At GoCardless, we love it when we meet an accountancy firm that shares our passion for technology and the value-driven efficiencies of the cloud. So we were keen to talk to the guys at FD Works, a modern business advisory practice from Bristol, who’ve put our Direct Debit solution at the very heart of their invoicing and firm finances.
We sat down with Jonathan and Barbara Gaunt (MD and Office Manager, respectively) to find out how GoCardless has helped them improve the financial running of the practice, and given them a great solution to help their clients get paid more quickly.
A best friend in finance
FD Works started back in 2013 when Jonathan decided he’d had enough of being an in-house corporate management accountant and wanted to start his own practice.
The aim was to set up a firm that could cater for the many ambitious start-ups and owner-managed businesses that Jon knew were flourishing in Bristol and the South West – and to give them a different kind of accountant, as he explains:
“We’d seen so many accountants who only delivered the absolute basics: doing the statutory accounts and the tax return and not bringing anything else to the table. As a management accountant, I knew how much value a business owner can get from having the right numbers and reporting at their fingertips. And that was really our aim: to sort the basics, get clients onto Xero and cloud accounting and give them the reporting, analysis and personal support they need to drive their business to new heights.”
And it’s the close relationships that Jonathan, Barbara and the team build with their clients that really has so many Bristol-based creative agencies coming back for more, as Barbara highlights:
“Our tagline is ‘Your best friend in finance’ and that’s really what we’re about – being the trusted friend clients can come to when they’ve got a problem, or a question. It’s all about personal service, getting under the skin of the business and knowing what makes every client tick.”
A more efficient way to get paid
One of the struggles any accountant faces is getting clients to pay their fees on time. This was certainly a challenge for FD Works in the very beginning.
If clients don’t pay their invoices on time, that can leave a cash-flow hole and all the hassle of trying to chase up these late payers – without damaging that all important relationship with the client. That’s how FD Works came to GoCardless – as a simple solution that solved all those late payments issues.
As Barbara points out, it made all their client invoicing and credit control processes far less labour-intensive too.
“We’ve been using GoCardless pretty much from the start of the business in 2013. It was Jonathan’s idea in the first instance – he’s always looking at new ways to streamline our processes and software tools that can improve our efficiency. I run most of the back-office finance work, so when we heard about how easy GoCardless and Directli made the Direct Debit process we knew it was a no-brainer to start using it.
The main issue was getting our invoices paid on time and not having to chase clients up for payment. We could see that GoCardless would solve this, by setting up Direct Debit payments with clients and getting that steady, predictable flow of cash into the business each month. Plus we could also see how it would make paying our invoices so much easier for clients.”
The big benefits of moving to GoCardless
So, how has GoCardless helped FD Works to streamline their internal finances? As the firm’s office manager, Barbara is in the hot seat when it comes to invoicing clients, and she’s seen their whole process transformed by the move to a simple Direct Debit approach.
“I’d say the biggest benefit of GoCardless for us has been the time we’ve saved having to chase customers who’ve not paid. As we grew the business, and took on more clients, late payments started to have an impact and I was spending several hours a week on the phone, or sending out polite chaser emails to clients – and that time tends to rack up and stop you being efficient.
Once we had GoCardless set up alongside Directli and our internal Xero online accounting software, it really cut back on that chasing time. Once a client has filled out the online e-mandate, we can just collect their payment at the same time every month. There’s no waiting around and no faffing about chasing them up.”
As Jonathan adds, it’s also done great things for the firm’s cash-flow situation too:
“Before we moved to GoCardless, cash flow could be quite up and down, depending on who’d paid their bill and how big the hole was in our income for the month. Since we’ve put everyone onto the new payment model, we know exactly what’s coming down the cash pipeline each month – and that makes it so much easier to plan internal finances and spending.”
Happy clients and an efficient payment process
It’s not just been a positive move for the practice: FD Work’s clients also love the fact they can automate their fee payments too – something that was a great additional bonus for Barbara.
“Clients really love the simplicity of the Direct Debit approach and they’ve been really positive about paying through GoCardless. Most are keen to set it up and to not have to worry any more about paying their invoice manually. It’s one less thing for them to worry about.”
What works for FD Works is also great for their clients’ businesses too, something that Jonathan is keen to underline when talking to business owners about their own payment issues.
“Cash flow is such an important stumbling block for new start-ups and small businesses. So we’ll always advise clients to put GoCardless in place and to move their payment options over to a more effective, cloud-based solution. The easier it is for their customers to pay a bill, the sooner that money’s in the bank, and the less time the business has to spend asking politely for their payment.”
A future focus on growth
Cloud tech has done a lot to raise expectations of what an accountant can deliver to a small business. And FD Works have done more than most to move away from basic accounting and to focus on delivering genuine business advice, financial analysis and forward-thinking strategic insights to their growing customer base – all with that customary personal touch.
So, what does Jonathan think the next step will be for FD Works?
“We’ve got ambitious plans for the next few years. We’ve already expanded from a core business of two, to a team of eight people. And we’re carving a great little niche in the creative industry too, alongside clients in the food, hospitality and technology sectors.
With GoCardless taking care of payments, and that stable flow of income coming into the business, I think we’re in a good place to think about expanding even further and bringing our unique style of business advice to an even wider range of businesses. Tech and software apps have been at the foundation of the firm from the start, and we’re loving being at the cutting edge, bringing those solutions to business owners and helping them get more from their finances.”
You can find out more about FD Works’ approach to business advice on their website here.
Want to know how GoCardless can transform your practice? Find out more about the benefits of GoCardless for you and your clients.