You didn't think I would, did you?" I'm like, "No, no, I never said that." Or where the labour a point, they look at something and they say, "Well look, we didn't get this action point and here's why." And we can sit there and we can talk about it. I don't think we will ever, ever technologize, digitise, or supersede, the human to human interaction.

Drue: No.

Josh: If we did, the UN would be done completely via video link, and there would be no need for everyone to fly into Brussels or wherever they do, and have a face to face meeting.

Drue: No G20s, none of that stuff.

Josh: It'll be all gone.

Drue: If you think about bigger businesses with business deals, they still fly to Japan or to China or to the U.S. or to London, wherever it is, and they sit down. They might break bread and have a meal together, but they sit in the room and they sign the papers. And there's no need to do that usually, but there's a real human need or craving to be in the company of other human beings.

Josh: There's something there that you can't feel otherwise.

Drue: Yeah.

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Josh: When you do it over the phone, you can hear tonalities in voices, but you can't really feel the impact of that person being there. It generally doesn't go longer than the, "Okay. We've started, we've had a small amount of banter. We've spoken about it. We've concluded. We've said bye." There's not that, let's get to know the real you moments that you get when you talk and catch up with people.

Drue: It's like a 5D factor, I think, I call it. So not 3D because 3D's easy on the video, and we all know about 4D now, but 5D's you're in their presence, without trying to get too spiritual, you can feel their being. And it's really good. And that's what we want with our clients. We want them to see our passion and feel our passion, and we like to see theirs and feel their passion for their business as well, because that's their livelihood, that's their thing. And as I said, toward the start, that's their identity sometimes. So they're really proud of that and we want to bask in that pride as well.

Josh: Well, I guess we've been going through a few bits and pieces here, and I'd like to finish up and ask how would people go about contacting you and make sure that their business is going in the right direction and they're not freaking out, their numbers are doing things wrong. How can they get that second opinion that might turn into the first opinion?

Drue: Look, the best way is to send me an email or give me a call. If you go to 4Front.net dot.as, or to Drue, and that's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or find me on LinkedIn. More than happy to have a conversation, cost and obligation free. We can sit down, we can talk about what you're doing, how you're doing it, what your expectations are, where you think there might be some potential gaps in the advice you're getting now, and we can give you the cut of edge, and then you can see whether you think that's something that appeals to you and that you might see value in. So yeah.

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Josh: A yachting term, I love that. I love that. I'm a bit of a keen yachtie myself. Is there any questions that you'd like me to ask or that you'd like to ask of me?

Drue: No, I think we've covered some great ground there. Don't ask me to repeat all that, because I don't necessarily know what I said, but I just hope that people listening can get a good feel and a good sense for the passion that we have. Yes, we're accountants, and we've got a bad stereotype of being boring and maybe a bit mundane, but I hope, Josh can attest to me not being like that.

Josh: Absolutely. No, no, no, not at all. I'd say you'd go and have a beer with me if I offered it after the podcast.

Drue: Absolutely. Or two.

Josh: Perfect, it's done. Or two.

Drue: But yeah, just to finish up, we are passionate about being your key partner in business.

Josh: That definitely sounds like you're on a really good business and its got legs and it's going places. I'd like to ask anyone out there, if you have enjoyed this episode, to make sure to jump across to iTunes, leave us a review, give us some love, and make sure to stay good.

Drue: Thanks, Josh.

  

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