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How Black Sheep Services saves more than 40 hours a week

Building trust with clients through transparent communication has always been the mantra at US-based, fully remote bookkeeping and business management firm, Black Sheep Services.

In fact, their commitment to quality services and honesty has worked so well that they steadily amassed a growing client base through word-of-mouth referrals only—a strategy that requires exceptional client satisfaction to succeed. 

Getting everything out of everyone’s head

But success came with growing pains. In 2018, when the firm reached its first 100-client mark, owner Marni Garcia also found herself reaching a breaking point.

“We had 100 clients, and everything was in everybody’s head. There was nothing documented. There were no concrete procedures.” Marni recalls. “Everyone knew how to do things, and they were doing it. But it was hit-or-miss on timing, what someone was working on, and how heavy their workloads were”.

She was often the bottleneck of progress herself. Most of the client communication ran through her and was then disseminated to the rest of the team. But when she wasn’t available, projects would stall.

This, along with a lack of visibility created by knowledge silos, led the team to seek out a practice management solution that could bring everything into a centralized hub. “We needed a place where we can see the emails going back and forth between all the staff, who’s working on what, when it’s due by, and if we are on time,” says Marni.

« What made Karbon different was Triage. The idea that if a client emails or calls and I am unavailable means that my team can actually grab those emails without having to get to me and they can just process the information. I no longer had to be the bottleneck. »

Marni Garcia, Black Sheep Services

A two-year journey to deconstruct, reconstruct, standardize, and automate

Getting up and running on Karbon has been a journey for Marni and Black Sheep Services. 

Because the team had come from a place where they had no centralized task management system and highly siloed inboxes, they jumped into Karbon with both feet.

Everyone started using the platform right away to get things out of their head, but this soon led to another roadblock: everyone was working in Karbon in their own way, which meant that it was still hard to find that single source of truth.

That’s when Marni realized they needed to go back to the drawing board. So the entire team worked to deconstruct everyone’s workflows and figure out where they could standardize and templatize. “This was the hardest part, and that process of breaking it down took over two years,” says Marni.

She credits Karbon’s Director of Customer Education, Evan Hall, for helping them get the hard part done right.

She remembers the product usage review call she had with Evan, “He got on the phone and told us that ‘you could do this, and this, and this.’ And at that point, we had been using Karbon for over two and half years. But once he started talking, the lightbulbs started going off in our heads.” 

« Everything started connecting. We saw how we could make it better and use Karbon to its full potential. »

Marni Garcia, Black Sheep Services

Having nailed down their standardized workflows and learned the advanced techniques of using Karbon, Black Sheep Services is now in the next phase of its journey: continual optimization. “After each tax season, we have a meeting to deconstruct and identify things that worked and things that didn’t. And we make changes accordingly in Karbon and communicate them out to the whole team.”

Exponential improvements in productivity with less headcount

Four years into using Karbon, Marni has seen her team’s productivity improve exponentially. Everyone is able to access the information they need when they need it. There is cross-team visibility and clarity on every piece of client work. 

With Karbon’s email comment feature, her team rarely emails each other for internal discussions. Everything is discussed in the comment sections before being ready for an official client email. The difference before and after Karbon, as described by Marni, is “night and day”.

Plus, the firm managed to serve a growing number of clients with a smaller team. “When we started, we were a six-person firm. Now we’re down to five, and we’re still doing the same amount of work.”

« The reduction of a full-time position and the daily efficiencies meant that Karbon saves me more than 40 hours a week. »

Marni Garcia, Black Sheep Services

The pricelessness of being freed to enjoy personal time

Perhaps the most important benefit of Karbon for Marni is that she can now enjoy personal time without the constant fear of something going wrong.

« I can travel. I don’t have to be stuck at my desk anymore, trying to run things. It’s priceless. I don’t think we can do what we do currently without Karbon. There’s just no way. »

Marni Garcia, Black Sheep Services

Key Results

  • More than 40 hours saved every week

  • 10% year over year client growth and less than 1% attrition rate

  • The firm owner is able to travel again with total peace of mind