By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
The pandemic has forced almost every organization to rely more on technology, but some rural business owners remain uninterested. CPAs should work to meet clients at their comfort level while also encouraging them to embrace technology, one rural practitioner says.“Adapting technology to fit my clients or adapting my clients to fit the technology either way is definitely a challenge,” said Shayna Chapman, CPA, founder and chief strategist at Gallipolis-based Shaynaco, which offers tax management, advisory services and accounting technology and consulting.
“In our rural area we don't necessarily have internet.”
Chapman joined us on the most recent episode of the State of Business podcast.
Gallipolis is a village of about 3,600 people along the Ohio River on the southeast edge of the state. Most of Chapman’s clients are rural, and she said not all of them have cell phone service, either.
Chapman said the reason for many business owners’ hesitation to use more technology is both accessibility and resistance to change. Some of her clients have never had an email address before and have no desire to do anything online.
“E -signing a document, for instance, is a very simple thing,” she said. “But some clients are just as happy to stop in and sign a document. So just even little technologies like that are hard to get them to adopt.”
Chapman said she is always encouraging her clients to use more technology, but it can take a lot of time and effort for them to adjust.
“What you need to know most about rural clients is that they are very much like any other business in any other place in that they want to succeed, and they want your help,” Chapman said. “And they're very good at doing what they know how to do.”
It’s crucial for CPAs to engage with rural clients in a way that shows respect for the client’s expertise, Chapman said, because though they might not be proficient at technology, many are shrewd business professionals. Face-to-face interaction and a willingness to understand the client’s perspective is an important part of strengthening these relationships.
“I think a lot of times people think that we in rural areas aren't capable,” she said. “We are capable, we just need people to take time with us and teach us and sit down with us the way we like.”
Join us for the September 23 Town Hall where we’ll discuss the “now normal” work environment.