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COVID-19 Lockdown and the impact on your business

By Phil Ellerby

Here we share today’s updates sent to clients at 8.30am on Tuesday 24th March, on the latest from the government regarding COVID-19.

Presented by our CEO Phil Ellerby giving his perspective and advice on what this means for businesses and employees.

Helping Businesses Stay in Business

1. Lockdown and the impact on your business – Link

2. The Parliament Bill leaked to Press and on Social Media – Link (Apologies from Phil on his my creaking bones)

3. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Detail – Link 

We are currently in contact with clients providing support and additional services during this time. Should you wish to contact us regarding any of the above issues, please call 0113 218 9552 to speak to a member of #TeamNA. Where we are on calls, we will take your details and one of us will call you back. 

COVID-19 Government support for businesses and employees

By Phil Ellerby

Here we share updates from the government as they unfolded from Thursday 17th March 2020. Our CEO Phil Ellerby shares his perspective and gives advice on what it means for businesses and employees in the midst of COVID-19.

Please find the first stage of videos in date order and keep checking back in for more updates as we upload them here on our blog page.

Helping Businesses Stay in Business 

1. Thursday 19th March 2.30pm – Northern Accountants Helping Businesses Stay in Business during COVIC-19 – Link

2. Thursday 19th March 8.00pm – Northern Accountants Government Announcement Update – Link

3. Saturday 21st March 8.30am – Northern Accountants Government Announcement Update – Link

4. Sunday 22nd March 8.30pm – Northern Accountants Key Worker and Education Support Update – Link

5. Monday 23rd March 8.30am – Northern Accountants Frequently Asked Questions regarding Employee Retention Grants – Link

We are currently in contact with clients providing support and additional services during this time. Should you wish to contact us regarding any of the above issues, please call 0113 218 9552 to speak to a member of #TeamNA. Where we are on calls, we will take your details and one of us will call you back.  

COVID-19 Message from our CEO

By Phil Ellerby

In the midst of the fall out of the Coronavirus pandemic last week Northern Accountants took unprecedented steps to help ensure clients’ cash flows are stabilised as much as possible in this time of uncertainty.

In order to do this, we have committed to providing our clients with the following tools, and as CEO, I will be personally footing the costs of the implementation, training and subscription costs.

Stripe – a Xero bolt-on that allows businesses to accept payment by card, increasing the ways in which they can be paid and therefore reducing the barriers that cause late or none payment.

Receipt Bank – a Xero bolt-on that allows businesses to collate their invoices and expenses quickly and efficiently, freeing up valuable time for the business owner or team to focus on money generating or value add activities.

Chaser – a Xero bolt-on that systematically chases outstanding invoices on the debtor’s ledger.  It requires no human interaction and provides a systematic and consistent reminder for payment, escalating it to senior managers or credit control teams at the appropriate times.  This not only improves cash flow but frees up valuable time for the business owner or team to focus on money generating or value add activities.

Float – a Xero bolt-on that accurately forecasts the future cash position of the business using the data stored in the accounting system (Xero).  It also provides the ability to build best and worst-case scenarios that give the business owner a greater understanding of what the future may hold.

Software subscriptions alone are in the region of £75 + VAT per calendar month and we have committed to cover the costs until 30th June 2020, when we will review the situation again.

We have also committed to waiver the fees for Implementation, Set Up and Training of these softwares. These costs can vary from £397 – £1,461 plus VAT per client

This software is clearly largely dependent on the use of Xero and as a result, Northern Accountants will migrate ANY client who is using a different accounting system to Xero, absolutely free of charge. Furthermore, we will train the client on how to use the software, to ensure maximum benefit is received by the client.

With software conversions and training normally costing in the region of £1500-£2000 plus VAT this is a huge investment in our clients. 

These softwares all form pivotal components of the NA AppStack, which we believe, should be at the heart of any business accounting function.

Implementation 

We had originally planned to educate our clients about the above software over the coming months to demonstrate their importance to the business function, making the implementation and uptake a no brainer.   However, in these times of necessity, we have accelerated the process and removed the key barriers to utilisation of these software (the fears of uncertainty and the cost of finding out) by taking all the risk and cost out of the equation.

From Thursday of last week, client calls took place between our Client Managers and our Clients to establish what was needed and when.  These calls will continue through the coming days and weeks.

Within a matter of weeks, EVERY client who needs this software will have them and be fully averse in their use, helping to bring stability and certainty to our clients’ cash positions, at NO COST to them.

We believe we need to keep cash flowing and in order to do this, the above is essential.

With Cloud Technology relatively new to the business community as a whole, it is for us as the Numbers Professionals to lead the way in the adoption of these vital tools.  Hence we have taken this unprecedented decision.

Helping Businesses Stay in Business

It is estimated that by the end of this transition period Northern Accountants will have invested in excess of £500k in its clients’ use of technology.

At a time when businesses are tightening their belts, Northern Accountants are making a huge investment in its clients.

This could not happen without the hard work and dedication of the NA Team so a huge thank you in advance goes to

Ben Muncaster

Michael Harle

Shaun Lindley

Sally Claxton

Emma Greensmith

Rachel Griffin

Jayne Waugh

Robyn Jones

Kelly Wallace

Sarah Lockwood

Millie Kerwin

Tyler Boston

Danielle Harrison

Caroline Dove 

and Georgia Copley

for their commitment, willing and personal sacrifice they will be making for our clients in the coming weeks and months.

We are here to help businesses stay in business.  

We are in this together.

10 legal ways to reduce your corporation tax bill

By Michael Harle

Not many business owners want to pay more tax than they have to.

And most SMEs we work with are keen to discover legal ways to reduce their corporation tax bill.

But here’s the thing…

There’s no big secret to lowering your corporation tax bill.

All you need is:

  • Knowledge of how the UK tax system works (our speciality!)
  • A few minutes each month
  • Some organisation

If you’re keen to save yourself a few quid (whilst staying in HMRC’s good books), here are a few simple steps about how to avoid corporation tax legally!

1. Claim EVERY expense you’re allowed

If you’re failing to claim expenses, you’re basically throwing money down the drain.

Here’s why…

  • You’re losing out on tax relief gained from the expense claim.
  • You’re paying more on your corporation tax bill for that taxed expense.

If you pay £5,000 for a new AppleMac or piece of machinery but forget to claim the capital allowance you are entitled to, your profits will be seriously overinflated – and you’ll end up paying an extra £1,000 in Corporation Tax.

Recording every £1 parking fee or £2 notepad can be a hassle, but over a year those little expenses will add up – so it definitely pays to stay on top of things.

Using an accounting app like Xero and ReceiptBank will make it simple to ensure everything is properly recorded at the time of purchase!

There no hard-and-fast rules on what you can and cannot claim – because what may seem like a luxury to one business may be essential to another.

To stay compliant with HMRC, simply remember their “wholly and exclusively” rule and make sure you only claim for items which are entirely for business use.

2. Get a company mobile phone

Sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed how many people don’t put their mobile phone in the name of their business. If you do, every phone-related cost is tax deductible.

3. Claim mileage

It’s usually more tax efficient for business owners to run their own vehicle and claim back mileage using HMRC’s official authorised mileage rate. For limited company owners, doing this will often help you avoid paying higher rates of tax on company cars.

4. Buy some books or magazines

If you need a technical manual or book which relates specifically to the activities of your work, it can be claimed. But don’t buy a book or magazine which is for your own personal benefit (or that won’t help you develop a new skill) as an item like this WON’T be tax deductible.

5. Throw a party

If you own a limited company, you can treat your team members to an annual ‘party’ (not just at Christmas) and reclaim up to the value of £150 for each guest – including VAT.

Because the limit applies to each guest, you could invite your partner to enjoy a night out completely tax free. But don’t get carried away and invite all your family and friends because HMRC will definitely not view this as a ‘staff’ party.

You’ll also be able to claim Corporation Tax relief on the overall cost without being hit by a ‘benefit in kind’ charge. So, you can eat, drink and be merry – at the same time as you’re saving tax!

6. Surprise HMRC with an early payment 

If you’ve got the money to pay up early, this is a no-brainer. Staying on top of your tax affairs is usually rewarded by HMRC, who’ll happily give you some of your Corporation Tax bill back (in the form of interest) for settling up early.

7. Pay yourself a salary

Some limited company owners often ignore this basic Corporation Tax saving tip.

As a genuine business expense, paying a salary will reduce your profit – and Corporation Tax bill.

It’s not for everyone, particularly if you’ve got income from elsewhere, but it can be a tactic that’s worth having up your sleeve.

8. Put money in your pension pot

Paying into a pension is extremely tax efficient.

Unfortunately, lots of business owners fail to make the most of pension savings.

Don’t, you’ll regret it when you get your corporation tax bill – and when you’re older!

9. Get tax-free income protection

Income protection insurance can be invaluable for small business owners.

Should the worst happen and you’re unable to work, it can safeguard your family and allow you to maintain the lifestyle you’re accustomed to.

Paying the premium out of your company (not your taxed income) is a perfectly legal way to reduce corporation tax – and protect your income!

If you’d like to make the most of this saving, we can help you set it up in the most tax-efficient way.

10. Get a good accountant

When it comes to doing your VAT, bookkeeping or payroll, are you really the best person for the job? Probably not (if you’re honest!).

Stop wasting time on activities that won’t help you make more money and appoint an accountant to do it instead.

Okay, so you’ll have to pay for their fees. But a good accountant (like us) will usually save you thousands more by helping you claim everything you’re entitled to.

Remember, tax is a complicated subject.

Before trying to implement any allowable corporation tax deductions, always seek professional advice.

If you need assistance, get in touch or call 0113 2189552 – we’ll be happy to help.

Why switching to Xero made VAT return much easier for busy surveyors

By Phil Ellerby

The company

Discovery Surveys Ltd are a Doncaster-based business which provide a wide range of utility surveys and mapping for street works contractors and the construction industry.

Established in 2001 by owner Steven Rafferty, they currently employ five full-time surveyors who operate in the field on a daily basis.

The issue

Due to the complex nature of their off-site work, the team at Discovery Surveys constantly purchase tools, parts and equipment to carry out their duties.

When working away overnight, surveyors also pay for their accommodation and meals using a company credit card.

Not only does this result in a high number of bank transactions every month, it also means there are a lot of receipts to keep track of.

From an accounting perspective, Discovery Surveys wanted to accurately monitor every payment so they knew exactly how much VAT they owed ahead of the quarterly payment deadline.

The solution

To save time and make life easier, we recommended using Xero for bookkeeping – a proven way for any business to regain complete control of its finances.

After some in-depth training from our in-house Xero expert Abbie Clarkson, office administrator Angie Worgan no longer had to scan in receipts or manually reconcile every transaction on a spreadsheet.

Now she uploads all the company’s receipts securely via a smartphone app. And the intelligent Xero software automatically reconciles each transaction, ready for Angie’s approval.

The impact

Making this seamless switch to cloud accounting has helped to simplify the bookkeeping process.

“With us paying our VAT quarterly, we were keen to know how much VAT or tax we owed at the end of every month so we could plan ahead,” explained Angie.

“Abbie was really good from start to finish. She guided us through Xero step by step and thoroughly explained everything we needed to know.

“Not only does Xero save us time, it ensures every receipt is accounted for so we never miss out on claiming any expenses we’ve incurred which are tax deductible. And because a lot of the accounting processes are now automated, it’s very easy to track expenses on the go.”

Work with us and transform your business

Put an end to time-consuming accounts with help from our specialist cloud accounting team – email or call 0113 218 9552 for an informal discussion.

5 last-minute tax saving tips PROVEN to work in 2019

By Phil Ellerby

When the end of the tax year’s fast approaching, business owners often want to know about any last-minute tax saving tips that might save them money.

Today we’re going to reveal 5 actionable ideas which can help to reduce your tax bill…

1. Make the most of Gift Aid

Gifts can be made in many ways. But the most obvious route is in the form of cash to a registered charity through the Gift Aid scheme.

If you’ve paid sufficient income or capital gains tax, and make a Gift Aid declaration, charities can claim back 25p from every £1 donated from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

If you pay a higher rate or additional rate of tax, making a ‘gift’ allows an amount of income (to the gross gift) to be pushed down into the lower rate of tax. This means more income is taxed at the lower rate – and can give a higher rate taxpayer further tax relief of up to 25%.

If your income is just over the £100K threshold, the point at which personal allowances are being reduced, making a ‘Gift Aid’ donation can be a no-brainer.

Here’s why…

A person with income of £123,700 who makes a net Gift Aid payment of £20,000 would gain tax relief due to the Gift Aid payment of £5,000. On top of this, their lost personal allowance would also be retrieved, providing additional tax relief of £4,740.

What the result?

The actual ‘cost’ of the £20,000 Gift Aid payment ends up being only £10,260 – whilst the charity would actually benefit from receiving £35,000.

Win, win for everyone involved (except perhaps for HMRC).

2. Pay into your pension

Paying more into your pension is one of the easiest ways to reduce your taxable income – so you pay less tax.

Any individual can make pension contributions of £2880 net or 100% of their relevant UK earnings – and every contribution will receive income tax relief at the marginal rate you pay tax.

If you pay 20% tax, every 80p paid into a pension will immediately be boosted to £1 by the Government.

If you’re a 40% tax payer, every 60p you pay in will be turned into a £1 in the exact same way.

In theory, a higher rate tax payer earning £56,000 could pay £56,000 into their pension and it would only cost £33,600.

For lower rate taxpayers, tax relief is available on contributions up to the lower annual allowance of £40,000 (or 100% of your income).

Not a bad return on your investment.

If you’re a company director or business owner who takes a low salary and makes their remuneration up with dividends, be careful when it comes to pension contributions.

It’s a complex tax matter and you could incur a Pension Tax Charge of up to £13,500 if you get it wrong.

To avoid making a costly mistake, get in touch for a pension review – it could spot opportunities for additional contributions and potentially save you thousands.

3. Claim your Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)

Every business can claim AIA on almost all purchases of plant and machinery (there are a few exceptions) subject to a maximum of £1,000,000 for the tax year which started on 1st January 2019.

It’s actually possible to gain tax relief on EVERYTHING your business spends on these items because the allowance is given at 100% – apportioned over the accounting year.

However, before making a purchase it may prove prudent to review your business plans and the purchase date so you can gain the full 100% tax relief.

Should you need help or advice on this, please get in touch to discuss your business expenditure plans so the maximum AIA is available.

4. Move rental income between spouses and civil partners

If you’re in a couple, one of the most popular year-end tax saving tips is to transfer assets into the name of the person paying the lowest rate of tax.

When couples own one or more investment properties, the ownership is usually a joint tenancy – meaning each individual jointly owns 100% of the property. In the eyes of the law (and the tax man), they’re one single owner. As such, the tax position is that each person is taxed on half of the rental income.

In some cases, where one of the couple pays a higher rate of tax, it’s often worth transferring the ownership to a ‘tenants in common’ agreement.

This is the legal term for when each person in a couple owns a specified separate share of the property. As such, they can only be taxed on their separate ‘share’ of the rental income.

If the person who pays the lowest rate of tax was to ‘own’ the majority of the property portfolio (perhaps on a 95%-5% split), it could potentially provide a substantial tax saving.

5. Maximise your Capital Gains Tax annual exemption

For the 2018/19 tax year, the current rate of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption is £11,700 for any individual – any gain up to that amount (in a tax year) is exempt from CGT.

Because you DON’T pay Capital Gains Tax on any assets you give or sell to a husband, wife or civil partner; it is possible for a couple to maximise their CGT annual exemption shortly before the end of a tax year.

If you own shares or other investments, consider how you can best utilise this annual exemption on a yearly basis.

Are you missing out on valuable tax tips?

If your accountant isn’t giving you the sort of actionable advice outlined above, get in touch or call 0113 2189552 – we’ll be happy to step in and help you save tax!

How to create your company values

By Ben Muncaster, Director of Operations

Your company’s core values should shape its culture, support its vision and reflect the essence of who you are.

Establish the right values and they’ll provide you with a clear set of ground rules by which your business can operate.

And there’s no-one who knows more about a company’s values – than its leader. After all, you’re the person who is best placed to know its…

  • Personality
  • Customers
  • History
  • Ambitions
  • Mistakes
  • Successes
  • USPs

If the core values of your company only exist in your head and not on paper, there’s no better time to write them down – and start communicating them to every team member.

Here’s a simple (but effective) way to do it…

Defining your values (3 simple steps)

Step 1

To come up with your company’s core values, ask yourself two questions:

  • What’s important to my business?
  • What’s important to me?

If you struggle, adopt an alternative approach and ask:

  • What is my company definitely not?
  • What do my rivals do that we never would?

Write your answers down on a separate piece of paper or post-it and lay them out so you can see them clearly.

Step 2

Once you’ve exhausted all avenues, create an ‘affinity map’ by sorting the cards into 4-7 groups of similar ideas or concepts with underlying relationships.

If you create this list with your team or more than one person, pay close attention to ideas which repeatedly crop up as repetition is a sign that this ‘value’ is of significant importance.

After grouping the cards, choose a concept word which best sums up the entire collection. Write it down to be considered as a core value.

Individual cards can be ‘parked’ as a group but should not be dismissed. Ultimately, if they are right for you, they should be a core value.

Step 3

Before deciding whether to adopt your concept as a value, ask yourself:

  • Is this important to our long-term success?
  • Does this need to be maintained forever? Can it be sustained?
  • Does this apply to every area of my business and all our staff?
  • Will this help to make important decisions in future?
  • Would we build these values into a new business?
  • Would we keep them even if they became a competitive disadvantage?  
  • Will these values be valid in 100 years’ time?

If you answer “no” to any of these, it’s probably not a value that’s worth adopting.

Answer “yes” and you’re definitely on the right track.

Using your values to shape future success

Ideally, you should draw up a list of five or less core values – so everyone can remember them when it comes to making a decision.

At Northern Accountants, we asked every team member to take part in the above activity, splitting into two groups before presenting their ‘results’ back before a final decision was made.

Our NA values are:

  • Trust
  • Inspire
  • Challenge
  • Innovate
  • Support

Having finalised your values, it’s important to communicate them to every team member as this makes it easier for them to understand what your business is about – and their role in it.

Lots of people want to work for a business where they feel like part of “one big family” but this is NOT a value. It’s a vibe. Vibes are highly-volatile emotional aspects which are influenced by outside factors. As companies grow, it actually becomes impossible to deliver on this because every person cannot possibly know everyone else.

In much the same way, enjoying the use of an office dartboard or pool table is not a value, it’s a vibe – because it’s not essential to the long-term success of your business.

Don’t get confused between vibes and values. Vibes are open to change, but ‘values’ never will be.

At Northern Accountants we use our values as the basis of our recruitment decision-making when assessing potential applicants, as a key part of our induction presentation and for the basis of our weekly team meetings – they’re also integrated into our quarterly appraisals.

If you can, make your values the basis for everything you do – your message WILL get through and you WILL achieve the culture you want.

Embracing change – and shifting the culture of your business

By Ben Muncaster, Director of Operations

Creating the right culture can often be a key factor in the success of your business. When this is done correctly, you will quickly see the improvements and reap the benefits. However, if it goes wrong then it can prove incredibly difficult to manage.

Thankfully, it is possible to create a culture that is right for you and your business, and to change a culture that you know isn’t working.

Like most things in life, realising this change is not always easy. Implementing new practices and trying to shift ingrained mentalities is often daunting, and even a change for the better can come with setbacks.

Speaking as someone who has been charged with the brief to change existing workplace cultures, I can confidently say that I have found that the positives will always far outweigh the negatives and justify the hard work it takes.

Create a vision and values that matter

For most businesses, the culture that you create (directly or indirectly) is a result of various interlocking elements – including:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Processes
  • Attitudes
  • Assumptions
  • Communications
  • Leadership style
  • Behaviours

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a pretty good starting point for most businesses. And in order for a positive (and sustainable) culture shift to occur, a combination of these elements will usually need to change.

If you want to create a new culture it’s important to first draw up a list of three things…

Your vision: Where do you want your organisation to go and what is the timeframe for this?

Your values: These should provide a clear framework that sets the parameters for your team to operate clearly and effectively.

Your behaviours: Setting a common standard for all teammates to adhere to in terms of attitude, appearance, etc.

Once you have done this, it suddenly becomes much easier to see how the overall vision will be achieved by working together as a team. However, the change in culture has to come from the top.

Lead by example – motivation is mandatory

To achieve a successful culture shift in any business, the change always needs to be driven by its leaders.

It is important to remain open-minded and to show your staff that the changes that you are making are a positive move for everyone. If your team sees that you’re excited to embrace a new approach, they’ll be far more likely to do the same.

At Northern Accountants, we’re no different from any other business, and we want our team to feel positive about where they work and engaged by the work that they do. Most importantly, we want them to understand how we want to achieve our vision. Our values are fundamental to realising this as they give everyone in the business a clear set of of ground rules establishing the foundation and guiding principles for decision making, taking action and being part of our team.

If you’re looking to change the culture in your business, then the best advice I can give is to take small steps. It’s often much easier to deliver long-term success by breaking down bigger goals into several smaller and more manageable actions.

Address any of the initial fears or reluctance by encouraging every team member in your business to fully participate in all aspects of the change process.

If new tools, technologies or processes need to be introduced, then it’s important to ensure that your team are properly trained if you want these to be applied successfully.

Don’t be afraid to redefine certain roles and responsibilities or amend how success is measured. People tend to be more engaged, and perform far better, when they understand their specific role and how it relates to the larger overall vision. The right people in the right roles is the only way you will succeed in establishing the team and culture you want.

Be bold, take action and create the culture you want – it might be the best business decision you ever make.

Could an outside view improve and enhance your business?

By Ben Muncaster, Director of Operations

If you want to grow a business (in a coherent, sustainable way), fundamental changes often need making to the way you operate on a day-to-day basis.

For a start, you’ll probably have to learn to delegate. You may also need to develop better structures, introduce team leaders or strengthen your processes.

This is where the support of an experienced business adviser, or outside observer, can really make a difference.

Unburdened by preconceived ideas about how things should be done in a certain way, they’re free to analyse the way you work without fear and can make recommendations based upon your goals, growth ambitions and customer strategy. This might include using best practices from other industries or sectors, or adopting new technology to save you time and money.

Sometimes a simple adjustment like introducing key performance indicators – allowing results to be shared and celebrated across every area of the business – can have a massive impact on morale, making your team feel more included and valued.

Since joining NA as Operations Manager in 2018, my role has been to look at how we can empower our team and improve the services we offer clients. Although I believe we’re making positive progress, there’s still a long way to go in our improvement journey.

Why being an ‘outsider’ can be beneficial

It may come as a surprise to some people, but I actually don’t have any previous experience in the accounting industry. My background is in large-scale manufacturing and before joining NA I was employed as the Operations Manager at an engineering company, where continuous improvement was ingrained in the culture of the business.

Rather than think of this as a weakness, I like to believe it’s one of my biggest strengths. I’m of the opinion that because I’m not a number cruncher, and I don’t get bogged down in that level of detail, I can benefit from having a fresh view on everything we do.

Having studied for a Masters in the importance of strategy, I am conditioned to challenge everything and I recognise the importance of developing people and building positive cultures. I am also qualified in Lean Six Sigma – a disciplined, statistical-based, data-driven approach and continuous improvement methodology for eliminating defects in a product, process or service.

I’ve also successfully implemented ISO 9001:2015 standard which is crucial in identifying risks and opportunities within a business and stresses the importance of corrective and/or preventative actions to solve problems and create a process-driven approach to maintain quality levels. All of these are useful because they allow you to adopt different approaches to achieve specific goals.

The role of an Operations Manager is to make improvements which achieve certain pre-agreed targets – whether that’s to deliver cost savings, better working processes or some other outcome. So, in actual fact, my remit at NA is not much different to when I worked in engineering.

What are the key areas to address?

When it comes to analysing a business, and where it could be improved, there are a number of key areas to investigate.

Before adopting an ‘outside-in’ approach to improvement, you need to weigh up your goals and understand what you want to achieve.

For the transformation work I’ve carried out at NA, the following four areas have been reviewed:

Systems

Getting the right core infrastructure in place is always an essential building block and we’ve overhauled our systems by adopting new cloud-based software and replacing two outdated IT platforms. This has allowed us to be completely cloud based, making remote working easier and giving us a more mobile and reactive team. G Suite also provides countless possibilities in terms collaboration and software add-ons, which will have long-term benefits for our clients.

Culture

This is the next big area of development and we are currently in the process of defining our company ‘values’ to give us an identity which runs right throughout the business. These values will encompass everything from recruitment and existing team members to decision-making and future investments. By doing this, every existing employee and any new recruits will know exactly what is expected of them, which will help to ensure we achieve our vision.

Processes

The aim in 2019 is to look at this more closely so we’re working as efficiently as possible and so our clients receive accurate and timely information. We’ll also be looking at how we interact with clients – in terms of communication and relationships – so that we can be best in class. Eventually, we’d like to transition our existing teams into more client-facing roles because we feel this will help us achieve to our goals and create more job satisfaction for our team members.

Client experience

Ultimately, we want to deliver excellence in terms of our overall client experience – and the work I’ve done so far has focused on how we can achieve that. Our objective is to create an environment where clients get the best information, have a great relationship with us and can access the strategic advice they need to grow their business. I believe maintaining good relationships lies at the heart of this.

Could an outside-in approach work for you?

Although you need to how a business operates to make changes which will be effective, you don’t actually need to know all the ins and outs.

I obviously know how NA operates and how we help clients but, because I have a removed overview of the processes we use and no delivery responsibilities, I find clients are far more honest with me. In my experience, this can help to drive positive change.

I’d like to think I’m an approachable person and the people I’ve spoken to so far have been very honest. Perhaps because I am somewhat detached from day-to-day operations. I believe this can help us receive better feedback, which is more constructive.

The world in which accountants operate is changing. My role is to spot opportunities and improve our use of technology, processes, failures, our people and our culture. Doing this is the only way we can grow and prosper – and help our clients to do likewise.

I’m sure plenty of other businesses are in exactly the same boat as us and I strongly believe almost all of them could become more efficient (and more profitable) if they reviewed how they work. Unfortunately, very few of them actually invest time and money into do this when, perhaps, they should.

At present, my focus is on making NA as good as we can possibly be. But in the long term, my knowledge and experience will also be available to clients who want to benefit from improved ways of working.

If this is something which might be of interest to you, please get in touch by email or call 0113 218 9552 for an informal discussion.

How we stopped a child-care business drowning in financial paperwork

By Phil Ellerby

The company

CCC Childcare is a popular Ofsted-registered provider of child-minding and after-school care in Ossett, West Yorkshire.

Founded by owner Clare Dransfield in 2007, this thriving and rewarding business has grown steadily over the years and now employs four members of staff to look after a variety of babies, toddlers and primary school-age children.

The issue

Clare’s confident and caring nature soon earned a glowing reputation with a lot of parents, who recommended her wide range of activities to other parents – and her impressive ability to do school pick-ups and drop-offs in her 9-seater mini bus.

This unique offering quickly turned the small sole-trader into a business which was drowning in financial paperwork. With various different price points being charged –some fees paid in cash, some via direct debit and some funded through the Government’s childcare scheme – Clare’s success had turned into a nightmare from an accounting perspective.

The solution

Northern Accountants first began to help in early 2017 when Clare came to us with a mountain of paperwork and receipts for her Year End accounts. Although her cash book entries were thorough and professional, she was spending a few days a month on administration – precious time she wanted to enjoy with her husband and two teenage sons.

Despite the fact she was not a computer savvy person, we recommended using Xero for her bookkeeping. After just two training sessions with Jayne Waugh, Head of Business Services here at Northern Accountants, Clare felt confident enough to create her own electronic invoices and reconcile her bank transactions. She also learned how to upload receipts via her smartphone Xero app.

The impact

Having made a seamless switch to cloud accounting, it’s safe to say the move has transformed Clare’s business (and social life) forever.

She explains: “Like a lot of business owners, I found myself in a position where my accounts were taking over my life. I was so busy looking after other people’s children, and the extra accounting headaches it brought, that I didn’t actually spend time with my own family – I’d spend most Saturday afternoons doing admin.

“Learning how to use Xero has allowed me to automate various bookkeeping tasks and given me back control of my business – and social life. Instead of drowning in paperwork at the weekend, I now do my accounts on my mobile phone whenever I have five minutes spare. It sounds dramatic, but it really has changed my life.

“When I think back to the amount of time that I used to spend filling in my accounts book and saving my receipts, it’s silly. Now a lot of my invoices are automated and the accounts run themselves. If there are any problems, Jayne and the team at NA are on the end of the phone to help whenever I need it.

“Xero’s great and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s given me a more flexible way to work and more free time to enjoy without worrying about admin. I now feel much more positive about my business and its future, which is great for me and my family – and all the children I enjoy looking after.”

Work with us and transform your business

Want to be freed from your time-consuming accounts? Let our specialist cloud accounting team make your life easier, send us an email or call 0113 218 9552 for an informal discussion.

Northern Accountants (Leeds), Olympus House, 2 Howley Park Business Village, Pullan Way, Leeds, LS27 0BZ