From XU Magazine, 
Issue 17

I wish someone told me... Top tips from accountants and bookkeepers across the globe

Xerocon is always a fantastic chance to connect with other accountants and bookkeepers, catch up with friends, both old and new, and share industry insights. Often, it’s the conversations that are had whilst waiting for keynotes or in the line for lunch that are the most valuable. That’s why we decided to draw on our community of over 6,000 accounting and bookkeeping firms from across the world for their insights...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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These are the bits of advice they wish they’d heard in the queue, and the recommendations they want to pass on. From a creative accounting firm based in Covent Garden to a forward-thinking practice in South Africa, here are the inside tips to accelerate your growth and stand out from the firm across the street.

Clients want a year round-relationship


Jonathan Bareham is the director and co-founder of Raedan, a Cloud accounting firm for creatives based in Covent Garden. Since 2010, Raedan have gone from strength to strength with Cloud accounting, putting all of their clients on Xero and Receipt Bank as part of their onboarding. For Jonathan, “technology provides the tools we need to realise human aspiration”.

At Raedan, Jonathan uses automation to free up time for his team to have more conversations with clients. His recommendation for other practices is to move from providing a once-a-year service through tax returns to providing advisory services throughout the year.

Questions like ‘Do I have enough money?’ are what clients really value, and is partly how Raedan have tripled their average client fees in 3 years. Their increase in revenue ( just under 400% over 4 years) is rooted in the additional value they provide.

Raedan’s core values are compassion, clarity, automation and efficiency. Moving forward, Jonathan is looking to spend more time advising, not just his existing clients but also potential new ones. “We want to keep the human element at the centre of our offering, and help as many people as we can to be creative and grow their business”.

Don’t be afraid to be the expert


In Cape Town, South Africa, Simon Magner of Iridium Business Solutions approaches accounting a little differently. Passionate about helping owners of small business grow through strategic decision-making, Simon has been an advocate of Cloud-based accounting for years.

As a Xero Gold Practice, Simon recommends rolling out Xero and Receipt Bank for all your clients with no debate. “Tell them, ‘This is the solution we’re using and we’re going to show you how to implement it to make things better’.”  For Simon, this systemised approach and increase in efficiency doubled their yearly revenue.

What’s more, Simon uses the package of Xero and Receipt Bank to help close sales. “A potential client came to the office. We had been working on him for a while but he kept pushing back on not wanting pay more for services. After showing him Receipt Bank, half an hour later he was signed up. We actually won a client off of having Receipt Bank.”

“Often, new clients talk to us because we’re a Xero firm. When we talk, it’s not a guaranteed deal. We find the package of Xero and Receipt Bank is great for closing.” - Simon Magner, Iridium Business Solutions, South Africa

Sell yourself not on the ‘what’, but the ‘why’


You probably didn’t get into practice to be a salesman, which is why so many accountants struggle with selling. The good news is, if you know what your clients really value, then you don’t have to. Find what matters to your clients. Then, show that.

Joe Montgomery is a Partner at Montgomery & Company who does exactly this. Joe’s aim is to build not only a world-class accounting firm but also a world-class business. His advice when pitching new clients? Don’t just sell Receipt Bank or your service for what it is. Instead, talk about what a paperless life looks like. Take people out to lunch, take a photo of the receipt, then crumple it up and throw it away. Sell audit defence, employee accountability, no more manual data entry and seamless integration with your accounting.

Joe also recommends going to your client’s office from day one and spend time training them on Xero. It’s important to make that investment in time and energy upfront to avoid disengagement or disinterest.

Look for the story behind the numbers


Meanwhile in Australia, founder and director of All That Counts, Lielette Calleja, uses Receipt Bank and Xero to make her services more competitive and proactive. By having all of her clients’ documents in one place, she can offer real-time bookkeeping and identify patterns in her clients’ finances.

When one of her clients submit an expense, Lielette views it, then follows up with questions. For instance, if a vehicle purchase is financed versus a cash purchase, she will handle each one accordingly. Plus, she spends time coaching business owners’ psychology on fostering good habits. Much of a business’s success is created in the day-to-day: the repetition of strong processes. Lielette recommends looking into how you change your clients’ habits for the better.

Make your clients a part of the process


Zakaria Tadlaoui is the co-founder of Cabinet Exau. Zakaria and his co-founder were both young fathers when they started the company. Their time was precious. That’s why they began exploring the latest in automated technologies to free up their time while continuing to grow and add value for their clients.

70% of their clients now use mobile apps to record their documents, such as receipts and invoices. This digitisation and enhanced efficiency has enabled Zakaria to build a fantastic work/life balance for his firm. He can switch off at 5pm, and take his family on holiday in April. This is something unheard of for the accounting industry during France’s tax season.

His advice is to involve your clients in the digitisation. The Receipt Bank app, for instance, is free to download and means your clients can capture documents on the go, rather than storing receipts in a glovebox and sending them to you at the year-end.

Receipt Bank is the world’s leading pre-accounting tool. We connect accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses across the world, digitising receipts and invoices to track, process and manage financial data in real-time. So you can work smarter, grow faster, and go further.

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