This September will see the great and good of the accountancy and bookkeeping world descend on Tobacco Dock for the Accounting Excellence Awards. ICB bookkeepers have had a bumper year for nominations this year and we’ve sat down with the nominees to ask their top tips for growing an award-winning practice.
Jason Dalton MICB PM.Dip, is the Founder of Safe Hands Bookkeeping and Co-director alongside his husband, Mark. They were the winning team of last year’s Accounting Excellence Bookkeeping Team of the Year award, and puts his team’s success down to having the confidence to do things differently, saying “we challenge the norm in our industry and always consider how we do things, rather than just the way we do it.” In Jason’s team, this has manifested itself as a real focus on the customer relationships, rather than just their numbers.
LJM Bookkeeping, headed by Lara Manton MICB, takes a slightly different approach to innovation. As a sole-practitioner, Lara says her motto is “ACE…‘Accuracy, Continuity and Efficiency,” and she is always on the hunt for new technologies and software that will help her enhance her service offering to her clients.
Helen Bower MICB PM.Dip says that personality is a key selling point for her practice, Adder Bookkeeping. Helen’s practice prides itself on approachability and personability and she attributes her success in client management down to her sense of humour, which shines through in Adder’s external presence.
At the core of Lara’s approach to client engagement is really getting to know the businesses she works with to provide the best advice possible. She said, “I love becoming part of my client’s’ teams and looking for new ways to help them improve their businesses.” She feels that what really adds value to her small business clients is supporting their peace of mind; “I take the pressure off them and deal with all the finance bits that they don’t have the time or knowledge to do,” she says.
Tip #3- Branding, branding, branding
All the nominees this year have a fantastic external presence on social media and on their websites and have built up a great brand to promote their services. Jason feels that this is a key component in Safe Hands’ ability to attract clients. Safe Hands’ secret weapon? “Our business is authentically brand value centric,” says Jason. This extends to a beautifully designed website, with avatars and profiles of each of the team (our favourite is Ethel, Jason and Mark’s attention-hungry bulldog) to allow customers to really get to know the bookkeeper they will be working with before they engage.
Helen’s approach is to really push that sense of humour and strong personality that Adder Bookkeeping has come to stand for. From filming and starring in the short promotional film “The Peaky Bookkeepers,” (a nod to Adder’s West Midlands heritage) to its social media presence, fun and humour pervades everything that Helen’s practice does, making it highly attractive to new clients.
Tip #4- Look after your own
For the two larger practices nominated for an Accounting Excellence Award, their people are at the very heart of their long-term business strategy. Jason very much puts his clients’ favourable results down
Adder Bookkeeping has also worked hard to build a contented and highly motivated team. “We all love being together and coming to work, at least that’s what my staff tell me!,” she says. To promote staff wellbeing, Helen employs a number of tactics, from getting them up and moving for five5 mins during ‘monkey business time’ to office in-jokes, making for a happy and hardworking workforce.
Tip #5- Lean on your networks
If the pandemic and isolation haves shown us anything, it’s that networks are incredibly important to our working lives. Bookkeeping is no exception to this rule.
External networking has the added benefit of reaching and attracting potential new clients. Helen has done this highly successfully for Adder Bookkeeping and is an active member of many local business clubs.
Most important amongst bookkeepers’ networks, though, is the strong bond they enjoy with their peersfellow members. All the nominees counted the advice and support offered by ICB’s vibrant community of bookkeepers as a key ingredient in their practices’ success. Lara is a keen networker and said that she likes to regularly attend events like the Inspire Tour, the Bookkeepers Summit and be an active member of her local ICB branch. She sees these meetings as an opportunity to ask questions and share business intelligence with colleagues.
Whoever the winners of this year’s Accounting Excellence Awards are, it is certainly true that ICB bookkeepers are leading the field when it comes to keeping Britain’s businesses growing and thriving. We wish all of our nominees the best of luck for the Accounting Excellence Awards.
We will of course continue to offer the support that ICB members need to thrive in bookkeeping, whether that is through our technical webinars, or our fantastic programme of events, including the Bookkeepers’ Summit (keep your eyes peeled for tickets here). Ultimately, we want to see ICB bookkeepers recognised for their skills and all the work they do to support business in the UK. For more on the Accounting Excellence Awards, please visit Accounting Excellence.