Gabrielle Fontaine, Professional Bookkeeper and owner of BookkeepingDirect.com, launched her first firm in 1990—more than 25 years ago. Even decades prior, she had the vision to work virtually, but in the early 90’s that essentially meant working outside of the client’s office.
“This was considered virtual back then,” Fontaine said. “Because software was all desktop, you couldn’t share files in a virtual manner. Most bookkeepers at that time worked onsite with clients. However, I chose to work from my own office, remotely, and was able to support my clients with the same level of service.”
Fontaine would pick up source documents or have them mailed and do the bookkeeping work in her office. While this was a step toward “virtual” service, she was still dependent on paper, and that came with issues. She explained: “There would be times when clients needed certain source documents back. I had to return docs by hand or mail them. That was time consuming and costly.”
After 10 years in business, Fontaine sold her practice. She took a few years off to do volunteer work and kept only a few tax clients on the side. In her own words, “I needed to take a break from business.”
Then in 2003, she relocated from Boston to Philadelphia and launched her second venture—BookkeepingDirect.com. Still with a vision to work virtually, she built her new firm around technology that transformed this vision into reality.
Technology to the virtual rescue!
QuickBooks® has been at the center of BookkeepingDirect.com’s technology infrastructure from the start. “You have to have QuickBooks; nearly everyone uses it. And now the online version supports cloud-based collaboration with clients.”
In 2008, when Fontaine attended her first Sleeter Conference, she discovered SmartVault. “It was at that moment that I realized I could actually operate entirely online and finally go paperless. SmartVault solved my difficulties of sharing paperwork with clients. The integration with QuickBooks was an added plus.”
Fontaine picked up on the application quickly. She stated, “It’s one of the easiest solutions I’ve ever used.”
Even better, it was intuitive to her clients and made easy work out of uploading source documents. Fontaine recalled, “I don’t think I’ve ever had to provide any training. It’s so easy to use that clients just figure it out on their own.”
According to Fontaine, SmartVault has always been a fantastic product, and it keeps getting better. She started with SmartVault as a plug-in to QuickBooks and praised all the innovations and enhancements to the product over the years.
“For me, SmartVault is the industry standard for how online document management systems should be,” Fontaine stated.
Boosting her professional image
Fontaine was quick to state that SmartVault has helped to enhance her professional image. From the unprecedented level of security to the ease of use, SmartVault has been integral to her virtual business success.
Comparing SmartVault to other mainstream online document management systems, Fontaine stated, “Nothing compares to SmartVault. The security is top notch and I love the permissions control. With the other systems, anyone can create a folder, so you end up with a bunch of random folders which are hard to organize. With SmartVault, I have full control and can easily manage the file structure.”
Fontaine was the most vocal about how SmartVault has enhanced her professional image with clients. High-level security is one factor. “My clients know it’s safe to work with me virtually because of SmartVault’s security. They feel comfortable uploading their sensitive financial information to their secure folders in the cloud.”
Convenience is another factor. “SmartVault supports easy collaboration with clients because documents in virtually any format can be quickly uploaded and accessed at any time. There’s no question that SmartVault has strengthened my professional image with my clients.”
And finally, branding is yet another factor. “With SmartVault, I can brand the system with my firm logo. My clients know it’s SmartVault that they are using, but it’s my brand that is front and center.”
Over the years, Gabrielle Fontaine has moved her firm down the virtual path. From supporting clients from a remote office (but still dealing in paper) to working completely online, she has come a long way in fulfilling her vision of running a virtual firm. SmartVault has been a big part of the transformation.
“I genuinely mean it when I say that SmartVault is the industry standard. There is no other product like it…no other product that gives you so much bang for your buck.”
Fontaine credits SmartVault with being a key solution that has helped propel her practice to the cloud and allowed her to operate a true virtual business. In fact, without pause she stated, “SmartVault is as important to my workflow as QuickBooks Online…I can’t imagine having an efficient and profitable bookkeeping practice without it!”