IPPA integral in Plus Minus' Growth Strategy
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IPPA integral in Plus Minus' Growth Strategy

IPPA integral in Plus Minus' Growth Strategy

Portland area firm Plus Minus Inc. is small, but mighty! Membership in IPPA is changing the company's mindset on how it grows and is better positioning Plus Minus for its next growth spurt.

Payroll Manager Syna Pham heard about the IPPA while attending a user's group conference a couple years back and joined immediately. Since then she's been a regular attendee at conferences soaking up valuable information and best practices from other service bureau members.

"So many things I've picked up from members I've already had a chance to implement," said Pham.

Other ideas not yet implemented are included in Plus Minus lnc.'s overall marketing and growth strategies.

"We've been hovering around 150 clients for a while," continued Pham. "I've been able to talk to other independent payroll providers who were once in our shoes. They have been more than willing to share how they took their businesses to that next level."

Growth is the No. 1 priority at Plus Minus. Introductions made through the IPPA are moving them forward.

"By January 1, 2015, all our existing clients will be onboard with our new Evolution software platform," she said. "If it wasn't for the IPPA, we may have never known about the benefits of switching to Evolution."

Recently Plus Minus entered the social media arena with a presence on Facebook and Linkedln. Plans are in place to transition an existing associate into a marketing role. Part of those duties will include creating a monthly newsletter, client email updates, short video tutorials and webinars. Pham said she is still investigating referral program recommendations garnered from IPPA meetings and is attending business functions throughout Portland to determine which organizations provide the best networking opportunities.

With a service-minded culture and the right employees in place, Plus Minus is in a perfect position to take off. Plus it already has a 19-year track record within the Portland community for providing a full range of business services.

Stephan Sykes founded his accounting firm, Stephan P Sykes CPA, P.C., in 1995 after working as a CPA in the private sector for nearly ten years. In 2007 he decided to move the business from downtown Portland to the suburb of Oregon City to make room for more employees and additional business. In March 2011 the firm changed its name to Plus Minus Inc. This rebranding more reflected its full service capabilities.

Since its beginnings Plus Minus has offered bookkeeping and payroll services, tax planning and return preparation, QuickBooks hosting and small business consulting to small and mid size companies. This one-stop approach is advantageous when it comes to client longevity.

Of the company's ten employees, three are payroll specific. Pham oversees a payroll processor and a payroll specialist. An adjustment of responsibilities is giving Pham more time to do what she loves best - get in front of her clients.

"Sure we're all about the numbers, but our clients also know we are their friend, too. They are thankful they have us to run the back-end of their business so they can concentrate on what they know best. Because we monitor profit and liability throughout the year, they also appreciate they have no surprises come tax time. At Plus Minus, we understand that if they stay in business, we stay in business."

Pham always goes in person to every new client installation to explain each part of the process one-on-one. She's been extremely busy with face-to-face calls during the Evolution transition.

To thank clients for their loyalty, Plus Minus holds an Annual Customer Appreciation Party which in the past included a document shredding event. In celebration of its 20th Anniversary this coming October, things will ramp up and may include a cookout. For client anniversaries, Plus Minus gives out gift cards to Starbucks.

To celebrate employee "Work-A-Versaries," Plus Minus closes the office early and everyone joins in festivities at a local establishment. Monthly themed potlucks add to the family atmosphere and morale building.

"We want everyone to feel at home at Plus Minus since it is our home away from home. An open door atmosphere is inviting more communication and team building. This family feeling seems to be paying off in employee longevity and reduced turnover."

Pham is looking to IPPA for guidance as Plus Minus adds more ancillary services, especially in human capital management.

"We may be one of the smallest members by size, but I think we can share and learn a lot by becoming more active in IPPA and its many volunteer opportunities," concluded Pham.