Spotlight Series: “The real magic occurred when we niched”

Tune in to hear a pair of successful accounting professionals who have niched their services to a specific clientele and made significant inroads into that community in their area (and beyond).

Lynn and Janet Behm work with 170 real estate professionals in Utah and abroad. Their clients are desperate for bookkeeping services that meet their unique needs and provide them with the financials they need to deal with their other partners, so they’ve tailored their services to meet those needs.

The Behms share about their subscription model and the specific methods they’ve used to gain visibility and grow relationships in their clients’ industry — both in-person and online.

Some of their key marketing and business values:

  • Offer strategies, not just compliance and numbers. Bring additional value to the table.
  • Weekly emails provide a consistent voice of authority and relevance to clients.
  • SEO is critical. “When people search for real estate accountants, they find us.”

The Behms are some of our favorite clients — they represent the level of integrity, service, and professionalism that business owners and taxpayers really need.

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  • How the Behm’s niched their service to focus on helping real estate agents in Utah.
  • The importance of email marketing and good SEO for getting your name out there and connected with your clients.
  • Strategies for building relationships with clients

Connect with Nate Hagerty

This episode is brought to you by AdvisorProMarketer, a leading marketing agency serving CPA & tax firms. It was established in May of 2007 in response to increased demand for real-world, relationship-building (and profit-producing) marketing tools for use in the advisory industry.

Currently, AdvisorProMarketer serves clients all across the United States and Canada who use their services to build relationships with their prospects & existing clients, as well as to grow the value of their business (for immediate cashflow and future sale-ability) by utilizing the following tools: a relational email marketing program, social media feed program, local listings management & optimization, and creating full “online marketing machines” for clients (which include SEO-optimized, conversion-centric custom websites).

AdvisorProMarketer is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and a Digital Marketer Certified Agency.

Full Transcript from the Podcast

Nate Hagerty  00:10

All right, everybody. I am here with Lynn and Janet Behm. And they are…I was telling them before we hit record…they are some of our favorite clients. I mean, there’s there’s something that is really unique. If you’re a business owner, you know this. When people treat your staff well, they become… they shoot to the top of the list of the people that you want to connect with and people that you want to find more of them. And so, I’m here to unpack their story for all of us, of how they started their business. And Janet is an EA, and they’re both in Sandy, Utah, outside of Salt Lake. And they’ve got a thriving practice. They deal with a lot of real estate investors, and have really targeted a particular niche in this way. And so I wanted to unpack that for all of us here in the tax professional world. What they have done to create that and how AdvisorProMarketer has come alongside them of course, but really more about them and their story. So, first of all, here we are, it’s in fall of 2021. What are you working on right now? What does it look like at this moment? It’s before the extension deadline, so I’m sure you’re scrambling to deal with a lot of procrastinators like me. I shipped off my stuff yesterday to my…

Lynn Behm  01:37

You’re two weeks ahead of us.

Nate Hagerty  01:40

So, what are you working on right now, aside from dealing with procrastinating losers like me? Aside from that, what are you guys working on?

Janet Behm  01:52

Well, we’ve, as you know, we niched into real estate, real estate investors. And they are a very creative group. And they have a lot of ways of doing things. And because part of the way that we deal with people, we like to personalize and customize to how the client does business. And initially, it was mostly tax accounting, advisory services. But now we’re currently really developing the bookkeeping side. Because it is such a strong need, and people can’t find bookkeepers. So many of them are full at this point. But the other side of it is they can’t find the bookkeepers and accountants to put things together in a way that gives the client what they need, as well as being able to take care of the compliance issues. Because they’re dealing with their banks, their hard money lenders. You know, there’s so many other reasons why they need their financials. And then of course, we need to be compliant and ready to audit if that ever came up. So, that’s what we’re developing right now. We’re developing a team. We are working with some outsourcing, but they’re people that we hire. We have asked, everybody knows, everyone is struggling finding people to work. And so, we just signed an excellent company in the Philippines that we…it’s like being in the same office. We Team Viewer. together. We sit and share screens. We work on things. 

Nate Hagerty  03:42

That’s fantastic. 

Janet Behm  03:43

Yeah, they they’re like other halves. They go out, they recruit, and they handle the HR for us there. So, it makes a very nice… and it makes it, quite frankly, affordable for our client. So that we’re not having to do these huge cost increases. We tried the team thing, you know, working with other outsourcing, where you just turn things over. That doesn’t work. We like to have the employees. So, they literally work for us. 

Nate Hagerty  04:16

Right. Right. Yeah.

Janet Behm  04:18

And so that solves that has been solving that problem because that’s been part of our bottleneck that…

Nate Hagerty  04:26

maybe if you could shoot that to me offline, and we can recommend that. If there’s… if it’s a company that you genuinely work with that has capacity for

Lynn Behm  04:36

We are really pleased. High level service, and they take good care of us.

Nate Hagerty  04:40

What’s the name of that company, if you don’t mind sharing.

Janet Behm  04:44

Empata. It’s the initials of the children of the owner.

Nate Hagerty  04:49

Send it to me, and we’ll put in the notes. That’s fantastic. I mean, I’m sure that there’s a lot of people out there… we actually have some employees that are based in the Philippines as well here at AdvisorProMarketer and we treat them just the same way like you do. We include them in all of our meetings. They work U.S. hours. And I mean that’s just a few of our very technical roles because there’s 16 of us here. And so it’s not nearly the majority, but they are… it’s an incredible culture. And I think there’s a beautiful opportunity because of COVID, unfortunately. There are a lot of people in the Philippines who are skilled who are looking for work with, you know, U.S. based firms. So, I think that’s a fantastic little tip, even at this beginning stage of our conversation, that other EAs, because you are an EA, not a CPA (I’m aware). But EAs and CPAs and tax professionals could find skilled employees to work, who are just as much as part of the team, but maybe are a little less expensive than U.S. based employees. That’s fantastic. So, you’re working on that, developing KPIs for your clients, different kinds of systems for bookkeeping, about how many clients do you all work with?

Janet Behm  06:13

We work with about 170 clients at this point. And we have, until we got this foundation in place, we’ve kind of held back on moving forward. Because until, you know, we need to be reliable. We need to be able to produce, and if that piece wasn’t there, and we just kept taking clients… thankfully to AdvisorProMarketer keeping us out there and providing such support for the clients we have, we get great referrals. And, you know, so we’ve had to kind of hold the reins a little bit, but now we’re in a position where it can be expanded. And so…

Nate Hagerty  06:58

Well, that’s fantastic. Have you talked to our team yet about advertising?

Janet Behm  07:03

I think Lynn has a little bit

Lynn Behm  07:06

We’ve talked about having another web page for specifically… for the department that is going to be doing… targeting the bookkeeping people and real estate investors.

Nate Hagerty  07:17

Let’s do that. So, that has been talked about? We’re building it out for you?

Lynn Behm  07:23

Oh, yeah. We’re working with you guys. Not yet. We’re still in the pulling the trigger stage.

Nate Hagerty  07:28

Alright, well, let’s pull that trigger. Because I’m excited to see you guys continue to grow. So, you have most of your clients on like a monthly retainer plan it sounds like.

Janet Behm  07:35

We have… yes, everyone that we are doing the accounting/bookkeeping for we’ve worked with quarterly. We’ve been experimenting around. But we’ve come to the conclusion, the monthly retainer, where we’re keeping track… especially on the Do-It-Yourself, the DIY… we really need to stay on top of them. And a lot of times they just convert into having us do the accounting because they’re just too busy. And that’s not what they’re in business for. 

Nate Hagerty  08:13

That’s right.

Lynn Behm  08:14

That’s not their area of expertise.

Janet Behm  08:18

Yeah, I call it kind of a subscription service because it makes it easier on them. And, it evens out their cash flow, evens out our cash flow, evens out their cash flow. Makes everybody happy. So…

Nate Hagerty  08:36

A great model. And then ,once you have that kind of base moving forward, you have confidence and strength to grow and you have like an idea of what a client is worth to you. And you’ve got these basic tiers of service that they can slot into. And it makes everything simpler. That’s fantastic.

Janet Behm  08:57

Well, and then thanks to you, when you were interviewing Dominique Molina, I’ve actually added the TAP strategy. We’re starting to move… that’s an area that I’m proactively involved in that we’re going to start offering as well. And I discovered her on one of your interviews.

Nate Hagerty  09:21

Fantastic. She’s my friend. I’m actually speaking at her event next month.

Janet Behm  09:29

We’ll see you there.

Lynn Behm  09:31

We’ll be live. This is our first trip out of Salt Lake.

Nate Hagerty  09:34

Fantastic. So, yeah. I mean, so I’ve got a little bit of a flavor of what you do and what you’re about related to, you know, working with real estate investors almost exclusively. And we’ve known that from the beginning since we’ve worked with you. We’ve worked with you for about three or four years now.

Lynn Behm  09:52

I think it’s been longer than that.

Janet Behm  09:55

I think it’s been about four.

Nate Hagerty  09:56

Yeah, I think that’s about right. So, tell us about, kind of like your secret sauce in terms of how you communicate to your clients. What are you communicating to them that makes them want to work with you versus other options?

Janet Behm  10:14

Well, one of the things we do is we hang out where they hang out. In other words, we are, we support the Utah in Salt Lake, Real Estate Investor Associations here in Utah. They are well attended, but they, these people want to see us there regularly. That we’re not just the flash-in-the-pan, come do a presentation, and then disappear. And it was actually one of the attorneys that had told us early on that he… Because we asked, “You know, aren’t you worried about all these other attorneys that just show up?” He goes, “Oh, they just show up.” What you have to do is show up every event and be part of that. And we’ve discovered that what that does is people then start approaching you. And then, of course, we’ll have a table about three times a year. And we’ll be a sponsor in their annual events, things like that. And what that does is you become part of that environment. And then it makes it a lot easier to approach us. And then of course, we do our 30 minute free consultation, where they’ll come up, they’ll start asking questions, and then I bring them into the office to just look at if this is going to be a good fit. And then we do a proposal, and it moves on from there.

Lynn Behm  11:49

And actually one of the ticklers for these groups, the Real Estate Investor Associations, is normally we do a 30 day consultation. But for you when you’ve got that’s part of the magic is you’ve got the right place to come through. And so we say, “We’ll prioritize you if you’re a member of those organizations. You can get all of your questions answered. And one of the trigger things that people just get excited about is when I say, “You know Janet’s a strategist. So she’s got to have some information from you before those leads. Because she’s going to study it and be prepared for your meeting and give you personalized recommendations and guidance and strategies and that strategy is the thing.

Nate Hagerty  12:35

That’s right. So it’s not just compliance, it’s not just getting your taxes done so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s actually like being a profit participant for them. Somebody who’s bringing value to the table and positioning your business from the very beginning in that way. It’s really, really wise. And having that niched focus, especially even just knowing that there’s enough of them in the Salt Lake City area, the greater Utah area, I mean that’s that’s enough business for you to do very well.

Janet Behm  13:07

Well, we pull business from all over. The web site that you guys put together for us, it’s amazing. I mean, I have people who come through here that are in Canada, that are clients of mine. I have a person that’s a U.S. citizen that lives in Sweden. We you know, I mean…

Lynn Behm  13:35

I’ll have to get a map out to see if Sweden and Switzerland where they just actually work.

Nate Hagerty  13:39


Janet Behm  13:41

But what’s interesting is I work with their accountant in their country. We take care of… because these people own properties here and in different parts of the country. And they need the work that we do that ties to what their accountants need. We make sure that we’re not creating more tax by the entity or the system that we’re using. And we have people from different parts of the United States that, even though we’re Utah real estate accountants, people look up real estate accountants, and they find us…

Nate Hagerty  14:26

They come through that kind of funnel that we’ve set up for you on your main website and the follow ups and all that. Yeah, so talk about that, if you will, for a minute like how does AdvisorProMarketer kind of fit into the mix for you guys? What, what have we done what what have we been able to bring to the table that has made your life easier and helped you grow?

Lynn Behm  14:50

Now, years ago you were providing a monthly newsletter, which I picked and chose from. I think it probably just wasn’t, it was extensive, and not many people except me may have been using it. So, I really enjoyed that. I’m sorry to see it go. But the absolute critical thing is the weekly blogs. So, your folks… I don’t know who’s writing them, but they’re brilliant. I suspected that your voice was that. Anyhow, so we have a W-2ish blog each week. Of course, we’re talking to the creator. Well we’re talking to the choir here. All the folks… are they going to be members?

Nate Hagerty  15:43

I think a lot of different people will see this who already… accounts or not.

Lynn Behm  15:47

So we’re, we get nine, on most months, blogs from you. And so…

Nate Hagerty  15:57

And the emails as well.

Lynn Behm  15:58

They’re email blogs. You’re about a, probably, three to four minute read, about 1000 words each or something. And so, one of the blogs is toward more of the W-2 kind of people, and then one of the blogs is absolutely toward the business people. And then once a month, we get a blog for the problem/resolution, which is people who are having issues with the IRS. They, you know, maybe haven’t filed taxes in years, or they didn’t take care of withholding properly for the, you know, whatever. There’s lots of reasons why the IRS will start sending you letters, and they get more intense, and until finally they just start hunting down your account. So, you want to let people know that if they’re having that kind of pain, that, you know, we’re here to resolve and get results.

Nate Hagerty  16:50

So how have those emails and blogs served you?

Lynn Behm  16:55

Very well. People who I… part of the thing with the know, like, and trust, which is really kind of the three catchwords for marketing these days. The consistency is absolutely essential. The consistency of getting them out. Plus, that you know the consistency of your voice. When you send those to us, they’re typically very few things that I edit or change. Usually I just, we have our trademarked little catchphrase. 

Nate Hagerty  17:26


Lynn Behm  17:26

And so I put the trademark catch phrase at the bottom, and that is another one of those consistent things. And then we send them out. And everybody who has ever inquired is on… gets on that list. And I’m amazed at how few people unsubscribe. You know, most folks are, I believe, are getting value from it and saying, you know, this is worth keeping in my inbox.

Nate Hagerty  17:52

Well, and the idea is you’re not just talking about geeky tax things and the net operating loss carryover rules all the time, but rather, things that are where your clients are living. So, your investor clients, you know… I mean there’s aspects of how they’re running their business and cost controls and, what have you, and positioning themselves. As well as, you know, SBA loans and kind of the more particular areas of expertise that you bring to the table. But also, you know, for your 1040 clients, it’s things you know, about getting out of debt and sort of the basic life planning type things that a lot of people, I think, really resonate with. What were you gonna say?

Lynn Behm  18:36

Just a little aside here… but Janet and I celerbrated our ninth anniversary, and one of the things I had no idea about was the value of a “loss carryforward” — and that was part of her dowry [laughter], the loss carry-forward every year.

Nate Hagerty  18:59

Hey, so maybe we should talk about it more. You’re right. That’s fantastic.

Janet Behm  19:07

One of the things that I really appreciate is this whole SEO all about marketing online stuff is a mystery to me. And you know, I didn’t come out of that generation. I’m you know, not that young that where it’s just part of life. I mean, when I was a teenager and got my feet wet in getting into the tax world, my dad had some of those IRS letters. Needed some help. Asked me to work with him. Well, and I did. But I picked up the phone to call an agent, you could actually call and get the phone answered. And he said to me, Well, I can’t tell you what to do but I can tell you where to look. He was kind of fascinated that I would just pick up the phone and talk to him. And so we went, I actually was able to get a revenue ruling issued because it was a unique situation, which has kind of led me into my career that, at that point in time, you went to the library to research. You didn’t have Google, and you didn’t have websites to go to, and you, you know, you had a little bit of time in between the letter that you sent. So, it was a different environment back then. And you know, that the concept of what we have today was not in anybody’s mind. And so now, having people that understand how that all works, so that I can stay focused on the work that I do with my clients, is wonderful. It all happens and people make, a client will make a comment about something they saw or… You know, cuz you’re always putting stuff out there, and I always make sure that I read them. And it’s excellent material, by the way. But just having that taken care of in such a splendid way. With the kind of character and just your unique way of doing things. And I love your positive, it’s only as you introduced me to, if you want to have good news, here’s the place to go. And, you know, I’ve got that dialed in on my phone, and it’s, you know, you match what is important to us. And, again, you guys are so responsible, and you work with what we need. So, you have that same character of responsiveness, flexibility, being, you know, that’s part of our flywheel quality. And so…

Nate Hagerty  19:28

That’s very encouraging. Thank you, Janet.

Lynn Behm  22:21

And another thing, that because of your SEO stuff, when people put real estate into any kind of a search: BANG! We’re on the first page. And that’s because you guys are so diligent, making sure that content is up to you and what you have… So there’s just a lot of action going on around our web page, our Facebook, and that keeps a lot of things that are very compelling. And, and so we appreciate you on the first page.

Nate Hagerty  22:57

Oh, that’s great. I mean, it’s wonderful to serve such as you. Because as I told you at the very beginning, and as we were talking before we were recording, the kind of people that you are and the way that you treat people behind the scenes, it’s a joy to make your business shine. And, you know, that’s our hope with all of our clients, of course. And we, but we can never always, you know, you never really know. And every interaction that you have with my team creates new fans, for sure. Here at AdvisorProMarketer. You’ve been doing this for quite some time, Janet, it sounds like. I mean, since you were a teenager. 

Janet Behm  23:36

Yeah. I have done a lot of things in my career. And after… we had both lost our spouses as we talked about earlier, and it was one of those situations where you kind of stop. And my late husband and I were going to… were in business brokering. I was doing the due diligence work and things and working in the sell side as well. But we had started down that road when he passed away so suddenly. It was just more than I wanted to be doing myself. So, we closed that company, or I did. And when Lynn and I found each other, we were brought together by mutual friends, we neither one of us were ready to retire and just go off into the sunset or whatever retired people do that. 

Lynn Behm  24:39

We don’t know.

Janet Behm  24:41

And so, we thought, well, let’s start a firm. I thought, “I’ve been a broker. I know what a business needs to look like to make it sellable. So that in the future… and I also know how to create the accounting firm so that I can ease out and not have it be a very sudden move.” So, it was really great when we came across to you guys because we were just… I was starting over again. I sold my firm before I went into the business brokerage. And I mean it was just teeny, it was just a little book of business. And I did a lot of consulting, and I did a lot of outsource consulting and things like that. But then I thought, “I really want to build a firm that’s just something’ you know’ you want to accomplish, that has the qualities that are important to me.” And it has blossomed and that finding really good people to work with is just wonderful, and you’ve been part of that. 

Nate Hagerty  25:53

I’m really thankful to hear that, Janet. You guys, you guys are the same for us. So, maybe final question. What would you say to another EA or CPA?

Janet Behm  26:08

We do have a CPA that I work with actually.

Nate Hagerty  26:17

What would you say to another tax professional who is considering working with AdvisorProMarketer or kind of launching a kind of firm like you’ve built?

Janet Behm  26:29

What I would say is that someone that wants to really take their firm to the next level, even if they’ve done their own, or had somebody else put together their web page, AdvisorProMarketer knows exactly what accountants need. They’re in that market. That’s what you guys do. And so, having that… your team who advises us, and when we start kind of steering off in the wrong direction, or a less than productive direction, you’re very good at making recommendations. And you know, that quality of flexibility and the creativeness that you bring. And then having that touch that we’re able to do every so… not only in the web page, which is critical, and the SEO, which is critical, the that being able to have that touch for the clients and not… I don’t have time to go do the research and be able to write that every week. I mean, just the volume. And that consistent touch is remarkable. That’s huge firm stuff. And you can have that look, by and that feel and that and it creates a confidence in the clients that they’re, you know, that they’re getting good stuff. And on an ongoing basis. It’s not just dropped in, see you once a year, never see you again. And so, that’s really important. And along with that, then, I’m able to create the client meetings and the twice a year meetings with clients and the follow up because this is taken care of here. And it’s, I think it’s critical to really develop in the practice.

Lynn Behm  28:31

I have just a word of encouragement to anybody who, regardless of what kind of a firm you’re doing, the real magic for us occurred when we niched. We were trying and we started out with real estate, but we thought we were going to work with a different aspect of real estate. And so niching finer and finer and finer. And some people come into that with trepidation. So, you know, I don’t want to miss out on the money. I’ll tell you what, what happens is your perfect client makes it easier for us, for you as a practitioner to find them and it makes it easier for them to find you when you’ve tightly niched. So, we are huge fans of that.

Janet Behm  29:15

And you guys help us do that… and you’re continuing to with the new aspect company, and I mean we’re really excited.

Nate Hagerty  29:27

Yeah, well, thank you. This is great. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to share with us your story and these ways that you’re growing and continuing to grow. So, thanks again. Lynn and Janet. You guys are gems. So, thank you.