Kylie Fieldhouse of KFH Accounting, a Practice Excellence Awards winner in the ‘New Firm Of The Year’ category, reveals the characteristics and activities that set them apart from other accountants.
Some of Fieldhouse’s clients have called her a “miracle worker”, but according to the Rayleigh-based accountant the family firm just really cares about what it does: “We listen to our clients and spend the time explaining their tax tasks for them in a way they can understand,” she said.
But there’s clearly much more going on behind this simple formula for success.
KFH Accounting picked up the ‘New Firm Of The Year’ gong in the 2016 Practice Excellence Awards and has seen rapid growth through its focus on start-ups and micro businesses.
The firm itself has grown from being a micro business offering support to busy working mums to a thriving business now looking at larger premises and taking on more staff.
According to Fieldhouse, one of the things that set the Essex firm apart from its competition has been its niche: “In the beginning we had a real look at our client base and what we wanted to do, where we wanted to focus our efforts and time,” she said.
More recently Fieldhouse has developed this by going out and doing presentations to attract more of their ideal clients. For example she went to London and did a talk to start-ups where she spoke about tax and what options you should be looking at when starting up a business.
Seizing opportunities like this has helped her connect up with the right target market that’s in line with her niche.
According to Fieldhouse this has resulted in a flurry of new clients in that area in the last few months
“I don’t have a very large advertising budget. My clients refer me on to their friends and I get referred a lot in various Facebook groups. We’re still doing what we’re doing but trying to stay true to our niche,” she added.
Fieldhouse is constantly innovating and looking for ideas outside of accountancy that she can bring into her firm.
In part Fieldhouse built her business off the back of Facebook because there were very few accountants bothering to use it: “A lot of accountancy firms underestimate the power of social media,” she said.
By being helpful and responding to Facebook group accounting questions, she regularly gets referrals: “If you can get people recognising you are helpful and approachable, that's half of your marketing budget,” Fieldhouse added. “You have to take the time to write blogs or comment on guest posts, or do the Q&A calls, or do a webinar, or a YouTube video. Making the time does help increase your credibility.”
Offline she runs a networking group with her best friend who is a graphic designer. They do different business talks each month and she recently did one on the benefits of cloud accounting.
However aside from marketing the central reason Fieldhouse thinks they continue to be successful is because of the high level of client service they offer clients. They talk to clients and get back to people as soon as possible if they send in an enquiry, even if it’s in January.
The firm has taken key customer service principles from outside of the traditional accountancy model and applied that to its clients.
Fieldhouse said that winning a Practice Excellence Award has opened up new opportunities. She was also recently invited as the guest of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand to talk about her career path and tips on work life and balance.
Fieldhouse also makes time to be an Enterprise Adviser working with local high schools and participating in mock interviews with high school students.
“There’s a skills shortage in the finance and insurance sector in Essex, so we’re proud to help spread the word on how rewarding it can be working in accountancy as we’d like to get more young people thinking about accountancy as a career,” she added.
The right tech set-up
For Fieldhouse the kind of technology the firm uses is just as important as service, niche and marketing.
The firm has adopted Senta for practice management in an effort to be far less paper-based.
“That’s been really good in terms of having staff and delegating tasks. “We made the decision to go with them just after the Practice Excellence Award win and it’s been really worthwhile. It was definitely a right use of money, we were more than ready to move to a system like Senta and are seeing the rewards especially in less paper and time saving since we implemented it.”
The firm also uses Slack as a team tool and Toggle for timesheets.
KFH Accounting works closely with QuickBooks and is now an advanced certified user and gold pro adviser. “We’re running some training sessions out here in Essex at the end of March. We’re doing all the right thing in terms of cloud accounting,” Fieldhouse added.
Looking ahead the firm is not slowing down. Fieldhouse plans to take on an apprentice and continue to provide high level customer service to her existing and new clients.
Last November Fieldhouse was a panellist in an ABN AMRO and AccountingWEB webinar called ‘Unlock the power of your expertise’. Watch the video now.