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Spotlight on a QuickBooks and Quicken Instructor:
Teaching Small Businesses How to Fish
Seattleite Keith Gormezano aka "Dr. QuickBooks & Quicken" has built his business around teaching small business owners and individuals how to set up and use QuickBooks including Enterprise, the Online, Mac, Contractor, Retail, and Non Profit versions, QuickBooks Point of Sale, and Quicken (he bought Quicken Home and Business 2013 (since upgraded to 2015) a few days after it came out and raves about the new mobile app that comes with it which allows users to enter their transactions in the field and synchronize later with their data file on their computer (the 2014 and 2015 versions allows one to take a picture of a receipt), and sometimes Peachtree, Microsoft Office Accounting, and MS Money, or convert from them to QuickBooks, etc.
His business's objective is to make house calls and take a personal approach to educating owners how to set up, fix, and manage their own financial records and to get their "accounting and bookkeeping software to work for them instead of the other way around" and possibly save on financial management charges if the business is small enough.
Basically, he jump-starts small businesses so that they can be their own bookkeepers. Keith is teaching businesses to fish (or make Tofu if their owner is a vegan, he quips) by helping them become experts at easy-to-use software like QuickBooks.
Do what you love.
Keith's background is diverse. He completed two years of law school until he said, he "escaped." Previously, he's been a career temporary, a real estate agent and property manager, a VISTA volunteer, and a "COO" of an architecture firm. A few years ago, Keith wanted a change of pace from the 9-5 (really 9-9 he says) work life; he decided to strike out on his own as a small business adviser and bookkeeper. Keith soon learned that while he really loved working with businesses 1:1, he didn't want to just be a roving accountant or bookkeeper. "Doing data entry was pretty boring," he says, "so I refer clients who need that to other bookkeepers who prefer that instead of training."
What helped him make the switch to teaching full time was that he he discovered that he preferred to show people how to do things and travel and that he tries to live by the motto of "focus on what you're good at and enjoy." Thus, becoming an instructor and highlighting his talents with QuickBooks and Quicken and related software and teaching seemed like a no-brainier.
Here are a couple of his tips for other small business owners.
Know your market.
In addition, Keith seems to really understand his students. There are lots of Quick Books classes and seminars out there or community-based schools, but Keith has made a name for himself in a relatively short period of time by understanding that small business owners are busy folks. They don't have the time to go to a class, lose billable time, and fight traffic to get there, and potentially nervous about taking the reins of their own accounting and bookkeeping.
He takes on clients anywhere within a 49 mile radius of his home office, and is more than willing to travel to work with his new "students", something other trainers won't do. His clients tell him that they don't want to spend all day in a classroom or after work. They want to learn a new software at their own desks, using their own financial data, and on their own computers.
Keith spends personalized time getting to know the teams, the office and the specific accounting background and concerns of each business that he trains. The one-to-one training he provides is, in his own words "intense and no-nonsense", but he's gotten feedback and positive reviews that people appreciate his cut-to-the-chase methods that are targeted specifically at their problems. In fact, many of his students have recommended that he call himself "Dr. QuickBooks or Quicken." because he fixes their financial aches and pains and makes house calls.
Specialize. Specialize. Specialize.
Keith's words of wisdom to other instructors (or to other businesses in general) is "specializing is where it's at!" After about a year of private instructing, Keith started marketing himself as QuickBooks instructor specializing in small business and start-up accounting and bookkeeping (since that was what his background was strongly rooted in).
In a city like Seattle, the start-up community is thriving, and also hungry for support. Thus, by targeting his skills at a market that needed him most, Keith saw his business really start to take off.
Build Your Credentials.
Around the same time, Keith became an officially Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor with 42 reviews and is certified as an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certification in current versions of Intuit's Point of Sale, Online, and Enterprise products, was named a Top 100 ProAdvisor by Insightful Accountant in 2014, 2015, and 2016, is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business (confirmation link available upon request), and was nominated for a City of Seattle Mayor's Small Business Award in 2009.
Lately, he became an Intuit Solution Provider (which allows him to sell additional QuickBooks licenses, buy new software for his clients when they find out their new computer with Windows 10, was Window 8 or 7 or Mac El Capitan, Yosemite, Maverick, Lion, or Mountain Lion won't run their old software, or add payroll or pay as you go no monthly fees or minimums credit card processing services). He's also taught "Ten Things You Need to Do to Set Up Your Start Up's Books Correctly" at the Renton Almost Free Biz School and accounting and bookkeeping fundamentals at the Six Hour Start Up Conference. These additional credentials were appealing to his clients, and also allowed him to raise his rates as an instructor.
Advertising can be your friend.
Keith is (obviously) a rather technically savvy guy. As he's spent time building his business, Keith has dedicated time and resources to advertising and marketing in ways that are measurable sources of new students for him.
Keith uses the standby advertising favorite Craigslist on a regular basis, updating his ads on a weekly basis. If you ever find one Keith's ad on Craigslist, you'll notice it's a bit lengthy. For Keith. . . his verbosity is strategic. Keith says that the more information that he can give potential clients, the more likely they'll find a reason to do business with you. "It's all about educating them, building relationships, and therefore creating trust. That's why I also include my rates in my ads so that the issue of payment (which is sticky for some people) can be eliminated early and I know that they are serious when they e-mail or call me."
Craigslist may be bare bones, but in the past, it's accounted for about 25% of his new students "so I tell many clients to consider using it". His main compliment about Craigslist is that for folks who know a little HTML, you can create really nice ads. Other social networking websites like the 220+ million member LinkedIn has brought in several customers (another reason, he says to engage in social networking on more than one site, maintaining a blog, and sometimes posting on Twitter) and other online classifieds web sites also have helped Keith build a robust online presence.
He's also optimized his business website for Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Bing so that he shows up higher in search results when people search for things like "Learn QuickBooks Seattle", "Seattle Quicken Help", or "Seattle QuickBooks Training."
Keith addressed the point raised by some teachers and small business owners that online advertising or setting up profiles for online sites can mean semi-expensive fees and time spent on non client-facing activities.
To this, Keith replied, "There are lots of places where you can post a free profile to advertise your services, but sometimes, you've gotta spend money to make money and besides you increase your search engine ranking as those sites are directing traffic via outbound links to your web site."
Keith notes that almost all of his new clients find him from his online presence (he doesn't pay for any ads other than his Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor membership whose site sends him around 15-20%% of his clients and business cards which he posts on various coffeehouse, grocery, and other bulletin boards (and writes off his mileage.) His business is growing faster than ever before, particularly now, he says in a recession when business owners want to get a handle on their finances. For Keith, doling out a few bucks per month (for things like a BBB membership) to get qualified leads and a high page ranking on Google is more than worth it for his business.
What using his services costs Because he comes to you in his "gas-guzzling" Prius, is certified in all versions of QuickBooks financial, Enterprise, Online, and POS software and is ranked #1 for Seattle on the Intuit FindaProAdvisor website and many other reviews on LinkedIn, Angie's List, Yelp, Thumbtack, and others, an investment in his time and expertise is on a sliding scale depending on what financial software you are using, whether you sign up with credit card processing with him, whether you bought the software from him, and how long you use his services with a three hour minimum. Mileage both ways at standard IRS rates (54 cents) may apply outside of Seattle along with parking, ferry fees, and tolls if applicable. He also have an unlimited support plan as well.
If you're in Seattle and looking for someone to teach you to fish in the deep swirling waters of the River Quick Books, give Keith a ring. Here's his contact info or you can reply to this post and the e-mail will be forwarded to him:
Keith Gormezano aka "Dr. QuickBooks & Quicken" - I make house calls to help you.
"The best QuickBooks or Quicken instructor, trainer, or tutor in Seattle for personalized, on site, one-on-one help, classes, and support."
Please do not change the subject line if you click the above to send him an email. Please include your e-mail (CL strips this out in the from field), phone or contact information and a summary of your problem in the body of your e-mail.
An earlier version of this article appeared on the TeachStreet Blog. TeachStreet was an online community for people who love to learn and a national web site that brings together local teachers and inquiring students.