Last month, we asked two brilliant practitioners – Jessica Rachow, the Founder of BeAccounted and Trudi Yip, the Owner and Director of Numeric Eight – to share their advice on how to maximise growth for your accounting firm.
Rachow started BeAccounted from her kitchen table at university when she was just twenty-three; four years later, she is a finalist for Receipt Bank’s Accountant of the Year. Yip founded Numeric Eight in 2006 in Sydney.
Joined by Receipt Bank’s very own Matt Rowan and Luis Sanchez, here are six tips and tricks to grow your accounting practice.
Interview edited for brevity.
1. When ‘selling’ Receipt Bank, you’re the expert – make it essential for your clients.
Yip: Our clients don’t have a choice when it comes to Receipt Bank. We’re accountable for the efficiencies of their finance function, so we direct them on how to use it. With Receipt Bank, we can do the work for them for less. As part of the engagement process with every new client, we share a simple one-pager on how to use the app. We make it as easy as possible for them to get started.
Rachow: I also don’t do much of the ‘sell’. No client leaves our office without the Receipt Bank app on their phone. Once they download it, we show them how to use it with a few receipts. We always keep a few in our office just for this.
Rowan: The partners that get the best results – not just in efficiency but also in data accuracy and reporting – are the ones that make Receipt Bank mandatory. It’s a simple case of ‘This is how we work, and here are the tools we’re going to use’. Ultimately, you’re prescribing something that will help your client’s business. If you’re a doctor, you don’t have to sell the medicine; you just need to recommend it.
2. Let technology do what it does best, so you can do more of the value-add.
Rachow: When I started my firm, I quickly learnt that I couldn’t talk to clients all day and do the back-office work. Data entry just wasn’t possible. I didn’t have the team, office or money.
I needed something that would keep things rolling and let me focus on my business. When I signed up for Receipt Bank, my client conversations changed. Rather than chasing paperwork or asking what they spent money on, we could jump straight to discussing their cash flow. I could see the full financial picture before they’d even come into the room.
Rowan: It’s about the confidence in the data. It changes your conversations from transactional to personal. Receipt Bank gives you the control and confidence that information is correct, up-to-date and wide.
You have everything from due dates and GST amounts in the system, so you don’t need to spend so much time in the transactional part of the relationship. You can start planning – a side of things that’s so often underappreciated. It’s a side-effect of getting an efficient system in place.
Yip: Before Receipt Bank, we had a red Fiat 500. We had a team member whose role was to drive around Sydney and pick up paperwork. Only earlier this year did we sell that Fiat 500; we loved that car, but the function was simply no longer necessary.
We’ve been able to save the cost and time spent on the car and person, and use that to scale the business. With a team of 35, it would have been impossible to manually process everything coming in. Rather than staring at a computer screen, we can now spend our time talking to clients.
3. Onboarding your team and clients with a Buddy scheme, or if tech is already in your business model, onboard tech-resistant clients just with an email address.
Yip: We have two main age groups at Numeric Eight. The older demographic were quite resistant to taking on a new tool – it was a new way of thinking, and a new business process.
So, we got the younger demographic to take it on, because they were more agile and tech-savvy. Once the younger group were onboarded, we asked each of them to buddy up with someone from the other group. Every time either person has an issue, they could go to each other.
Rachow: Receipt Bank was automatically in our business model, although not every client in business is twenty-five with a brand new iPhone. We tell our clients that all they need is an email address that hasn’t been linked to RB before.
We can then set it up as an internal portal, scan in the documents then do something else for the day while that data processes. Receipt Bank is more than the app; it’s a way you can build a business around operationalizing the business admin.
4. Operationalise your business admin so you can have more conversations with clients.
Rachow: I don’t think anyone went into accounting to plough through paperwork. If you genuinely love getting covered in receipts, call me! We’re social people and we’re curious. We want to know what’s happening behind the scenes.
Over the last few months, we’ve been able to forget the data entry or paper-chase and ask our clients instead, ‘How are you? How is your business? What can we do to help?’ That’s what we focus on.
Yip: Before COVID, we were already at capacity. Then, with government grants and legislation, went on top of that. Thankfully, technology has meant we could continue to add value and hold the client’s hands through these times.
Rachow: Tech allows you to have a coffee with a client, when we can do that again, and to pump out tax returns that much faster. I can prioritise what I want to do, let tech do what it can. Let your human emotion, rationality, intelligence and relationship-building be the reason why your client works with you.
Rowan: Human beings have far more potential than we give ourselves credit for. Accountants can punish themselves by burning the midnight oil. But if you let the systems do what they do the best – clearly defined tasks with outcomes – you can add the value-add.
Systems can’t talk to a client and understand them from an emotional perspective. Automation will never replace a role; it’ll let you step up and transform.
5. Build clear audit trials with Receipt Bank. Make sure each person has a unique email address and password.
Rachow: As an accountant, we need to respect our client – they need to know which team member will be working with their accounts. For the audit trail mechanism, you need to know who’s logging into what. You can’t have generic email addresses and passwords, or a standard password going around the office.
Rachow: No-one expects that you’ll be doing everything – so introduce them to your bookkeeping team. If they have a question, you can ask them to reach out through Receipt Bank’s in-app messaging or an old-fashioned email or call. You have to trust your team.
Not everyone is ready to give business advice, but everyone is ready for some accountability. Let people own their roles and ensure the data level is being filled at the right pay-rate. Legality wise, it’s vital that you go down to the line.
Yip: When our financial manager finishes reports at the end of every month, if there’s something odd – like an inaccurate GST code – she can go back and double-check with the team. For the size we are, we need this accountability. It’s not a blame game – it’s about going back to the bookkeeper and explaining the error.
Rowan: If you can’t jump into a system and hide anything, that has a profound impact on team morale. If something’s gone wrong, it’s not a sweep under the rug situation – it’s a training opportunity.
Yip: It also helps with client accountability. One of our clients sent a document twice, then blamed us for the double-entry. Because of the timing and audit trail, we could see that the client gave it to us twice and uploaded the paperwork. We could rectify the issue and easily explain what had happened.
6. Make your job fun. Lean into the relationship building.
Rachow: This is also about making your job fun. When you’re not stressing about the GST rate on a fuel receipt, you can build the relationship. One of my clients breeds service dogs. Our new rule for uploading to Receipt Bank? A puppy has to be in every photo.