Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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ProfitPro adds new voice to practice guru circuit

Ireland’s leading accountancy trainer and practice development coach is setting up shop in the UK.

14th Oct 2019
Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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ProfitPro brings growth plan to UK firms
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Des O’Neil, founder of Ireland’s OmniPro Group, has been laying the groundwork over the past few months to bring his ProfitPro Thrive methodology to the UK. “We set up in 2003 and over 65% of all accountancy firms in Ireland are now clients through one division or another,” he told AccountingWEB.

“We’ve been helping accountants run more profitable businesses with training and technical support for 16 years. We’re looking at the UK as a strategic opportunity to replicate what we’ve done in Ireland.”

The ProfitPro expansion plan will start with practice development training on motivation, growth and pricing. If these early efforts take root, O’Neil plans to expand into technical training next year.

Unlike some practice consultants who have come to the UK from Down Under and headed back again, O’Neil said, “We plan on building a business and being here for the long haul.”

ProfitPro Thrive programme relies on a lot of online learning, backed by a human Mastermind network, he explained. “If somebody comes in and has a specific problem, there are modules on our platform to help them on that issue.”

“Then when we bring accountants together in the Mastermind environment, they can look for commonalities in their issues and challenges. They’re already good advisers, so they can work with each other to progress. Everybody is moving along the same framework,” O’Neil said.

ProfitPro methodology

The key focus of O’Neil’s growth program is to help accountants break through the glass ceilings that hold them back. “It’s about moving people from where they are to where they want to be,” he said.

“We see clear patterns that repeat over and over [in the profession]. Some accountants have been indoctrinated with limiting beliefs about the size of their business and what’s possible to scale an accountancy business.”

One of those indoctrinations is the way accountants think of their “practice” rather than as an accountancy business. “Accountants often say, ‘I’m not great at sales or marketing.’ We can blast through these ceilings by opening their minds to the possibility that there might be a different or better way of doing it,” he said.

In the current market with a lot of Baby Boomer accountants thinking about retirement, what O’Neil calls the “build to sell” approach is increasingly popular. “The strategy is to build the firm as a cash-generating asset rather than a professional services firm that’s dependant on one personality,” he said.

The ProfitPro formula takes in different components the firm can address to achieve its goals:

  • How products and services delivered – from core activities to more specialised services
  • Getting clarity on who is an ideal customer
  • Cash flow – the biggest bane for many accountants can be addressed with a new cashflow cycle built around direct debits and a subscription model
  • Standardising systems and procedures so work can be delegated to the lowest possible level of competence. “It’s about having a good system that can optimise team performance without depending on the individual,” O’Neil said.
  • Sales and marketing to attract and convert new customers. “It’s not always the partner who has to make the sale – you can build a sales capability within the business.”
  • A singular focus on growth: “Put our energy and constant focus on building growth rather than devoting all our energy to operational delivery”.

Speaking to AccountingWEB at the recent Accountex North Summit in Manchester, O’Neil acknowledged that in the competitive UK practice development market, it can often seem like “you’re never 10 feet from a practice guru”.

With so many approaches to choose from, O’Neil emphasises that his philosophy is based around meeting people wherever they are. “Some practice development people come in and say, ‘This is how it’s done. Do it my way, or it won’t work.’

“With ProfitPro, you can be a sole practitioner, highly tech-ed up, a value pricer, someone who’s good at marketing or a multi-partner firm with a well-developed team. It’s about giving them stepping stones where they can progress on a journey, whatever their destinations.”

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