Samuel Otto is the owner of Uncle Sam’s Accounting, an accounting firm in Helenville, Wisconsin. The firm offers tax planning and preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services for both businesses and individuals.
Beginning at the age of 14, Sam Otto worked as a bookkeeper for his dad’s small business. Since then, he has taken that knowledge to more clients to help them with their businesses.
Can you tell me a little bit about your firm?
My firm is still fairly small. I mostly work by myself, but I do have one part-time worker who works for me. I offer different tax services to a variety of clients, including consulting with individuals and companies. And, I offer payroll services to businesses. With the payroll, though, Patriot does so much that I basically have them do a lot of the processing.
What inspired you to open up your own accounting firm and help clients?
I actually grew up with a dad who worked in construction, and he started his own construction company when I was very young. When I was 14, my dad asked me to take over and handle the bookkeeping for the business.
Working with my dad, I realized I was good at accounting, and I enjoyed it. So, I decided to pursue accounting as a career and got my CPA. I also saw the freedom of self-employment. I wanted that freedom, and I wanted to help others by taking that pressure off their backs.
When did you open your firm, and how has it grown since?
About four years ago, I started working on my business part-time. Then, I decided about a year ago to do this full-time. In that year, I have added more clients and quadrupled my business to about 80 clients.
Some clients are payroll clients. Others are sole proprietors or partnerships with no employees. And, some clients are people who need their personal taxes done or need consulting services.
My role varies from business to business and person to person. I like the variety I have now. There are no repeats every month, and I can hand some of the more repetitive stuff over to my part-time worker.
What surprised you most about opening and running your own firm?
What surprised me most was that clients don’t come from where I thought they’d come from. There are referrals from clients, online referrals, people I know, and sources like that. I did think it would be more construction-focused because that’s what I knew. But, clients came from different places.
I still do a lot of construction business. About half of my clients are construction clients. But, I found that some potential clients didn’t always show up to first meetings. So, referrals from sources I didn’t expect were good.
Before switching to Patriot Software, how did you process payroll, and how much did it cost?
A lot of my clients came to me within the past year, so most were set up with Patriot. Before Patriot, though, I did use QuickBooks Desktop. The costs added up. I paid $2 per direct deposit with them, not including the software cost.
I looked at banks for direct deposit, and they wanted to charge hundreds of dollars for the service. ADP reached out to me and said they could not compete with Patriot’s pricing, which is reasonably priced. And, Patriot has the option to automate the tax filing for me, so I chose Patriot.
What time savings and cost savings have you seen since switching to Patriot?
Primarily, I can do salaried and fixed costs ahead of time, and that saves me time. I don’t have to process payroll on a schedule. So, it’s a little more automated for me.
And, Patriot does the tax filing for me. I don’t have to print out and complete the tax forms anymore, so that saves me time, too. I can also monitor the tax filings, which is great.
How has using Patriot Software changed or improved your payroll processing?
Patriot definitely improved the process for me. I can take on more clients than I could have with QuickBooks because I don’t have to do such a manual process for tax filing. The way Patriot works for me allows me to take on more volume than before.
I even spoke to someone at a brokerage firm about setting up a SIMPLE IRA. When I brought up Patriot, he mentioned that he loved Patriot and that I made a good choice. It was also easy to set up the SIMPLE IRA in the account.
How has Patriot Software helped you automate your payroll process for your clients?
A lot of my clients are salaried, so I can log in and run payroll for them for weeks out. I don’t have to have a set schedule for when I go into the account and run payroll. I can also log into the account anywhere at any time and run payroll if I have to.
What were some of the biggest benefits of using Patriot, and what made you decide to make the change?
The biggest benefit is that I can offer more payroll services to clients, and then take on more clients. I can provide more payroll offerings I wouldn’t have offered otherwise.
And, there’s a lot of flexibility with Patriot. For some clients, I handle their payroll totally. I run it and monitor it. Other clients just want me to set it up for them, and then they’ll take it from there. If they have questions, they just call me. I do monitor the clients who run their payroll themselves, too. There’s a big balance with the flexibility.
What would you tell another accountant who is thinking about making the switch?
I would definitely recommend Patriot because it’s a great way to automate payroll services for your clients. And, it’s easy to work with another member of your team in the software. It’s also flexible, so you can let your clients take control of some of their own payroll.
The software is also integrative to an extent with QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop if you use that software [for accounting].
But, the cost savings compared to other options makes it worth it. You can pass those savings to your clients and give them a better value, too.
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