Author: Alec Pontbriand, BSU student
Scappini & Pina is small accounting office in Norwell on the corner of Washington and Oak Street. People often see the services CPAs provide as relatively interchangeable. Norwell and the surrounding area have a very different opinion on the matter.
Leonetta Scappini, (a Hingham native, originally from Rockland) and Emily Pina (a Hanson native) have set their business apart in the few short years since Leo first opened the doors after leaving the firm the pair had worked at together for 10 years prior.
When asked about when the time came they knew starting this business was the right move, Leo responded “when did we know? We didn’t. We just knew that we wanted to leave the other firm.” Both young mothers, the rigidity of working at the other company made it difficult to juggle family and work. Despite the uncertainty of going out on her own, Leonetta signed the lease to open the office.
Starting out was obviously not without trials and tribulations, from “figuring out what software to buy and how to load it onto a computer,” then “as we grew figuring out how to allow our employees to access the files and to be able to share them securely” there were a lot of “nuts and bolts” to figure out. After a little over a year Leo was joined by Emily and Scappini & Pina was formed.
“Then we got sued by our former employers…” Leo mentioned matter-of-factly, further explaining “a bunch of clients found out that we had left and then moved over here,” and the other, much larger, company “found out the clients were leaving to come to us and they sued us.” Despite the legal fees that accompany the legal action, Scappini & Pina continues to thrive even though “that took three years to resolve.”
Scappini & Pina’s presence has been felt in the marketplace, as clearly evidenced not only by its negative attention in the form of litigation, but also in the form of positive attention evidenced by its social media presence which drives new sales. Emily explains, “we never in a million years thought Facebook would be a way that we would get business. It’s not anything we actively do on Facebook. People go on the local pages and say ‘CPA’ and all of our clients go on there and recommend us.”
It’s this word of mouth that drives new business. “Existing customers and word of mouth are the main way we bring in customers,” Leo explains.
Emily continues, “A client came in who had seen us on ‘Hingham Pinboard’ and ‘Norwell Social’” who had mentioned that when “someone asks for a contractor, you get 15 different answers and if they ask for a CPA, you are the answer from 15 different people.”
The main reason people are so staunchly supportive to their friends and on social media? According to Emily: “Client relations. We have a good relationship with many, many of our clients. Part of our problem saying no is that we go above and beyond. Obviously, our kids still do come first but we respond to emails at 10:30 at night… We get feedback all the time…’Oh my God thank you for calling me back.’ We do try to go above and beyond.”
Since being able to support, achieve, and maintain a positive work-life balance was a major goal in starting the business, it is no surprise the office at Scappini & Pina is an extremely kid-friendly place. When asked if this is perceived by clients as a good thing, Leo responds “Yes, if the clients need to bring their kids with them to the meeting we make it more convenient by having a kids’ room.” And sometimes “No, in the sense that someone doesn’t understand when we need to reschedule or get delayed by family.”
Having worked out the kinks in the beginning, Scappini & Pina has been able “really take advantage of [Internet Technology]. We have cloud-based systems so we can work remotely anywhere which is key for us with the work-life balance.”
With increased business comes more work. One of the hardest challenges Scappini & Pina faces today is finding good people help shoulder the weight of supporting a thriving business. Leo says, “finding good help has been a tough road. You can tell pretty quickly if someone is going to work out. Then again, we don’t know how to say no to people. You end up spending a lot of time training people who don’t work out and it’s costly.”
Business has been booming, if anything a little too much. Recently the company has had better luck hiring, employing both local professionals from the community they serve as well as students eager to learn. In the future Emily has a goal of improving on the “work-life balance. We said yes to all these things and we’re thinking of scaling back on the audit side of it to try to give us our balance back. We like the tax and that work keeps coming so continue to develop that.”