This small UK bookkeeping practice knew that embracing management accounting services like forecasting would help their clients. They needed a tool that could give their clients a granular view of their data and what their cash position was. The firm needed to take the next steps into advisory and needed a trusted tool that could help them achieve their goals for their clients. Advisory and management accounting services can be tricky to price too, so that was a worry for the firm.
KPI dashboards in Futrli have helped Fresh Financials to monitor each part of each client’s business. They’ve been using scenario modelling to bring the figures to life for clients. Business owners now have more visibility over what’s happening under the hood of their businesses. Their client relationships have improved considerably since embracing Futrli, as the conversations can be based on what’s important to the clients.
Better visualisation means clients are more satisfied. Quicker forecasting and reporting capabilities mean the firm can take on more clients. These new services have also meant for an increase in revenue with a transformed into a fixed price, including subscription charges, so nothing will be added on top. The firm knows exactly how much is coming in from each client per month, which also helps the clients budget. Additionally, the firm is providing training for other accounting professionals, showing the value in selecting the right software.
Interview in full
“Because we’re not spending much time getting the information into Xero, we’ve got the time to spend with our clients and do more in-depth processes. We’ll sit and have a chat, discuss things and look at the data together. It’s much more fun!”
Has Futrli helped you grow Fresh Financials?
Definitely! Introducing our clients to Futrli shows them why we work in the way we do. Being able to show them all of these beautiful cards, the cash flow forecasting, and all the rest of it, makes clients realise how good this way of working is. It means that the level of service we offer is so much higher.
How do your clients feel about advisory services and the cloud?
I got my existing clients excited about the cloud because I offered to do it for free! I was still learning it all, so I said I would move them all onto this great new system and if they didn’t like it, I’d move them back – and nobody wanted to be moved back! Now every client works in the same way, so we’re able to offer the same service to everybody and our clients are very broad. Generally, it’s about how they want their accounts to work not what they do.
The other thing that is a real game changer for clients used to doing Excel cash flow forecasting is not having to go in and update the actuals. I would say it’s probably a case of a couple of hours work maximum, as opposed to a whole day’s work.
Has this allowed you to adjust your fees?
Definitely. We charge a fixed price, that includes all of the subscription charges and similar so we don’t have to add anything on top. It’s based on how big the client is and what their transaction level is – but then included in that we say there will be advisory services which will help you understand the numbers. Clients need to know not just how to create them, but understand them and know exactly what their position is. Some clients ask what will happen to their cash flow if they take on a new member of staff, and we can just plug that in and show them. It’s brilliant!
Which key performance indicators do you use with your clients?
The big one everyone likes to see is actuals vs budget, P&L current vs previous years (so for example, one client likes to see August 2017 against ‘16, ‘15 and ‘14), reporting cards are very popular – they like the little pie chart – whether that’s sales, COGS, expenses. Generally, the prettier you can make it look the happier people are!
Income snapshots are popular, then obviously forecast cashflows and monthly debtor days. More specific ones include wage to sales, gross profit tracking by staff, and cash on hand. They’re the main ones. Sometimes someone wants a more specific one so we work it out and it’s unique to them, bringing in non-financial data as well.
For the firm, our KPIs are pretty static because of our monthly pricing system. We track sales leads by staff, but we offer training as a service as well, so who’s doing the most training, cash flow, what happens when we get a new member of staff and whatever else crops up.
How do you approach client meetings?
If they’re already on Xero, the first thing is a Xero health check, and then we find everything that’s wrong and help them to fix. Then we all know they’re starting off with a really clean set of books. We work out/discuss their budget, I then throw that all into Futrli and create some cards and take it from there. It’s always a work in progress, which is part of the fun!
How do you promote your services?
I’d say business owners are now making the decision that they want their accounts to work in this particular way. Then they find someone who will do management accounting, as opposed to ‘I need a bookkeeper, what does a bookkeeper do?!’ They’re definitely looking for it.
Generally, I’d say it just comes from Google searches, as we’re quite high on the SEO search. We’ve not actually done any kind of direct marketing at all. It’s purely enquiries from our blog, what people have seen and referrals. I think shouting about the fact we call it ‘bookkeeping reinvented’ on our website, and it really is, it’s very out there for everyone to see. As soon as they see that they already have a grasp of how we work and what to expect. Therefore we’re not having to sell it as an extra service.
What’s your favourite Futrli feature?
I’d really miss the scenarios if they were gone. It’s so powerful because we do all of our budgeting in there as well, some people have got up to 7 scenarios, it’s my favourite bit because it’s the bit that makes the most sense to the client as well. You can drill down from month to week, to even day – it’s invaluable.
What advice would you give to a bookkeeper moving to the cloud?
We do training for bookkeepers – they worry automation will lose them revenue! They need to think about it completely differently: think about the things you can offer, this type of analysis of figures and cash flow, helping them make decisions, that’s a far more lucrative area of the business than the data entry side of things. You’ve got to completely change your mindset of what people think bookkeepers do and realise that it’s so valuable to businesses to know where they’re at and make decisions based on how much money they’ve got.