What does it take to grow an accountancy business from its initial two founders to 40 people in five years? Great question.
What does it take to grow an accountancy business which generates average fees per client of £30,000? Another great question.
What does it take to grow an accountancy business where the clients respect and love the work that the firm's doing for them and where its people love working?
I had the great privilege of spending an hour on a podcast discussion with Alastair Barlow, co-founder of flinder. Alastair unpacked many things, but he talked specifically about the determination to systematise the business so that it's not reliant on him and it's not reliant on his co-founder, Luke.
And standards – the power and the importance of standards and expectations – show up big time in this discussion. Last but not least, the determination to uphold those standards across the firm comes through really strongly.
I hope you take time out to listen to this profoundly valuable conversation with Alastair and that you enjoy it as much as I did.
Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see Alastair's contact information and to access the additional resources mentioned in the podcast.
In accounting, it's easier than ever to change accountants. Retaining clients in accounting is actually quite a lucrative type of business to have because typically you have a long lifetime value with your clients.
You have a high retention rate, low churn rate, typically because of the relationship piece, but I still think you're only as good as the last interaction or set of management accounts you delivered.
So if you've been working with a client for three years, and for 35 months they've had everything on time, correct and had great interactions, but then all of a sudden, they get something that's wrong about their return or missed and that happens in the 36th month, that's what they remember.
You always have to be on your toes with your clients and deliver that value, unlike technology that works and, by its nature, always delivers a consistent experience. People are the biggest factor in a professional service firm like accounting that can change the experience that clients get.
Connect with Alastair
Connect with Paul
Resources relating to this podcast:
Paul and Alastair talk a lot in this podcast about value – the importance of value to Alastair and his co-founder Luke, the value in what they deliver to their clients, the value that their clients get from working with them and the value, not only of what the team produces, but what the members of the team get from being part of the flinder family.
It’s rare to find an accountant with complete clarity on the value they provide to their clients, and even rarer to find one who has good enough client conversations to communicate the value they provide.
But Alastair has a very clear awareness of value, and his method of finding out how to deliver value to his clients is very simple – he asks them...
If you want to know more about how to deliver value to your clients and how to communicate your value to them, please read the Business Breakthrough report 'Client Value Counts'.
During the discussion, Paul mentions the High Performance podcast with Jake Humphrey and Damien Hughes, as well as a podcast about an inspiring triathlete, Chrissie Wellington. Here are links to both podcasts.
These podcasts are excellent and well worth a listen!
Paul and Alastair discuss the Marianne Page book – Simple Logical Repeatable: Systemise like McDonald's to scale, sell or franchise your growing business – with regard to the importance of process mapping the mundane tasks in your business to create the space for creativity and ideas.
Click the image below for a link to the book:
Alastair also shares his thoughts around when he first set up flinder with Luke – the clear vision that they had and why this vision meant that they had to make themselves redundant from the roles they initially assumed during the business's inception.
They had to employ people to do these jobs so that they could stop doing them. He refers to the importance in this decision-making process of a book by Michael Gerber called The E-Myth Revisited.
Click the image below for a link to this book: