We’ve spoken to a few long-term users of AccountancyManager (AM) recently. So this week, we’re shifting our focus onto newcomers, with Yorkshire-based practice: SAS Senior Accounting Services. AM’s Marcus Bellis caught up with owner, Samantha Senior, stealing half an hour from her exceedingly busy schedule.
Meet Samantha and her practice of many sides
Samantha started her practice 16 years ago. Since then, she’s diversified into niche markets, creating specialised branches of her practice. The first branch combined Sam’s 20-something years’ experience in accountancy with a talent for matching candidates with the right accountancy roles, enabling Sam to offer a full accountancy recruitment division. In the last five years, Sam has set up the second branch of SAS Senior Accounting Services, specialising in the aesthetics industry. This branch has recently become its very own company – The Aesthetics Accountant™.
“I feel like we’re like a brand new practice. We’ve split the accountancy firm and we now have a completely new company which focuses on medical aesthetics.”
The sector has uniquely complex tax and accounting challenges, which Sam guides her clients through at both a compliance and business-advisory level.
The journey from bin bags to the cloud
It’s not just Samantha’s client base that’s changed over the years. Sam has fully embraced developments in technology as they’ve become available, though not everyone has joined her…
“Back in the ‘olden days’ when we started in 2004, we were literally getting bin bags of receipts. In fact I’ve still got the first client we ever took on – I’ve got his box here – you’ll never get him away from it and you can’t argue with him, so I make an exception!”
“Everything would be on Excel. Now everything’s digital, your banks are all there, and I love that.”
“He’s fantastic though and we have a laugh about it, but that’s how accountancy was. You’d spend most of your day inputting receipts into Excel. Everything would be on Excel. Now everything’s digital, your banks are all there, and I love that.”
Cloud software: Flexible working… whatever the situation
Giving parents the freedom they need
Samatha has a 12-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. After the birth of her second child, Sam was unwell for some time, so being able to work from home became a necessity. “I got really ill, so everything had to be at home. That’s why I want systems in place that give me and others the opportunity to do that. AccountancyManager helps with that.”
“So when I take on more accountants – and they are parents – then AccountancyManager means they can all just log on and log their time.” Sam took a moment to acknowledge her daughter during that time. “She was nine at the time, and she was, well… she was amazing”.
Onboarding: In the click of a button
Samantha wears her passion on her sleeve, for her kids, clients, accountancy in general and – luckily for us – her practice management software. Like many new users, Sam and her team have started with AccountancyManager’s client management and automated onboarding.
“What I like about AccountancyManager is the onboarding. The fact that I can literally be sat on a call like this (obviously I’d be dressed more appropriately!), and all I need is the company number. Once I have that, I just press a button and all the information is there.”
“It’s fantastic. I just love it.”
“Sometimes [the client] doesn’t know when the year end is if someone else set the company up. So with AM I can press the button and it just formulates everything I need. Then I send it as a proposal, with our prices and then it goes straight to them. Then they use the client portal. It’s incredible. I know I keep saying this but: I just love it.”
Letters of engagement: Instant and customisable
AccountancyManager comes with over 40 emails, pre-written by accountants, these include all your letters of engagement and requests for records throughout the year. Just for speed, Sam and the team are currently using our provided templates, but they plan on updating them with their own versions soon.
“The letter of engagement… we are going to change that because we have the option to put in our version. So that’s a bit of a bonus. But at the moment we’re using your template. It’s just fantastic how quick it is to get it signed safely, get their ID and get them to upload it onto the document portal, so easy and efficient.”
Life during Covid-19
Although she’s had some practice, working from home hasn’t been easy for Sam. “Obviously, having kids, working from home and running a business… well, it has been a nightmare! You realise how stressful it can be if you lose your internet connection, not because you’re in the middle of something, but because YouTube’s gone down, and you can’t entertain them, then it’s the end of the world!”
Turning negatives into positives
Many of Samantha’s aesthetics clients rely on face-to-face contact with their customers. So the closure of clinics hit Sam’s clients hard.
“My [Client] directors work immensely hard. You watch them graft, emailing you at two in the morning. And literally overnight seeing the clinics close…” Here, Sam’s innate optimism jumps in. “But on the back of that, we’ve turned it around. In the last couple of months of lockdown, before the clinics all went back, we were able to spend time with them, put plans in place, get a structure in place. In a way, the negatives did come out as a positive.”
From an internal point of view, Sam has welcomed the change in attitude toward remote working. “Everyone’s been reluctant to work from home but covid has pushed that. It’s proved to people that it is doable. A lot of the accounting assistants I have and who I wanted to come on board who wouldn’t want to work from home. Now they’re actually biting my hand off to work from home.”
Lockdown altruism (FSB recognised)
When lockdown began Sam was concerned about the amount of misinformation being provided to UK businesses. So she created a Facebook group, carefully fact-checking and sharing information – not just for clients, but for anyone that needed it.
“Overnight, there were over 800 people on there from small businesses. We made sure everything was sourced and checked, then we put it online. We were working with a really good lawyer as well. Then a board member at the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) was so frustrated by the misinformation being shared on their [FSB] forums that, at one point, he started directing everyone to our group!”
“About 10 people came to me from the [Facebook] group saying ‘I’ve got six grand!”
Speaking to members of the group, Sam identified an overlooked group. “Businesses set up towards the end of 2019 weren’t eligible for anything, even though they were quite successful businesses. I was aware that councils and LEPS had been given additional funds to help. I directed those businesses to their local council and LEPS where they could give discretionary grants. I told them to knock on all the doors possible until help was given. About 10 people came to me from the [Facebook] group saying ‘I’ve got six grand!’ It was amazing because literally that was putting food on their table.”
Samantha’s advice: Just do it
So what stopped Sam from exploring practice management software until now? “I think I just didn’t want to disrupt what I already had. I like to think our practice is quite non-traditional, but [AM] has fitted around us and I trust it that when we grow, it’s going to grow with us. That’s the best thing… I don’t have to worry about it.”
“It’s logical, it’s simple and it makes sense. That’s what you need when you’re busy and when you’re growing as fast as we are.”
“I’ve got so many things going on. I need something that’s user friendly, that I can understand straightaway. That’s what I found really useful with AccountancyManager. It’s straightforward. It’s simple. It’s logical. Everything’s where you need it.”
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