Elizabeth Sanders Limited
Business Accountants, Windsor
Elizabeth Sanders set up her accountancy practice offering pro-active business accounting support in Windsor in June 2013. As a new practice, she knew she would have to differentiate herself from all the other accountancy firms in the Thames Valley area, some of which had been there for generations.
Within 6 months she had won 2 awards from the prestigious ‘Entrepreneur’s Circle’ – one for ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ for October 2013, the other for ‘One to Watch 2014’. What gave her the momentum to make such rapid inroads into the Thames Valley business community? MyFirmsApp chatted to her about the strategies she has employed.
MFA: What did you do to make yourself different from all the other local firms?
ES: As you can imagine, when I gave up my full time job as an employed Management Accountant, I was more than a little nervous about taking those first steps in self-employment. I had many years’ experience in Management Accounting roles, so I was confident of my ability to do the job, but when you start a new business, there is so much more to learn. You need to get on top of marketing, advertising, preparing a business plan, understanding the numbers, finding new clients and setting up a new website. The list is endless. So I joined the local Entrepreneur’s Circle and quickly realised that if I was
going to succeed, I needed to be and do things that were typical of an accountancy firm.
For example, I created a flyer in the form of a Wild West ‘WANTED’ poster giving details of a special offer for new clients and a list of the services I provided. It worked and made me hungry for other things that would give me an edge over other accountants. I was like a sponge, absorbing as much as I could, attending seminars and conferences, and implementing as much as I could. So when I went to the annual CIMA MiP (Members in Practice) conference and heard the presentation from MyFirmsApp about your Apps for accountants, I knew I wanted one!
MFA: And has it worked for you?
ES: Oh yes! As soon as my App was ready, I showed it to everyone at the next Entrepreneur’s Circle meeting. They were very complimentary and everyone downloaded it immediately! I’m sure that helped me win the Entrepreneur of the Month Award.
I have been delighted at the reaction people have to my App, too. Whether they are friends, family or potential clients, I only have to say ‘Oh, and I’ve just launched my own App’ and you can see they are impressed. That recognition that I’m doing something out of the ordinary is so exciting and rewarding.
The other thing I really like about the App is that it has features that help me as much as they help my clients. For example the Receipts Management feature helps my clients keep track of their expense receipts and, in turn, that means I don’t have to spend time sifting through bags of receipts.
The mileage calculator too is proving to be a very helpful tool for me and my clients. Like the Receipts Management tool, it provides a Win-Win for both sides.
MFA: And how do you see the App working for you in
ES: To be perfectly honest, I’m sure I have only scratched the surface of what the App can do for my practice, so far. I know I can use it in lots of other ways – Push Notifications for example will help me keep in touch with my clients better. But as a new business, it’s one step at a time.
All accountants say they are ‘different’, but often find it difficult to explain what the difference is. Having an App has given me something tangible that clearly demonstrates I’m different. As my Business Growth Advisor at the Entrepreneur’s Circle said “Elizabeth is a Management Accountant and if you can imagine your typical stereotype for this profession, Elizabeth is the polar opposite of this!” Praise indeed!
What can an App do for you?
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- Save you hours of operational time
- Become a tool that your clients and prospects will love
- Win you new customers
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The Houston Partnership
How we have used our App to create interest in our firm
The Houston Partnership is a medium-sized Scottish chartered accountancy practice based in Glasgow. The partners’ extensive personal experience of running their own businesses, combined with their professional qualifications as accountants, gives The Houston Partnership a big advantage when it comes to offering advice to today’s small to medium business owners. Whether it’s advice on all the complexities of management and compliance, or providing insight into business improvement and advancement, The Houston Partnership can be trusted to provide all the right answers.
We spoke to David Houston about their experiences and, more importantly, how they now value the App as a working tool.
MFA: Do you see your firm as ‘technologically advanced’? What was the principal reason behind your investment in an App?
DH: As accountants with an entrepreneurial focus, I guess we are perhaps a little more open minded than many accountants. Our experience has not been solely in ‘the profession’ – we’ve run our own businesses and gained a lot of experiences from that. We are open to marketing ideas too, so when we first ‘discovered’ the concept of Apps for accountants we readily accepted it. It was then a question of ‘how much’ and ‘how soon’. We don’t see ourselves as technologically advanced, but it’s not difficult to see that if all our clients and prospects use Smartphones and tablets in their businesses, then we would be foolish to ignore them. Using an App to do so seemed to be the logical next step.
MFA: Why did you choose MyFirmsApp?
DH: Once we started gathering information about Apps, MFA quickly came to the top of our attention. They were being endorsed by ICAS so we went along to a 1:1 demonstration at the ICAS offices last year. They explained everything clearly and gave us many great reasons to go ahead. Once we had made the decision, it all happened surprisingly quickly and we soon had our App available for free download in the Apple and Google stores. We saw it as a low cost way to be ‘different’.
MFA: And since you have had your App, how effective has it been?
DH: Let me give you 2 specific events that have driven home the very real benefits of having our own App. The first was at a regular BNI Chapter meeting in Glasgow, shortly after we took delivery of our App. I gave a 10 minute presentation
about the App; how it worked and what we hoped to achieve with it. There were 70 business owners in the audience and my presentation was assessed as ‘the best they had ever seen’! What’s more, every one of those 70 business owners downloaded the App right there! Talk about being highly targeted… we couldn’t have wished for a better response and, better still, it has resulted in a number of new clients.
The second case is a little less focused – but equally effective. One of our clients met a friend – let’s call him John – in the pub on a Friday night and after the usual ‘how’s business?’ chat, the talk turned to accountants. John was clearly dissatisfied with his firm so our client showed him our App on his iPhone. John was very impressed and immediately downloaded our App.
We all know that talk about accountants in a pub on a Friday night is usually wiped from the memory by Saturday morning, so we were very pleasantly surprised to receive a call from John on Monday morning asking to meet us for a chat. He is now a client.
All accountants say they are ‘different’, but it’s hard to explain why they are any different from the rest. Yet having an App has given us something tangible that clearly demonstrates we are different. There’s no hard sell, no sales or marketing spiel, just an App that can be quickly and easily downloaded onto their Smartphone or tablet and immediately opens communication between us and the potential client. It’s very simple, but highly effective!
Fooks & Co
How we have used our App to create interest in our firm
Fooks & Co is a medium sized accountancy practice with offices in Bargoed and Barry, South Wales. The practice was established in 1896 and has almost 120 years’ experience of growing businesses and offering advice.
It is Fooks & Co’s ambition to greatly expand the client base of the practice through
the use of advanced information technology and to offer their particular brand of
‘Added Value Service’ to both existing and new Clients.
We spoke to Fooks & Co senior partner, Dave Collins about their experiences in acquiring their App and how it has impacted their relationships with their clients.
MFA: John, you have recently upgraded your App from the Gold version to Platinum. That suggests you are happy with how the App is working for your firm. Can you explain the biggest benefit you’ve noticed?
DH: Of course. I have to say that having an App is one of the best decisions we have ever made as a practice. It has completely changed the way in which we interact with our clients. In the past, it was always difficult to find time to communicate with clients – apart from the time of year when accounts were due – so there was nothing that could be considered to be a ‘relationship’. And in my mind, running a relationship-based business without having any relationships was disturbing. We tried, of course, but sending newsletters and the like in the mail is hard work, expensive – and one-sided!
With the App in place we can now communicate with our clients quickly, efficiently and cheaply. And it’s no longer one way! Our clients are frequent users of the App and many have phoned to congratulate us on having the initiative to create it. One of our clients – a technology company, no less – was so taken with the concept that they asked us if we could create an App for them!
So the App has created exactly what I wanted – the ability to expand the practice using technology with the added benefit of stimulating better two-way communication between us and our clients and prospects. The bonus is that it’s all happened quickly and efficiently and at such low cost.
A story from one of the world’s most inspiring Accounting firms
Aynsley Damery, Partner at Tayabali Tomlin, talks about his experience of working with MyFirmsApp and the impact it has had for both his clients and firm.
When I reviewed the MyFirmsApp solution it looked good but to be perfectly honest, I said yes simply because and I thought it might be a nice ‘gimmick’ or ‘freebie’ for clients and a powerful, differentiating marketing tool.
When I looked at our App on my iPhone it was well designed, heavily customised to our firm and our image, had fantastic integration with our blog and so was an effective, automated communication tool but beyond that it was, well, ‘basic’.
That’s not to say I was disappointed; after all there’s a limit to how sexy a calculator or a fact sheet can be. But personally I didn’t actually think or believe clients would download it, let alone use it. But like I say that was not my goal for the App, it was specifically to help differentiate us.
I was right, it did differentiate us. What I underestimated was by how much and in how many different ways. We have had PR articles in important local publications like Cotswold Life and Business & Professional life, and we have had people sharing feedback with us on the App stores.
It’s strengthened our message of being proactive, forward thinking innovators – focused on entrepreneurs and helped us become even more visibly different than our competitors and all for such a small investment of money.
But I was still wrong
It didn’t stop there though. Before this project I didn’t expect our clients to really engage with our App; that was until we started getting feedback from clients. They were loving
it; I mean not just downloading it or using it once or twice. They are engaging with it, some of them multiple times each day. And each time they did, our branding and name was in front of them. And, well, am I glad it’s not a competitors!
I underestimated the desire for our clients to interact, communicate and get content via their smartphones.
A talking point
It’s been a big talking point for clients and prospects. A very nice, professional way to share what we do differently without ‘selling’. We just give them a link to the App store, they get the App and we can then communicate with them.
And what I said at the start about it being basic; we were one of the first 5 firms to use the solution. Since then its come on leaps and bounds, and as the team at MyFirmsApp continue to innovate, they are innovating for my clients and prospects. We have upgraded to platinum and are looking forward to the future.
Whatever happens, we will continue to try and prepare our
clients for the future, today.
Alexander and Co
Refreshingly different accountants
Alexander and Co are a proactive firm of Accountants in Cornwall. Below is an extract from one PR article that the firm secured along with a comment from the senior partner, Richard Alexander.
“We are delighted with our App, which was designed by the team at MyFirmsApp. The process was simple and the cost extremely competitive. It gives us great content in two sections – first the tax tables and really helpful calculators, and second the content we can update ourselves, helping us keep clients and potential clients updated with news and events at Alexander & Co and different ways we have helped clients. It’s a fantastic marketing tool with links to our blog, website and social media.”
Richard Alexander | Senior Partner | Alexander & Co Accountants
A great new App free from Alexander & Co here in North Cornwall
Managing Director Richard Alexander says “The App has been carefully designed in response to the growing use of smart phones and mobile devices used by our clients across Cornwall. We wanted to develop a way to keep them up to date with the very latest news, views and tips, as well as providing them with key accounting data, in real time, at their fingertips.”
What will the Alexander & Co App do for you?
The good news is that the Alexander & Co App is not exclusive to their clients and you too will be able to use the APP. For example you will be able to calculate the tax on certain company cars, keep a record of company mileage or check the amount of tax you might be paying. It will give you the power to check Stamp Duty costs or see how you might increase your profits as a business. You can also browse the library of tax tables, giving you the very latest tax rates 24/7 whenever you need them. From National Insurance and Inheritance Tax to Income Tax and Tax Credits – it’s there for you.
Client Manger Paul Reynold’s, who is a keen APP user, says “Developing an App is, we believe, a proactive way to help individuals across Cornwall to become more successful and more profitable and ultimately helping businesses to be more enjoyable to run. The Alexander & Co App gives everyone fantastic content plus it makes it really easy to keep in touch. It has a simple ‘arrange to meet’ page along with all our contact information as well as links to our social media pages.”
Alexander & Co is one of the very first accountancy firms in Cornwall to launch a free mobile App. The great news is this App is now available and can be downloaded onto your iPhone, iPad or Android phones. It’s packed full of some really useful Tax Tables, Calculators and important dates. All of which you will be able to access for free, anywhere you have internet connection on your device. It is certainly refreshing to hear from a proactive firm who are technologically advanced.
Why did Alexander & Co develop its own App?
“We like to think that we are a proactive, forward thinking and refreshingly different firm of accountants.” says Client Manager Stephanie Stock, “For example, we already embrace an electronic filing system so that everyone at Alexander & Co can always lay their hands on your records and correspondence; even those persons who are not working on your affairs. We also take our green credentials seriously by using solar power and by being committed to recycling. Both of which make sound business sense too.”
Comments from App customers and end users
“ We’ve learned a lot from developing the new app with Daniel & his team at MyFirmsApp. We believe our new App is an excellent way of introducing ourselves to new clients. ”
Edward Moynihan | Moynihan & Co Chartered Accountants
“ Thank you to the Team at Insight for developing Thoburn & Chapman’s new App. It looks absolutely great and the content is spot on for our needs in helping our clients get easy access to important info and getting us in the shop window of potential customers who fit our ideal client profiles. It seems to be doing both jobs really well for a minimal investment. The feedback from our clients has been 100% in favour. Well done! ”
Ralph Thoburn | Thoburn £ Chapman
“ We chose MyFirmsApp as we wanted to differentiate as a firm and continue to be at the cutting edge of technology with clients and prospects. Along with the App, which has been created for us – we also chose a marketing pack to help us easily promote and distribute our new App. We were particularly pleased that even before we began marketing it, we had won 2 clients who had found our App and enquired through it! This has already paid for the App and we now look forward to marketing it with earnest and enjoying the results from that. ”
Derek Mitchell | Taylor Viney & Marlow
“ When I first started my practice full-time with a few clients and a lot of hope the question was “How do I get new clients” the answer then was “by word of mouth”. In time the same question would bring a reply “You need to advertise in local papers”. Move forward and the answer become “you need a presence in Yellow Pages and Thompsons Local”. Moving on again and the answer becomes “you need a website”. Now having survived all this time and seen and worked through all these changes I believe the answer is “you need an App. ”
Tony Margaritelli | ICPA Chair
“ We met with MyFirmsApp at ICAS Edinburgh offices at a meeting arranged by ICAS. The meeting was great, exceedingly helpful and subsequently we chose to get an App built for our firm. They took the time to understand our goals and needs, to explain the market place and options we have. Not only did the App look great but the entire process from order to getting our very own App approved by Apple and Google has been smooth, professional and highly efficient throughout. Highly recommended and refreshing to have made a decision and then have our App live so quickly. ”
Calum Anderson | Andrew Hamilton & Co
“ Accountants are looking to be different from the run-of-the-mill accountancy practices. That differentiation can be further enhanced by using the services of Insight and MyFirmsApp. We have been utilising their services over the last 3 to 4 years and are delighted by the results. Why not see what they could do for you? ”
Philip Caplan | Caplan Associates
“ I would wholeheartedly recommend MyFirmsApp and the App solution to any accountancy firm or 2020 member wanting to embrace their mobile clients! ”
Lars Swann | The Bean Counters
“ As a firm of investment managers we know a growing number of our clients and potential clients use Apps. So we knew we needed to find a way to reach out to them in a modern, technologically advanced manner. To interact act with them via the devices they use every day, Smartphones and tablets. When we saw the demonstration of the Your IFA APP solution we knew this was the perfect solution for us. The entire process from enquiry and order to App going live in the Apple and Android stores has been fast, efficient and professional. ”
Jamie Gordon | Lynas Vokes
“ As a leading proactive Scottish Accountancy firm for over 45 years, and ICAS member, seeing the MyFirmsApp solution is one of the most exciting things I’ve encountered in my career. It’s a genuine breath of fresh air! ”
Ian Donaldson | Carters Chartered Accountants
“ We are in changing times where access to information needs to be fast and accurate. Clients are becoming more savvy with the latest software and having an App shows to them that our firm is on the same page and looking into the latest working methods. We have had some very positive feedback from clients on our New App. ”
Ray Khan | Khan Morris Accountants Limited
“ Our App looked great and has been both a good client engagement tool and conversation piece with prospects. I know that we have over 70 individuals using our App but has it actually generated new clients? To be fair I didn’t really expect it to, knowing how hard it is to genuinely track lead sources. So when a new client came on board I was rather shocked to find that the tipping point, the thing that ‘really’ made the difference and encouraged them to choose us was our App. It’s a sign I am sure of things to come and the future of things to come. ”
Ian Marlow | HfM Tax
“ I always want to go the extra mile for my clients and when I heard about having an app for my practice I was very excited by the idea given the recent trends for social media and mobile technology. I love the key dates, calculators and tax tables as they are very useful to my clients but the app also provides another easy way for clients to keep in touch and up to date. The ability of the app to also promote my business to those downloading the app, having a chance to find out about me and my practice, what services I offer and a link to my website is great. It has also given me something interesting to talk about on social media and something different to offer. The team at Insight media have been very helpful and adaptable to my needs providing help all along the way. ”
“ Choosing an App through MyFirmsApp has given us a strong differentiator in an increasingly competitive market. Our clients expect us to be innovating for them and our new App – which is as close to bespoke as possible without paying those high prices – is a terrific way to show them we care. They enjoy using it, it improves our interaction with them and it will continue to play a valuable role in our marketing as a Firm. It is also great to know we get the on-going support from the team at MFA who continue to develop for us, plus can share ideas and provide input in how to get the most from this tool and mobile technology. Simply put, our App says a lot about us to our customers, prospects and affiliates – without us needing to say anything at all. ”
Richard Suswain – Tyrrell and Company
“ I shared the App with 1500 of my clients, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. So for us the App had already more than paid for itself. However its benefit to our firm has not stopped there. We promote it on our site, its help increase web traffic and given us a great conversation piece when meeting new clients. One example is a prospect who came to see me, he had already met with 3 local firms. The meeting was going well, and towards the end of the meeting I showed him the Zaidi & Co App. The client was impressed; it was one thing that the other 3 firms didn’t offer. He signed up with us that afternoon, and part of that success is down to the Zaidi & Co App developed by MyFirmsApp. ”
Mannan Zaidi – Zaidi & Co