Who cracks the whip…

…in your business?

You, a colleague, your accountant, a business advisor?

Who keeps a watching eye on and controls cost                                                            At all times, especially now when things are tight its vital to manage costs closely. Micro managing can be incredibly time-consuming and time spent can reduce costs but does it have a detrimental impact on another area of the business which has been neglected?

Who decides when to ditch loss making customers/business?                       “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity…and cash reality”. Yes we all want to grow our business and hate it when turnover decreases as this is a macho measure of business performance. In the cold light of day though its cash in the bank which is a far better indicator of how financially robust your business is.

Yes you need sales, but without profit and cash there’s no point. So review you sales, perhaps client by client, apportion costs and see who is under performing.

Who decides when to increase prices                                                                             “Increase prices are you mad”! Ok, well sometimes it’s not a good idea, but if you have a client which is loss making you need to either increase prices, reduce cost or lose the client.

For many business owners working at the coal face it’s often difficult to take a step back and analyse, interpret, comment and make decisions based on financial performance detailed in a meaningful set of management accounts.

Rather than spend money on recruiting an in-house accountant, using a business consultant or trying to do it yourself, why not ask your accountant to do it.

What does your accountant do?                                                                                       How about asking your accountant to produce a quarterly report and perhaps present it at a quarterly management meeting. The fees should be relatively low and hopefully will pay for itself by generating meaningful information which is used to help make better business decisions and increases profitability and improves cash flow.

After all your accountant is supposed to be your “trusted business advisor”.

Slave driver?                                                                                                                                      So, armed with up to date and relevant business information you can be the one who doesn’t just crack the whip, but drives the business forward.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is how you do it!

Not a singing accountant!

Don’t worry I’m not about to break into song. What I mean is as an accountant how do you help your clients?

How an accountant can help his clients

So what’s the answer, how does a great accountant help his clients?

File accounts and tax returns on time?

Help them pay less tax?

Help them keep more of the profit they earn?

Yes to all of the above, but that’s not enough, a modern accountant should be doing much more to help his clients. You should be helping them to get more sales and find better suppliers.

The salesman accountant

An accountant is in the perfect position to refer work between his clients. For example a property developer may need an architect, the architect  may need a builder, the builder may need to lease a new vehicle and so on.

The listening accountant

It’s not difficult all you need to do is listen. Ask your clients how business is going and listen to the response. There will be times every week when you as an accountant can refer one client to another, just by listening to what they say to you.

The business building accountant

Recently I’ve referred £15,000 of business from one client who was looking to outsource part of his administration, to another who could do just that.

Another needed to renew his fleet of 20 commercial vehicles. I referred him to another client was able to source the vehicles he needed.

Another in the catering trade was looking for a new local supplier, I got him talking to another client who did just what he was looking for.

The networking accountant

There’s no format structure to this, just a case of taking an interest in what you client does and listening to what he says. After all you speak to dozens of businesses on a regular basis its common sense that some of them should be speaking to each other.

So you just need to get them talking, easy eh?

That’s how you do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!

Christmas already!

No, you’re quite right we’re nowhere near Christmas, it not even the middle of November so put those decorations and that tree back in the loft.

This is an accountancy blog

You’re quite right.

Ok, but there is a serious point here. Most people (if they’re lucky) only get to see Father Christmas once a year, the same thing can be said of a lot of people’s accountant. They pitch up once a year to run through the accounts and have a brief discussion on how business is going and that’s it until next year.

I don’t see my accountant

Many accountants request information which is then posted to them, they post accountants back for signing and file the accounts when they’re returned signed, no physical contact required. Great service eh?

No, it’s crap.

I see my accountant every day

Ok this would be a bit extreme and I would suggest you or he/she may have a problem if this is the case. You should however have the type of relationship with your accountant where you feel as though you could call him or her everyday and they’d be happy to hear from you.

How much will that cost?

It shouldn’t cost anything, provided its a quick chat or exchange of e-mails that doesn’t require too much additional work. This type of service should be factored in to the fixed rate fee structure you have agreed with your accountant and pay for in monthly instalments.

That way you’ll be happy as you’re getting the service you want and your accountant should be happy as they’re getting paid every month.

What, your accountant doesn’t offer fixed fees?!

Well they should, if you know the type of service you need and they are happy to provide it, get them to quote a fixed fee and pay for it monthly. This way if there are any issues affecting you or the business they can be dealt with promptly.

Keep in touch with your accountant throughout the year

All too often businesses get into financial difficulty in the middle of the financial year and the accountant doesn’t find out until after the year end when they produce the accounts. By this time its often too late.

So agree fix fees and stay in touch!

Merry Christmas!

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The best accountant in the world.

I’m the best accountant in the world!

No, not me bit of a bold claim for anyone to make.

It would be nice to just be the best accountant in Kent.

But then again how to you measure the best of something? In a race that’s easy, the first across the line. With a service its different, it depends on what you want.

Who is the best accountant?

What about an industry like accountancy, how do you measure the best accountant?

Customer feedback is vital; everyone knows that customer referrals are one of the best and most cost effective ways of attracting new clients and generating extra business. So client recommendation is a great way of finding out who is a good accountant. Speak to your friends, suppliers, customers, what do they think of their accountant.

Do you like your accountant?

In a service sector like accountancy it’s the personal interaction which is vital, “people buy from people”. Most people can usually tell within a few moments of meeting someone whether they instinctively like or dislike them.

If you have a relationship that you are comfortable with on a personal and professional level it should work well for your business.

My accountant never returns my calls or e-mails.

How many people do you know who say “I can never get hold of my accountant”? With e-mail and smart phones there should never be an excuse for not responding to a client e-mail or phone message, even if it’s to say you’ll be in touch later, the next day or when you return from holiday.

Again, get the service that you deserve.

The best accountant is…

The one who delivers the service you want in a friendly, approachable and professional manner. Someone who you should never feel uncomfortable about contacting.

So after reading this you think you want to find a better accountant, have a look for one who will deliver the service you want at a price you are happy to pay.

That will make them the best accountant for you and your business.

 

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Do you deserve a monkey?

I’m pretty clear on how I aim to help my clients, the main targets being to increase profit, improve cash flow and pay less tax.

These aims are not always mutually exclusive and will not all have equal importance with every client. That’s why it’s really important to know your client and understand them and their business.

This can’t be achieved by just turning up once a year with accounts to sign off and have a brief chat about how the business is performing. This is the minimum you should expect…NO…WAIT…this is far LESS than you DESERVE!

Your accountant should be your trusted advisor and should do far more than just file accounts and tax returns on time.

If your accountant helped you keep more of the profits you earned, reduced your tax bill and improved your cash flow, would you be prepared to pay a little bit more for that service?

Of course you would, which is why if you pay peanuts you will get a monkey. So it makes sense to look at the offering (keep more profit, pay less tax, improve cash flow) and how it will be delivered (regular meetings, conversations and e-mail support and advice) and use that to form the basis of deciding what type of accountant you want.

It needn’t cost a king’s ransom, but be prepared to pay a little more and you should get the level of serve you and your business deserve.

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Feeling low? Here’s some encouragement…

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

When I first heard the Steve Jobs Harvard speech it had a profound impact on me and I’m drawd back to it every now and then.

This section in particular should be used to encourage all those who are feeling low, living in the shadow of someone or something and meandering through life.

Perhaps you’re thinking about starting you own business? If so, get your plan in place, get good trusted advisors on board to support you and go for it.

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Get the service you deserve

I haven’t had the time to post as much as I would like recently. I’ve been very busy taking on new clients and recruiting new staff which is great.

I’m in the fortunate position of not having to advertise to find new clients. I get a steady flow of referrals from happy customers and from my professional network who I keep in touch with on a regular basis.

I’m always amazed at the number of business who are getting very poor advice and support from their accountant, often at inflated prices.

The best advice, is often the most straight forward and easy to understand. This could be changing your vat scheme to a flat rate or cash accounting scheme which can for many businesses have a huge positive impact on their cash flow and reduce their administrative workload.

You could be a new start business using personal assets to start your business. Have you made sure that the computer, printer, phone, office furniture that you bought personally and use in your office have been transferred to your business at a fair price?

Not only will you get the cash paid back to you, tax free, but the business can also claim the cost as 100% tax deductible business expenditure in the first year of trading.

What about a sole trader with a £1million turnover profitable business, employing five staff. They should have been advised to change to a limited company years ago; they would have saved thousands of pounds in tax and reduced their personal liability.

Just remember, wherever you are, if you’re not happy with the service you’re getting from your accountant, there’s another one ready to provide you with the service you deserve.

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