Interview With Greg Jones: BookKeeping Express, Reputations and Advise

Written by Paul Harris Meet Greg Jones, the CEO of BookKeeping Express. Jones was VP of Sales for Fransmart, LLC in Alexandria, Virginia, a company specializing in franchise sales, development, and support for the benefit of both franchisors and franchisees. Jones has served in numerous senior executive roles ranging from sales and business development, to executive and operating officer in a variety of emerging enterprises to traditional business units of leading corporations. Jones has been a partner in Fairfax, Virginia-based Garrettson-Jones Properties since 2001, specializing in real estate and Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise development in Florida.

WashingtonExec: What is the Bookkeeping Express business model?

Greg Jones: Bookkeeping Express is a Franchisor of outsourced bookkeeping services to the 30+ million small businesses in the U.S. and Canada.  The organization has three separate revenue streams, Franchise system, Team Center, and Direct sales channel.  Our business model is built around the need for certified bookkeeping services to the largest business segment in the U.S. and Canada.  Currently, Bookkeeping Express is the only national firm focusing on bookkeeping services and franchising those services throughout the country.  In comparison, Bookkeeping Express is supporting the same business structure as HR Block  put forth towards personal taxes but pointing the services to the small business community.  Bookkeeping Express believes in the concept of a paperless environment and building the system through technology.  Our franchisees complete 85% of the work effort through virtual connection and spend very little time in the clients locations.  Speed, accuracy, low cost, and vital data reporting is what separates Bookkeeping Express from the solo bookkeepers and CPA firms that provide bookkeeping.  Bookkeeping Express opened its Team Center in 2010, to which the Center provides back office support to the franchisees who do not wish to build their own local bookkeeping team (time spent hiring, firing, managing staff).  They can use the Team Center and spend the majority of their time on the front end of their business (business dev., community relations, customer care, and closing business).  Bookkeeping Express will be opening their first Direct sales office in the Washington DC metro area in 2012.  Our direct sales channel will sell directly to the small business community and will help BKE roll out new services and/or test models prior to rolling out to the franchisees.  When it’s all put together BKE will have multiple recurring revenue streams.

WashingtonExec: In the beginning years of the company, how did Bookkeeping Express build a trusted reputation?

Greg Jones: BKE has been in business since 1984 but the current ownership has been in place since 1/09 (franchise model). Our franchise model has been put together and by design, rolled out in a very methodical way.  To achieve success, we knew we needed to bring in good business partners as our franchisees, and we had to build a system that supported those franchisees.   We have built the franchise model from scratch so our reputation for being very upfront with our franchise documentation, our sales processes, and follow through with the franchisees has been critical with building trust.  We have emphasized an open communication with our franchisees and pride ourselves on improving the systems on the behalf of the franchise system.  In reality, our franchisees play a very important role in helping us build the system due to their participation and communication with what is working and what is not.  Bookkeeping Express has monthly calls with franchisee representatives (1 from each time zone) and quarterly CEO calls which provides updates to the franchisees.  Our system provides a delivery system to its end clients so there is a consistency to the deliverable.  This is important to the franchisees and to their clients.  Easy system to follow and a structured process to bring results to the small business owners.

WashingtonExec: During these unstable financial times, what do you think will be the biggest challenge small companies will face during the next five years?

Greg Jones: Five years is too long, I would put it at 1 and 3 yrs.  Small businesses that do not have the capital to continue to build their organizations will be in trouble which is why the banking situation that exists today is such a hot topic.  We must put money on the street so our small business community can continue to be proactive with their business.

WashingtonExec: What will Booking Express look like in 2 years?

Greg Jones: 100 plus franchisees in the system, in 90% of the states within the U.S. along with locations in all Canadian provinces.  BKE Team Center expanded to process all work flow processed by the franchisees. BKE to become the preferred vendor to other Franchise concepts and the CPA community.  Corporate locations in 12 Tier one markets in the U.S.  Having brand recognition through multiple media outlets.  Member of the INC 500 fastest growing companies, and moving into the top 50 of the Entrepreneur Top 500 franchise concepts.

WashingtonExec: What book has made the most impact on your life and why?

Greg Jones: An odd combination of Lombardi, and Who Moved My Cheese!

WashingtonExec: What is the best advice you can give any start-up company/business?

Greg Jones: Most great ideas/companies fail due to being undercapitalized (as mentioned above) so plan on having 3 times the capital that you initially think you need to get your business off the ground.