That's me on the left, Terance John Chapman. And next to me is my father, Lawrence Hollister Chapman.
For decades we ran a business together. We were equal partners. We sold technology, like IT services, office printers, copiers, phone systems, audio visual products for conferencing and education. We had lots of wonderful customers all around Birmingham, Alabama, quite a number in Atlanta and some in Tennessee and one as far away as Kansas City! We had great employees, no, actually we had terrific employees! Sales people, technical engineers and office staff. Some co-workers had been with us for decades and all of us were like family.
During those years we all worked hard and we grew the business. And the office work increased. You know, the customer service and order fulfillment duties got bigger. And the inventory and purchasing got bigger. And the payroll, receivables management and bill payment work got bigger. More checks to write, more invoices to file, more and more and more.
Often, we wished we had someone to call on when the paperwork tasks got bigger than the resources we had available to do the work. Our people could get overwhelmed, and from time to time, we'd be behind. Our books would be behind, our financials were late, our checkbook reconciliation had been deferred and delayed and left on the back burner too long. When you are growing, and even if you are not, that is not a good place to find yourself.
Our CPAs might have helped, and we often asked them to, but you know, CPAs are expensive and really are not adept at simple bookkeeping and data entry. We had tried several over the years. We'd get promises of a "boots on the ground" type of assistance, but we never did find anyone coming to the rescue when we were behind. We saw our CPAs mostly at tax time. Not the business partner month-in and month-out that we'd hoped would be there right alongside us.
And sometimes we wondered if that person we just hired to do a financial job really had any formal training. I didn't even know there was a bookkeeping certification and so I never knew to ask! Would I send an IT tech out to work on a customer's hardware without proper manufacturer's credentials and certifications? Never! But did I send a new office staffer to do accounts payable with no thought of offering formal training or certification in bookkeeping? I did it all the time! And since I had an excellent college education and a master's degree with lots of accounting and finance classes along the way, in the back of my mind was the thought that the basics of accounting were something that everybody just knew. Boy was I wrong! And occasionally reality would give me a good lesson that no one has to learn accounting, finance or general office management to get a high school (or college) diploma and to sound good in an interview!
Frequently, my father and I wanted to find someone, a professional, an experienced and trained person to call on, to work with, to look over our books and tell us we were on-track (or off-track if that was the case). To be a resource for our staff and to be there when they had a question. Someone who could lead us to constantly improve. Not just tell us where our finances were several months' ago, but practical steps we could take to make the future better and our financial management more efficient! Even better, what if there was more than one person so there would be backup and the right level of expertise for the processes that challenged us? A professional firm would have been awesome!
We also would have loved to have found someone who had been where we were, business owners! A guide that had been through the tests of running a business and had some great ideas to share. And business owners have common challenges, like business development and sales, marketing and advertising, human resources and employee management, technology, banking and financial services. Wouldn't it be great to tap into someone who knows these things and is plugged in to other businesses that are finding solutions and solving similar problems?
So while he's gone now, I know my dad still watches me and wants me to succeed and help others as he always did. After I successfully sold our technology business, I thought about that firm I always wanted to find and couldn't. And I thought about my skills and my associates' skills. Then I decided to found the professional financial services company that I wanted to exist, but didn't seem to. What a great way to help other business owners! But what to name it? A name that anyone would hear and trust would be ideal. Well, why not put a little of my dad in it? You already guessed it, I settled on a firm with his middle name and my own middle name. And John Hollister LLC was born! And now everyone at John Hollister LLC starts with finishing a Certified Bookkeeper program and earning that credential before doing any client work, and that goes for me as well. So if you want a qualified bookkeeping service with professional financial management and business consulting services as options, we're here now and ready when you are!
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