Jim Borrill at D H Tuck & Co recently joined us on a webinar hosted by Dan Cockerton of Digital Accountancy fame. The discussion centred around cloud software and the interactions between them. The following week, our Head of Sales, Marcus caught up with Jim as he took the hot seat for our latest AM in Practice.
Rising from work experience to third in command
D H Tuck & Co is a small, family-run firm in Cleethorpes on the UK’s east coast – the practice celebrated their 20th birthday last year. 10 years ago, age 16, Jim Borrill did his work experience placement at D H Tuck & Co and has been there ever since. In fact, he joined the ranks the same week he received his GCSEs. Fully qualified as of August 2019, Jim is now welcoming new apprentices himself, regaling them with stories of his career beginnings.
The switch from Sage to AccountancyManager
Now in his mid twenties, Jim is a prime example of the millennial generation bringing a more digital mindset into accountancy. With new business owners decreasing in age too, he also represents the demographic of a growing number of clients.
“We had the full Sage suite but it didn’t really scream ‘modern technology’.”
Recognising Jim’s natural talent for technology, David Tuck and Andrew Moorby – the founder and managing director of D H Tuck & Co respectively – rely on Jim to provide software consultancy both within the practice and among their customers. Jim is also the go-to guy for newly forming businesses and the practice’s own marketing.
D H Tuck & Co has been with AccountancyManager for two and a half years now, after finding us at Accountex North. “We had a full Sage suite but it didn’t really scream ‘modern technology’.” Jim explains. “We just decided it wasn’t really offering anything on par with you guys. For example, you’d have to finish a set of accounts and manually update when the next period would be. Just little things like that.”
“Wow, this really is exactly what we need”
Andrew and Jim had attended Accountex to see what was new in the world of Xero and Quickbooks. Discovering AccountancyManager was a surprise. “We came across your stand and said, ‘Wow, this really is exactly what we need”. So we weren’t even looking for you, but once we found you it was like, ‘this will work perfectly for us’”.
Unknowingly preparing for life in 2020
When the UK entered lockdown, the team at D H Tuck & Co turned to their technology to keep things running smoothly and keep their clients informed. Jim says, “Over Covid we would have been in trouble without having cloud-based software. We were so happy we had it in place already and didn’t wait for a situation like we’re in now, especially when it comes to working from home.”
Jim thinks back to March and April. “I remember when we first started watching the daily briefings and whenever Rishi Sunak was talking, he’d announce things and we’d get a phone call, five minutes later. “what do we do?” We knew as much as they did! So to get information out as quickly as possible was a great help.”
Bulk emails: Reaching clients quickly with the right information
Admitting it’s not the most exciting feature of AccountancyManager, Jim can’t help but rate bulk emails as his favourite feature, especially during lockdown. “It’s probably very boring but the bulk mails are fantastic. It’s something you don’t get in other software, the fact that you can segment your client base and send an email out to everybody just there and then…
“If we didn’t have that kind of the software in place, it would have been so difficult.”
“You just type it out once and it goes out. Especially over COVID, it had such a massive effect. It’s so easy to just click, say, all my VAT return clients and send them information about the payment extension or the deferral to next March.”
Onboarding: From reams of paper to a checklist
One of the biggest areas that AccountancyManager has made a difference at D H Tuck & Co, is onboarding. AM automates the whole process: proposals, letters of engagement, anti-money-laundering checks, professional clearance and agent authorisations. But for Jim, the best thing about it is the simplicity, being able to gather all the client information you need directly into the system and being guided through each step as you go.
“It’s so much easier,” says Jim, “It’s almost like a checklist. You know, you’ve got the client sitting in front of you and you can just scroll down that one single page and get as much information as possible. And now you’ve got the onboarding workflow as well, that just works as a secondary reminder to say ‘let’s get these other bits done and dusted as soon as possible’ and then you’re up and ready to go”
Canned messages: Saving hours of time
You’ll be forgiven for not knowing what a ‘canned’ message is. Like canned laughter, these are messages – it could be a paragraph or a whole email – that you create once, then save to use again and again. AccountancyManager users save canned messages targeted at different types of clients. Then, when they come to write a single email, bulk email or edit an automated email, they simply pick the relevant canned messages.
“It stops you writing out the same email 50 times, just with a few numbers changed in it.”
“We use canned messages a lot. That’s kind of our bread and butter when we’re editing templates. It stops you writing out the same email 50 times with just a few numbers changed in it. It also makes sure that the information is getting entered into the system as well. Because you actually need information in AccountancyManager to make the email work, it works both ways – everything is in one place and it forces you to make sure all information gets recorded.”
Taking the time to reassess and retrain
Over lockdown, D H Tuck & Co furloughed the majority of their 10-strong team, going down to just three functioning staff, including Jim, for about six to eight weeks. Jim reflects that it’s been a great time to step back, unpick any remaining inefficiencies and set up better practices for when the rest of the team return.
Jim says, “It was a good opportunity to kind of go back to the drawing board with some of our processes and say, now, this isn’t going to help, especially in current circumstances. So let’s change the way we do it moving forward, even if it’s just down to the way we record information or something we’ve used a spreadsheet for previously. Then when people start returning we can use it as a kind of retraining opportunity.
Maximising client value for money
Jim’s final point is a doozy. Using AccountancyManager may have saved hours of time internally for D H Tuck & Co, but for Jim, demonstrating value to his clients is just as important.
“…clients don’t actually know the work that’s involved – so you want to demonstrate that as much as possible”
“I mean, I think that’s what AccountancyManager has done for us. We’ve been able to maximise the value people are getting. Previously they were paying a fee and getting a few pieces of paper at the end of the year. Now they’re getting regular emails, being kept up to date… Sometimes [accountancy] is all done behind closed doors and clients don’t actually know the work that’s involved – so you want to demonstrate that as much as possible. ”
Jim’s advice: Make the jump ASAP… but ease yourself in
“My advice would be to make the jump to AccountancyManager as soon as possible. Don’t get in a situation where you kind of say, ‘I wish I had that software in place. Have that time to get ready, then it’s there when you need it”. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. But what about all the hundreds of ways to use AccountancyManager, isn’t that overwhelming to learn? Jim has some tips there too…
“Take it step by step. You don’t have to jump in and use every single feature. See how one feature works and you’ll find the rewards are there when you actually start using it. Then you’ll think, ‘oh, now we’ll start using this….’ So don’t think ‘oh I must use everything, just do a bit at a time. Just dip your toe in.”