How we serve partners and clients has changed.
Accountants and bookkeepers across the world are under pressure to keep businesses going, and communicate government advice to their clients on a daily basis.
We turned to our Orange Select community for input on how they enable remote working – for their clients and their practices. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Find the amount of communication that’s ‘just right’ for you and your team.
The ability to work remotely brings in the agility and flexibility that companies need during this time to survive. Cloud based tools therefore become integral e.g. Receipt Bank, Xero, Drive, Zapier, Zoom, IM’s etc. The biggest challenge would have to be sufficient communication – not too much that no work can get done, and not too little that will create silos in the company.
[I’d recommend] daily check in video calls, and to ask three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What is on your plate today?
- And where are you stuck?
– Johan Potgieter CA(SA), Cloud Accounting Manager at Outsourced CFO (Pty) Ltd
2. Use cloud-based technology where possible, and consider which services you could offer at no cost to struggling clients.
For Sean, he is providing cash-flow forecasting tools and HR advice at no extra cost for clients if they are struggling. If it’s possible for you and your practice, this may be essential to keep their businesses going.
- Work from home with a skeleton team in each office so clients can drop records off. (Editor’s Note: use Receipt Bank to send paperwork digitally to protect you and your clients from non-essential travel.)
- Give free cash flow forecasting tools to clients.
- Offer free HR advice to local businesses
- Move personal tax clients onto cloud-based tools
- Schedule daily video team meetings to keep track of what we’re all doing & keep morale up.
– Sean Farnell, Partner at Burgis & Bullock
3. Step up communication for all clients.
Social distancing cuts right through our social fabric. In times of crisis, we come together. Now, coming together means something very different; if not from our immediate households, support must come filtered through pixelated screens or emails. Language has never been more important.
For Claire, communication encompasses her high-touch and low-touch clients.
Prioritise speaking to your clients.Even the ones who are usually very “low touch” and like it that way appreciate having a sounding board for their business fears, and how to proceed. It’s also been an eye opener speaking to clients who have seen an increase in business (not just retail clients).
– Claire Black, BlackCat Accounts Ltd
4. Share your expertise with cloud-based technology.
If working from home is a new concept for your clients, some advice may go a long way. For Karen, she recommends sharing your expertise with cloud-based technology alongside advice on the economic slowdown.
I’m now teaching one of my less tech-savvy clients how to use Zoom and share documents electronically. I’m also having advisory discussions with each client about the impact the economic slowdown will have on their business and what mitigating measures they can take right now.
– Karen McConomy, Owner of Karen McConomy
5. We’re all in this together.
No-one is immune to the deeply personal and professional challenges of a pandemic. While supporting your clients, you may be facing the very same challenges that you’re trying to help them through – and it can be hard to make sense of a rapidly changing situation while delivering advice with confidence.
For Richard Evans, it is crucial to always caveat your advice.
At the moment, we’ve been on the phone every day to many of our clients all desperate to know when the current government support packages will make their way into their bank.
It’s been difficult at times as they expect us to have all the answers as if this is a regular occurrence and trying to reassure them whilst not asking them to have a bit of a reality check (or not get annoyed with them) and realise they are not on their own and everyone is in the same boat is difficult. We caveat most advice with “at the moment/according to the government” etc.
– Richard Evans, Director at TBS Norwich Ltd
6. Limit your daily news intake.
Listening to 24/7 news updates from around the world takes its toll. Laurel recommends limiting your intake to just what you need to know to stay safe, and listening to uplifting music to keep morale up.
Watching our mind set, fear lowers the immune system. So listening to what I need to for news and listening to my music instead of radio to control my influences.
Laurel Williamson, Owner at Simplify Bookkeeping and Consulting
7. Make sure people and technology are as connected as possible.
For Ellie Appleby, her key to success with cloud-based technology is fairly simple: integrations. Integrating tools as much as possible and having information in one place can also bring your team closer.
Clients are looking for help in navigating what help is available to them in the form of grants/government support/financial relief from lenders. There’s so much information and many people don’t know where to start.
We’ve been fully cloud based/remote since Day 1. Key is ensuring your systems integrate with each other as much as possible and that you have solutions in place to enable your team to talk with each other as early as possible to help prevent people feeling isolated.
Advice we’ve had – keep asking ‘what else’? What else can we be doing to help our clients? What else can we be doing to drive our business forward?
– Ellie Appleby, Director at My Books Online Limited