Accounting Excellence specialist team reveals secrets behind success

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To celebrate the launch of the 2019 Accounting Excellence Awards, Jeffreys Henry managing partner Justin Randall reveals how his firm increased its fee income by 21%, became industry leaders in their specialism, and bagged the 2018 specialist team of the year accolade. 

If you just look at the numbers, it’s easy to see just why Jeffreys Henry picked up 2018’s specialist team of the year. The hospitality team’s growing strength has contributed to the firm’s fee income increasing by 21%. The firm’s business support department, which acts as the outsourced accounts function for most of its hospitality clients, has also boosted its income by 50% to £1.75m and doubled the team.

There was no arguing the firm’s specialist team’s credentials, either. At the time of the awards, the team boasted a roster of over 60 restaurants and bars, including a number of household-named hospitality clients.  

What’s more impressive is how the firm empowers its hospitality niche. The firm puts the success down to their “hand-holding” approach, which includes monthly client meetings where Randall and his team helps their restaurateur clients expand, improve margins, and even plan their exits. And where off-the-shelf software isn’t available for their clients’ specific needs, the firm has even developed its own technology. 

The firm’s hospitality expertise is further showcased through chairing a quarterly director’s club event that brings together restaurant directors and industry experts to share ideas, exchange views and discuss challenges.

Over the course of this discussion, Justin Randall covers common Accounting Excellence traits including face-to-face client meetings, advisory work and technology but he starts with the obvious question to put to the specialist team of the year...

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Justin RandallJusting Randall, managing partner

When it comes to starting a specialism, we've always found that it comes from having a client within a particular industry who is very successful and then you grow together. It started for us when we had a couple of high-profile and growing hospitality clients. Through that, we gained industry knowledge and expertise and then found people were approaching us through recommendation.

One of my clients had aspirations to grow that business to five sites and to ultimately sell the business. They have five restaurants within their group and we started acting for them when they expanded from a single site to their second site. They wanted a firm who they felt could help them along that journey. Before they joined us, they didn't have the management information that was going to enable them to grow to a multi-site business. 

We work in conjunction with their in-house bookkeeping team and we prepare their monthly management accounts for them – it’s a very detailed pack that separates out the trading across all the branches, breaks down all the margins into a level of detail they weren't used to getting before. They're no longer working on gut feel. They now clearly see performance across the sites, compare one to another.

We've started the process of pitching them for sale and potential purchasers have been blown away with the quality of the information. It's made their decision-making process so much easier, to the extent we've had competing bids for the business.

In terms of KPIs and measurements, on a monthly basis we sit down with the directors in the business for at least an hour going through site-by-site looking at the performance and looking at KPIs. We look at turnover by site, revenue per day, food and beverage costs and staff salaries, and we also compare that data to what we're seeing with our other restaurants.

Being able to buy into the experience of what all our clients are doing -- and that there are different ways of doing it -- and understanding that from an industry perspective is very valuable to clients. 

The client I mentioned previously experienced a short-term dip in sales around June/July last year, which came out of left field. They found it reassuring to hear from us that other clients had experienced the same and it was a combination of weather and the World Cup. Sure enough, once August came around, trading was back up at the levels we were forecasting. The same can be said on things like the operation of tronc. There are numerous different ways companies can operate their troncs. 

We keep a database of software such as EPOS systems and stock management systems that clients use. When clients are talking to us about whether they should change, we are able to talk to them with hands-on experience and we'll put clients together, as well. So if we've got a client that is using Revel, for instance, and another considering moving to Revel, we'll put them in contact with each other so they can get a real case study and proper feedback.

However, we were disillusioned with the software in the market and felt there needed to be a bespoke way of dealing with restaurants. We wanted to be able to use the benefits of cloud and the ability to do invoice processing which was something that had been utilised by the big hospitality businesses for a number of years through economies of scale. We started talking with one of the providers who do that, some very big retail and hospitality organisations, and they bought into the vision of helping us create a bespoke product which we were able to utilise for our SME clients in the hospitality field.

Are you our next award-winning practice? The 2019 Accounting Excellence Awards are now open! To enter the awards, visit here and complete your entry form.  

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.