Helping Businesses Stay Ahead of the Financial Curve – John Bly of LBA Haynes Strand

John Bly, CEO of LBA Haynes Strand

John Bly, the CEO of LBA Haynes Strand, grew his company’s revenue from $4 million in 2014 to $8.9 million in 2017, a 120% increase, and to around $9.3 million in 2018.  

LBA Haynes Strand provides full-service accounting, audit and advisory services.  

In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, John shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:  

  • Acquiring and merging smaller firms to expand their skill set and geographic footprint.  
  • Offering new services in-house that are consistently requested by clients.  
  • Consistently generating leads through public speaking, especially at industry events.  

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Malcolm Lui:
Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with John Bly, the CEO of LBA Haynes Strand, a provider of full-service accounting, audit and advisory services. Welcome to the show John.

John Bly:
Thanks Malcolm. Looking forward to sharing some ideas today. Should be a lot of fun.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. I think it will be.

Malcolm Lui:
John, you grew your company's revenue from $4 million in 2014 to $8.9 million in 2017, a 120% increase, and in 2018 you hit around $9.3 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro, and how your company differs from the competition?

John Bly:
Sure absolutely. Happy to. So are our companies focused on the whole financial picture of our clients. We focus on wealth management accounting advisory tax. We do outsourced accounting CFO work and then the other piece that's really unique is that we actually have an eminent division where we do investment banking work capital raise debt refinance buy side sell side. We're really focused on trying to help the client make sure they get their whole financial picture in one place because our clients are that three to 75 million dollar company and they just don't want to have a bunch of different vendors. They want to be real targeted and they want to have the best advice and they want to get their picture you know all from one place rather than looking around.

Malcolm Lui:
All right. And I know there are other companies that do some of the work that you're doing. Is it the combination of all the things you do that set yourself apart or is it something else as well that makes you a it gives you a point of differentiation

John Bly:
It's the combination. It's definitely the number one thing that differentiates us is that we do it all in that we have the expertise in all those different areas. But the second thing that actually differs is that we are entrepreneurs. We wouldn't be on this on this call with you talking about our growth if we were just the typical CPA grow at it 3 to 5 percent as you said we'd grow well over a hundred percent. The last few years and so the fact that we're entrepreneurs ourselves allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients and walk with them. So as they grow we're growing as well and we're also doing things like hiring and acquiring and you know letting people grow in their careers and all those things are things that our clients are trying to figure out how to do as well so we can lend that business advisory service not just from a we learned in a book but that we're actually executing on our own growth strategy.

Malcolm Lui:
Right now when you talk to a prospective client a new prospective client one father must run through their heads. Must be do I hurry these guys who do all these things or do I hire two or three or four different companies who are specialists. How do you address that concern when they bring that up with you

John Bly:
So we address it as the person you're hiring doesn't do all that. So for instance I don't necessarily do outsource CFO work but we have somebody who specialized in that that's all they do. So we have specialization within our company of nearly 85 employees. And so that differentiation is the specialization within the firm net rather than having three different firms. The other thing I'll say is that we talk to clients and prospective clients about the fact that we can have many discussions behind the scenes so you know if we're helping you with your tax work your outsourced accounting CFO type work and we're helping with let's say some of your capital needs maybe you're going through some debt refinance work with banks we can piece all those things together behind the scenes and coordinate it without having to get you know two hours from the client get them into all these separate meetings and so the fact that we can have that synergy really help save the client time and energy

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah definitely. One thought that's been crossing my mind lately and I kind of wish I'd ask this question of the one hundred twenty seven interviews I've already done so far. How did you find an offer that converts. Right I imagine you didn't start offering what you're offered today from day one right. It morphed over the years. How did you find the offer that your clients. Yeah I want this I'm going to hire you guys to do it

John Bly:
Yet you know it's interesting. We definitely did not start with this offering 15 years ago when I started the firm we have built it out based on client demand to use your example if we start tracking the things that we refer out the most. So what people were asking us for and we said oh we know Jimmy or Susie or Billy that does that here's their name and contact information. And once they got to be a big enough number that we were referring out we found a way to either hire that expertise internally or to partner internally like bring on an actual equity partner and offer that service. And that's really been the way that we've found supply and demand really.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Got it. Yeah. It makes sense to you in a way you've validated the offer right by clients asking for it for you fulfilling it. And then when you see that there's tracking you brought it in-house. That makes

John Bly:
That's right.

Malcolm Lui:
Sense. All right.

John Bly:
Yep.

Malcolm Lui:
That's the now you agree a business quite rapidly 4 million in 2014. Four years later you're at nine point three million. What were the drivers of that success. What were the drivers of that growth

John Bly:
Yeah I think there's a few key areas one we continue to execute across the merger strategy so we constantly look for growth in our markets and into expanding to other markets. And when especially in our expanding into other markets we look at trying to acquire emerging a firm that's a little bit smaller than us. So that's one second is to use your question a second ago is new service offerings. We have launched a few different service offerings since 2014 really trying to focus on helping our clients get a more holistic view. And then the third The third driver has been we do a lot of public speaking. We do that both within our markets and outside of our markets and they could be either on a specific topic or service offering or it could be given to a specific niche. So for instance we have a large dental practice and we do some national speaking on the dental conferences. As an example

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Talking about accounting for dentists or legal or MBNA what type of topics Did you like talking about

John Bly:
Yes so we can be agnostic almost. We try not to talk in the legal sense but we definitely talk in the MDA we talk in the outsourced accounting and we talk about profitability. So one of our drivers of our consulting practice around the dental niche is we do a lot of the profitability consulting and how to analyze those numbers and provide benchmarks and KPI is

Malcolm Lui:
Right this second a bit deeper about the three drivers you shared with me. The first one you said was M and A second one was new service offering the third one was public speaking for the first one and a How do you go about deciding what to acquire way to acquire and when to acquire

John Bly:
That we spend a lot of time on that actually and we start with culture for us. If if the cultures don't fit we don't bother with how the numbers look and it's got to be something that fits who we are. It's got to be some team that's client service focused interested in growth. Interested in providing a holistic view of the client rather than just doing one thing. And so from a starting point when we look at mergers and we have opportunities that's what we do. How we go about finding those opportunities we do that a number of ways we directly market to our competitors. So we we direct mail about 50 to 75 competitors every six months. We also let bankers attorneys financial advisors anybody we can. That's in the professional services field that might be working with accounting firms. Let them know that hey look we're looking to grow and this is one of the ways we're looking to do it. If you know somebody in the field who's looking to for a transition or a growth strategy you know we'd love an introduction

Malcolm Lui:
Ok so. So when do you do it. You say you know I need to grow our geographic presence in this area. We need to add this capability. How do you decide the timing of the acquisition or to acquire when something comes along that's at a good price and a good fit. And you just do it.

John Bly:
Both both we would get most strategic about a location so for instance we've expanded recently into Winston-Salem earlier this year and we are very targeted in that market right now trying to do an acquisition. So we've we've been very focused on the firms that are there that we think need a transition plan and we've been heavily marketing calling meeting with firms in that market. So that's one. The second is there are opportunities for instance one came across our desk they reached out to us last September October to try and get us to help them with their growth strategy. So there they're sort of at a point where they're capped out from a human capital perspective and from a knowledge base and they want to add services but they really can't afford to do it. And so they'd love to plug into our growth strategy and use the services that we provide.

Malcolm Lui:
When you fund these acquisitions how does it work. You talk to your friendly banker and you say I'm going to do this acquisition. They have this sort of cash flow it's an add to our our bottom line and we're going to borrow this much money to fund it. Is that how you do acquisitions or is it other ways

John Bly:
Yep that's one way we do it a couple different ways. That's one way the other is if they're a I'll say what a non retiring CPA meaning they're you know in their 30s or 40s or 50s and looking to plug in their engine into ours and grow their income and long term equity then in that case it's more of an equity swap which happens sometimes and then the third way is depending on the practice it may be an earn out over a period of time based on their book of business their clients their employee retention those sorts of things and so definitely all three of those ways are used and sometimes they're all used in one deal.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So when you started the company 15 years ago and if you just looked at that core company the one that started it all. How much did that company grow say in terms of employees and how many other employees came the acquisition.

John Bly:
Yes so I would say organically. So we've gone from zero to eighty five employees let's say and of that about 50 are acquisition and 35 are organic growth

Malcolm Lui:
Ok so 50 or acquisition. And and how many different markets are you. How many different cities are your people spread across

John Bly:
Yep were in four cities in North Carolina currently four different cities we haven't expanded into other states yet but hopefully doing that in the next 12 18 months.

Malcolm Lui:
All right now. How far apart are they in North Carolina

John Bly:
So they're all about one and a half to two hours apart. We do have two offices that are better within an hour of each other but everything else is an hour and a half to two hours

Malcolm Lui:
Again. There is some distance separating each of your offices. How do you guys stick together and maintain the culture and activity and have people know each other.

John Bly:
Yeah. That's huge. We do a handful of things one is we're on regular video calls between the offices so different teams have video calls on a weekly or monthly basis. So for instance our administrative team meets by video from all the offices at eight 15 to 845 every Monday morning. The other things that we do we do firm wide video calls on a trimester basis where we give financial update of the firm performance growth strategy all those sorts of things from a high level. We also do you know once a year holiday party we do two times a year we do a charity event with a team building activity tied to it that's firm wide. So we go to one location and all of us will get together and do that. So we try to do as much as possible from a big picture and then a real small scale. Our management team rotates between the office. So we try to have people between the offices at a minimum one to two times per week people going between offices so that they're sharing they're managing other people that it's not just office by office silos

Malcolm Lui:
Right and the nature of the work you do for clients is it done in person at the client site there is it oftentimes then remotely and the people in your four offices help out each other.

John Bly:
Yeah. It's all I would say 95 percent of our work is done remotely. Clients come to us certainly for meetings et cetera. We go to them for meetings but the vast majority of the work is done remotely. And there are certainly times when a Charlotte based client may be getting worked on out of Greensboro just based on staff requirements based on who's got availability in time and and can fit that need and the expertise

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Got it for number two. You were adding new service offerings that you're focused on helping the clients. Where do you draw the line has to when a client wants a service and you say I get this too far out of our wheelhouse and that's something that we're just gonna refer you to someone else to do

John Bly:
Goes back to supply and demand if we if a client asks if enough clients ask for something eventually we're going to offered in-house. We tend to refer things out that you know we get five or six clients a year who ask for something we're going to refer that out all day long but when we get 30 40 clients asking for it every year then that means we could probably keep somebody busy full time. And so that's the sort of stuff we bring in-house.

Malcolm Lui:
Ok. I mean clients are you working with right now.

John Bly:
We have a total of 800 corporate clients and then they're shareholders that relate to those companies.

Malcolm Lui:
Well that's a lot. Seems like a lot. I take it you don't know all 800 of them

John Bly:
I definitely do not. I know the names of probably 700 or 600 but I haven't I've certainly not met them all. But I know the names just because our partner group talks about our clients on a regular basis.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. And the third one. Lots of public speaking Mitch is the third driver. Tell me how that drives the growth of your business.

John Bly:
Sure. So a handful of years ago I wrote a book on mergers and acquisitions and that got us started in the speaking world. I started to speak not just within the area but also both nationally and internationally. And then as we thought about the expertise areas that we have we started to direct market to associations within our three markets for for instance trucking or technology or dental so that we could get in front of large amounts of potential prospects all at once. And so at the end of those many times we'll get anywhere from five to 15 potential leads prospects follow up calls that come from that which turns into a handful of clients after almost every single speaking engagement

Malcolm Lui:
Right. OK good. And now the limiting factor of this although it's great that you're marketing to a group and you're getting you know 5 to 15 people interested in learning more. It's still a function of your time right.

John Bly:
For sure for sure absolutely.

Malcolm Lui:
So do you still feel that it's the best use of your time to do this or does it make sense and maybe scale it up even more so doing online public speaking or holding webinars

John Bly:
Yeah we do hold we hold probably five webinars a year what I find though is because of the nature of what we do we don't get nearly the inbound lead generation out of that. It's interesting when you're when somebody is paying for a conference let's say they're paying 100 dollars or five hundred dollars and we're one of the speakers the front of the conference and there's 400 people in the room we're looked at totally differently than when we offer up our own webinar and it's on our site and we're the ones marketing it then it's looked at very differently we don't get the same response rate we might get 10 to 30 people on those but many of them already know who we are to begin with.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Well for sure the ones who are going to the conference and forked out some money there and they carved out a day or two of their time I was hand over fist. Those are better prospects right than someone who just sits behind their computer and who knows what else they're doing watching what you're doing.

John Bly:
Yes

Malcolm Lui:
Let's do that. I mean if you if you did an automated webinar that's running all the time and your marginal cost of doing it is almost zero then maybe it's to make sense to run those things you

John Bly:
Yeah

Malcolm Lui:
Get

John Bly:
That's

Malcolm Lui:
A handful

John Bly:
Absolutely

Malcolm Lui:
That

John Bly:
Good

Malcolm Lui:
Are interested. What are you doing that now like automated

John Bly:
Where

Malcolm Lui:
Webinars

John Bly:
We are not doing any automated webinars they're all live.

Malcolm Lui:
Some benefits it in live stuff. People want to get questions right away. You rather get questions answered right away. Yeah. OK. Looking a little bit flawed 2019 what's the plan for 2019. What are your revenue targets. What are the challenges and how are you going to get there.

John Bly:
So our revenue target for 2019 is 11 million. I'd say some of the challenges is to continue to eliminate. We talked about how we're trying to constantly be in other offices to help eliminate some of those silos by office. The other things we have to continuously work on being an accounting firm is you know if you're serving x y z client you need to be thinking about all the other ways that other experts within the firm can help that client and so helping to continue to break down the barriers from the silos of a client service perspective. I'd say that's one of our biggest challenges for 2019

Malcolm Lui:
Cross-selling essentially Okay great. Now but from a lead generation side of getting new clients. So what's the what's the plan there.

John Bly:
So we're currently undergoing a brand new Web site overhaul so we have a 2013 Web site that we put on Hubspot and SVOD and built a good platform and we get a lot of inbound leads through that Web site. Our largest client currently came through the Web site which people always laugh because they think oh it's an accounting firm it's very personal etc. and nobody looks at Web sites but that's a joke. You know our largest client came through the Web site and so we're we're currently undergoing hopefully launch by May 15th or May 30 1st of this year. We've been spending the last couple months on it. That's the number one objective this year. The number two objective is we built out a model of what we call a client centric model around building client value with our services and and making sure that we keep that in front of our partners our managers our teams and also make sure that we're letting clients know we even offer these things we've grown so much over the last four or five years that we have so much expertise human capital in-house that sometimes clients that have been with us a long time don't even know all the things we can do for them.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. What's the plan on letting them know we're helping them learn what you can do for them.

John Bly:
A few things one we built out a physical model that now sits in our conference rooms so that every meeting partners are discussing it with clients that they're having the meetings. Another one is that we're having. It's going to be the core focus of our new Web site. The third is we are going to do presentations between May and August with current clients to discuss all of the different service offerings we have.

Malcolm Lui:
Okay. So what does a full physical model look like of all the services that you need.

John Bly:
So it's got you know sort of our firm in the center if you will. And it talks through growth advisory risk management and consulting tax solutions and planning accounting solutions Hiring Solutions business valuation financial planning outsource CFO but it's a it's a presence so you can click on each one of the bubbles and it goes down into the 10 or 15 services that are in say growth advisory or in risk management and consulting or in the tech solutions so that it's very interactive for the client. But it's also something that we can talk about at a high level so that they can understand the different offerings we have.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So it's a two dimensional interactive sort of thing. So it's not like a physical three dimensional model with spheres floating around. Okay.

John Bly:
No no

Malcolm Lui:
All right. Got it. So in regards to online marketing I took a look at your paper click presence and your CEO presence and my assessment is I didn't see any paper today. And the FCO that you currently have. The value of the tracking is being generated isn't huge. So what's your take on that paper versus a

John Bly:
I

Malcolm Lui:
Ceo.

John Bly:
Agree I agree. We don't do anything on the paper click at all. I'm not I'm not saying we haven't considered it but at this point based on what we've seen from an industry data in the accounting profession we haven't seen a lot of people going that route and the ones that we have don't seem to have as much success unless it's very targeted. So for instance we've considered doing it very specific to the dental niche because our niche there is so strong and it is national for Ezio I would say we we benchmark ourselves on a monthly basis against other accounting firms with in North Carolina and we actually rank surprisingly very high. And so we use HubSpot to help us figure that out behind the scenes and for a firm our size we rank about 10th or 15th in the state. And there's probably 100 firms that are larger than us and we still rank inside the top 10 or 15

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Right. Yeah. The tool I was looking at it didn't rank for specific keywords that might be relevant for people who were searching for accounting firms and in North Carolina they're just looking at the traffic you're getting it what keywords are coming to and those keywords might not be the most relevant. Once I'm making my tool. It's just a tool it may not be the most relevant and accurate tool in terms of results it gave me. So don't feel bad when I say that my two things go good numbers for you because it is a bit of a broad tool

John Bly:
No that's that's understandable and I would say that accounting firms in general would probably score very low I guess on any of the tools that are out there. So what we're wear what I'm saying is if you compared me to a you know an I.T. company or you know digital marketing company or anything like that I'm sure we'd score really really awful when you comparison in the industry. I think we score pretty well

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. So what what sort of outbound marketing are you doing

John Bly:
So we do a few things One is we do some direct mail not as much of that as you would have five or six years ago. But we do some of that. We also have an outbound newsletter that goes out on a monthly basis. We have a thirty five hundred people who received that newsletter. The other thing that we do is we have an outsource sales and business development arm to the team. And so they're you know Legion calling cold calling very specific targets. So for instance we'll go through campaigns where we'll call construction companies for 30 days now we'll call not for profits for 30 days et cetera

Malcolm Lui:
And he says outsource so it's not part of your company

John Bly:
Correct. We outsource it to a firm that's accounting specific. So that's all they do is lead gen for accounting firms

Malcolm Lui:
Mccain. How do they do that. They call a company are they representing you. No. How does how does that work.

John Bly:
Yes. They're calling on our behalf. They're representing us. They're talking as if they're the sales team of our organization and then they're they're really trying to get their door openers if that makes sense. They're not closers. They're trying to get us appointments meetings phone calls follow ups. Anything they can do to drive interest. Not to you know actually quote unquote finish the sale.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Exactly. All right. And have your clients ever ask for the person they spoke to after they talk to you and then find out that they really were just outsource partners as opposed to being full time employees.

John Bly:
No we've never had that. We've never had that follow up mostly because in our business the person who does the sales and business development type stuff typically is not the expert in the field and so they're not going to be the one who's the delivery partner. If that makes

Malcolm Lui:
Right.

John Bly:
Sense.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. So they talk to them see they're a good fit. Hand it off. And then they probably would never talk to that person again. Right. OK. Me at the company party. You might bump into them at most. Okay. So what do you see as the trends unfolding in your in your industry.

John Bly:
Yeah there's a couple of big ones coming. One is things like block chain and the automated recognition software and tools are huge. Those things are driving a lot of efficiency within technology for accounting audit tax. So that means we need to be more advisory focused and less compliance focused. So that is something we've been actively working on the last two years but it is a key focus over the next couple of years. The second thing. Second big trend is the retirement of baby boomers and so the average age of a CPA in the United States right now I believe is 59 years old and that's average. So that tells you there's a lot of individuals that are significantly above that number and those folks are retiring out at very large numbers. And so that leaves a succession void which provides opportunities to both pick up clients in the markets and it allows us to pick up potential merger or acquisition targets because there's going to be a huge succession problem.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. Another company that I just interviewed they see they see the same sort of thing. Their average age is it's for a company does investment management. And he mentioned how the average age of the financial advisors is sixty nine or something like that. Right. So they're even

John Bly:
Yeah

Malcolm Lui:
Further down the path. And he see he sees the same sort of thing in many of these are small shops and that's succession issues. He saw that as an opportunity. His firm can now provide that succession option for these other companies right. When they're ready to sell they're there and they can already begin this transition and start working with their existing clients so that when they do hand it off to be a seamless transition. So

John Bly:
That's right

Malcolm Lui:
It's pretty interesting and sexy. Yes it can be exactly something that you could do as well. Right.

John Bly:
Yeah.

Malcolm Lui:
The accounting firms

John Bly:
That's right yeah. It's somewhere acutely focused and really fit making sure that we get the right culture and the right targets for opportunities

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah yeah. Cool. Now you mentioned a block chain has a block chain fit into the picture here.

John Bly:
As it relates to block chain to the extent it becomes widely adapted especially for us the privately held companies to the extent it just affects the public companies. You know it's never going to have a huge impact on us but as it relates to privately held companies in theory long term it could really reduce the amount of pure accounting. Day to day that has to be done so like our outsourced accounting group where we provide outsourced yet bookkeeper level accounting that could that could become a thing of the past. The other thing that could be potentially transitioning is the need for audited financial statements for small and mid-sized privately held companies including nonprofits because the block chain will provide assurance of transactions. And so a lot of times that's what we're providing. And so it'll change potentially some of the service offerings and provide it. And we'll have to adapt it be responsive to those needs that clients have

Malcolm Lui:
What's the timing is the one block chain would be accepted as a assurance of a transaction

John Bly:
Yeah. You know for companies that we deal with and the size we deal with I think we're at least three years away. I think if you're talking bigger public companies you might be talking a shorter period of time. But I think it's probably at least three years away. 2022 probably at the earliest

Malcolm Lui:
Yet. I'm not only up on my block chain and not only up and how it will pertain to companies but as a consumer how would I see this. How would it impact me

John Bly:
You know it probably as a pure consumer it probably wouldn't affect you that much. Honestly not not in a way that I've seen that would be material at all today.

Malcolm Lui:
Okay now but as a business owner how would this help my business

John Bly:
Yeah as a business owner it would help eliminate a lot of fraud a lot of finance fraud both from your internal staff and from vendors so vendors who overbilling double billing things like that. And then from your bookkeeper who is doing your books paying bills accidentally makes mistakes or intentionally makes mistakes either those would in theory the likelihood of that would decrease significantly with watching

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Got it. Any other trends that you see happening in your industry.

John Bly:
The only other one is just ever increasing regulation in demand. So for instance the Trump tax laws that were put into place at the end of 2017 provided a tax overhaul that hadn't been seen since 1986. So huge amounts of changes in the system provide opportunity but they also provide challenges both from a workforce standpoint and human capital. And that's just one area of regulation we continue to get regulated in all areas of our business.

Malcolm Lui:
Got it. So if you had the magic wand and you could wave it and have whatever you wish for come true. Business wise what would that be.

John Bly:
That's a tough one. There's so many good things to wish for with a magic wand.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah

John Bly:
I would say that I would wish for a little bit of deregulation because I think it would help some of our clients. And then I think it would be to continue to find opportunities to expand into other markets we'd love to expand down to Atlanta and up to Richmond Virginia and up to D.C.. So finding the right targets in those markets is critical for us over the next two to four years.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. You said you talked before about doing outreach to accounting firms. Right. To see if there might be interested in the merger and acquisition. How that process typically work. What does the initial message you send to them and you get them that say yeah let's talk

John Bly:
So accounting firms we start with I mean something pretty basic like a letter and we send those every six months and what it says is something pretty simplistic which says hey look here's where here's what we're at. We've got you know gone from 4 million to 11 million over the last few years. We're looking to continue to grow these the types of services we offer to the extent this has any interest to you. And you're looking for either a growth plan and you want to potentially talk about joining us or if you're looking for a succession plan because you don't have one internally. We'd love to hear from you. And it's pretty much that basic because you've got to keep it short. And so that's about three paragraphs in and keeps it pretty pretty short and simple

Malcolm Lui:
Game. What's you send out 100 of these letters have one go. How many people will respond that are more

John Bly:
We typically get every single time between five and 10 responses and some of them are Hey thanks. I'm not ready now but I'm going to keep it I might be interested in a year or two. Some of them turn into immediate phone calls and you know some discussions at a high level and that if it goes farther we turn them into you know potential due diligence in letters of intent and all that. But five to seven maybe 10 on a high end every every 100. And typically we'll get at least two to three very serious that we go far down the pipeline on a deal with

Malcolm Lui:
Very cool and how long does it take for you to do a deal.

John Bly:
Usually about six months from the time we first you know I'll say meet someone if we know somebody whose business already and we've already been you know sharing clients or something like that it can take less. But typically from start to finish from the first time we have a discussion till the time we close at six months

Malcolm Lui:
And how many acquisition targets are you planning to do. In general

John Bly:
Yes so in 2019 we're hoping to do at least one possibly two. We currently have you know upwards of 10 legitimate targets that would that would do something over the next one to three years not all these people have a very specific timeline so you know they take lead nurturing and time to have good discussions with. But I would I would say we'll do at least one this year if not to

Malcolm Lui:
Right. Okay. And that's generally the plan going forward for now. What do you think is a pretty easy to find the targets

John Bly:
It is because public accounting firms are pretty easy to search for things like the local business journals always provide a top 25 list in any given market. And then the third thing is our North you know in any state there's a state board state society that regulates a profession and the CPA is are all have to be listed. And you can generally get the size of a CPA firm straight from the state board

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah. Now did you enjoy digital marketing to these companies or potential

John Bly:
Which

Malcolm Lui:
Acquisition.

John Bly:
We do we have built some FCO stuff into the back of our website which which puts some keywords around accounting firm for sale accounting firm acquisition talks about our own mergers and acquisitions. So we get two to three inbound leads through the Web site for mergers a year

Malcolm Lui:
No. Nice. Always nice to get the leads from SCA. Given that once you build it they can still come. That's pretty good.

John Bly:
Absolutely

Malcolm Lui:
Three last questions for you John. What message would you show on a billboard along the freeway that's typically going to be seen for six seconds or less before people drive by it.

John Bly:
Who six seconds or less. That's a tough one. I'd go with something around becoming the tax accounting and advisory arm of your privately held company something like that maybe that that captures the essence of the fact that we're we're almost like a board of directors. We have so much expertise and human capital in-house.

Malcolm Lui:
Right. At tax advisory arm of your company I almost want to say you're a Masonic juror. Would you say that Sopranos that consistently unitary like that.

John Bly:
Yeah

Malcolm Lui:
That's great. Two last questions. Are your ideal clients and what's the best way for them to reach you.

John Bly:
Yeah. So our ideal clients are three to 75 million dollar revenue companies first generation because typically the first generations doesn't hasn't built out a management structure it hasn't built out all the leadership capabilities they're looking to grow. They're looking to maximize their learning and and get it from one source rather than go into five or six different vendors. So that's our ideal client. Best way to contact us are Web sites w w w dot LBJ H S dot com and also my email is John J O H and Bly B L Y at LBJ H S dot com.

Malcolm Lui:
All right fantastic. John it's been awesome having you on my show today. I really enjoyed hearing how you grew a company so fast.

John Bly:
Thanks Malcolm appreciate you having me and look forward to the next time we catch up.

Malcolm Lui:
Yeah definitely.

Malcolm Lui:
We've been speaking with John Bly, the CEO of LBA Haynes Strand, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing, high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.

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