Intro to part six: When Charles Klvana, founder of Eye on Books, offered to lend his perspective on his journey towards achieving platinum partner status, we jumped at the chance.
In this ten-part series, Charles takes us all down memory lane and throws in some great advice for potential partners looking to follow in similar footsteps.
In part six of this series, the needs of clients are changing as Xero makes its presence felt – and Charles is quick to adapt to the opportunities this brings.
Date: April 2013
Client count: 110 clients on Xero
Xero not Xerox
By now, the word was getting around the business community about Xero. Before this, we had to explain to new business owners the concept of ‘cloud accounting’ and what it meant.
We had to say (repeatedly) that ‘Xero’ had nothing to do with Xerox but was instead a New Zealand company that provided beautiful accounting software that was so much easier to use than MYOB and solved all their issues. It helped us help them so much better. And at the end of the day, that was most important.
We even ran information sessions at the local business incubation centre on ‘cloud accounting’. We charged $75 for a two-hour information session and explained a lot about what was happening in the space. This positioned us as the experts in cloud accounting, and we gained several new clients and set them up in Xero. Most of them are still our clients today.
Cloud Accounting shifted clients
But we also started to see a shift in the services our clients needed from us. Traditionally we did everything for clients. So much so that, apart from reports on their business, clients often had little to do with their financial accounts. But the advent of Xero meant these clients wanted more control and, what’s more, they looked at their reports more often.
This meant they cared a lot more about how we entered transactions. It was no longer good enough to simply put all rent and outgoings to rent. They wanted it separated to give more meaningful insights. They were more involved in their businesses, and it meant we needed to be more exact in their financial data.
Plus, a new type of client came into the mix. The client that did everything themselves but still wanted us, as the expert, to review what they’d done once a month/quarter and prepare their BAS for them. We quickly had to adapt and review how to look after these business owners.
We needed to support them with their Xero work but only review them at quarter end. So we developed new checklists and a new value pricing scheme to look after these guys. This gave the business owners the power to save money on bookkeeping but still have the peace of mind that everything was correct.
Around then we got our first large business wanting to convert to Xero. They didn’t want ongoing bookkeeping work, just conversion to Xero. I thought I was clever and ramped up our hourly rate to $100/hr for the conversion.
It took me four hours to convert them. Yep, that’s all. With training, their total investment was around $600.
This was for a multi-million turnover business. They got the deal of a century! For them, implementing other software took in the realm of $5,000 or more. We were encountering the concept of a value-based conversion investment.
So we needed to look at how we evaluated our Xero conversions, especially when there was no further bookkeeping work to come, which was a new concept as well. Before that, Xero conversions were for existing clients, and we were guaranteed further work. Here was new challenge to overcome to better help our clients.
A Day in The Life of an Online Bookkeeper
The next milestone came soon after, in August 2013, when we were made Xerocon ‘partner of the year’! With 160 clients on Xero we couldn’t believe how far we had all come from that fateful chat with our first Xero client over that double scotch and coke.
In the lead up to Xerocon, I was approached to present a 45-minute slot at Xerocon – ‘A Day in The Life of an Online Bookkeeper’. I resolved that I would give valuable information to potential bookkeepers. Although we weren’t 100 per cent in the cloud with all clients, I had put together the path that took us up to this point in our business lifecycle.
Before the speech I was incredibly nervous and practiced relentlessly. The key to my ‘great’ presentation? Some Eminem to ramp me up and get me in the zone two-minutes prior to the session! It worked.
It was also just before that Xerocon that I received a phone call from Wayne, a man I had seen as a mentor. He let me know he’d made the sad decision to resign from Xero. I was floored, and a little bit lost. I wondered what the future held.
On the upside, I got that invitation to the gold partner-only lunch with Rod Drury. I made that goal happen, and that was important.
Partner of the Year
In 2013, Xerocon was held at the old railway yards in Sydney. I thought the contrast between old technology vs. the new cloud accounting technology was fantastic. I pointed it out to Chris Ridd and told him he should mention it in his keynote the following day. We even made a bet that it was so obvious a connection that he’d mention it.
I lost that bet for some reason! You win some, you lose some.
At the end of the second night was the gala at the Sydney casino. During the awards part of the ceremony, I was certain that the bookkeeping partner award would go to a number of bookkeepers above us on the ‘partner ladder.’
I was completely blown away when Eye on Books was named as ‘Bookkeeping Partner of the Year’. I joked on stage that Chris owed me the bet I lost on his keynote address. He seemed to deny any knowledge of it…
Even more touching was the hand-written thank you note I received from Chris after Xerocon, thanking me for my time and effort in presenting my session at Xerocon. It still holds pride of place on my bookcase in the office.
Stay tuned for next week’s instalment: Freeing up my time.
Click here to read last week’s article.