Beth Jackson at 2 Sisters Accounting mainly attracts clients through social media – which is where AM’s Jonathan spotted one of her unusually candid videos. Turns out, 2 Sisters signed up for AM last summer and they’re finding huge value – despite not turning on automated emails yet…
Beth and her ‘big’ sister, Jessie set up 2 Sisters Accounting just over three years ago after following two very different career paths. “Jessie went to uni, did business studies then qualified at KPMG. I left school at 16 and worked my way up in payroll bureaus and small accountancy practices, learning on the job.”
“She was working in industry. I was working in practice. And you just think… oh, my gosh, this is slowly but surely killing me. I can’t do this anymore.”
Neither Beth or Jessie enjoyed sitting in an office, working 9 – 5. “There’s nothing like that feeling when it hits 2.30pm, you’ve done everything and you have to stay until five, horrendous. We just figured, forget the fear and give it a go. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And thankfully, it seems to have worked. We both absolutely love it.”
They must be doing something right, 2 Sisters was a finalist for New Firm of the Year at 2020’s Accounting Excellence Awards.
Straight-talking accountants, with a big personality
Beth and Jessie’s brand is simply their own personalities and, crucially, speaking a language everyone understands. “We try to make it easy, normal and not scary. We have initial conversations and people say ‘I’ve spoken to three or four accountants. And you’re the first one that’s made sense.’ For me that’s everything. That’s what I want.”
From builders… to professional dominatrixes
“Our niche is just small businesses that are more modern, a little less traditional. We’ve got recruitment companies, business coaches, social media people, a tax specialist, builders. We do have a professional dominatrix on the books. She’s one of my favourite clients. So we’re very open to working with any businesses.”
Social media – attracting the vast majority of new clients
Beth and Jessie built their client base from nothing, primarily through sharing content and speaking to prospects through social media. “Originally it was the local town’s Facebook groups, then LinkedIn. People just go, “I saw you, you seem like a normal person. Can we chat about accounts?” And it just really seems to work.”
“I talk about my LinkedIn friends to Jessie and she’s like ‘What? Are you a teenager?”
Beth tells us about one post that caught Xero’s eye recently. “Jessie was talking to our Xero account manager. They said ‘I saw Beth was talking about drunk bookkeeping, we were sharing it around the office and cracking up’. Jessie was like: ‘Beth… what are you doing?’”
AccountancyManager – the game changer
AccountancyManager came into Beth’s life last year, after three years ‘faffing around, with spreadsheets and other bits of software’. “You think you can manage your own spreadsheets and then you start losing your mind and panicking. It’s that Sunday night when you suddenly think, what have I forgotten?”
“It saves you so much time that you say, ‘oh, I can’t really afford it.’ …But that’s time I can spend commenting on LinkedIn, replying to emails or having a chat with the cat.”
‘No more clients thanks, we don’t like the paperwork…’
There’s usually one moment of sheer frustration that sends accountants to Google for a tech solution. For Beth, it was processing AML checks. “Oh, God.” (That’s the sound of a pre-AM flashback.) “It was three or four different Word documents that we’d downloaded and they were so long-winded, I just hated it.”
“I thought ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. It makes me not want to sign up clients because I don’t want to do the paperwork!’ I was looking at options, found AccountancyManager and I was like… “This. This is what we need.”
Import all your clients in one spreadsheet
Bringing all your clients over to a new system sounds hard – and it would be if AM didn’t allow you to simply upload a spreadsheet. “The client import has been amazing. I did have the fear that we’d have to manually type in all our clients, I didn’t want to do that. But we didn’t have to, we could literally just import an Excel document, which was so much easier.”
Onboarding new clients – done in 3 minutes
So far, Beth’s favourite part of AccountancyManager is the speed of onboarding new clients. “It now takes three minutes to put their name and email address in and make sure that we’ve got the prices in to send off a proposal email. Before we were doing it all in Word documents, you’d have to go in and start manually changing these templates and faffing around.
“Why do I want to waste hours of my week doing admin when I can spend it talking to new clients?”
“It’s gone from about 20 minutes, to about three, which is huge, especially the way we’re rapidly growing at the moment. It makes such a difference.”
January 2021 and an influx of new businesses
When we interviewed ex-HMRC tax inspector John Groves in July last year, he predicted an increase in self-employment in response to pandemic-driven redundancies and closures. Beth noticed this in January, when many new business owners panicked about self assessment and got in touch.
“If I’d been trying to get the admin done of onboarding people the old way during tax season, I would have lost it because there was just so much faffing around. Now there’s no faffing. Literally as somebody is talking to me on the phone I enter them into the system and I can get the paperwork off instantly – all you need is a name and an email address and you can get them on the system and then they can fill the rest in themselves.”
“We would’ve been paying an admin person to be doing this for us. This is much cheaper!”
AM’s Task List – maintaining healthy sibling relationships
Being able to see workflows and plan time is next up on Beth’s list of ‘best bits’. “The Task List, really helps. Just having confidence that the baseline admin is sorted and I know what I’m doing – that’s huge. My head can’t actually hold as much as I like to think it can!”
“It stops me and Jessie growling at each other when we’re both really stressed and have all this rubbish admin that’s built up.”
Client portal – forming new habits internally and externally
We love it when our users find hidden or expected benefits of using AccountancyManager. Beth has made two such discoveries in the Client Portal. “The document portal, I really like that and clients really like it as well. I have clients that are already uploading next year’s tax documents. That way they know where their documents are and that they’re secure.”
On AM, you can add notes to client files – and notes summarising calls you’ve had with clients. These are all private to your practice, but Beth wanted to take longer notes during meetings and share them with the client. So she uses the Client Portal. Now that there are folders in the portal, it’s even easier to store and share different kinds of documents.
“You no longer have to pay for software to get people to sign their engagement letter, they can do it through AM.”
Beth appreciates not having to shell out for a separate piece of software for e-signing. “Unless you’re physically still sending everything out on paper, the chances are you’re probably paying for some sort of document management system as well. So why not wind all that into one?”
Simply having everything in one place
“I just like having all your client information in one place, which might sound pretty basic. But just logging in and going, ‘oh this is what we’ve quoted them’. Brilliant. Instead of having to root through emails. The organisation side for me is the big one. Then having all the deadlines on there as well. The day to day core client info management is a dream.”
Good-looking and easy to use
“I don’t think I’ve ever contacted the support team. I haven’t had to, which says a lot for the software.”
If you’re using something all day every day, it’s important that you enjoy the experience. “I do really like the software,” says Beth. “It looks nice, which makes a big difference and it’s user friendly and you can work it out by yourself. I’ve never contacted support – which is a glowing endorsement for the software.”
Urm, what about our star feature – Automated record requests and reminders?
When we told Khyam Chudhry – another AM user we spoke to recently – that people sometimes use AM without the automated record requests and reminders, he was in disbelief. “But they must!” He said. “That’s on my agenda to start doing…” Beth assures us. It better be, Beth, or we’ll set Khyam on you.
So what’s the verdict?
“It just makes life so much easier, is the best way I can describe it. It saves you so much time that you say, ‘oh, I can’t really afford it.’ But, like I said, I’ve gone from engagement letters and stuff taking 20 to three minutes. That’s time I can spend commenting on LinkedIn, making a cup of tea, replying to emails like or having a chat with the cat. It doesn’t seem that much, but it adds up and it makes a difference.”