The 2016 Practice Excellence Small Firm of the Year puts its success down to continuous improvement.
Despite reaching the profession’s apex in last year’s awards, Yasser Khan and founder Simon Kallu are still looking at ways the firm can improve.
SRK Accounting’s philosophy permeates every aspect of the practice. When Khan met AccountingWEB it became apparent that since the firm’s small practice win that commitment has intensified.
“The market is constantly catching up with you,” said Khan. “So you have got to keep ahead of the competition.”
Regular growth meetings
SRK’s appetite for continuous improvement is built on daily huddles and weekly one-hour meetings where all staff discuss how they can improve and grow the firm.
The market is constantly catching up with you, so you have got to keep ahead of the competition.
Each day the team convenes to tackle different topics, such as marketing, business development, internal processes and customer satisfaction. But can the firm devote so much time to these meetings as the firm continues to grow?
“It does get more difficult as people get busier, but we see it as a fundamental part of our business,” said Khan. “We do this so we can refine our offering, and as we scale up and new employees or clients come on board we are able to offer them best practices.”
Putting clients first
The firm’s continuous improvement ethic is based on one prevailing factor: putting clients at the front of everything that they do. “We understand that we have to build trust and constantly provide value to their business so that they can achieve success on their terms,” said Khan.
We understand that we have to build trust and constantly provide value to their business so that they can achieve success on their terms
The firm extends this continuous improvement approach to clients, each of whom receives weekly, monthly or quarterly performance reports identifying key areas for improvement and grow.
Moving clients into cloud accounting has supported this advisory appraoch. SRK deploys tools including Receipt Bank, Float, and Spotlight Reporting to add extra value to their service.
The entry-level package in SRK’s three-tier service menu includes a quarterly performance report, and moves up to a top-level option where the firm operates as a virtual finance director. As part of this package, “We go in and run monthly board meeting to discuss the monthly management reports, and they also receive a weekly KPI dashboard which we discuss on a weekly call,” Khan explained.
Thanks to this client commitment and factors such as a dedicated helpdesk with four-hour turnaround time, the firm boasts a 95% retention rate and attracts an average of four referrals per week.
Co-working office space
Many of these referrals come from other businesses at the Wework shared office space SRK moved to last year. Since then, the practice has embedded itself among a nest of more than 200 start-up business clients.
“We are able to network with those other companies on a daily basis, not just on a social level but also professionally,” said Khan.
As well as bumping into many of its prospects in the corridor, SRK frequents Wework’s internal social network where the companies often post enquiries, about where they might find a suitable graphic designer or accountant.
The co-working office supports SRK’s growth plans by providing a base for social and educational events for the other tenants. “We have a captive marketing audience, who see us as validated supplier because we are a member of their community,” Khan said.
Khan and Kallu realised early on that if they were going to grow and be successful they had to get experts on board.
The more you can get experts onboard with your business, then the progression comes a lot quicker.
In January the firm hired a marketing executive so the founders could devote more of their time to improving the client experience.
“The more you can get the experts on board with your business, then the progression comes a lot quicker. You should be able to delegate your tasks so you can do what you want to do,” Khan said.
The new marketing executive has introduced free ebooks to attract enquiries from SRK’s website and other content marketing initiaves such as weekly blogs and regular social networking.
In addition to Twitter and YouTube, the firm has started to use Instagram to promote its brand and link with other businesses, because a lot of its start-up clients are using the photographic social network.
But the firm has enjoyed the most success on Facebook. In the same way that it uses the Wework social channel, SRK has created a Facebook hub where clients can “bounce ideas off each other”.
“Clients are able to log into a private Facebook group and network, refer, and collaborate with other business owners”, he said.
All of these strategies are filtered through the firm’s client-focused continuous improvement ethos. For example,rather than concentrating on accounting-centric topics, the SRK ebooks focus on business advice such as managing cashflow and avoiding common start-up mistakes.
“We see that the accounting is something that every accountant can do,” Khan said. “What we want to do is provide a bit more.”
Visit the Practice Excellence website to enter the annual awards and participate in our October conference and online webinar series.
Find out more about what it is to be a Practice Excellence firm in this video when Khan joined fellow award winner Sharon Pocock on the AccountingWEB sofa.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.