ROBERT GERRISH: (00:33) Now today, I’m delighted to be speaking with Renae Pitargue. So Renae, welcome and can you tell us where you’re joining us from and maybe give us a little snapshot of your area?
RENAE PITARGUE: (00:45) Sure. Thanks Robert. So First Class Accounts Ovens & Murray, we are based on the border, so Albury Wodonga. We probably service a fairly large percentage of farming related clients and businesses, but also quite an extensive range of small businesses here on the border. The border is also a very significant employer for defence families.
ROBERT GERRISH: (01:11) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (01:12) So we have quite a number of families that are transient here, but often parts of their family own small businesses as well. So we tend to see some connections with that industry as well.
ROBERT GERRISH: (01:27) Lovely. What a nice variety. So just to be clear, you’re on the border of Victoria and New South Wales?
RENAE PITARGUE: (01:33) Correct.
ROBERT GERRISH: (01:33) So where do you live? Are you New South Wales or are you in Victoria?
RENAE PITARGUE: (01:36) I am very much a ‘Mexican’ and proud of it. So I do live in Victoria. I’m actually born and bred in this region. So I grew up on a dairy farm down here and I then left at the end of school and went to Sydney, to uni and then stayed in Sydney for another ten years before moving back down to what is my home region.
ROBERT GERRISH: (02:01) Okay. So just before we get into your business, I’m intrigued. Does it impact you at all that you’re driving during the course of a day you might be in Victoria one minute, in New South Wales the next? Are there any little foibles, little oddities happening as a consequence of that?
RENAE PITARGUE: (02:19) So I guess from a day to day perspective, not really. So 13 years ago when we moved down here, it was a town… There are two towns you still drove through, right through the centre of those two towns. So it was quite an impact to travelers going through that. The towns have now been bypassed.
ROBERT GERRISH: (02:43) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (02:43) So you actually can drive past and almost not know that you’ve gone past Albury Wodonga.
ROBERT GERRISH: (02:49) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (02:50) But from a business perspective and from two States with some very very different types of legislation and things that we work with, particularly around payroll tax and workcover and things like that, those cross border anomalies are like quite significant and have quite a big impact on us particularly in our business having to know both sides of that legislation.
ROBERT GERRISH: (03:22) Gosh, yes it would.
RENAE PITARGUE: (03:22) And having to be very clear with employers as to where their staff are based and in some instances like payroll tax, it actually comes down to where they’re domiciled residentially. So we actually have to get to the point of pulling out employee lists and going through marking out which state they physically live in to know where we declare payroll tax to.
ROBERT GERRISH: (03:46) Isn’t that fascinating? It is. It’s got its complications.
RENAE PITARGUE: (03:49) Very much.
ROBERT GERRISH: (03:50) Yeah, and I guess obviously everybody drives to the Victorian side to get decent coffee. Apart from that it sounds like you’re coping with it pretty well.
RENAE PITARGUE: (03:59) Yeah. No. It’s something that this region has been used to forever.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:04) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:05) There is lots of things that they are trying to kind of simplify because road rules are quite significantly different for P Platers.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:12) Gosh. Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:14) We did in fact in one year, have different time zones.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:18) Yeah. I remember that.
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:18) So that was the equivalent to New South Wales and Queensland.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:21) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:22) So that was quite bizarre. So there is a cross border commissioner that’s based here in Albury. So they’re trying to work through some of those anomalies. And we have made one very significant move in that we have one health system.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:39) Okay. Well that’s a good step.
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:39) So that will be the hospitals. Yeah. Managed by the Victorian Government. So yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:44) Okay. So if you’re going to get chased by the police, which side do you want to be on?
RENAE PITARGUE: (04:50) Neither.
ROBERT GERRISH: (04:52) Good response. Okay. That’s a good answer. Alright, let’s move away from all of that. So how long have you been in your First Class Accounts business, Renae, and what brought you to this business?
RENAE PITARGUE: (05:06) Yeah. So thirteen and a half years, so end of 2004, my husband Edward and I were living in Sydney and I just had this need to get out of the city. I’d had 13 years in Sydney and I just… I don’t know.
ROBERT GERRISH: (05:25) It was enough.
RENAE PITARGUE: (05:25) Something just drove me to… Yeah, I had to get out and we made the decision that we… One of us would get a job and as long as one of us had a job, we’d able to move and then we’d see what else we’d do from there. So Edward was fortunate enough to get a job quite quickly. He worked for Kimberly Clark at the time.
ROBERT GERRISH: (05:45) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (05:45) So he was very employable. And so he took that job and then we just… We actually went to a franchise expo and looked at Busy Bookkeeping. At that time there was Busy Bookkeeping and First Class Accounts. So it was Busy Bookkeeper that we spoke to initially. As it turned out there was a small business already here that was being operated and they knew that those guys actually wanted to sell and we decided that would be a good opportunity to buy.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:17) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (06:17) And so we bought that small Busy Bookkeeping franchise way back in 2004 and then yeah, we’ve obviously gone through the change of Busy Bookkeeping being bought out by First Class Accounts and to me that was fantastic. That was just what I needed.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:36) A good move.
RENAE PITARGUE: (06:37) I needed that sort of growth and extra support. That came with a bigger franchise, so that was really good.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:44) So your own personal background. This is very much your business. Edward is off doing his thing and you’re doing your thing. Is that kind of how it works?
RENAE PITARGUE: (06:52) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:52) Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (06:53) At the moment.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:53) That’s quite nice isn’t it? Do you find that…?
RENAE PITARGUE: (06:55) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (06:55) Yeah. I mean obviously, some businesses very happily have partners working in it and that also works very well, but there are a number of people like yourself that have that sort of distinction that this is your business. Okay. So you’ve been running for a good few years. You went through that sort of transition, or the franchise group went through that transition. As you say you kind of immediately reaped some benefits for being part of a bigger group.
You went to the franchise expo, which is a great thing and where a number of people I know still do get to see what kind of businesses are available. But you went into it with what sort of experience? Are you a numbers person? Is it a natural space for you?
RENAE PITARGUE: (07:42) Most definitely yeah. So I have a Bachelor of Accounting.
ROBERT GERRISH: (07:45) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (07:45) So I did a Bachelor of Accounting at University of Technology Sydney. So I was very fortunate to have that qualification from basically the moment I left school. I went straight to do that. I then had five years with Qantas.
ROBERT GERRISH: (08:03) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (08:03) So I worked in their finance department and then I had five years with Buildcorp, which is a sort of medium size construction company.
ROBERT GERRISH: (08:12) Construction company. Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (08:13) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (08:13) Alright. When you relocated from Sydney to where you are now, were you thinking, “I’m going to start a business. I’m going to start a business.” Or did the franchise expo kind of… Was that just part of you having a little look-see? What was that decision making process like? Can you remember?
RENAE PITARGUE: (08:33) Yeah. Actually it’s quite distinct because I was looking for jobs and applying. I applied for a couple of jobs down here on the border and I guess at the time I was a financial controller with Buildcorp, so I had a very well paying job in Sydney and I was looking at the salaries that were being offered down here on the border and I was like, “Oh you’re joking. I’m not going to do that for that.”
ROBERT GERRISH: (09:00) “Do you expect me to work all day for that?”
RENAE PITARGUE: (09:04) So what do you do instead? You go and buy a business because you got to make so much more money.
ROBERT GERRISH: (09:07) Okay. Alright. Interesting. And it’s panned out that way. It’s worked well for you, in a nutshell. We’ll delve in a bit deeper in a moment.
RENAE PITARGUE: (09:15) Absolutely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (09:16) Yeah. Okay. Alright. Brilliant. So 12 years ago here we are, you’ve kind of started your business. First time running your own business. Do you remember what that felt like in the early days when there you are, on your own… Well actually you bought an existing business, so I guess you had a number of clients, but do you remember what the feeling was like?
RENAE PITARGUE: (09:38) Yeah. I guess there was two parts to it. So I did have… There were only about five clients that existed with the previous owner. So it was very very small. They didn’t work in the business themselves. They both were employed elsewhere and I guess they were hoping to build the business up and then leave their employ. But that doesn’t generally work. If you’re going to do it you need to jump in and do it.
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:02) You need to do it. Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (10:03) Yeah. So I very much took the approach of keeping the contractor on that they had with those existing clients and that gave me the ability to go out and seek my own clients way back then. But my funniest memory is being, in one of my first clients and having to process a credit note and I was like, “I actually don’t know how to do that in MYOB.”
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:29) Right. And what did you do? Did you say, “I don’t know how to do that.” Or did you…?
RENAE PITARGUE: (10:33) No. I looked up ‘Help’.
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:34) Okay. Good.
RENAE PITARGUE: (10:36) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:37) And you found the answer there and then?
RENAE PITARGUE: (10:38) Yeah. Absolutely. I don’t make any secret of the fact that we still have to do that. You can’t know every process of what we do and every system that we do it in. And I say to my staff, “You don’t have to be too proud to do that.”
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:55) No.
RENAE PITARGUE: (10:56) “Get it right.”
ROBERT GERRISH: (10:57) And be honest. Say, “Hey, I’ll have to look that up for you.”
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:00) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (11:00) Yeah. You’re right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:01) Yeah. I don’t think I… I didn’t have to tell the client.
ROBERT GERRISH: (11:02) No.
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:03) I just did it. But I remember thinking, “Oh, I’ve never had to do this.” I guess as a financial controller I was doing a lot more of the reporting and the sort of compliance side of this stuff and I wasn’t actually like doing a lot of processing. I’d never actually done a payroll.
ROBERT GERRISH: (11:18) No.
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:19) Even despite the qualifications that I had. So it was… Yeah. It was a big learning curve, but it was fun.
ROBERT GERRISH: (11:24) Okay. It’s interesting. It’s a little bit like having a child. Just like, “Oh, okay. That’s happened. What do I do now? Hmm I have to work that one out.” You know, it’s…
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:32) No. I did while I’ve had the business too.
ROBERT GERRISH: (11:34) Well there you are. But there’s this similarity, don’t you think? It’s kind of we’re moving into territories that we’re hopefully really enjoying and inevitably we come across things that we don’t actually know on the spot exactly what to do. The great thing I guess about a franchise and about the industry that you’re in is the answers are always there. You just got to know where to look.
RENAE PITARGUE: (11:58) Absolutely. And seeking the information, nobody should ever be worried about that. In fact, if you pretend that you know it all, you’re just going to do yourself a disservice and make a mistake.
ROBERT GERRISH: (12:09) Yeah. Quite right. Now look. You mentioned there at the, you know, the early stage you kept an employee of the previous business. Clearly a very smart move and that allowed you to go out… I think the word you used, to kind of search for your own clients. So do you remember much about that process? I mean you strike me as someone who is confident, clearly confident, I’ve met you so I know you are and also fairly outgoing. So it that an easy process for you to go out and seek clients and how did you do it?
RENAE PITARGUE: (12:40) That’s not something I like doing at all.
ROBERT GERRISH: (12:43) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (12:43) I’m very comfortable and very…if confident is the right word, when I know somebody and I’ve had that connection. I don’t like the old…
ROBERT GERRISH: (12:56) Cold calling types of…
RENAE PITARGUE: (12:57) Cold calling, definitely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (12:58) No.
RENAE PITARGUE: (12:58) And I don’t like that terminology either, but…
ROBERT GERRISH: (12:59) No. I don’t. Did you have to do much of that? Do you have to do much of that today?
RENAE PITARGUE: (13:06) We don’t do any of that today.
ROBERT GERRISH: (13:07) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (13:08) Definitely not. I actually didn’t really, even back then. I had one particular accountant who was my mum and dad’s accountant who I contacted prior to moving down here and let him know what I was kind of embarking on.
ROBERT GERRISH: (13:25) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (13:26) And he had a couple of referrals for me very early on and I also, having grown up in a smaller town than Albury Wodonga. So I grew up in a town called Tallangatta, which is 45 kilometers from here and I just somehow, when people knew I was coming home and this is what I was going to do, it was just organic and it was instant and I was really lucky.
ROBERT GERRISH: (13:55) You say you were lucky, but also what you’ve done there is you clearly understood the value of building a little network and as you say, going… No one enjoys cold calling, walking into a room full of people they don’t know and doing their thing. It’s very confronting. It’s very tough. But what you’ve clearly done is you have done that certainly with one accountant. You’ve made contact. You said, “Hey, this is who I am. This is what I’m going to do.” And by the time you got there, by the sounds of it, unloading the removalists van, there’s work waiting for you. And then you’ve also used past contacts just to say, “Hey, I’m coming home.” And that’s a lovely thing.
It’s a great thing I guess about this industry, isn’t it, is that… And I don’t want to suggest that marketing is an absolute piece of cake, but there’s no doubt that when you, you know, it’s an industry that people understand. It’s a service that people understand and if you say to all those people that you know, “This is what I’m doing,” then opportunities do start to come your way and obviously we need to try and top that up with a bit more marketing activity, but credit to you, you’ve clearly understood the value of networking. Do you do any networking today?
RENAE PITARGUE: (15:13) Yeah. Absolutely. So we’re a big community involved family and I’m on the board of Business Wodonga, which is our Chamber of Commerce.
ROBERT GERRISH: (15:25) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (15:26) So I don’t do it as networking for my own business, but by virtue of my role on that board, then yes, we do a lot of networking, and a lot of…
ROBERT GERRISH: (15:38) Yeah. Look it’s interesting to hear you talk about this because I meet a lot of people like you in businesses where you’ve sort of… Your immediate response perhaps is, “No. I don’t do a lot of marketing. I don’t enjoy marketing.” It’s not what you like to do. It’s kind of what you make it very clear. And yet, you kind of are doing a fair bit of marketing by putting yourself in a position within your local community and by being the kind of person that you are. Word of mouth, I would imagine, is very very good for your business. Would that be right?
RENAE PITARGUE: (16:19) That’s the only way we take business.
ROBERT GERRISH: (16:22) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (16:23) Yeah. So we get 100% of our work from referrals.
ROBERT GERRISH: (16:26) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (16:27) And I guess that does come from… But I guess my key there is I don’t… I wouldn’t go in and complete a role in a community organisation with the view that that was going to bring me work. Yeah. Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (16:38) With a view to getting business. No. Look. And that’s… I know you… I’m going to give you the Robert Gerrish award for fine marketing even though you wouldn’t want it because you know… But I think you’re doing it without realising it and you’re doing it by showing up with integrity, with being very much yourself. You know, authenticity and all those words, and that’s at the root of, or the core of the best sort of marketing you can do to generate word of mouth. So congratulations. You’re a great marketer even though you don’t think you are.
RENAE PITARGUE: (17:13) Thank you. And I think the more important side of that is the work you produce is the most important.
ROBERT GERRISH: (17:22) Of course.
RENAE PITARGUE: (17:22) So if you make sure what you do is complete and accurate and the accounting firms that you work for appreciate that, that’s where you’ll get more and more referrals from.
ROBERT GERRISH: (17:35) Of course you will. Of course you will. Well said. Thank you. So let’s have a look at… You’ve mentioned that there’s a variety of businesses. There’s a whole group of kind of transient people within your community as well through the forces. What does your client base sort of make up? What does it look like and who ideally do you work with?
RENAE PITARGUE: (17:56) Yeah. So it’s quite varied, but we do have quite a strong connection to farming and the industries that go with that. So farming equipment, that kind of stuff. We do have a bit of a specialty with medical centres.
ROBERT GERRISH: (18:16) Okay. And how did that come about? Let’s look at that one first.
RENAE PITARGUE: (18:19) That was basically one particular medical centre. Their bookkeeper was going on long service leave.
ROBERT GERRISH: (18:29) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (18:30) And she was actually quite concerned about how that was ever going to be possible and the accountant said, “You need to take your leave. We’re going to help you find somebody that can come in and complete that role.”
ROBERT GERRISH: (18:47) So this is…
RENAE PITARGUE: (18:47) And it was for eight weeks.
ROBERT GERRISH: (18:49) So this is Renae to the rescue.
RENAE PITARGUE: (18:52) This was First Class Accounts to the rescue.
ROBERT GERRISH: (18:54) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (18:55) So it’s more than just Renae. Yeah. So we… Yeah. I went and met with them and we… I guess then we had a big learning curve.
ROBERT GERRISH: (19:05) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (19:06) It’s quite a unique industry, as anybody that works in that medical and allied health would know. Quite complicated with their invoicing and receipting and all that sort of stuff. So we learned that and then just by that connection. That same person is on leave as we speak. So she’s now been on leave every year. This is the third year in a row. And so she just books us in and we slip in and…
ROBERT GERRISH: (19:35) How lovely. So your life is sort of temporary custodians every year.
RENAE PITARGUE: (19:40) Absolutely. And we’ve actually spoken and haven’t completed about trying to sort of market ourselves in that space of vacation care.
ROBERT GERRISH: (19:50) Yeah. Okay. Vacation for businesses.
RENAE PITARGUE: (19:53) Yeah. Absolutely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (19:54) It’s funny. I’ve heard of a few people working in a similar capacity, not necessarily bookkeeper. I’ve got a good friend who actually does this in a town not far from here and does it in a sort of looking after people’s retail establishments whilst they go away. What a great little sort of niche that you’re potentially opening up there.
RENAE PITARGUE: (20:18) Absolutely. And from that the accounting firm has then referred us into two other medical centres.
ROBERT GERRISH: (20:25) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (20:26) Because yeah, I guess once you’ve been able to gain that knowledge… The other two are actually permanent. They’re big weekly contracts that we do.
ROBERT GERRISH: (20:30) Weekly jobs. Yeah okay. So a niche has found you as opposed to you finding it, by the sounds of it. But you’re quite happy with the fit.
RENAE PITARGUE: (20:42) Yeah. Absolutely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (20:43) Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (20:44) Yeah. Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (20:44) And I love the way that…
RENAE PITARGUE: (20:45) And we did have a couple of other allied health that we worked.
ROBERT GERRISH: (20:47) Okay. I love the way you corrected me when I said that, “It’s Renae.” You said, “No. It’s the First Class Accounts kind of networks.” So you’ve obviously… To what extent do you kind of lean on or use the First Class Accounts Head Office and group within your work?
RENAE PITARGUE: (21:09) I guess that’s a question I get all the time about why am I part of a franchise and why am I still part of a franchise after all of these years. I’m a big advocate for the technical support, not necessarily the… like from a marketing side. I think it’s really important especially in a regional area that you’ve got your own… you know, the way you market…
ROBERT GERRISH: (21:34) Your own connections and your own…
RENAE PITARGUE: (21:35) Whatever you do and I’m at pains to tell people when they’re looking at the franchise to not rely on national marketing. That will not get you your clients generally.
ROBERT GERRISH: (21:46) Yeah. Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (21:47) But from a technical perspective and from a workshop perspective and from a conference perspective, you can’t do it on your own. It’s like a… If you were going to be a sole trader accountant these days, you can’t have all that knowledge across all different industries. Whereas being part of the franchise, you have got that support.
ROBERT GERRISH: (22:10) Yup. Yeah I know. Well said.
RENAE PITARGUE: (22:10 But I guess in the context before, I was meaning more my own business.
ROBERT GERRISH: (22:14) Yes. Yes.
RENAE PITARGUE: (22:15) I like taking all the credit for all those clients because I drove a team.
ROBERT GERRISH: (22:20) Okay. Now that’s brilliant and I think that you’ve put it very clearly there the benefit that you get from being part of the franchise and obviously we hear that a fair bit on this podcast, but the technical aspect is clearly something that is so key to stay up to speed and as you say with every kind of cloud accounting piece of software that you use being constantly updated and with legislation constantly changing and thrown into the mix the fact that you’ve got two states worth of legislation that you’re grappling with, it’s so important for you to stay at the top of your game in that sense isn’t it. It’s crucial.
RENAE PITARGUE: (22:58) Absolutely. And just to know that when you are not sure, you’ve got somewhere that you can refer back to. And yeah, Tony and Julia in those two technical roles are… To me you have to have that.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:13) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:13) I couldn’t operate very much without them.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:14) No. No. So let’s have another… Let’s have a look at your business from a different perspective now. How many people working within your business? Do you operate your business from home or from an external office? What’s the setup?
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:28) Well that’s the very very exciting thing today. We are moving into an office today.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:34) No way.
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:35) Yes way.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:36) Yay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:38) In 17 minutes, we will take possession…
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:42) No you won’t because I’m going keep on… I know you will whether I’m talking to you or not. How exciting is that?
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:48) Yeah. Absolutely. So we are… Yeah. So we’ve had thirteen and a half years working from home.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:54) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (23:56) But there are seven of us now.
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:58) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:00) And we don’t… We don’t all work at home.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:02) Do you mean seven of you in the family or seven of you in the business?
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:05) In the business.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:05) Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:06) Yup.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:07) Gosh.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:08) And we don’t… But at times we do have four of us here. So at this present moment we have two offices within our house.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:17) Right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:18) So it’s getting a little overwhelming and a little…
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:21) Yeah. So somebody lost a bedroom?
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:24) Yeah.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:26) Great. So one of the family is out in a tent in the garden or something.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:29) And that’s why we only have one child.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:32) Very sensible. Okay. How exciting that we are speaking on the very day. So you’re going to move to a proper office. So with a fascia, with the name of the business on there and all of that sort of stuff?
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:47) Yeah. That will come.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:48) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:49) That isn’t going up today.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:51) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:52) It’s all thanks to Telstra. We weren’t really sure whether it would happen today.
ROBERT GERRISH: (24:58) All right.
RENAE PITARGUE: (24:59) At the same time, but it is.
ROBERT GERRISH: (25:00) But it has. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:02) Yeah. It has.
ROBERT GERRISH: (25:02) So as from Monday then, because we’re speaking to those who don’t know we’re speaking at the end of a week. As for next week you’re going to be commuting to an office. Is that right?
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:11) Yeah. We’re going to be all grown up and we’re going to be real.
ROBERT GERRISH: (25:13) No. And how do you feel about that?
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:18) Yeah. It’s exciting. It’s just the next phase in…
ROBERT GERRISH: (23:23) Yeah.
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:24) Yeah. In what’s been a really exciting journey that… To be honest, the journey was very sort of simple and we kept it really basic through until about 2015.
ROBERT GERRISH: (25:41) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:41) And then we made this decision of, if we’re going to make this into a growing business, now was probably the time to do that. And so with the help of a business coach we’ve made that very significant growth through that last couple of years.
ROBERT GERRISH: (26:01) How brilliant. So that’s a nice segue to what might nearly, my final question. What do you see in the future for you? You’ve been running this for 12 years. You’re about to move into a new office. You have seven staff working with you. You’ve got some lovely niches in particularly farming and medical. What does the future look like?
RENAE PITARGUE: (26:23) The future looks I guess more about consulting and less about what we have previously known bookkeeping to be. We’re in a really really disrupted industry, as we know and we are very much embracing that. We’ve made a very conscious decision to embrace that I guess from day one as soon as… And I’m a big virtue believer in ‘disrupt or be disrupted’.
ROBERT GERRISH: (25:56) Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (25:56) So I’ll be a disruptor and we are very focused on Xero Add Ons particularly and other applications to help businesses be more efficient.
ROBERT GERRISH: (27:10) Okay. So when you talk about Xero Add Ons, you’re talking about the brand Xero and the add on services and software that they have.
RENAE PITARGUE: (27:17) Correct.
ROBERT GERRISH: (27:18) Yeah. Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (27:18) So the apps that sit outside.
ROBERT GERRISH: (27:20) Sure.
RENAE PITARGUE: (27:22) So yeah. So we’ve got already quite a few that we see ourselves as the experts in.
ROBERT GERRISH: (27:30) Okay. Lovely. So you’ve definitely positioned. You’re grabbing the whole, sort of the trusted advisor, the consulting sort of space very clearly and as you say it’s an industry that, like every industry really at the moment, is going through a high degree of change, but you’re embracing it and grabbing it with both arms.
RENAE PITARGUE: (27:51) Yeah. Most definitely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (27:51) Yeah. Now talking about both arms, I do happen to know that on a fairly regular basis, both of your arms are swinging a club. That is, a golf club in case anybody is getting worried. So where does balance kind of fit within your business? And again what is the future of that look like? None of your clients are listening.
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:14) I’m probably the wrong person to ask about that.
ROBERT GERRISH: (28:19) Why is that? Why is that?
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:21) I do probably work way too much and not have the other balanced quite enough, but we’re working on that one.
ROBERT GERRISH: (28:29) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:30) So yeah. No. Golf is my key sort of outlet. We actually live right on the golf course. So we can just drive the golf cart…
ROBERT GERRISH: (28:36) Danger. Danger.
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:28) Right out of the garage.
ROBERT GERRISH: (28:39) But are you playing as much as you’d like to be playing?
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:41) No. Definitely not. No.
ROBERT GERRISH: (28:42) Okay. So what’s going to change?
RENAE PITARGUE: (28:46) So I have two trainee staff members in the organisation both of whom are at uni at the moment. They are both less than six months with us. So lots and lots of training required and lots of support.
ROBERT GERRISH: (29:02) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (29:03) So I’m a big believer in providing that support and training in the early stages of their careers with me and hopefully that will reap my reward of more time down the track.
ROBERT GERRISH: (29:20) Hopefully or it will? I think it will won’t it?
RENAE PITARGUE: (29:23) I hope. I’m quite sure it will.
ROBERT GERRISH: (29:26) I think we need to get you back in about a year’s time when you’ve been in your new office, right, and you’ve had your new people trained up. I’m going to hold you accountable. I’m not trying to stand on the toes of your coach, but I’ll say I think we need to speak to you, Renae, in a year’s time and let’s hear how the golf is going and how the office is going. What do you think?
RENAE PITARGUE: (29:44) Yeah. Absolutely.
ROBERT GERRISH: (29:45) Okay.
RENAE PITARGUE: (29:46) And before that we can post some photos of the office.
ROBERT GERRISH: (29:49) Yes. Do that. That would be great. Okay. Renae Pitargue, thank you so much for joining us and taking time out of what must be a busy day surrounded by a couple of boxes, I’m assuming. So enjoy the rest of your day.
RENAE PITARGUE: (30:02) Shall do. Thanks so much Robert.
ROBERT GERRISH: (30:04) Thank you.