The Taxman Cometh and I’m Armed to the Teeth

By | App Development, Avalara, AvaTax, QuoteWerks, sales tax | No Comments

In 2015, Greystone started an apps business.  The simple mission is to solve painful business challenges for our customers that many will find beneficial.  On March 14th 2016, Greystone launched it’s first software product: Avalara for QuoteWerks. We did it for selfish reasons, at least at first. Collecting and remitting sales tax was a pain, so we asked ourselves, “How can we automate everything to do with sales tax compliance, solving the pain while removing associated risks?”

This is the story of how we got from that question to launching a software product.

Greystone has typically focused on the human component, i.e. technical knowledge and IT services.  When we needed hardware, software, and other products, we went through a third party for purchasing. In 2014, a decision was made to take on product sales. The reality was we could save our customers money, increase our revenue, and provide higher quality service because we would be in control of the procurement process.

We evaluated several quoting and proposal solutions and QuoteWerks quickly rose to the top, due to its ease of use and the strength of its out-of-the-box integration with ConnectWise and QuickBooks. You might be thinking “I don’t use QuoteWerks; this probably isn’t for my business”, but that’s the elegance of Avalara: it works with every business system, syncing and integrating with nearly every business application on the market.  We can dive into how Avalara can simplify your business, but for now, back to our story.

Product sales went from “zero to sixty” in less than a quarter.  We learned a few lessons the hard way, but we focused on streamlining the process and making sure systems stayed in sync so we could keep up with our customers’ needs.  Heads came together, and soon things started to click. Communication with distributors improved because it was just us and the distributors; no more middle men. Customers were happier because of the quicker turnaround, better communication, and simple invoicing. We knew we had made the right decision to take on product sales and to use QuoteWerks to do it.  Yet there was a problem brewing.

When we were purely a service company, sales tax was simpler. Introducing products adds complication.  There’s a concept called Nexus, which basically means if you have a physical presence somewhere, you owe taxes there.  Our systems, and sadly most systems on the market, don’t automatically take that into account. This means that even though you have all the rate tables up to date you are collecting too much tax, a disservice to customers. None of our systems applied different tax codes or rates across products and categories. Add in Colorado’s complex tax jurisdictions, and you can see how we found ourselves wasting lots of time reconciling across systems. Bottom line – we knew we had to automate sales tax or it would hinder our growth and leave us open to risk.

“According to a 2014 survey the average sales tax audit costs a company more than $114,000, up 19% from 2013”  – Wakefield Research Report

 

Enter Avalara. Avalara’s AvaTax was everything we needed to automate sales tax compliance. The elephant in the room was that they didn’t have QuoteWerks among their many integrations. It just so happened that Greystone had a product development team focused on solving exactly this kind of business challenge. The decision became a simple one.  Build the integration for ourselves, then share it with others.

In the two quarters using it, here is what we’ve seen:

  • Fewer clicks per quote
  • Reduced shipping errors
  • Increased tax accuracy
  • Less time spent on reconciliation – by 10+ hours per quarter
  • automated tax return filing – saving time while eliminating risk
  • Improved audit preparedness

…all of which add up to more productivity and peace of mind

We’ve saved money.  We’ve improved our ability to grow. We’ve empowered our people to provide exceptional service in an area where we often felt our hands were tied.

In the process of creating the Avalara for QuoteWerks solution, Greystone has become something of an expert on sales tax compliance.  If sales tax is a pain for you and your business, we should have a conversation.  We have a solution to that problem.  Take a minute to explore ConnectTax and contact us if it makes sense for your business.

If you have other business challenges, give us a call.  We want to understand them and explore whether Greystone can make an app for that.