10 suggestions from other Xero accountants on where to start

Xero roadshow Newcastle ptr panel1As I mentioned in last week’s post, one of my strong recommends if you’re looking at (or already using) Xero is that you listen to what other accountants who have been on the Xero journey have to say.

At the Newcastle roadshow, my #sketchnoting abilities were tested to the max as there were so many quotable lines and helpful tips suggested by the Xero accountants on that panel – Stuart Ramsay of Accountancy Extra, Glyn Davidson of Harlands, and Dona Skaife of WBS Accountants. I scribbled madly and surprisingly ended up with 10 suggestions (actually I was kind of hoping for 9 or 13 so it would stand out a bit more, but there actually were 10!

Here they are:

1. “It’s just so easy to use.” @StuartRamsay

When you’re considering it or demonstrating Xero, remember ‘ease of use’ as a top reason. Remember that your job as an accountant is to think of ways to make your clients’ lives and businesses better – and something that is easy, not complex, will definitely ease their minds and point out the benefits quickly.

2. “It only takes a few hours to train clients on Xero.” @StuartRamsay

If you do need to train your clients on using it, you’re not necessarily talking several days’ work. Granted (as I’m sure Stuart would agree), you’ll probably be answering questions and providing help on an ongoing basis – but for setup, it can be quite simple. (See point 1).

3. “It increases your referrals.” @StuartRamsay

“When our clients go round using something like ReceiptBank, and other people see them capturing a receipt on their phone and then throwing it away, they say, ‘What are you doing there?’ And our client says, ‘Oh my accountant introduced me to this, it’s brilliant, saves me all kinds of time.’ And the other person thinks, ‘Hey, my accountant hasn’t shown me anything like that….'”

4. “Xero is written for the clients.” @Harlands_NE

As a cloud accounting software, Xero has been built first and foremost for your clients, which is why they tend to like it so much. The problem with many other accounting softwares is that they were created for accountants – so only accountants can understand them. If you’d prefer to be the one who does all the bookkeeping and detail work, and you don’t want your clients involved in that, fine – but I’m guessing most of you would prefer to do the more ‘fun’ advisory work!

That’s one thing we at the Profitable Firm have seen Xero do for accountants that no other tool has done to date – it’s actually given you the opportunity to sell the ‘added value’ services that you enjoy most and have been trying to sell for ages, but having trouble doing it. If your client is entering all the data and you have access to it all the time, you can generate helpful supporting reports and direct them to useful apps and add-ons that make their business better – and it’s much easier to prove the value of your time and advice.

5. “It makes our business a better place to be.” @Harlands_NE

The idea here is that prospects want to work with you more than any other firm. They like what you do, appreciate your advice, and there’s a culture of enthusiasm and good technology and an improved life.

One of the things I personally love about Xero events is the camaraderie and community. The ‘Xero Village’ at Accountex is a beautiful thing (draws you in with its glorious blue light). The roadshows are held at super-cool venues, not old-school hotels. It’s a partnership of one software company plus 400+ add-ons to make it even better – and people love being part of it.  (We’re kind of like zombies that way.)

6. “It’s a reason to give clients a call.” @wbs_accountants

Dona pointed out that if you have access to your clients’ accounts and numbers in real time, often times you as the accountant can notice things before they do – notice it, fix it, address it, and tell them you did it. That’s the very definition of ‘proactive’, although that word is a bit dated now. It’s really about service, and serving your clients – as Dona has learned, before they even realise there’s a problem. And the more you’re talking to your clients, the more you’re able to help them – and possibly even provide more services, too.

7. “When it comes to the Xero add-ons, it’s horses for courses really.” @Harlands_NE

There are so many add-ons to choose from (well over 400!), so evaluating them all in detail is impossible if you still want to be serving your clients. But it is good to remember, as Glyn pointed out, that there are some which will suit your firm better than others – and it’s good to test out the ones you’re thinking of using to see what clients think.  Harlands tested out Spotlight, Crunchboards, and Fathom with different clients to see what the response was, which reports suited them, how easy they were to use, which encouraged the best conversations. (I’m not sure which one they ended up going with, or if they’re still testing – but the point is, what suits them and their clients may not suit you. Do your homework!)

8. “Start with a client whose transactions are simple, not complex.” @StuartRamsay

This seemed like particularly valuable advice – if you pick your biggest, most complex client and try to move them over to Xero, it could take a while and be frustrating for you and your team (especially if it’s new to them too). Choose one whose transactions and requirements are fairly simple, and see how it goes. Then just begin upgrading a bit as you go along.

9. “Watch the Xero U videos (instead of scrolling through Facebook)”. @Harlands_NE

If you want to get quickly up to speed on some of the Xero capabilities, scroll through a few of the Xero U videos – most are only a few minutes long at the most. I realise they’re not cat videos (take note, Gary Turner, maybe you should get a Xero cat mascot), but it’s just a few minutes here or there.

10. “Run a little event. It doesn’t have to be a big deal.” @wbs_accountants

Xero roadshow Newcastle ptr panel2I particularly like this one – not least because I’ve said it myself, and some of our clients have had really good success running Xero events or webinars. But I loved Dona’s point that it doesn’t have to be your own version of Xerocon (although if you want to do that, very cool!) – she mentioned that their first event had maybe 12 people, but it was still a big success, with two clients on Xero already learning more about it, and several others signing up on the day.

My addition to that would be to make sure you’ve got your follow up all ready. Whatever your event is, decide ahead of time what you will offer or encourage attendees to do afterwards, so they are taking action, not just coming up with new ideas.

That’s all from me today – more this week in Edinburgh and Belfast! See you there!