Meet the Difference Makers: Melissa Cottrill, CPA

Client Relationships Melissa_Cottrill

It’s not often that a tax professional agrees to accept a few children’s toys as a form of payment. But, Melissa Cottrill is not your everyday tax professional.

Melissa’s story of helping a visually impaired client keep his retail store dreams alive was one of the grand prize winning entries in the Meet the Difference Makers Contest in 2015.

“I was visiting a client who told me about a bookstore owner who was struggling,” recalls Melissa. “He was frustrated with his impaired eyesight. I said that I would do whatever I could to help him.”

First, Melissa learned how to put barcodes on books so that her new client could get his inventory accounted for.

“I ordered the QuickBooks® Enterprise POS with a scanner,” she says. “Together, we cataloged his entire book collection.”

Later, when the client moved to another location to open a toy store, Melissa helped him import his information and create email lists. To understand and facilitate the client’s special needs, she worked directly with the Ohio Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired.

“With an enlarged monitor and instruction sheets prepared by me in extra-large type, he was able to operate his store.”

Once up and running, the client called Melissa for help with his taxes. This was after his toy business failed and he was struggling to close the business.

“He wanted to pay me, but I couldn’t accept. I said, ‘How about you pay me with toys?’ I got two puzzles for my niece.”

A full-time tax professional for the past eight years, Melissa works on her own with a mix of business and individual clients, providing services that include payroll, bookkeeping, quarterly tax reviews, full service accounting, QuickBooks on-site training and tax preparation.

As a naturally helpful person, Melissa had several client stories from which to choose from, when submitting to the Meet the Difference Makers Contest, including one in which she assisted a disabled person.

“She’s still struggling but her story isn’t finished,” Melissa says. “I care about my clients. I didn’t think I was doing anything special. I just like to help people. Mentors have taken time for me. You never know if you’re going to be that one person who will make a difference in a person’s life.”

To nurture the 40 to 50 client relationships in her practice, Melissa chooses ProConnect™ Tax Online and Lacerte®, citing their price and functionality.

“I think the pricing for Intuit Tax Online is great compared to other products, which means I can be more competitive with my pricing,” she explains. “And, Lacerte allows you to export K1, which is the best part about it in my opinion.”

“I like to research the law and help people with compliance,” adds Melissa. “I like to look for any break I can give them, so they can put money into their business to grow their business.”

The difference that Melissa made for her visually impaired client – and her own grand prize win – are examples of how, with a little determination, dreams can come true. Melissa looks forward to fulfilling one of her own aspirations when she travels to San Jose for QuickBooks Connect.

“Honestly, I’m a small town girl,” she says. “I’m a bit shocked that I won but it makes me feel good. I’ve never been to the west coast before. I cannot wait to get to California.”