How every team member at GSA saves 10 hours each week
GSA CPAs is a people-first firm. Always has been, always will be.
“We're super family-oriented,” explains Dalton Sweaney, Managing Partner at GSA. “We've been a team-first firm forever. A lot of people focus on clients first, and ‘the clients are always right’. Well, I don't believe that. I believe my team is always right.”
In fact, GSA is so family-oriented that the other partner at the firm is Dalton’s mom, Johanna. They work together harmoniously to make GSA a supportive and productive firm. And despite what one might assume, Dalton says they do “a healthy job of drawing lines and keeping business out of family gatherings… Although it does creep over occasionally.”
Creating the right values and environment that drive the team
Based in South California, around 30 miles outside of LA, GSA are a team of eight, working together to provide a range of accounting and advisory services to their clients.
Work might not always be easy, but there is a big difference between just making it through your day, and finding enjoyment by working with the right people in the right place.
“We focus on each other. We want GSA to be a place where our team enjoys working.”
Sometimes clients or jobs are going to get tricky, but the emphasis at GSA is building an environment where the team feels supported through the hard parts so they can enjoy the good times.
Dalton Sweaney, Managing Partner at GSA
Hiring excess capacity to combat burnout
Dalton and his team don’t work blindly until five o’clock every day. If they meet their daily goals with time to spare, they aren’t pressured to find ways to add profit with the extra time. Instead, GSA’s culture is centered on improving quality of life.
“We always hire excess capacity, meaning we have people that don't always have a full plate. And that's okay. If they get their job done and it's 2 o’clock, they'll head home and be with their family.”
Giving flexibility when they’re on top of things means the team is prepared to work hard when it comes to tax season or the other busy times of the year.
“There are going to be some weeks where, during the busiest times of the year, they will work full days and it will be all hands on deck,” says Dalton.
The GSA team provide a range of accounting and advisory services to their clients, utilizing the right accounting tech to make it happen
Finding the right technology to drive efficiency
The team at GSA uses technology well and are selective about what software they choose. They need to see its value first. They want to see how something will make their lives easier and allow them to provide a better service to their clients.
“Technology has got to drive efficiency. If it makes our processes longer, then it’s not a great fit,” Dalton explains.
“And the other important thing is the client experience. What we try to find is something that will save us time, increase our quality, and give us more capacity for critical thinking.”
“If we can get a product that makes us faster while enabling us to deliver a better quality product, that's the sweet spot.”
Ignition, Karbon and SafeSend Suite
The integration between Ignition and Karbon has streamlined the workflow at GSA and saved them time on data entry and other low-skill tasks.
“Ignition and Karbon have a nice integration where based on what the client selects in Ignition, the right workflow is created for us within Karbon. Karbon was the second piece of tech we chose and has been the most robust and the most involved. It touches everything we do.”
Those two pieces of software combined with SafeSend Suite—which aids with the tax side of their firm (organizers, gathering documents and tax delivery)—means they have a coordinated tech stack streamlined from start to finish.
“We are really pleased with all three,” says Dalton. “They work well, are efficient and have garnered a lot of value for us—and really enhanced our client experience.”
Dalton’s experience with Karbon
Dalton and the team at GSA weren’t using any practice management software before Karbon. In fact, they had tried to migrate the cloud in 2017 but because of an unreliable vendor, had to backtrack to local servers.
Now, they’re back on the cloud, and are endeavoring to move away from keeping everything in their memory and chaotic to-do lists. In that mission, GSA wanted something that would help with client relations, workflow, and organization. After asking peers, researching online, and attending accounting conferences, Dalton found “all roads pointed to Karbon.”
Visibility and the Kanban view
After signing on with Karbon, the biggest difference Dalton saw across his firm was increased visibility.
“Instead of having to continually ask different team members ‘where are we up to with this?’, I can see everything right away,” he says. “I don't have to take time to connect on those things, I can just see it.”
“With the Kanban view, you can look at what's over budget, or what's behind schedule.”
An example of the Kanban dashboard view in Karbon
The Kanban dashboard view was what first sold him and he still loves it, though for Dalton it has been surpassed as his current favorite feature.
Triage and client notes
“Now, for me, the biggest time saver is Triage,” Dalton says.
“Instead of having to go to our team member and ask, ‘hey, did you ask a client this?'—with them then having to scour through emails—I can just pull up the work item in Karbon. I can see all the correspondence that we've had with the client.”
It’s a one-two punch for Dalton: “a) It saves time and b) it increases the quality of our work.”
“Triage in Karbon clears my mental capacity and allows me to think more critically.”
Automation and Client Requests
As Managing Partner, Dalton’s role is focused on looking at the big picture, so he values Triage and the visibility Karbon affords him most.
But his team have found other features to be particularly useful: those that help them get what they need from clients, without too much stress.
“One of the things that has been the most valuable to us is the automatic reminders. That's a team favorite, because instead of having to remember, ‘oh, it's the beginning of the month, I’ve got to request this data.’, It just happens.”
Setting them up to recur has saved both hours and headaches for his team.
“We send it once, then we can choose how often we want the client to be reminded—every 5 days, for example—and that’s it. Automated Client Requests is the favorite for the team as a whole.”
Time: The ultimate resource
Utilizing Karbon features to streamline processes and communication, Dalton and his team at GSA have saved 10 hours per week per employee. Such a number would have many firms searching for where it could be reallocated to add profit. But Dalton doesn’t see it that way.
He sees those hours saved as time to be put back into the things that really matter: family, community, and the things his team enjoys.
“I think we make enough [money]. There is a certain point where I mean, what are you going to do with more money? You could buy something, sure. But if you’re unable to enjoy it, or if it's taking time away from the things that truly matter, then what's the point? That's the way we view things.”
That view may be rare in the business world, but it sets GSA apart: a team composed of hard-working, driven, and most importantly, happy people.
10 hours saved per week, per employee
Employees and partners maintain healthy work-life balances
Increased efficiency with better outcomes for clients
Services: Small Business Consulting, Tax, Client Accounting Services (Bookkeeping, Payroll, Bill Pay, Controller), Probate, Trust & Estate Accounting
Location: Claremont, CA, USA
Firm Size: 4-10 Employees
Years of Operation: 9 Months
Karbon User For: 1 Year, 4 Months
- 10 hours saved per week, per employee
- Employees and partners maintain healthy work-life balances
- Increased efficiency with better outcomes for clients