Bookkeeping Specialty: TFB Spotlight on Barry Vaters

tfb-star-spotlightHave you chosen a bookkeeping specialty in your freelance business yet?

If not, don't despair. Most bookkeeping service businesses are generalists. But this latest TFB Spotlight interview really shows how having a specialty can literally give you more clients than you could ever want… without even doing ANY marketing! But that's not the end of the story by any means.

In fact, it's not all good news. You'll hear what pitfalls are involved with a behind-the-scenes look at a highly specialized bookkeeping practice, as Barry Vaters of Food & Beverage Bookkeeping steps into the TFB Spotlight!

You'll also hear how Barry has been transitioning his local, non-virtual bookkeeping business into a lean, efficient and highly profitable virtual bookkeeping service.

Watch or listen to this interview now! Total running time is 35 minutes.

Would you rather listen to the interview?  Download Audio Here (right-click and “Save As…”)

Interview Highlights:

Barry has been in the food and beverage business all of his working life, having owned several restaurants and bars. He recognized a gap in the industry where owners needed help.

He learned the financial side of things from his training as a chef and manager!

Barry is currently running his second freelance bookkeeping business.

The biggest challenge in the beginning was pricing his work and that's where he made the biggest mistakes. He also had to learn how to choose the right clients.

All his clients came by word of mouth and established relationships within the industry community.

When “unsuitable” clients (or just those he can't handle) come to him, he refers them to the IPBC (Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada). Great tip for where to refer clients you don't want – your country's bookkeeper association. (In the US that's AIPB – American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers)

Barry is now focusing on upgrading his business further as the “category authority” – not just built on referrals. He's also focusing on building his virtual delivery system and focused marketing.

Doing market research helped him find the sweet spot of quality clients and premium pricing.

Book mentioned on the interview: The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

One thing Barry would have done from the beginning that he now has started to do as a result of joining TFB Premium, is to build a network of fellow freelance bookkeepers who he can respect. He said, “it has changed everything.”

Barry has embraced the idea of working virtually with his clients and loves it! (This was a mindset shift for him, since he always worked with clients on-site previously) He now uses a hybrid approach. He reminds himself that if he leaves his office or touches a piece of paper, he starts losing money. Now 80% of what he does for his clients, he's doing from his own office.

Big lesson learned that helped Barry the most was to adopt the mindset of specializing. It makes everything easier and is core to success and a busy practice. It helps you say no and recognize that “all clients looking for bookkeepers are not clients.” In the long run, it pays off!

If you're thinking about specializing in restaurant clients, Barry also shares his “insider tips” for how to do it successfully, specifically for working with restaurant owners and their managers.

Finally, Barry shared how technology is changing in the restaurant industry, and the apps he's been using in his business to work virtually.

Contact Barry:

barry @


What about you? Do you have a special focus in your bookkeeping business? Or are you working more on a virtual basis than you used to with clients? Share your thoughts, experiences and comments on this Spotlight interview below!

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About Gabrielle

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and support true win-win business success.
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3 Responses to Bookkeeping Specialty: TFB Spotlight on Barry Vaters

  1. Karen says:

    Aloha Gabrielle!
    A few years ago is when I first subscribed to your class/website. I was not quite ready to jump in with both feet then but now I am. [comment edited for privacy] Thank you very much for your wonderful blogs as well.
    Karen Tewksbury, PB

  2. Thanks so much for this interview Gabrielle & Barry. Please continue to do more of these videos – have been following your blog for some time now and always come away inspired & having learned something new.

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