Intro to part seven: 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. He gives some great advice for potential partners looking to follow in similar footsteps.
In part seven of this series, Eye on Books is growing its staff cohort and offering tailored bookkeeping as the number of clients on Xero continues to rise.
Date: April 2014
Client count: 210 clients on Xero
The advantage of being a Xero Expert
Xero was growing from strength to strength, and so were we, with two more staff members on board.
By this stage, business owners were approaching us already wanting Xero. No longer did we need to sell the advantages of ‘the cloud’ and explain what the cloud was. Instead businesses were seeking us out as the Xero experts.
Xero now released statement lodgements straight to the ATO through Workflowmax, closing the loop for us. Now our own team members could take care of all the BAS/IAS lodgements, without needing the ATO portal or ECI, which was what we had used previously.
Finally, I could start letting go of some of the responsibilities and allow my staff to lodge their own clients’ IASs as required. However, we continued with one crucial concept at Eye on Books — that every BAS was also reviewed by a staff member other than the one who did most the work. This review process ensured that our clients had the most accurate/precise set of accounts.
A bespoke, tailored bookkeeping service
Of greater note, at this time, the accounting partner of the year before opened a bookkeeping arm, Zerobooks. It emphasized systemised, commoditised bookkeeping services for small business owners and promoted these somewhat directly to accounting firms. I read with interest an interview with the founder, Greg Tuckwell, in which he conceded that there would always be a need for a more tailored bookkeeping service, which was not what Zerobooks was about.
I made the conscious decision that this would be the Eye on Books point of difference. We would offer a bespoke, tailored bookkeeping service to clients. The service would not be provided by an outsourced labour force, but we would develop our own local staff to further their skills. A service where business owners could phone or have a coffee with the bookkeeper actually doing their work. The greatest point of customer service? The fact you speak with an actual person!
I put into place systems within our practice to ensure customer service was our greatest point. We ensured clients got the best service, the way they wanted. Everything from their financial accounts to their bookkeeping was delivered by us in a friendly, efficient and professional manner. All done with a process that suited them best, not what suited us best.
Making an impact with XPAC
Around September 2014, with 240 clients now on Xero and one more staff member in our team, we put eWay in place. Now, clients were able to pay via credit card, and this fed automatically into our Xero accounts. This add-on was exciting because it could make clients’ lives easier at a fraction of the cost of traditional bank merchant facilities.
This was also the advent of the Xero Partner Advisory Council (XPAC). I was awed to be in the presence of such Xero partners as Steph Hinds, Paul Meissner and others. I also met a gung-ho bookkeeper insistent on helping other bookkeepers grow, Mel Powers. During the short XPAC meetings, she pushed hard on, “What do you want us to ask partners? How do we give Xero the feedback from these partners?”
I remember wondering who this person was, and why she cared so much. Time would show her to be a passionate believer in the bookkeeping industry worldwide.
This time at Xerocon I was on-stage as part of a panel about looking after your staff and building a team. One of the other partners on the panel mentioned what a turning point it was for her to hear me speak the year prior.
I was amazed that my nervous, humble talk the year prior had made such an impact!
Stay tuned for next week’s instalment: Going for gold!
Click here to read last week’s article.