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How data drives growth for my firm and my clients

Posted 3 years ago in Advisors by Erin Smith
Posted by Erin Smith

Mark Lawry is a director of Suntax, a Xero gold partner and data-driven accounting firm with offices in Sunbury and Melbourne. Their mission? To embrace the cloud accounting revolution.

Suntax was founded by my father, John Lawry, in 1989 and now services over 8,000 clients, has 30 staff and three partners. The business has always been an early adopter of technology and we were one of the rst accounting firms to embrace electronic lodgement of tax returns using ‘portable computers’ that weighed as much as a small elephant!

Considering the cloud

With the advent of cloud accounting, in June 2012 we quickly realised the efficiencies and benefits that Xero could provide to us, but more importantly to our business clients. That was the light-bulb moment when we knew that the benefits of the single ledger were going to transform our accounting world. We could see that the change was going to be momentous and disruptive, but we viewed it as an amazing opportunity to improve our efficiency, have total clarity over our clients’ numbers, and open up immense advisory opportunities.

Making the leap

So we took the leap and have never looked back. We are now 100% cloud based. This year will be the second year running where we have excess capacity in April, May and June – which is the direct result of the efficiencies Xero has brought us. We now use this time to proactively meet with clients in an advisory capacity.

Using data to drive our practice

Data has always driven our advice to our clients. Annually we benchmark our business clients against all of their competitors. This sheds an amazing amount of light on their results and it can help indicate if their selling prices are too low or their buying prices are too high. We can report on the efficiency of their team and whether they’re overspending compared to their peers. This data analysis leads to much deeper advisory work with our clients.

Letting analysis do the heavy lifting

One of the more memorable conversations we’ve had with a client was after benchmarking his electrical business against his competitors. This analysis clearly showed that his profit margin was too low and our discussion gave him real data to bolster his trust in himself and increase his pricing. He now makes tens of thousands more profit each year.

Relaying real-time information to clients

With the advent of Xero Small Business Insights, we now overlay this data on what we know about a business’s performance to have richer and deeper conversations with them. Xero Small Business Insights is essentially a current view of the state of the economy – from cash flow, employment, and overseas trading to Australian business payment terms. We use this data to guide businesses and enable them to keep themselves accountable as to their own numbers.

The whole business, at a glance

Data helps clients build better businesses. We customise every Xero clients’ dashboard to provide them with a real-time snapshot of their business. We ensure they add GST payable, superannuation payable, PAYG withholding payable and wages payable to their dashboard watchlist. Then at one glance, they know everything they need to know about their business before making any decisions about investing, paying dividends or spending money on plant and equipment. This dashboard is gold, and is what CEOs were paying software companies multimillions for only 10 years ago.

As someone who has experienced the benefits, if you’re interested in moving to Xero, I say take the leap and you won’t look back.

Mark’s tops tips for setting up Xero clients

Add the following accounts to the Xero Dashboard Watchlist:

  1. GST payable
  2. PAYG payable
  3. Superannuation payable
  4. Wages payable.

Mark’s story is taken from the new issue of Partner Pages – a magazine of beautifully curated content, written by partners, for partners and distributed at the Roadshow Australia 2018.


One comment

Michael Davis
March 6, 2018 at 8.13 am

I think the idea of cloud accounting is so revolutionary in a way that it makes some afraid to try it. Because you weren’t afraid to take that leap faith, your company has prospered tremendously. The idea of cloud accounting is still relatively new. However, as more firms learn more about this new system of not doing business as usual, they too can experience the growth that your company has also.

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