West Country accountants and business advisors Old Mill has proven the power of cloud accounting, this year winning the Xero UK Award for Emerging Partner of the Year as well as becoming Xero Platinum Partner.
When Old Mill saw the benefits adopting cloud accounting could generate for their clients, they quickly realised they needed to embark upon an ambitious plan to expand in this area. That’s why two years ago the firm decided Xero was the way forward and set on its mission to move more than 500 of its spreadsheet and shoebox clients over to the cloud accounting software.
Now joining a coveted list of Xero Platinum Partners, owner of Old Mill’s ‘Xero Cloud Accounting Project’ Stacey Morrison shares how the ‘beautiful accountancy’ approach has made an impact on the firm and its clients.
“When we were first looking into Xero, we began approaching clients to see if they’d be keen to trial Xero with us. Many of our clients came from a spreadsheet background, a lot of them coming to us with bags of receipts to input manually. Those were the businesses we targeted when we first started trialing Xero. Many were keen to try something new, so they came along on the journey with us – that’s how we got the ball rolling.”
Two years later, clients are now approaching Old Mill on the hunt for a better way of managing their finances. “Things have really shifted over the last six months. Clients are more aware, more tech savvy, and wanting to run their businesses more efficiently. They’ve heard of cloud accounting and Xero, and they now come to us to find out what it could do for them,” she says.
It was the rapid adoption and commitment to growing with Xero that saw Old Mill being awarded Emerging Partner of the Year at Xerocon London. The firm signed on their first client in June 2014, hit Bronze by September 2014 and were at Gold before Christmas 2015. Now in March 2016, they’re at Platinum and don’t plan on stopping there.
“We’re at the point now where it’s going to shoot off and grow immensely. Not only are we getting our spreadsheet clients to maintain their own records on Xero, we’re also using the product internally for our smaller clients by making the most of Xero Ledgers.”
“In our experience, people are often either nervous of, or don’t see the need for, change. They want to carry on exactly as they’ve always been. It can be hard getting people to understand the benefits in the first place, but once our clients get on Xero, we hear lots of them saying they’d never look back, that it’s been so worthwhile.”
For many of the firm’s clients who’ve been using Xero for a full year now, Old Mill will be looking at how Xero’s add-on marketplace can take those clients to the next level.
“We’ll also be using those add-ons to build out more of a service package and extending that out to our clients.”
Improved client relationships
Stacey says the biggest impact has been how proactive the firm’s advisors can now be with their clients.
“Using Xero has given our clients a different way of running and managing their business. For a lot of small business owners, accounting can sometimes feel like a drain on their time. Xero means they gain time and increase efficiency – they spend less time raising invoices and chasing customers for payment so they can spend more time making better business decisions and doing what they love,” Stacey says.
Stacey says her clients love being able to get into Xero quickly and show her exactly what they want her to see.
“Being able to access the same information at the same time is amazing. Communications and relationships are huge, and Xero has really helped. It also makes it much easier for us to provide our clients with the business advice they really value.”
The challenges of selling the cloud internally
“In a firm of more than 250 staff, persuading people to see a different way of working could have been a difficult change. However, once they had a chance to see Xero – attending events like the Xero Roadshows – many of my colleagues quickly grasped the benefits that it could bring to our clients and began to champion the software for us. For them, the way forward was very clear.”
Stacey has now identified a group of Old Mill advisors who will continue to drive Xero uptake internally and focus on onboarding and training the firm’s Xero clients.
Stacey Morrison has been with Old Mill since 2006. She led the firm’s implementation of Xero cloud accounting software and was pivotal in Old Mill’s progression to Platinum Partner. Stacey specialises in financial technology, particularly cloud accounting and how businesses can use it to improve their efficiency and agility.
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