Mind the Gap? What we learned at: The Gap workshop
After attending a workshop in Manchester run by the Antipodean web-based business development portal The Gap, Glenn Martin is left wondering: where is the UK's cutting edge business advisory?
Recently I have been working with a bunch of new clients around business planning and business development.
I work with a lot of very entrepreneurial clients, inventors, software guys, risk-takers, who are often a touch oddball. I always worked with people like this in my FD days and my natural role was to tidy up in their wake and avoid running into problems. I like this work and its exciting.
The problem I have is that they are all so bespoke and although they command good fees, things often go off-piste, and scope creep comes in - they can become inefficient. Whilst people will pay for my time I also have concerns about how scalable what I do is. There needs to be a system behind it.
I can get good results for people, but my approach to this sort of work needs to be more polished and less ad hoc.
I also don’t want to go down the route of becoming a software reseller pushing reporting software, as it’s the support beyond the reports that gets client results.
A few months back I heard of a system out of NZ and Oz called The Gap which would seem to offer a lot of what I need. My good friend Mark Telford had mentioned they were doing a few workshops in the UK and maybe worth attending to see what it’s all about.
Today was an early 5.30am start boarding the train for Manchester for an 8.45am start with the “The Gap” head honcho Mark Jenkins.
The Gap is a full end-to-end system that offers business planning and cashflow forecasting to your clients.
It deals with how to market this, how to collect the data, goal setting, and delivery to your clients. It comes with a lot of supporting paperwork to offer what I would call “proper business advisory/coaching” to your clients.
The morning session flew by and was very engaging. I could see that a lot of what I was doing was not too far away from what they suggested but I just lack the constant message and organisation that “The Gap” would bring to what I do.
What is also obvious is that guys from NZ and Oz are miles ahead of the UK when it comes to getting small business. They have broken down the barriers on how the deliver high end services in an informal manner. You can almost imagine them dispensing this advice over a cold beer, wearing board shorts and the client left happy to pick up the bar tab after a good meeting.
Going to see your accountant should not be like going to the dentist as it often is in the UK. They are making accounting a cool profession and I like the influence they and software people are having on our profession.
The system is not heavily focussed on selling. The two main drivers are the complimentary client review and small client boardroom sessions for six or seven clients at a time, which I could see working for me.
I was planning on a presentation in the autumn but think starting small may be better. When you see the benefits of business planning and the results it can bring it would appear a no-brainer for the right clients.
The afternoon session got into the technical stuff on how mindsets work which some of my clients may not engage with, but I got the overall message of the workshop and to be honest, it was like no other accountancy-based presentation I have attended.
The workshop was very engaging and pushed a lot of buttons with me.
There was a sales pitch at the end but it was not heavy handed. Obviously, there is a cost to the system and you would have to use it in conjunction with something like Spotlight Reporting but the benefits are clearly there.
The number suggested in the workshop is not quite my client mix. But over time, I could maybe get 20 clients onto it at say £1500 to do the plans and monthly fees on the back of that maintaining and reviewing the prospect of maybe £30k to £40k extra fees from your existing client fee bank makes you sit up and think what is possible. It’s certainly a better approach then signing up 20 small clients
Overall it was well worth the cost of a train ticket and small fee to attend the workshop. Mark is a great presenter and the system is very good and would certainly appeal to those wanting to go beyond simply presenting graphs wrapped up as business advisory.
There are more workshops this week in London and Nottingham. Mark is also available for Go-to meetings until mid-July, so if you have time and there are spaces left, it’s certainly worth attending.
I am not sure I am “mad for it” as they say in Manchester, but it is something I will be looking closer into, and booking a one-to-one session with Mark Jenkins before he heads home.
As I'm always keen to extend my professional network, the guys sitting either side of me had some good ideas and will certainly be exchanging emails with over next few weeks. I do love a networking opportunity.
The only negative: where is all the innovation from the UK? The practice gurus who attend Accountex every year have had the same message for years and look light years behind what is happening from our Antipodean brothers.
Come on fellas, change the record. The Gap is what business advisory services should look like.
When the train pulled into Durham station last night the announcer reminded me to “mind the gap” when leaving the train. How ironic after a very useful day “minding the gap”