“I always think of Xero as being really simple to use — like a streamlined piece of Japanese furniture. A functional, plain cabinet,” Anton Gerner says, when comparing his experience of Xero to the furniture he crafts from his Melbourne-based workshop at Anton Gerner Furniture.
For the past 27 years, Anton has worked from this productive workshop with a small team to design and create one-off pieces of high-end furniture for clients. “We’re basically creating heirloom pieces,” he says.
While Anton’s pieces are highly valuable and frequently feature in exhibitions, the award-winning designer’s start was surprisingly modest. “I just enjoyed doing woodwork at school. So I worked with a few furniture makers, and then went out on my own with no formal apprenticeship.”
“I couldn’t work for anyone and I needed to be in charge,” he says, reflecting on why he set out on his own. “But I wouldn’t want to go back to the start — I made lots of mistakes and had to learn from there.”
An early adopter in Australia
Like most business owners, Anton wants to spend as many hours as possible doing what he loves. This is what convinced him to switch to Xero in the first place, as one of Xero Australia’s earliest adopters, back in April 2010.
“I was using another accounting platform and it was taking up so much of my time,” he says.
“So I started looking around to see what was available. When I saw Xero, it just looked really good on the screen. From the first time I used it, it was so simple and easy. Very quickly I could see that it would save me a lot of time.”
In particular, the bank feeds caught Anton’s eye, which was a game changer at the time.
“Straight away I could see the value of the bank feeds,” he says. “I was so impressed by everything. It was instant. Even then, I thought, ‘This product is going to be huge’.”
The little differences that add up
Over the years, Anton has seen his early vision realised, but it’s the day-to-day benefits that he values. “Xero easily saves me at least three to four hours a week and has done since the start. Over the years I’ve watched Xero change, and every little thing about Xero has improved,” he says.
One tangible benefit Xero has delivered over the years is cash flow. “Take the online invoices for example,” he says. “I reckon 80% of customers pay instantly because of that feature.”
“By far the biggest benefit of Xero over the years is that I get paid faster — much faster. This has hugely benefited our cash flow. That’s probably the biggest change for me since signing up all those years ago,” he says.
Before and after
It may be difficult for Xero’s 1 million customers to imagine life before the cloud came along, but Anton still remembers it clearly — and he winces.
“Before Xero came along, we used to have to send the MYOB file on CD to our accountant. And then we had to wait to physically get it back before any changes came into effect.”
“Now our accountant just goes online and does our BAS without me needing to get involved. And the add-ons help us to generate particular reports as well, which is just great.”
Anton refers to Xero’s proactiveness as being one of the key standouts. “Xero are always out there doing things — they’re constantly out and about and have always been very proactive, right from the start.”
“I always see Xero – it’s always on my radar. This proactive approach is something I really associate with Xero – and I have done from the very start.”