How exactly do you build a stronger connection with each and every one of your team so that each and every one of them are more productive, generate a higher standard of work and ultimately deliver greater bottom-line profits to you and your firm?
On this Humanise the Numbers podcast discussion with Wayne Hockley from Anthony Russell, you'll hear Wayne describe in detail how they've moved their firm from a monthly rhythm for production workflow to a weekly rhythm around production workflow.
Plus, you'll hear how important it's been to drive more regular weekly, if not daily, contact with each and every member of their team.
That may sound inefficient, but this approach by Wayne and his fellow partner Tony has delivered effective results and effective bottom-line profits for their firm.
So why not join me on this podcast interview?
"We've got a check-in point every week, rather than every month with every member of the team.
So we've got more opportunities to put things right.
That was a significant shift getting their plans from a monthly plan to a weekly plan. "
Connect with Wayne
Connect with Paul
TRANSCRIPT - unedited
[00:00:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:00:00] Welcome to the humanize, the numbers podcast, series leaders, managers, and owners of ambitious accounting firms, sharing insight, successes, and issues that will challenge you and connect you and your firm to the ways and means of transforming your firms results.
[00:00:21] Wayne Hockley: [00:00:21] For us, we got check-in point every week, rather than every month with every member of the team, we've got more opportunities to put things, right.
[00:00:29] That was a significant shift is, is getting their, their, their plans from a monthly plan to a weekly plan.
[00:00:36] Paul Shrimpling: [00:00:36] How do you build a stronger, deeper, better connection with your team? Well, There's a better question. Isn't it is. If we build a better connection with the team, will it enhance the results of the firm?
[00:00:48] Will the team feel better? Be more motivated and generate more work in less time. In this podcast interview with Wayne Hockley of Anthony Russell, you'll hear how Wayne and his partner [00:01:00] Tony have built, have made more connections with more of the team more often, and the impact it's had on the tone, the feelings of the team, but actually also the deep down results, the performance of the firm as a result of having more connections, let's go to that podcast interview with Wayne now.
[00:01:19] Today, I'm joined by Wayne Hockley from Anthony Russell affirm act in the deepest darkest of Essex, but you can tell us exactly why from in a minute at Wayne. Uh, but before we get started, please, when, just give us a bit of background about the firm number of team members, number of clients, and so on, just so we can put into context our conversation
[00:01:37] Wayne Hockley: [00:01:37] please.
[00:01:38] Yeah. Good morning. So Wayne from Anthony Raso with based out in Braintree NSX at T partner firm. 11 team members in title and, um, size of firms put into context that 650 K turnover, uh, about 180 business clients. Plus if you tax return only clients. Brilliant.
[00:02:00] [00:02:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:00] And how long has the firm been running? Wayne.
[00:02:02] And, um, tell me a little bit about you and Tony.
[00:02:06] Wayne Hockley: [00:02:06] Um, so in its current format, um, it started in 1999. Um, and that was, uh, uh, Sony took that over from a previous partner. Um, so that was, uh, originally been trading since 1999. So it'd been going a few years now. Yeah. Um, I joined tiny 25 years ago, um, and being.
[00:02:28] Partnered with him now for 15 years.
[00:02:31] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:31] Right. Okay. Okay. And, um, uh, what's the story in terms of you and him and the future of the firm and how's that, how's that panning out? What's, what's what's happening
[00:02:39] Wayne Hockley: [00:02:39] there. Uh, so we now fully into Tony's, um, retirement phase. So we we've, we've got a, uh, a target date for, for Tony to exit the practice.
[00:02:48] Um, and that's, um, in about two years, um, next month. And so we we're just building the building the plans to enable that, uh, And nice exit for the Chinese to come out and [00:03:00] phase clients to remain firmly embedded with us on the team.
[00:03:03] Paul Shrimpling: [00:03:03] Right. Brilliant, brilliant. So why this bin that the, you know, the, the, the structure nature of this podcast discussions about humanized the numbers.
[00:03:12] So I just want to just call something initially with you around. A study that I talk about quite a bit, which is a study from a, an organization of course, Serota who have investigated how, how you build an enthusiastic team and their research. And it's big research, big data, 13.6 million employee surveys, plus, um, you know, group, group research pieces and more individual interviews.
[00:03:37] And so-and-so's massive, massive research study suggest that if you want a truly enthusiastic team, you've got to have a sense of fairness. You've got to build a sense of achievement and you've got to build a sense of comradery. And my first question to you is which one of those resonates most with you?
[00:03:54] What, what, which, you know, that sense of fairness, sense of achievement or sense of camraderie do you [00:04:00] think your firm has done very well over the last one? Two, possibly even three years.
[00:04:06] Wayne Hockley: [00:04:06] Um, I think the sense of. But probably to a certain extent all of them, but since of and seems to be coming through now at the moment.
[00:04:15] And so we restructured internally of, um, a couple of years ago, um, and brought in the client manager concept. Um, so each of our accountants, um, most of them qualified, um, if not qualified by experience, um, are now responsible for their own portfolio of, of clients. Um, I did an abetted by, by tiny and I, um, but they, they run, they run a section of the client base, um, and they're, they're responsible for, um, make sure the client's needs are met.
[00:04:49] And, and I think for them, when they hit the end of the end of the week, end of the month, end of the quarter, and they can see through their, uh, [00:05:00] through their workflow that, um, each of the. Targets are being met if you like. And in terms of the, in terms of the clients requirements, in terms of jobs out the door or, um, or deadlines met it's um, my perception is that they that's where their sense of achievement comes through is they now they're masters of their own destiny in terms of, of output, rather than being reliant upon a, an overall manager or us setting targets and giving them the work.
[00:05:31] And today. Okay.
[00:05:34] Paul Shrimpling: [00:05:34] So it sounds like you're talking about, they've got very much a sense of autonomy and a sense of control over their own portfolio. Yeah. Is that about when the work's getting done the way they respond to clients? Uh, timing of things, what exactly are they in control of? Because sometimes it sounds as though they are, but actually really they're not, you guys are controlling.
[00:05:56] Wayne Hockley: [00:05:56] And then I, um, say is, is all of all of the above that you've just mentioned [00:06:00] that. So, um, beginning of the beginning of the year and an outlined plan is, is put together. Um, so if we speak in terms of, um, year end accounts, for example, so they've got their client list, got the year ends, and then every there's a target turnaround date.
[00:06:17] So the initial target is three months after year end. Everything's done and finished. Um, So working back from that, they prepare them premier and information for the premier in meetings that we have with our clients and at the premier in meeting they've in the pack, they prepare for us. They tell us when they've scheduled their accounts in four.
[00:06:38] So we get agreement with client at that stage page that the, um, so the, so the client manager is. Dictated, if you like for the ones for better words, when the premier meeting is, and then when they want the, the process to, to kick off so that they can meet their plan that they've set out for the year.
[00:06:56] Right. Okay.
[00:06:56] Paul Shrimpling: [00:06:56] Okay. So if I've heard you, right, what you're saying is [00:07:00] each of your client managers has got, uh, a work planner for the year. Um, one of the rules of engagement around that plan is each job is done within three months of the year end date. Did you say. That's our
[00:07:13] Wayne Hockley: [00:07:13] target that's and that's where, how the plans are set.
[00:07:16] Then there'll be, there'll be some clients. We have some, some tight reporting deadlines and for, for their own internal bodies and these clients, they just simply do not want their accounts done within three months of a year. And they're quite, um, because it doesn't fit with their cycle of work. So they'll, um, they'll then say, no, that's too tight for us.
[00:07:35] We will push that. Yeah, yeah. Um, this date, and then we worked with the, with the client managers. So right now we need to move, push that job back and then, and then decline manager will then rework their workflow to, to pull another job forwards. Okay.
[00:07:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:07:50] So, so when, when the plan set, how many of, how many of the jobs, uh, uh, you and your team committed to doing within three [00:08:00] months of the year and date?
[00:08:01] Wayne Hockley: [00:08:01] Um, there's no, uh, I mean, I'll target arrives rule target is that, but ultimately your target is once we've, once we, the great, the tight with the client and the records are coming in and the date that we're. Planning on completing that job, then that's, that's, that's the target date, if you like, if that happens to be within three months in, so be it, if it's three and a half months and the client's happy with that and, and that fits with the, with, with their requirements then.
[00:08:30] Right. Okay.
[00:08:31] Paul Shrimpling: [00:08:31] And so just having that, who's having that conversation with the client about when they want it done by then. Is that you, or is it your team? Is it the client managers?
[00:08:37] Wayne Hockley: [00:08:37] And it says in the premier end, we'll say that this is when we've got it scheduled in for, does this fit with you and your, um, your accounting team or your, um, your other commitments?
[00:08:48] Um, and then if they. Tick the box. That's fine. If not, then we go back and, um, I've worked with the client managers to, to rework the workflow to say, this is when the, when the clients bring in this strategy.
[00:09:00] [00:09:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:09:00] Okay. So you got this annual plan, which ostensibly setting it out for it to be at every job done within three months of the year end date, the premier and meeting with every client.
[00:09:07] Is that, is that a conversation? Is that a meeting you have with everyone?
[00:09:10] Wayne Hockley: [00:09:10] Um, every, every IMB and Airbnb plan and my seat lions, um, There's a, there's a few of those that, that think require an eating or yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay,
[00:09:26] Paul Shrimpling: [00:09:26] brilliant. So, um, the team has got a plan so that they can get a sense of achievement about this year long plan, but no one gets posted up about, you know, you know, often 1% of my year long plan what's going on that actually builds that sense of achievement on a more regular basis.
[00:09:40] What, what's the, what's the natural rhythm in your head? So
[00:09:43] Wayne Hockley: [00:09:43] the, the annual plan is set out from, from the starts and then. Um, that then falls into a more robust, quarterly plan. So as the, as the premier meetings come through and the, and those dates are confirmed, um, and then the, we, they then [00:10:00] produce a fairly prescriptive 13 rolling 13 week plan.
[00:10:05] And so, which is then. Uh, pushed her into their calendars so everybody can see complete visibility across the team as to who's working on, on what today. And, and when, um, and we check in with them every Monday morning, um, to go through, uh, this week, made sure everything this week is still, um, still on plan and, um, More frequently, it's been more frequently because of circumstances and locked down and in the pandemic, remote, working in my RV.
[00:10:36] Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Um, Tony has been checking in with them, uh, up till Christmas. He was checking in with them every day. Um, not to check up on them as to what they were doing, but just checking in and make sure their, um, wellbeing and any issues that have cropped up because all working remotely is more difficult than just popping your head around the corner in the office.
[00:10:55] Just to see if, um, if everything's on track. Um, [00:11:00] since Christmas with, um, we haven't done that daily. That's been, um, maybe every other day, so three times a week for that specific purpose, but invariably, um, there'll be contact with the, with the guys that are working at home and every day. Right, right, right,
[00:11:15] Paul Shrimpling: [00:11:15] right.
[00:11:17] So there's, um, interest just want to come in on this. So a rolling 13 week plan. Yeah. So on every Monday they're looking at the next 13 weeks of work that has to be done.
[00:11:29] Wayne Hockley: [00:11:29] Yeah. So, um, exactly that, so being in the quarter, it's the whole quarter then as we, as we go through it and move through the quarter, beginning of next quarter starts getting and getting populated at the bottom of that plan.
[00:11:42] Paul Shrimpling: [00:11:42] Right. And how does that help the team in terms of ensuring that they do what they need to be done?
[00:11:48] Wayne Hockley: [00:11:48] Um, one of the, one of the. Check-in points that we go through is the M two, three things that need to happen this week to improve next week or week [00:12:00] after. So if there's a, if there's a job coming in, that should be in next week that still hasn't arrived.
[00:12:05] And then the obvious one is a, is a phone call to the client this week to say it was agreed that date next week, he is still on track for that. Um, so that when we get through to that point next week that, um, everything should be there and ready to brilliant. But it's
[00:12:19] Paul Shrimpling: [00:12:19] funny, I've been in a couple of, uh, uh, production meetings with the captaincy manager teams this week.
[00:12:26] And, um, it's almost as if the, the emphasis of the whole meeting is on how to make this week successful as opposed to yes. Let's make this week productive, but do the things this week, that influenced next week and the week beyond. And that's what you describing there. Isn't that? I guess? Yes, it is.
[00:12:41] Wayne Hockley: [00:12:41] Yeah.
[00:12:42] Paul Shrimpling: [00:12:42] Yeah. Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant. So, um, how do you, how do you determine or assess whether your team of feeling a sense of achievement then? Uh, just, you know, we got tracks of measures or is it just a gut feel? Cause you're a small team. What's what, how do you know your team are feeling a sense of achievement way?
[00:12:59] Wayne Hockley: [00:12:59] Um, [00:13:00] from my perspective is so they've, they've got their, they've got their jobs lined up. They've got an, every, every job as, uh, obviously, uh, uh, Uh, billing points or, or a production production points. That is a, there's a number there too many manage a measure and manage at the end of the end of each week.
[00:13:15] So beginning as we S as this week is confirmed on the Monday morning, check-in, um, the re there'll be a resulting production output figure, um, and or billing figure. Um, that's um, they worked through to complete to the end of the week or the end of, um, innovation quarter. Um, We then assess the, the overall, um, overall position and, and just run through any overs or unders.
[00:13:43] And, um, it shouldn't be any surprises in that because obviously the, the, the weekly check-ins are, uh, are being done, um, to track and measure what, what is happening. Um, and then at the end of each quarter, targets are [00:14:00] hit, um, Usually some form of recognition, um, for that across the team. Um, and that ranges from a small bonus here and there, or a team event, um, back in the times when we were allowed to, so to take a socialize.
[00:14:14] Yeah, that'd be nice.
[00:14:16] Paul Shrimpling: [00:14:16] Uh, cool. So there's you make a distinction there between the production output in the week and the, and the billing. Why, why, why that distinction.
[00:14:26] Wayne Hockley: [00:14:26] Uh, say things the way we measure internally here is, uh, draft accounts. At the point of draft accounts out to the clients were queries that's, um, that's production.
[00:14:37] Um, that's a production target and that's just valued at 80% of the, of the final fee. Yeah. And then when the final, uh, bill, when the final accounts go out, the final fee is then assessed as is turnover. Target. All
[00:14:53] Paul Shrimpling: [00:14:53] right. And they're able to log that final 20% of the fee has been done that [00:15:00] perfectly is that what's going on?
[00:15:01] Wayne Hockley: [00:15:01] We measured two separate, so draft accounts, uh, is their production target. And then separately, when final final accounts go out and that's that's, um, sign over target. We're getting target. Okay. Uh, so
[00:15:13] Paul Shrimpling: [00:15:13] just, just for my own clarity. So this week, um, say one of your team, uh, who do I call, give me the name of one of your team, Georgia, Georgia.
[00:15:21] So, um, so George has got, uh, two sets of draft accounts that are going out and she gets 80% of the fee because draft accounts have gone out to clients and she's got another job that she's actually, uh, completed and file filed, and she then can log the, the, the remaining 20% on that particular fee.
[00:15:37] Wayne Hockley: [00:15:37] I've understood.
[00:15:38] Uh, so let's say. Drive to Kansas go out. She gets 80% of the fee as a production value target separately. She's got a billing target, which so she'll get a hundred percent. Right. Okay. And so there's two, two separate, two targets
[00:15:55] Paul Shrimpling: [00:15:55] connected to the same job, but at different times. Yeah. All right. Okay. Does that not confuse?
[00:16:00] [00:16:00] Um,
[00:16:01] Wayne Hockley: [00:16:01] no, I don't think so. Um, is, is two separate tracking lines on there? On that workflow. Um, and it, it segregates the fact from draft accounts to draft accounts obviously needed to go out and recognize the fact that production has happened because sometimes jobs can't hang around for a while. If clients haven't got any interest in answering the queries or don't behave the right accounts back, um, and ultimately their, their targets are, uh, uh, based around their, their billing value.
[00:16:29] So it's in their interest then to, to. Yeah. The, um, final accounts turned around as soon as possible. So that whole billing figure can be recognized in everybody's. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:16:41] Paul Shrimpling: [00:16:41] So, um, uh, I'm curious now because we've got Georgie on the map now, so is Georgie more driven by hitting her goal for the week, her targets for the week or more driven by the team hitting the overall team goal or target for the week?
[00:16:56] What's the trade-off or what's the tone of that [00:17:00] drive? Mine.
[00:17:02] Wayne Hockley: [00:17:02] Um, she will be driven by meeting her, her dog. It's a rich, the definition of she makes her targets. He means she's service their clients in accordance with how we plan to plan to do so. Yeah. Um, there w there are times in the year, um, where one of the other client managers maybe struggling, and so why the hitter hit a target or hit a deadline, or the plans go on a rifer for some reason.
[00:17:29] So, um, At that point, we'll have a get together to save, right? Can we can Georgia step in and help one of the other team members and get this job three to daughter to come back so that she doesn't then get penalized on her target for, um, for helping somebody else out. If, if you like, right. So
[00:17:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:17:50] there's an, there's an acknowledgement that there's, uh, the need.
[00:17:55] For someone else to have some support. And you would, George target is then to, just to, [00:18:00] down to reflect that. Is that what you're
[00:18:01] Wayne Hockley: [00:18:01] saying? Right? Yeah. And at the end of the code States, that was to happen then, um, Then that's an explanation as to why she might have missed one of her jobs, which then obviously that exactly, that that's all it gets
[00:18:13] Paul Shrimpling: [00:18:13] adjusted.
[00:18:14] Right. Okay. Um, so how, how, how would you describe the tone or the feeling of that comradery between your team then? Um, but you know, it's hard, isn't it? Because everyone's been working remotely. So how would you describe the sense of camaraderie across a team of people that aren't actually in an office, but yeah.
[00:18:34] Uh, you know, within this setting, you know, within this conversation in terms of, you know, uh, well, how would you describe the feeling of, of that teamwork camaraderie piece within Anthony Russell?
[00:18:47] Wayne Hockley: [00:18:47] And he's very difficult in the moment because they are, they are. Or working at home separately and they've all looking after their own portion of clients as well.
[00:18:57] So there's, um, there's cross support with [00:19:00] the, with the payroll team and the bookkeeping team and the admin team. And so we do, um, lately too, before that there's the check-ins. And then we, um, with the planning at the beginning of the week, and then we have a monthly zoom, uh, just to run through, um, with the climb managers, um, just generally.
[00:19:21] Company policies or strategic, um, strategies that we're deploying or any change of direction with, um, or any new software that's coming through that sort of thing. So it's, um, I think we're all looking forward to getting back into the office properly and excuse me. And, um, and. Hopefully that that will come back, but yeah.
[00:19:43] Is, is difficult. I mean, they, they teasing each other, they call each other and they they're all chatting on teams, um, during the day. Um, but there is no substitute for having a desk next to each other. Yeah, yeah.
[00:19:55] Paul Shrimpling: [00:19:55] Yeah. Uh, so there's obviously there's that, you know, two to three [00:20:00] one-on-one check-ins each week with each of them, you've got this monthly pull everybody together, um, piece, um, I'm sorry to push you, but how would you describe, what words would you use to describe the, sort of the emotional tone on that sent in and around this?
[00:20:18] Um, yeah. We're all in this together. Or do you think that's just a natural question? Cause that's impossible to achieve in remote working locked down. So now,
[00:20:28] Wayne Hockley: [00:20:28] um, yes, it is difficult. It is difficult to achieve. Um, There, those points of contact that described there are, they are the structured ones. And then there's invariably, um, conversations happening over telephone or zoom throughout the day on job specific issues or, or, or administrative issues, um, which, which are unstructured.
[00:20:50] So, um, most, most days, um, I speak to every member of the team. Um, if not, um, [00:21:00] If not every day, then certainly two, three, four times a week. Um, and I think, I think that we have, we have got very good same. Um, and we've got a lot of Goodwill from the team prior to lock down, working from home. Um, I don't think anybody envisaged the, the homework homeworking was going to last the best part of the year and it has done now.
[00:21:25] Um, so I think to begin with as bit of a novelty and it was a, a kind of, we're all in this together. Um, and it's a temporary scenario and we, we just need to pull through, um, we still, we've still got that. I think, as I say that, I think a few of them are, uh, wanting to get back to the office. Um, So hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later.
[00:21:46] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it's definitely worn off. Isn't it? Yeah.
[00:21:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:21:50] So you said that you, you, you built up a lot of Goodwill with the team prior to March last year. W w what, what was that about? How, how do you [00:22:00] achieve that and how is that? How do you know you've built up that Goodwill as well? And I
[00:22:06] Wayne Hockley: [00:22:06] think.
[00:22:07] Probably possibly didn't know the time, but the way they've reacted and dealt with this with this scenario since is, has demonstrated that we certainly had that in there, that effort for Tony and I, and for the clients and for the business, because essentially it was a turned up for work one morning and there was a cardboard box and filled it up with some screens, a keyboard, um, and, um, a laptop and, and yeah, and they find it took a few thousand and kind of off, they went, wait, goodbye.
[00:22:35] Yeah. So I say, yeah, at the time, I mean, those things are first at the time, in terms of the, the client managers as scenario where they, um, feeling the autonomy of, of looking after their own clients and the sense of team for the team events that we did. Yeah. So, and hopefully we can get back to that. At some point
[00:22:58] Paul Shrimpling: [00:22:58] it does.
[00:22:59] It does sound. Yeah. Well, [00:23:00] th there's there's, uh, if you, if you look at the number of points of contact every week with every person in your team, that's quite high, there's that they're doing it between each other, you're doing it with your team. Tony's also doing the same. So that actually the number of points of contact, excuse me, with each individual's quite high.
[00:23:16] So you've got a high degree of connectedness by the
[00:23:19] Wayne Hockley: [00:23:19] sounds of it. Yeah. And that was certainly a deliberate strategy. Um, Last year as we, as we went through this, um, because we, we didn't want, after they'd been packed off home in their box of computer equipment, we needed to, I from, uh, obviously from it, yeah, from a company point of view, in terms of operations, we need to make sure that the work was still being done.
[00:23:43] There was needed to be done. But then, um, secondly, and just as importantly, just, uh, their wellbeing, um, just, uh, some of them. Got family at home and they've got people around. Um, some of them have got just live with another half, so there's only two of them in the [00:24:00] house and they might have still been working.
[00:24:01] So they, they may just be one of them for a long time. During lockdown was just, um, between sort of nine and five was working at home on her own. Um, so it was just making sure that there was. Enough contact there. So to break up the day and the monotony, without
[00:24:19] Paul Shrimpling: [00:24:19] bringing some humanity into what's going on day in, day out, and for, you know, someone who's literally in a one bedroom flat on their own, it's a different world to live with a partner and, you know, three kids under seven it's, it's a different one.
[00:24:30] So you've got to respond to the different ways of how, how have you and the firm been in terms of flexibility around that and, and, and work timings and so on. What's what's been the firm's approach on that.
[00:24:42] Wayne Hockley: [00:24:42] Yeah, we did. So we had, we had a small flexi time policy prior to, to lock down anyway. So sort of start tying and in time as flexible, as long as the, the hours were done in the day, and it was reasonably office hours type thing.
[00:24:56] So we didn't want anybody coming in at four o'clock in the morning and leaving at 12 o'clock [00:25:00] in the afternoon. So it's sort of anywhere between sort of half seven till half nine start, and then any time between sort of four and six finish effectively. Um, so that was prior to lock down theory. Working from home.
[00:25:12] Um, as long as the rules, as long as clients got emails and telephone calls responded to within a reasonable timeframe, then ultimately the, the working hours. Um, they, we, we left them to, to chase some small children. So it's easy to work in the evening when the children are in bed, um, and sunlight, the routine of making sure they're at their desk working by half eight so they can finish at five.
[00:25:37] Yeah. Some of them just enjoy Elaine and don't start to half 10 for them work for you to sort of have seven. So yeah. Flexible.
[00:25:44] Paul Shrimpling: [00:25:44] So you just been, you're not tied to that. It's just that it sounds as though you want your team tied to the standards of performance from the customer's perspective in terms of response times and so on.
[00:25:55] Yeah. But outside that, what sort of you're you're in charge of you sought your [00:26:00] timing out. As long as we hit the deadlines that was agreed with clients and so forth, you've been completely
[00:26:03] Wayne Hockley: [00:26:03] relaxed. Yeah. Um, say they've obviously they've got their plan at the beginning of the week, so they know what they're needing and wanting to achieve by the end of the week.
[00:26:12] And, um, and they, they can choose effectively the hours they want to do to achieve that as long as the clients are looked after in the meantime. Cool. So
[00:26:20] Paul Shrimpling: [00:26:20] it sounds like you've got, you've got a goal weekend weekend to hit in terms of all you've work on and billings out the door. Uh, how often in a 13 week window do you, do you hit that number
[00:26:32] Wayne Hockley: [00:26:32] then?
[00:26:33] That's a good question. No, it's, I'd say, you know, unfortunately, no, not yet, but we, it is a, it's one of our KPIs that we measure, um, every, every week and, and reports on every month and they obviously for cancer and the last quarter of the month, um, is usually a strong quarter compared to the first quarter of a month.
[00:26:55] So, um, on average, um, we probably hit [00:27:00] in two out of the. For across the core two to four. So I have 13, we probably hit in seven of the 13 weeks. Right. Then, which then tend to be towards the, and did they really?
[00:27:16] Paul Shrimpling: [00:27:16] All right, so we've got 13 weeks and it's the last seven that you hated them,
[00:27:18] Wayne Hockley: [00:27:18] is it? I'm not quite like that, but she's weighted to that.
[00:27:23] We've got, we have been trying to implement a weekly, um, a weekly. Cycle rather than a monthly quarterly cycle for, for a long time. Um, and every year we make some more improvements to towards that, but we, um, and there will also be times where you see simply can't hit that same way because there might be, um, there might be.
[00:27:45] Large chunky jobs going out in specific weeks, which then have a lead time up to, up to, um, getting that out. So yeah, probably on average seven pounds, 13. Okay. So
[00:27:58] Paul Shrimpling: [00:27:58] that's that weekly [00:28:00] emphasis? As opposed to say that monthly or quarterly emphasis and, you know, I accepted there's, you know, the, the spikes isn't there in terms of scale of the job, which walks a week and then walk to the following week because you know, you're playing catch up in terms of getting, you know, catch prep through the door.
[00:28:15] Um, how do you know that that weekly approaches worked for the firm? Yeah. As opposed to, you know, it's standard classical approach and in the Kansas farmers, you know, as long as we hit the monthly number every month, we'll be fine. But it sounds like you're not doing that. Are you going to hit the weekly number every week and we'll be fine.
[00:28:33] Yeah. How do you know that's worked better than say the monthly approach? Um,
[00:28:38] Wayne Hockley: [00:28:38] from my perspective, two reasons, um, CA cashflow certainly has improved at the back of the back of that for the, the non direct debit clients. Um, so jobs again, production time is going. Reducing say jobs are going through the door quicker.
[00:28:55] Therefore, um, invoice has been raised quicker and, and being paid quicker. [00:29:00] And secondly, the, um, the growth that we've had in the business over the last few years, um, has been, we can attribute that to some of these weekly, um, focus, um, because. W we, we call it slippage if it's, if there's jobs that slip into the next period, by looking at this weekly they're slipping into the next week.
[00:29:19] Um, so we've got opportunity to, to, to catch that up. If I'm, if we're looking at this monthly and it's linked into the next month, by the time we get to December and it slips into the next month, it is slipping into the next it's slipping into the next year. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So we, in terms of turnaround times and the numbers of jobs at the end of each, at the end of each year, And there's a number of jobs that we measure at the end of each year that, um, could have been done in this financial period that have been, they've gone into the next year that, um, ignoring COVID, um, that has reduced every year.
[00:29:56] Um, since we've been looking at this weekly rather than, um, [00:30:00] rather than a monthly or quarterly, if I can.
[00:30:02] Paul Shrimpling: [00:30:02] Right. Okay. Okay.
[00:30:04] Wayne Hockley: [00:30:04] Um, slipped back a little bit last year because of production issues. Um, They would say locked down and working from home. Yeah.
[00:30:12] Paul Shrimpling: [00:30:12] Yeah. And I know, I know fellows had levels. Who've got this new job that didn't exist before.
[00:30:16] And then, you know, you throw that into the mix as well. And if some firms are struggled with tax returns, season's been not, not as good as it historically had a bit in terms of that. Weekly methodology. Um, partly because some of the team were consumed by furloughed work as opposed to actually doing tax returns weekly.
[00:30:33] Wayne Hockley: [00:30:33] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Um, yeah, no, I'll tell you a similar story here.
[00:30:37] Paul Shrimpling: [00:30:37] Right? So, so you're saying, um, turnaround times at reducing, uh, slippage reducing. Yep. Um, and you say growth, are you talking feed growth or profit growth or both or both? What, in what ways? This weekly mentality, this weekly rhythm, this weekly autonomy from your team's perspective, it's hands
[00:31:00] [00:30:59] Wayne Hockley: [00:30:59] I see in terms of turnover and in profits, right again.
[00:31:04] Paul Shrimpling: [00:31:04] Okay. Um, And how long have you been on this weekly treadmill as opposed to a monthly treadmill? It's um, before you answered the question, I was talking to Paul dune yesterday. And if it's, if you don't know, Paul Dunn is worth Googling is a real character. I had a wonderful conversation with him and, um, Uh, do we really want to work on it on a treadmill?
[00:31:26] Cause actually it's going backwards. It's like not thought to be like that before. So treadmill is the wrong word to use. You're describing this. So you know, this weekly rhythm versus a monthly rhythm, how long have you been in a space where you've been looking to improve that process?
[00:31:42] Wayne Hockley: [00:31:42] Probably for the last two or three years.
[00:31:46] And then there's probably two or three years leading up to that. We were trying to. Okay. Something in that works around, uh, a weekly, a weekly process.
[00:31:55] Paul Shrimpling: [00:31:55] So, uh, so has there been any key, um, [00:32:00] difficulties in terms of installing and making that weekly rhythm work? What, what, what are you, um, I'm now thinking of.
[00:32:06] You know, any firm who's listening to this go and this week. Thing's interesting. Um, so it's like what, what, what, what were the key moments that enabled you to see this working that, you know, from, could listen to it and go, Oh, if we did that, we will get there quicker than Wayne and Tony got there. Yeah. Um,
[00:32:22] Wayne Hockley: [00:32:22] is it primarily, it's just the, uh, the mentality shift, um, historically in accounting firms.
[00:32:29] It's um, certainly my experience was it, there was always the monthly focus, um, The let's get the jobs done by the end of the month, get deadlines are always at the end of the month. Um, and accounts, um, internal reports are always produced, produced monthly. So there's just a monthly mentality, um, historically around, around everything that, that was there was done in the firm.
[00:32:53] Yeah. So it's getting to that. It's, it's getting the mind shift first, so we'll actually, we need to get away [00:33:00] from monthly. We need to get to weekly and then. What processes can we start bringing in to actually start implementing that? So the first thing we did was we changed the, um, so planning meetings, historically planning meetings would have been monthly planning meetings.
[00:33:18] Um, and it would have been right. These are your jobs. These are your jobs to be done by the end of the month. Um, and then obviously now that's the, the weekly check in the weekly plan. Um, Which was a, a, that was a significant shift. Is it getting their, their, their plans from a monthly plan to a weekly plan?
[00:33:38] Um, and then the 13 week rolling plan is, um, is, is key to us now as well. So that it's not a, a 13 week plan that reduces to a one week plan. Yeah. That was the first three
[00:33:50] Paul Shrimpling: [00:33:50] weeks. Yeah. It's always 30 weeks. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Okay. So, um, so I can hear the. Sense in the physical shift from, uh, a monthly [00:34:00] workflow production rhythm to a weekly one.
[00:34:01] We check in every week, which sounds time-consuming to firms. You know, if we just have one, one a month, we're only using, you know, time or once a month, as opposed to we're doing it four times a month or five times a month and a five week month, we we're using that time. What five times that doesn't sound efficient at all.
[00:34:18] Wayne Hockley: [00:34:18] Absolutely. And if they registered, um, and, and the time we spend in those check-ins in those meetings, I wouldn't say four times longer because there's, there's less to cover for the next week, or it would be for a whole month. Um, but the payback comes, comes later. If you, if you're only having one a month and as a lady too early, we slippage, um, jobs don't come in or, or, or get done in that month.
[00:34:40] You then it's an, it's a big, it's a big period that you're effecting next time. Um, so yeah. For us, it was immense. It means we can check for us. We got checking point every week, rather than every month with every member of the team, we've got more opportunities to put things right. Um, quicker than, um, [00:35:00] so ignorant holidays and bits pieces.
[00:35:02] You've got 48 times to, to, to go through the list and get this right. Rather than 12 times. Yeah.
[00:35:08] Paul Shrimpling: [00:35:08] Yeah, it was interesting. It just revert back to this conversation with Paul Dunn yesterday, w w I was talking about, well, what's the natural rhythm of an accounting firms suggesting that it's every week. And, and he was saying, well, he's talking a lot about cadence, then you think cadence and rhythm with the same thing.
[00:35:24] But he was, Paul was making reference to, um, uh, top class cyclists look to maintain the same cadence around the pedals. Whether they're going uphill, downhill or on the streets, the change gear, but they look to keep the same cadence. And it sounds like what you're trying to do is keep the same cadence week in, week out around the value of work that you're doing and the billing piece where you can, was he keeping the same cadence irrespective as to the scale of the jobs, lots of jobs with small fees, few big jobs, big phases, you know, the, the, the, the pressure, the hell [00:36:00] versus the downhill changes.
[00:36:02] But you're looking to keep that, that, that weekly cadence and it, and if it's an investment in those weekly meetings, the pay off is in less slippage, more opportunities to make the corrections and therefore maintain that cadence piece. Yeah. I've not seen it in that light before, until this conversation yesterday.
[00:36:20] I thought that's really
[00:36:20] Wayne Hockley: [00:36:20] powerful. Yeah. Yeah. Very interesting. Yeah,
[00:36:23] Paul Shrimpling: [00:36:23] yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, so, um, it sounds like so, and I'm just making a big leap here that every team member was the autonomy. They've got the connectedness that you've created, the weekly rhythm are more productive now than they ever were.
[00:36:40] When you were looking at this from a monthly perspective, or am I just putting words in your mouth? Say.
[00:36:45] Wayne Hockley: [00:36:45] No, I think that's fair. I mean, um, in terms of, I mean, that's measurable by that the fact that they, that the turnaround time on jobs and across the, across the firm and I love, yeah.
[00:36:57] Paul Shrimpling: [00:36:57] Yeah. Um, but [00:37:00] also, you know, the ultimate financial measure, I guess, is if profitability is improving year in year end then, um, uh, in, in percentage terms, not just in total terms, is there a sense that that's the case as well?
[00:37:12] Well, yes, yes, there is. Yeah. So it's not just like you're making 30% profit and fees grow and you keep making 30, if you know, you've, you've seen that percentage advance. Yes. Yes we have yet. Right. Okay. Okay. Um, all right. So we've taught sense of achievement and that's come from autonomy, a weekly rhythm, um, and the ability to adjust and amend what's going on week in, week out and having that 13 week rolling plan.
[00:37:37] I find that, um, at reassuring as well, um, Comradery tough, really tough, um, sense of fairness. Um, I, it's a weird one to talk about isn't it when we can't actually get together as well, but it sounds as though the way, you know, one, person's got three children at home, we've got to work with them in a different way.
[00:37:58] Then there's the person who's got [00:38:00] no children at home. And someone who has got elderly parents at home is a different kettle of fish as well. And it's almost the fairness comes from treating each individual separately. Is that.
[00:38:10] Wayne Hockley: [00:38:10] Yeah, I think, I think that's fair. Yeah. So it's not a blanket. I mean, we're a small, small that small teams, so is it's, um, it's nice and easy, easy to manage in that way, but they've all, they are treated as individuals and their individual circumstances are respected and, um, and we're deal with them accordingly.
[00:38:29] It's not just a broad brush. You can, you all do this or you all do that.
[00:38:34] Paul Shrimpling: [00:38:34] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So how, how do you feel the firm's done? It's financially? It sounds like you've done. Okay, Wayne, but how do you feel about it? How, how do you and Tony feel looking back at 2020 and you know, the way your team have done the results.
[00:38:46] And so in the rank, how, how are you feeling about the film
[00:38:49] Wayne Hockley: [00:38:49] and faith? Fairly proud of what we achieved last year in terms of the, um, and the output for, um, for the clients and what the client's experience of, of the firm last year. [00:39:00] Um, internally we probably had a small production issue because of the, because of the working from home scenario.
[00:39:05] There's, um, The slippage that we've referred to previously, was it a little bit higher than, than we would have expected? And that's due to, as you related to one of the, um, fellow became a big job for somebody that there wasn't there at the beginning of the year. So, um, so something had to give somewhere somewhere along the line.
[00:39:25] But, but that aside that the way the team responded, the, the, the, um, the, the production, um, and the, the, the service the clients were given through the, through the real tough times, um, of last year, um, I think was. From our perspective is, was very, very good. We've had lots of good feedback and, um, from the clients and, and lots of, um, expressions of thanks and gratitude, um, for that, um, and during that time, uh, the, the firm's still able to grow.
[00:39:56] Um, we didn't hit our growth target, um, [00:40:00] but, um, we, we still increased. Um, we still probably increased turnover by, I think about 10% last year. Um, Brilliant, which, um, during a fairly, fairly tough trading period with them is something that we're wearing out of.
[00:40:16] Paul Shrimpling: [00:40:16] I'm wondering, and this is hypothetical. So, you know, in kick this on back to me, if you want, and I'm just wondering what 2020 would have been, like, if you'd have been still in that monthly rhythm, that monthly cadence, as opposed to weekly, what do you think the big difference would have been?
[00:40:35] Wayne Hockley: [00:40:35] Yeah, I think. Because we already got the weekly check ins going with the team. Um, they were physically around the, the meeting room table with each individual at the beginning of the week. Um, that, that habit, if you like, was already ingrained. Um, so that was an obvious one to just jump onto a zone or jump on a phone call to, to, to do [00:41:00] that.
[00:41:00] Um, it would have, I suppose it would have been easy to let that slip and do that every other week or. Every month. Um, but, um, it certainly, wasn't certainly didn't enter our heads. That that's something that we wanted to do because we we'd already got the habit. And, and we've spent this long trying to get this weekly process going through, I think, as you say, hypothetical, but I doubt we'd have got the, um, the, the number of.
[00:41:29] Jobs, once I jobs accounts, get accounts, grab jobs, management accounts, et cetera. Um, we would not have got the outfit that we got if we'd have, if we'd have just been looking at this monthly
[00:41:38] Paul Shrimpling: [00:41:38] last year. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, you could argue the slippage of been even worse, given that you're not working in an office turn turnaround times, who knows, but, but it's, it is speculative, but it's interesting isn't it?
[00:41:49] That you talk habit. So even you'd install this week, you had it before, when it was natural for it to continue during. Um, but it sounds as though you've. Um, how to work harder at [00:42:00] the one-on-one connections? Um,
[00:42:03] Wayne Hockley: [00:42:03] I think it harder in terms of time spent and just simply because it's so tiny was checking in with them formally every day.
[00:42:11] Um, and that could say is yeah. Um, and, and we think, although. He was losing, uh, losing a lot of time effectively on, on phone calls to, to the team, um, uh, where he could've been doing other things. He was still looking after his clients. He, his other, um, responsibilities were still being fulfilled, would say it was just a case of making the time to do that.
[00:42:35] And, um, and we failed. Because of that, that the team are in a, in a good place and, and, um, and continue to, to be productive. Yeah. Brilliant.
[00:42:45] Paul Shrimpling: [00:42:45] Uh, how, how good that is? That's a loaded question. Let me change the question. Uh, it, it's clear from this discussion, there's a high degree of connectedness in your firm.
[00:42:56] You know, people's people manage it to, you know, junior and so on. [00:43:00] Um, How well have your autonomous client manager team, then it's ensuring the same or better level of connectedness has happened with clients like what's what's going on there? Um,
[00:43:15] Wayne Hockley: [00:43:15] it's okay. Probably as it was, as it was before. Um, except the face-to-face meetings have dropped off, so, and climb managers, I've got their processes.
[00:43:26] They know when they want. Jobs guys or guys out, they know automatically when to remind the client that they haven't had the answers to queries, for example, um, instead of junk on phone, um, get them to jump on a zoom meeting to, to run through that. Right. Um, so I think, um, and then obviously by the weekly, our weekly check-ins with, with the teams, that was what's the position on this job, uh, will science I've had the queries if they promised me an answer, but not come back.
[00:43:56] Yeah. And then, so we can get involved [00:44:00] if needs, be jump on the phone and say, come on, let's get these queries sorted down. Now, the other thing that's changed rather than
[00:44:07] Paul Shrimpling: [00:44:07] what it was before. Right. So that, uh, so if I hear you, right, the amount of contact with clients in 2020 was similar to what it was in 2019, right?
[00:44:18] Wayne Hockley: [00:44:18] Similar in terms of routine kind of accounts, um, pay roll. Well, I can not pay your pyro. Was that you mentally up because they kind of retain jobs, been in terms of our contact with clients throughout 2020, um, are clearly our face-to-face meetings. Um, we're we're down. Um, most of them got replaced by zoom meetings, but in terms of, um, certainly 3d early stage of the pandemic, um, As all decent firms where they were, um, we were putting our information out to clients, um, check it.
[00:44:51] We, um, Ty and I both had it just very, very simple list of every client, um, hand in front of us on our desk and just made sure [00:45:00] that we tick them off every month to make sure that, um, we'd spoken to them right every month to begin with. Um, now, um, some of those were there. We were dialing out to, because we hadn't spoken to the client, a significant proportion of clients were, were fading in because they were concerned or, or worried.
[00:45:18] Um, so, but, um, so by the end of the month, what we'd got is a few clients that we hadn't spoke to. Um, so we've made sure we, we checked in with them to, right. So if they needed anything and, um, that day. It didn't stay monthly throughout the whole of 2020. There was, there was some clients where it was almost daily for most of the year.
[00:45:37] And there were some clients that checked in, um, every, every couple of months as, as needs arise. Yeah.
[00:45:44] Paul Shrimpling: [00:45:44] Uh, Y Y uh, uh, this, uh, this conversation's been, um, uh, uh, fascinating, uh, on, in, in that humanized, the numbers context you gave, right? Accountants are experts at numbers. They spend all the time working on numbers and in numbers and so on.
[00:45:59] Um, [00:46:00] Uh, but what you've done, what, what in your firm? It sounds to me as though that weekly rhythm has got the internal numbers, the targets production numbers showing up more often than obviously if it was monthly. So you got more numbers showing up more often. And yet because of that, it's almost as if you've got a more human from, as a consequence it's dry and the more contact that you and Tony you've had with the team and the team have had with the team, even in a remote setting.
[00:46:27] Um, makes your firm very much tick that humanize the numbers box. It's almost if the emphasis is on the humanity, as opposed to the numbers and the numbers of looked after themselves. Now I know the numbers never look after themselves, but there's, you know, there's that balance. It seems as though you've got, uh, you've got pretty well-staffed, I've loved this discussion.
[00:46:44] Thank you very much. Um, I I'm curious that it, it would be. I guess a number of questions you've looked at your firm. What, what is it that stood out from this conversation that makes you reflect on something you [00:47:00] could do better on?
[00:47:04] Wayne Hockley: [00:47:04] Um, I think there's, there's always room for improvement in, in, in any, anything that internally, um, I think with the, one of the, one of the KPIs that throughout this conversation, the, the weekly rhythm, we're still.
[00:47:19] We were far, far better than we ever have been. And that is a continuous improvement. Boom. We know we've got a way to go on that and we won't be happy to we're here in 10, 11, 12, even 13 release per quarter of the, of the target rather than having the, having the fluctuation. Yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
[00:47:35] Paul Shrimpling: [00:47:35] So 10 of 13, that'd be interesting to know what the group we've been.
[00:47:38] Just have another check-in then when we've got, if we're, what does the firm feel like, look like and what do the results look like when you've gone from seven out of 13 and you get to 10 or 11 out of 13? Every week and that cadence is more consistent. Um, because if anything, if you look at the results in the cycling world is when you get more stability around that cadence, you cycle faster, [00:48:00] you get more done, you achieve better results.
[00:48:03] So, um, Um, uh, I wish you every success with that. I look forward to hearing about that. So, Wayne, thank you very much for taking time out of your day and sharing a few, uh, really detailed insights into the way you work in your firm and humanizing the numbers at Antony Russell. Thank you very, very, very
[00:48:17] Wayne Hockley: [00:48:17] much.
[00:48:17] You're very welcome. Thank you for having
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A sense of achievement
Plan for the year
A more regular sense of achievement
Production output vs. billing
Individual goals and team goals
Camaraderie in Anthony Russel
Flexibility for the team
How often do you hit your weekly goals
Does a weekly focus work?
A sense of fairness
How has Anthony Russel faired in 2020?
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