Anna Nikolovska started her practice in 2018 and signed up with AM on day one. The following year, Anna appeared at our Accountex stand laden with chocolates. A tasty testament to how much she values the software and our ‘brilliant, brilliant customer service’. AM’s Jonathan Stobart caught up with Anna to see how she’s getting on.
A side hustle becomes a full-blown practice
Anna had initially planned to just do the books of a handful of clients, but those clients were so happy, they spread the word. “I was just planning to treat it like a part-time job,” Anna tells us. “But it started growing very fast and the more clients I got, the more they recommended me to their friends. Now I have an office, bookkeepers working with me and we’re still growing.”
Digital by name, strictly digital by nature
At Digital Accounting, that’s exactly what you get. “We don’t deliver services to clients in any other way than digital and we do refuse clients who don’t want to use the technology that we suggest – because it just wouldn’t be efficient for us. As a minimum to become our client, you need to add things to ReceiptBank (now Dext Prepare). We don’t accept any spreadsheets or receipts. It makes our job much, much easier.”
Laying the foundations for an efficient, profitable business – from day one
At her previous practices, Anna was involved with introducing AccountancyManager, so knew she wanted to sign up as early as possible. “On day one, I put my first client straightaway on the system, so I didn’t have to go through the process of adding 600 clients at a later date.”
“There’s no such a thing as not being big enough for AM… I can’t even imagine running this business without AccountancyManager.”
“My business is still quite small, but there’s no such a thing as not being big enough for AM. Even if I had 50 clients I would still want it, I can’t even imagine running this business without AccountancyManager. I literally could talk for days about AM. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but you guys are not that expensive. Even for a small practice with one user, it’s what, £30, £40 a month? It’s nothing. Even with just 10 clients, the time AccountancyManager saves is worth more than the software.”
“Even with just 10 clients, the time that AccountancyManager saves is worth more than the cost of the software.”
High praise from HMRC
Anna starts her rundown of AM’s best bits with an anecdote. “So with AM, I’ve got everything in one place. Quite often I’ll call HMRC to talk about clients and have to give lots of details like UTR, address and so on. On a couple of occasions I was praised by HMRC saying, ‘oh gosh, you’re so well organised, you prepare all this information.’ It’s like, I didn’t prepare, I just have them in my CRM software in front of me! HMRC is just one example but it really saves time.”
Access to AM’s Client Portal – via DigitalAccounting.com
When you use AM at your practice, your clients can log into an online portal to access their own details (like UTR, registration number etc.), documents and deadlines. It may sound like a small thing, but Anna loves the fact that she doesn’t get calls asking for this information.
“When they want their tax return from three years ago, they don’t contact me, they log into their client portal and just get it from there. In my previous job, people used to call us needing their UTR or company registration number, now they just log into the software.”
“If you go to our practice website, in the top right corner there’s a login button – that takes you straight to AccountancyManager.”
“What I’ve done as well, if you go to our practice website in the top right corner, you’ve got a login button. When you click that log in, it takes you straight to AccountancyManager. That’s really helped, because previously I had to tell people to go to AM. Now, I just say ‘go to our website, click log in, and that will take you to your portal’.”
Clients filling in their own details for smoother onboarding
AM’s onboarding process is the first impression Anna’s clients get of working with her practice. “All I need from them is their name, surname and email address, I send them the proposal and the beauty is, clients fill in all the information themselves. They also upload their ID and proof of address to the portal.
“I never imagined this process being as smooth as it is now. I’m really happy with it.”
Then I tick the box to request their professional clearance. I never imagined this process being as smooth as it is now. I’m really happy with it. One thing I like as well, after we onboard clients, on a regular basis, we review the missing data section in AccountancyManager. So in case I forgot to send the professional clearance request or in case I forgot to ask for the ID, AccountancyManager will remind me about it.
Stay in the loop with any changes to Companies House
If your client changes or files something with Companies House, they don’t need to call and let you know – cutting out more interruptions to Anna’s day. “The integration with Companies House is great. When my clients decide to change their business registration address, I get a notification right away. Or if they decide to file their confirmation statement without telling me, I know they’ve done it, so I don’t need to chase them.”
Getting records from your clients and forming routines
For any compliance services you offer clients on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, AccountancyManager will automatically request – then chase – clients for the records you need. “They get their reminders as soon as their VAT quarter ends or the CIS month ends. The fact that we always do it on the same day of the month and it’s always the same template, people just get in that routine of every month, every quarter, what they need to send us.”
Task list and notifications – great for working weird hours
When the requests for records go out to your clients, AM automatically generates tasks for you and your team to complete the job when the records arrive. “Tasks are brilliant, because I’ll never miss a deadline. As soon as we’ve done payroll for one month, we just click ‘complete’ and we’ve got the task set up for the next month.
“AccountancyManager is at the heart of our business. It’s the first thing I log into every morning, then I know what’s going on and what I need to do.”
“Working remotely, I just don’t know how we would have done it without AccountancyManager. I’m still reviewing the work done by the bookkeepers, so they’ll mark a task for approval. Then I see a notification saying ‘to review’. Once I’m happy with it, I change the task to ‘reviewed’ and the bookkeepers know they can send it to clients for approval.
“I don’t think we would’ve survived this year without AccountancyManager.”
All of us have children at home and work at different times, but because everything is in AccountancyManager, everyone can just jump in and know where they need to start. If we didn’t use AccountancyManager, we would be sending thousands of emails to each other and emails can be missed. I don’t think we would’ve survived this year without AccountancyManager and we wouldn’t be able to to work from home.”
Automation for your advisory services? Whatever next.
AM is pre-loaded with all compliance-type services, such as VAT, CIS, Payroll etc. These power the automated emails and task generation. But Anna has actually customised AM to organise and automate her advisory emails and tasks too.
Anna’s custom service: 10 months account review
“One of the new services we introduced about a year ago, we call it ‘10 months accounts review’. The idea is that I review the company accounts with clients at the tenth month of their company year. This is really the point when we can build the relationship, because clients really see added value.”
“It’s really amazing how we could just create this additional service in AccountancyManager.”
“So in AccountancyManager I created a task called 10 Months Accounts Review, where the deadline is always two months before the year end. As soon as the task should start in AM, my clients get an email saying please get in touch. Then we won’t forget about doing it because we’ve got the task. It’s really amazing how we could just create this additional service in AccountancyManager.”
We hereby crown you Anna, Queen of Customisations
Already impressing us with her customised advisory service, Anna’s personalised additions to the system don’t end there.
Custom forms – like those online surveys, for Self Assessment
If you’ve ever created one of those online surveys. where you write your own questions and choose which kind of answers you’d like (date, tick box, written etc.), custom forms are just like that. They’re incredibly useful for gathering lots of information from your clients, fast, as they can fill it all in online – especially, as Anna explains, for Self Assessment.
“Using the custom forms, it’s brilliant. People just get it on their mobile, they click on the link, they answer all our questions and it comes directly to us.”
“When you guys introduced custom forms, we thought, ‘wow, that’s amazing’. We were sending this Excel spreadsheet with a Self Assessment questionnaire to all our clients. They’d struggle to open it on their mobile and it got to the point that people would print it out and hand write their answers. Using custom forms, it’s brilliant. People just get it on their mobile, they click on the link, they answer all our questions and it comes directly to us.”
Custom fields – because no one knows your clients like you do
“We’ve also added some customised fields in the registration process. So for example, all our clients pay us by direct debit. So I’ve created a direct debits customer field where I can check if the direct debits mandate has been sent or the client’s already signed up. So I regularly go to the Client List and review that column to see if there’s anyone I need to chase.”
You provide an attentive, personal service – so we do too
Anna has gone from not knowing how a basic CRM system should work to creating her own automated customisations. While AM is notoriously intuitive, Anna hasn’t hesitated to call support if she needed an extra hand. “The support team was so helpful, I never felt that I’m causing trouble by calling. When I call, your colleagues recognise my voice – recently, Rachel answered and it was ‘Oh, hi Anna’. And she was really helpful as always.”
“It just feels like I’m being listened to and I don’t think there was ever an issue that couldn’t be resolved.”
“That’s the difference when, for example, I call Intuit QuickBooks. You never know who you’re going to talk to. And no one really listens because they are too big to listen to a small practice owner. But with AccountancyManager, it just feels like I’m being listened to and I don’t think there was ever an issue that couldn’t be resolved. So brilliant, brilliant customer service.”
“It’s the same with my clients, they like working with us because they feel important when they call in and get their answers straight away. So we are similar in that way as small businesses.”
A small team making a big difference
“I spoke to one of your colleagues and I was surprised because I thought it’s a huge firm – hundreds of employees all over the UK. And then they said, no, it’s just 20 of us. I said ‘What? Really? You guys are everywhere!’. I think the fact that you’re not such a huge firm, it’s easier for you to listen to the users. I raised some feature requests at the very beginning and you guys introduced it. I was surprised thinking, ‘oh, AccountancyManager actually listens!’.”
There are 25 of us now Anna, if you wanted to update your next chocolate order.