Jordan Jewitt isn’t shy about using the odd swear word. In fact, it’s become part of his official tone of voice. Catering to the construction industry, Jordan has plenty of other unique approaches too. Not least in his use of AccountancyManager…
We always tell our users: ‘AM is your bricks, cement and tools. The masterpiece you create will be unique to your practice.’ (In so many words.) Jordan Jewitt, owner of For The Trade in County Durham, has certainly taken this idea to heart.
Using AccountancyManager, he is carefully mapping out every process across the business – in preparation for opening many more offices. Some of these processes are new, even to us…
A brand built with construction in mind
Jordan set up For The Trade on his own, in April 2021. By November, he was up to five staff members. “At the beginning, I was just trying to get enough work, but within two months I realised that wasn’t going to be a problem anymore. We were taking on that many clients.”
“With the loyalty that exists within the construction industry, I was getting recommendations really quick.”
– A brave call to action on For The Trade’s website
“Early doors, I had a lot of success in the construction industry, so it made sense to go down that route. That meant we could be more tongue in cheek and ‘out there’ with the brand. We wanted to bring a little bit of humour and real human relationships into it.”
“I don’t think many other accountants have a call to action on the website saying, “Cut the s**t’.” That is quite unique!”
“The message we’ve been giving to clients and the way we’ve presented ourselves has gone down a storm. People are really enjoying us being so different. We’re not just your plain blue, mundane, run-of-the-mill accountant.”
Discovering PracticeWeb – via AccountancyManager
At AM, if we rate another app or software highly, we’ll recommend it to our users. This is how Jordan found PracticeWeb, the company behind For The Trade’s brand and website.
“I got in touch with the guys at PracticeWeb through a link from AccountancyManager – and they’ve absolutely nailed the tone of voice.”
-For The Trade’s website homepage
“I remember the first couple of blogs they did, I was sat there going, ‘They sound more like me than I sound like me! How do they do that?’”
“We don’t talk about how great we are and how many offices we’ve got, but what’s the pain point we’re going to fix?”
“The way we’ve done the website is to focus on the pain points for customers – and then deliver an experience that gets them out of that.”
Opting for ‘best in breed’ (instead of ‘all-in-one’)
In a previous role, Jordan used CCH. “That was everything packaged into one big product: accounts reduction, tax, workflows, billing, documents centre… Which basically meant that none of them really worked right! Even though it was under one roof, it didn’t really fit.”
“I could see the possibility of: no matter what we’ll come up with, at some point AM is going to be able to integrate and do that.”
From this experience, Jordan knew he didn’t want disjointed systems. “Our systems have to flow through consistently. Even though you might have different accounts reduction software or tax filing software now, because of the open integration that AccountancyManager has, at some point we’re going to be able to link all of them together.”
“The entire business runs from AccountancyManager. That’s the way we’ve set it up, because then it’s all consistent.”
“With CCH it was clunky. You might have your engagement letters handled in one place, your onboarding in another, then your accounts completely separate and Xero too. Then this CCH module is sat in the middle going, ‘I’m not talking to any of them or doing any of that’, so all of these individual bits are then getting re typed out into the main software.”
Nailing perfect processes with templated Tasks
Jordan’s strategy over the next five years is to open up lots of local offices. In preparation, he’s perfecting the processes at his Consett office first.
“We want our systems to be brilliant in this one office. Then when we open up our office in Durham we’ll apply all of those systems consistently from AccountancyManager. That’s where we’re investing our time. We’re creating Task templates for around 100 tasks.”
“The more time we put into templates and having a template for every possibility, the more consistent we are at doing the right thing.”
“Take something like changing a business address for example. The amount of times I’ve seen accountants get this wrong. They’ll change the address with Companies House, but not for VAT, or in CCH, or in the tax software, or Xero. Our approach is to go: ‘what are the exact things that we have to do every single time?’”
“The more we learn, the more we can adapt those steps. It doesn’t have to be perfect in one go, but we can start improving each task we perform.”
“If you build it into your tasks, then you’re building everything from your onboarding, your admin, your VAT returns, your year end accounts… And these tasks aren’t separate, so we can pick a client and I can see what every single person in the organisation is doing on that one client at any one moment, because we’re so ‘live’ with our notes and our ticking boxes.”
“This is where we knew AccountancyManager was the right fit, being able to get this breakdown and consistency across the board.”
Some unusual (yet effective) ways to use AM
A pattern emerged as we spoke to Jordan. He kept saying ‘I don’t know how other people do it, but this works for us’. And we don’t mind that one bit.
Onboarding and working with clients that don’t use computers
Builders, plumbers, sparkys and joiners aren’t known for sitting behind a desk. While emails work for Jordan’s non-construction clients, he’s had to rethink his approach to communicating with tradies.
“Predominantly, we speak to clients either on the phone or on WhatsApp. I originally tried to go down the route of using email to onboard. It did work… but with construction clients, it didn’t. I wasn’t getting the response that I wanted.”
In AM, you can set up automated texts to go out with your emails. Our users report great responses from these. Jordan has gone one step further to combine AM with his clients’ preferred method: WhatsApp.
“I still absolutely want them to sign their letter of engagement through AccountancyManager, So instead, we send the link to register to the portal through WhatsApp.”
“…Nowt to do with the computer, as far as they’re concerned it’s just an internet browser on their phone.”
“In the background, we’ll send our professional clearance – again, we’ve got pre-made templates, outlining the steps. All of our 64-8s are done through AccountancyManager, IDs all get uploaded there.”
Tailored onboarding steps for every type of client
Jordan’s finely tuned templated tasks come into play again at onboarding. “We have specific steps for, say: limited companies, limited companies with professional clearance, sole trader, sole trader with professional clearance. So, each template tells you the exact steps you need to take with this exact circumstance.”
“Variations in client type determine what template is applied – so we’ll never chase a client for a Xero subscription if they’ve never heard of Xero.”
“Think of that as your admin and your signup procedures, making sure your engagement letter is in place, anti-money laundering and all that sort of thing. But we then flow that into onboarding specifically as an accounts client for example. So what does that mean? Well, getting Xero set up, getting any historic information updated…”
“That’s so important for me. I don’t want any mistakes in the first six months of having a client. We should have this customer journey absolutely bang on.”
Moving targets: A different approach to Target Dates
When we launched Target Dates last year, it went down very well. Our users love the ability to set your own internal deadline, while keeping the statutory deadline in place. Jordan uses Target Dates in a slightly different way.
“The Target Date, that’s almost like my next touchpoint. That’s when I need to do something next time. So that Target Date gradually moves throughout the month.”
“It makes our touchpoints very dynamic. We can talk as a group and say, ‘let’s change that one round’. We see massive value in the Target Dates.”
“Say we’re onboarding a client and we’ve got these 15 things to do. If our first text message to the client was today, I don’t need to get back in touch with that client for another four days, so I’m going to move my Target Date back. Four days later, it triggers.”
The most excitement over Notifications we’ve ever seen
Notifications in AM keep you updated on a whole host of things across the system and your business. Any changes to client details, anything your clients do in their portal, messages sent to you by colleagues… and plenty more.
When we ask users about notifications, they usually say ‘yeah, they’re handy’. Or ask us how to reduce how many they receive. (There are a few ways.) Jordan, however, thinks they’re the best thing since sliced bread.
Kayleigh ‘bossing it’ through the notifications
Whenever a client uploads, downloads or signs a document in their portal, you get a notification. You’ll also get notifications if you’re missing any client information. Usually, each person will manage their own notifications. At For The Trade, it’s Kayleigh’s job to stay on top of them for the whole practice.
“We love AccountancyManager’s automated notifications. You know your engagement letter has been signed, you’re kept updated on all the missing IDs and missing information – all that just comes through. I let Kayleigh just boss that, she loves being able to work through it and get it sorted.”
Using Urgent Notes as early warning signs
A familiar challenge for anyone growing a business, is how to become more ‘hands off’. How to take snippets of important information from your head and feed it into the team – without intensive training or hovering over them.
“So using my experience of what could be an issue, I can create an Urgent Note for the team.”
One of these snippets for Jordan, is keeping an eye on the £85,000 limit for VAT. “If I know a client is consistently at about £85 grand recurring, me as the partner, I do not have the mental capacity to go in every f%*&ing month to check. If I know something might be an issue, I use an Urgent Note to tell people to make sure we bear this in mind. That’s pretty cool.”
Seeing your future by monitoring tasks and notes
Finally, Jordan uses notifications to keep track of work that’s coming his way soon. “If we’re reassigning work between, say for example, me and one of the junior staff members, I get a notification telling me the work has been re-assigned to me. Obviously, you get that on your Task List anyway, but you get told in advance.”