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5 Things to Consider When Evaluating a White-Label Partner

Introduction to White Labeling
Outsourcing, or the practice of using outside firms to handle work usually performed at a company, is not a new concept to small and medium-sized businesses. From processing payroll to distribution, it frequently makes more sense to have firms that specialize in these functions take care of these duties rather than spend the money on the personnel to do the tasks in-house.

Accounting and bookkeeping firms, in particular, leverage outsourcing to generate additional revenue for their firms by white labeling a portion of their services. White label refers to a business process whereby one company creates a product or service, which is then rebranded by another business to make the product or service look like it is their own.

Smaller firms do not have the same luxuries as the bigger firms on the block. More often than not, they are strapped for time, money, and resources. White labeling a portion of your services to create bandwidth offers great opportunities to compete with bigger players in the game. With white label accounting, your business can expand its offerings to clients without having to exert the time or scarce resources.

Benefits of White Labeling
As mentioned previously, white labeling can be very beneficial for smaller CPA or bookkeeping businesses. Ultimately its greatest gain is it allows a business to offer a whole range of services that they may not have previously been able to provide to their client base.

With white labeling, the firm is not hiring random freelancers or contractors who do bookkeeping as a hobby. Rather, it refers to engaging with an agency that possesses the technical accounting skills necessary to take over without missing a step and as if you were to do it yourself. In return, the firm then opens up more time to scale its current offerings, all while eliminating the headache and expense of hiring additional employees.

White Labeling: Getting Started
Once deciding that white labeling is the direction the firm would like to go, the next task is selecting the white-label partner to provide the product or service. While the path of least resistance might be to Google top firms in your area or take references from colleagues or peers outside the organization, it is advised that you use a more thorough research process.

When selecting a white-label partner to expand your services or free up some bandwidth, there are certain qualities you will want to be on the lookout for to ensure this agency or group is a good fit. Here we take a look at the top things to take into account before getting started and making that decision to move forward with a white-label accounting partner.

Goals and Vision
While it may seem obvious, an initial look into any potential white-label partner should start with a hard look at the company/agency goals and future vision. Consider the following:

  • Do they align with your core principles?
  • Do they share the same outlook on business?
  • Do they prioritize their customers’ needs, or do they prioritize making money first?

Being on the same page in terms of business outlook and ethics will set the tone of the partnership moving forward. Like any good partnership, the foundational elements must align to minimize any potential disruptions or growing pains.

A key point to remember about a white-label partnership is that, in the end, the work product still has your name on it. The white-label accounting firm’s products are totally absent of their branding so that your own can be put in its place. They should have your interests in mind and work to make you look good. Your clients have selected you for your expertise, so you do not want to give them a reason to consider someone else if the quality of the output does not match what they have grown accustomed to.

Business Reputation
A key thing to remember when choosing to use a white-label partner is that they should make your life easier, not harder. The temptation will always be to hire the group that doesn’t cost an arm and leg, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be paying for that decision in the long run. With that said, checking out the reputation of the white label accounting partner you are considering should be high on the priority list of things to investigate.

Questions to consider include:

What do their current customers have to say?
Website marketing is one thing, but does their website include an updated testimonial page?
Do they have a successful track record for high-quality products and services?
If you have already had an initial meeting with them, follow up and see if they will put you in contact with their current customers whom you can speak with as valid references.

Also, take a look at all their review pages on Yelp and Google Reviews, and check out their BBB ranking, if they have one. All of these can provide key metrics and insights into how they would be as a partner and how they are perceived publicly.

Communication and Work Transparency
White-label partnerships are ideal when they can help expand your firm and help you achieve your desired growth rate. This is especially true when they are cost-effective, time-saving, and, for the most part, effortless. To reach this end goal with a white-label accounting partner, you need to make sure they are working under your organization, not over it. Ensuring this work dynamic takes hold between your partner and business requires exhibiting both effective communication and transparency of the work output.

Examining how they relay information to you and your team will be critical in whether or not this partner is the right fit for your organization. Communication is essential in any healthy relationship, whether personal or professional.

On this, you might look into the following:

Will your potential partner, at the very least, keep you informed about what’s happening on the work front?
Do they seem like they’ll keep you waiting for days, weeks, or months without a response?
How this plays out will directly impact your client base, so this is not a consideration to take lightly. It must be timely, honest, and effective to maintain continuity and streamlined delivery of services – especially when it comes to the busy season.

Hand-in-hand with communication, transparency is also an equally important consideration in the white label exploratory process. Because they are acting as an extension of your firm, you need to know what is going on and have access to that information regularly. Or at least have established criteria on what that communication pattern will look like.

Transparency not only encompasses clarity through communication but also other aspects of their business, such as capacity and versatility. Details to research include:

Do they have the necessary resources available to help my firm scale?
Do they have adequate staff in place to handle what is needed?
One of the key benefits of a white label partnership is its ability to provide professional-level accounting solutions that are still presented as your own. The last thing you need is your white-label partner falling behind on targets because they were not upfront about the current workload and existing capacity.

Selection Process and Beyond
When it comes to making the final selection of whom you decide to partner with, it is imperative not to lose sight of the original goal. Many of these potential partners might offer all the bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, they need to be able to provide a high-quality work product that is both affordable and reliable. By conducting a thorough investigation, while taking these considerations into account, you will be well on your way to making the right decision that suits both you and your accounting firm’s needs.

About PABS and How We Can Help

Pacific Accounting & Business Services (PABS} provides white-label back-office services for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), accountants, bookkeepers, and tax professionals. PABS believes there is no reason to give up clients, hold back on scaling up your business, or limit the services you offer when there’s an affordable, accessible solution. Connect with Us today to learn more.

By John Bugh

John Bugh is Chief Revenue Officer for Pacific Accounting and Business Services (PABS), responsible for the strategic direction, planning, vision, growth, and performance of the company’s marketing, branding, and revenue streams.

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