Case Study: The Power of Personal Connections

In the competitive landscape of modern banking, where advancements in tech often take centre stage, few banks can demonstrate the enduring value of personal relationships in business growth. Chris Bayliss, the CEO of Judo Bank, shares invaluable insights into how the institution grew from a mere idea into Australia’s most successful challenger bank in under eight years, and it’s all about putting relationships first.

Know Your Audience:

Any business that treats you as just another number will never truly gain a deep understanding of its audience. By acknowledging that every business is distinct, with its challenges and aspirations and building solid relationships, you can effectively address each customer’s individual requirements.

“Judo was conceived as an idea nearly eight years ago because we believed that there was a market failure in the way that banks were servicing small to medium-sized businesses. We knew that Australian SMEs deserved more. Every business is unique, with a unique team driving it. That’s why we’re bringing back relationship banking, to ensure we can service the unique needs of our customers.” 

Chris Bayliss, CEO of Judo Bank

Invest in Connection:

Establishing meaningful connections with customers goes beyond basic business transactions—it’s about forming genuine connections with customers. By taking a hands-on approach with your customers, you can gain invaluable insights into their operations and growth strategies and foster a sense of trust and reliability.

“We learn more about a customer’s business by being on their premises. We want to go there, we want to actually get to know that the owner, the sponsor, the founder, we want to see the business and operation and when they’re telling us their story and their growth plans, then it’s more real for us. As a character-based lender, connecting with our customers is key to delivering for them.” 

Chris Bayliss, CEO of Judo Bank

Get the Right Talent:

Unlike traditional banking models where strong personal connection is not standard, a team adept at building and nurturing client relationships emphasises quality over quantity, enabling them to develop a deep understanding of customer needs and aspirations. This personalised service fosters loyalty and customer retention.

“Every part of our business has been architected around providing the best possible service to businesses, and it’s anchored off a highly skilled, highly experienced relationship banker. Most have 20 years’ experience in the industry and have no more than 30 customers. Our bankers know their customers, they can tell you their names, they can tell you what they’re thinking about, whether it’s expansion or succession. Trust and relationships are crucial to customer retention and advocacy, and you need the right people to build them.” 

Chris Bayliss, CEO of Judo Bank

Build Relationships into Your Customer Value Proposition:

In a landscape with many players, a business built on relationships will distinguish itself by placing connection at the core of its value proposition. This emphasis on personal connections transcends mere transactions, fostering a sense of partnership and mutual success.

“The products are the same – a loan is a loan; a line of credit is a line of credit and loan pricing matters. But what matters more to businesses is a relationship with a banker, not a 12 month one, but an enduring relationship built over many years where they can build that trust. A banker that can make a decision, they want to deal with the decision maker. The good old-fashioned handshake.” 

Chris Bayliss, CEO of Judo Bank

 

Judo Bank’s success is a compelling case study on the value of relationship banking. By prioritising connections over transactions, Judo is redefining the banking experience for SMEs in Australia. As businesses seek personalised solutions and genuine partnerships, the lessons gleaned from Judo Bank’s journey are more relevant than ever.

The principles highlighted by Judo Bank’s approach are not exclusive to the banking sector. In any professional business, the strategies highlighted in this case study are necessary for sustained success. By prioritising client relationships and striving to understand their needs deeply, any professional service provider can set themselves apart and achieve sustained growth.

Click to learn more about how Judo’s bringing back the art of relationship banking to service Australian SMEs: http://www.judo.bank
Discover the positive ripple effect making micro changes can have on personal and business growth

The Power of Micro Habits: Transforming Your Business, One Small Change at a Time

When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we often consider making big, immediate changes. While there is merit in the intention, it can be challenging to sustain, and when the motivation wanes, it can feel like failure. Enter micro habits – small, easily achievable actions that, when consistently practised, lead to substantial improvements over time. Unlike drastic changes, micro habits operate on the principle of compounding, where small efforts accumulate to create meaningful progress.



Decoding Micro Habits: Small Changes, Big Impact

Micro habits are small actions ingrained into daily routines, focusing on gradual improvements rather than drastic overhauls. When practised consistently, these small, deliberate changes compound over time and drive significant positive outcomes.

Here are 5 tips to help you implement micro habits:

  1. Identify Your Target Areas: Pinpoint specific areas for improvement, such as communication skills, time management, client interactions, or industry knowledge. These become your target for micro habit development.
  1. Start Small: Break down the larger goals into manageable tasks. For instance, improving your communication skills could involve practising active listening for five minutes each day during a client call or team meeting.
  1. Consistency is Key: Commit to daily practice, reinforcing behaviour until it becomes automatic within your professional routine.
  1. Set Reminders and Triggers: Use reminders or triggers to prompt micro habit execution through alarms, sticky notes, or integrating habits into existing routines.
  1. Track Progress: Maintain a simple tracking system to monitor your progress. This will provide insights into effectiveness and motivate further development.



How Can Micro Habits Help Grow Your Business?

Cultivating personal micro habits is the cornerstone for business growth by instilling discipline, efficiency, and a positive mindset. These habits subtly influence those around you, shaping personal and professional dynamics and creating a ripple effect that impacts workplace culture, team dynamics, and business processes. For example, if a leader consistently demonstrates punctuality and preparedness, it sets a standard for the team.

Simply put, personal micro habits serve as a model for behaviour, inspiring others to adopt positive habits that accumulate over time.


Incremental improvements through consistent execution of micro habits can drive positive performance and growth, leading to increased productivity, streamlined operations, improved customer experiences, and a culture of innovation.

For example, micro habits aimed at improving customer service contribute to improved customer experiences, leading to higher satisfaction, retention, and referrals. Similarly, small changes that encourage experimentation, creativity, and learning foster a culture of innovation within the business.



Cultivating Business Growth, One Habit at a Time

By strategically integrating small, purposeful changes into daily actions, individuals can inspire transformation within their teams and, ultimately, their businesses. Selecting micro habits that drive personal improvement and business development acts as a catalyst for continuous improvement, propelling businesses toward sustained growth and success. Start small, stay consistent, and witness how these micro habits collectively fuel the evolution of a business, nurturing a landscape of innovation, efficiency, and prosperity.



Small Changes, Big Wins: Transform your Payments with QuickFee

Introducing simple yet powerful changes to your payment processes can yield results. QuickFee’s seamless fee funding and disbursement funding solutions allow accounting and legal professionals to get paid on time, win more work and increase revenue. With integrations to many of the best-known software packages, QuickFee makes your payment process seamless, so you can dedicate more time to nurturing your business’s growth.

Ready to make one small change that will lead to big wins? Give us a call at 02 8090 7700.


Breaking the cycle of disadvantage with The Smith Family

The rising cost of living in Australia is plunging more families into poverty, affecting over 1.2 million children. With schools becoming more reliant on digital classroom tools, such as laptops and tablet computers, the ability of families living in poverty to keep up with these needs is diminishing. Despite their parents’ efforts, these children will encounter daily hurdles that impede their education and the long-term impact can limit their life choices.

 

The Smith Family’s Educational Initiatives

The Smith Family’s programs, such as numeracy, literacy and mentoring, focus on early intervention and provide sustained support throughout a child’s educational journey. Beginning in early learning and spanning through primary and high school, The Smith Family programs work to ensure these children can reach their full potential through access to education and learning programs.

 

The Power of Sustained Intervention

By applying donations to long-term programs, such as Learning for Life, The Smith Family can invest in a child’s education for the duration of their schooling, which proves more effective than concentrating support on particular periods of a child’s life. This approach increases high school graduation and university enrollments, reducing criminal convictions and reliance on welfare.

 

QuickFee’s Partnership and Impact

QuickFee makes an annual Christmas donation of $5,000 to the Smith Family, which aims to provide immediate support to the established programs to deliver long-term positive benefits for impacted children and their families.

 

If you would like to donate or support The Smith Family and support meaningful, long-term change, you can learn more about their work here.

 

Donation link: https://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/donate

How to choose the right Practice Management Software for your firm

Choosing the right Practice Management Software (PMS) for your practice can seem overwhelming, considering the range of options available today. In addition, it takes time and research to select the right system for your firm, and this comes with a significant cost. So, when looking for a digital tool that needs to deliver efficiencies, a few factors are worth considering to guide your investment decision.

In this guide, we outline seven steps to consider taking before you select the PMS that is right for your firm.

 

Understand the current situation

You need to understand what is working and what needs attention in your current processes before you can begin to identify the right solution for your firm.


Identify your essential deliverables

Clarifying what is essential in your new PMS will help you identify relevant solutions and disregard those that can’t service your firm’s needs.


Evaluate the costs and ROI

Any new software investment is costly not only in the monetary sense but also in time and resources. Therefore, a comprehensive view of the size of the investment needed and any potential savings will make the decision-making process easier.


Determine integration options

Only some parts of the day-to-day running of the business will be included in a PMS. However, if you can integrate the other components of your business into your new PMS, the process will be more seamless.


Don’t forget security and compliance

Don’t assume all solutions are created equal. Take a comprehensive look at the security and compliance capabilities of the system to ensure you are putting your data and that of your clients in safe hands.


Is it scalable?

There is little point investing in something that may solve your problems today but cannot scale if you plan to grow your business in the future. Therefore, flexibility and scalability are significant factors when choosing your new PMS.


Will it enhance the client experience?

If your PMS negatively impacts your client experience in any way is a definite no. Instead, system implementation should enhance the client experience and create a positive impression on your clients.

Ultimately, your firm’s best practice management system will meet your specific needs and fit in with your firm’s policies. In addition, it should create efficiencies, improve ineffective areas, and build on the existing processes that are working. Finally, making the right decision on your PMS investment will help position your firm for future success.

Your Christmas closure checklist

 

Christmas Office closure checklist

Christmas time in Australia means warmer weather, backyard BBQs, Christmas shopping and summer holidays. If you are running a business, you are probably gearing up to close the office for at least two weeks of much-needed R&R. 

It is a notoriously busy time, and in a service-based business, the push to get through everything by Christmas eve means the office can get a little hectic. So, to help ease the stress of the Christmas rush, we have put together a checklist for the Christmas closure period. Leaving you to focus your energy on ensuring your business, team, and clients have a rested festive period and come back refreshed for the new year.

 

YOUR STAFF

  • Turn on email Out of Office messages (don’t forget shared inboxes)
  • Update voicemails to include closure dates (landlines and mobiles)
  • Turn off unessential electrical devices
  • Empty the fridge & bins of perishables
  • Include emergency contact details
  • Water any plants
  • Enjoy a well-deserved Christmas party with the team
  • Ensure payroll is managed over the break

 

YOUR CLIENTS

  • Send client Christmas cards and gifts by the start of December
  • Advertise the closure dates (website, email banners)

 

YOUR BUSINESS

  • Update Christmas trading hours on your website, social media and your Google My Business profile
  • Send out an e-Newsletter to your clients and prospects wishing them a safe holiday – advise them of the closure dates and alternative contact details
  • Schedule social media posts for the holiday period
  • Chase up any unpaid invoices

 

Broadcast your closure dates

Notifying your clients of office closures is essential to maintaining your service levels. Be sure to advertise your closure dates at every point your customers might contact you and be sure to add a banner to the bottom of your emails. It’s best to start doing this in late November so the message gets out whenever you contact someone. So as not to be a nuisance over the break, don’t schedule any marketing emails during this time – if your clients aren’t working, they won’t be reading your marketing emails!

 

Be prepared

The lead-up to Christmas is the perfect opportunity to thank your valued customers for their business over the past year and to wish them well for the next twelve months. So, get any Christmas cards or gifts sent out early, so they reach your customers by mid-December. Those small gestures can go a long way and, at the very least, inspire some Christmas cheer.

Remember to factor in time for some self-care too. It can be easy to overlook this when you’re busy ensuring your business is ready for the break and getting your own Christmas shopping done. Book any appointments you need early to make sure you can get in. Self-care is just as important as everything else. In fact, without a healthy, happy business owner – how can you expect your business to flourish?

 

Getting your outstanding invoices paid

While the silly season can get hectic with so many loose ends to tie up in the office and parties to attend – keeping on top of your cash flow over the Christmas period is imperative. There is no hiding from the ever-increasing interest rates – which means your cost of capital to fund any work in progress and receivables presumably keeps rising too. When interest rates were low, this cost may not be as burdensome, but that is not the case now. Moreover, funding increases to salaries and overheads are coming at an increased cost.

With this in mind, providing fee funding arrangements to clients that allow them time to pay whilst putting much-needed money in the bank would be beneficial. Having healthy cash flow at any time of the year is essential for a well-run business, and when the cost of doing business continues to rise, it’s more important, now than ever, to ensure you get your outstanding invoices paid.

Things are getting real for the finances of many, and in the coming months, businesses and households will feel the flow-on effects. Contact QuickFee today to discuss how our Fee Financing facility can give your clients the flexibility they need without compromising your own firm’s position.

 

How can you prepare for FY22-23 and avoid the Covid Hangover!

EOFY is almost upon us, which means, once again, it’s time to wrap up your books for tax season. And this year, more than ever, it is critical to conclude the financial year on a high note.

Why is that you ask? Well, where do we start…

We’ve talked before about not getting caught in a Covid hangover. This is caused by the combination of evaporating government stimulus, increasing employee recruitment and retention costs, supply chain constraints and the downturn in consumer confidence. All of which has created a state of shock for any business that was unprepared for the sudden change.

But now, we see a few more ingredients being thrown into the mix.

 

Who’s interested in Interest rates?

Perhaps the most relatable of these recent additions has been the shift in interest rates. Interest rates – or, to use the official term, ‘monetary policy’ – is one of the Reserve Bank’s main tools to combat inflation. The theory being that the increased price of money reduces demand and, therefore, prices (i.e. inflation).

That interest rates are rising is perhaps not so much of a shock in itself; it would seem highly improbable to most people that rates would remain essentially at 0% forever. Rather, it is the pace and rate of increase.

Interest rates are now 0.85% and are forecast to hit around 2% by Christmas and then peak around 3% – 4% in roughly one year. Whilst depositors may rejoice, borrowers will cringe – businesses and individuals alike. The extra cost to service debt will be around $3,500 pa (roughly $300 per month) more for every $100,000 borrowed. Suddenly, a $1M Home Mortgage or Line of Credit doesn’t look so attractive.

The knock-on effect of this is cash-flow tightness, which for businesses, particularly small businesses, can mean chasing debtors and juggling cash flow. And inevitably, more write-offs.

 

So, what’s the plan?

How wonderful it would be if there were some handy instruction manuals lying about so that we would know how exactly we could not only get through this tumultuous time but thrive despite it—something like a practical stage direction that would tell us precisely what to do.

Ideally, this would come in the form of something Tennessee Williams would have thoughtfully put together (a notoriously descriptive fellow who was heavy on detail). But alas, we have something akin to Shakespeare’s more light-on approach in A Winters’s Tale…

‘Exit, pursued by a bear’!

 

If in doubt – preserve your reserves

They say cash flow is king and if there is no other plan in sight – then at least ensure your cash reserves are sufficient to weather the rocky road ahead. But with consumer confidence rapidly declining, supply chain impacts causing delays in stock, business loan repayments on the up and electricity prices soaring – it is little wonder small businesses are suffering. With each of these jig-saw pieces falling into place, there is less and less cash in the bank in reserve.

It’s no secret that most small businesses that fail do so because they run out of cash. Without cash, employees, suppliers and lenders don’t get paid, and with interest rates at the start of an upward trajectory, the cash reservoir is in further doubt.

Preserving that vital cash flow is imperative to a healthy future for any business. Any viable option a business has to preserve that cash flow is worth consideration, and whilst you can’t change the interest rate, you can make small changes to help combat the impact.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Amazingly, despite the current financial situation, most Australian businesses are still optimistic about the future. Moreover, they plan on investing in improving their technology and growing their business in the 2022-23 financial year. According to recent research conducted by Honeycomb Strategy on behalf of Banjo Loans, 61% of SMEs plan on investing in new technology as a direct result of the pandemic.*

It would seem that Australian businesses are a hardy bunch. Despite growing geopolitical tensions and rising costs (just about everywhere!), we are confident in our ability to succeed. However, the reality remains that to do that, any business must overcome the hesitancy consumers have about parting with their hard-earned cash when it comes to issuing their invoices.

It’s all about getting ahead of the curve and getting the jump on your competitors. If you aren’t adequately prepared, it will only get harder to remain competitive in the current market. When that market is complicated by decreasing consumer confidence – the investment needs to be focused on internal improvements and ensuring your customers can comfortably afford your fees.

For businesses, collecting from your outstanding debtors is the easiest and most logical way to build up your cash reserves. If you can get paid on time and close those outstanding accounts, you will have more money in the bank to invest in your growth.

What’s more, if your clients can get the service they need today without breaking the bank, they will be more inclined to invest in getting the financial or legal advice they need to prosper.

 

Money in the bank

If your customers are pinching pennies because they want to preserve their cash flow, it makes sense to give them every option you can to achieve this. With QuickFee payment plans, your customers have the option to pay their invoices over monthly instalments while you get paid in full upfront. It’s a win-win situation that helps businesses maintain a healthy cash flow whilst their customers enjoy the flexibility of smaller monthly payments.

With QuickFee’s secure online payment portal, you can use our Fee Funding solution to clean up your books this end of financial year. 

 

If you struggle getting paid for the work you’ve done, call our QuickFee team, who will provide you with tips and tricks on using our Fee Funding and Secure Online Payment solution to clean up your books this end of financial year.

Australian businesses are starting to feel the pinch

The hip pocket of many Australian businesses is feeling the pinch of the ever-increasing costs of doing business. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that more than half of all Australian businesses have reported experiencing increases in their cost of doing business over the last three months to April 2022.

However, according to the ABS, only half of those businesses have increased their prices. Which begs the question, how can any business survive these mounting cost pressures when they choose to absorb the increasing costs rather than pass them along to their customers? If no additional funds are coming in through invoicing, then any savings must surely be found internally.

If you do nothing else, any additional income must come from your customers, which means increasing your customer base. Whilst this sounds like an elegant solution, this option can only be successful if you maintain your service levels and don’t let customer satisfaction decline. You may get an initial boost in income but forgo long-term customer loyalty.

What is driving the increasing costs for business?

With unemployment rates at levels unseen since the 1970s in Australia, the Great Resignation is in full swing. As a result, employees can be more selective in what roles they choose and look for the best package on offer. So, employers need to have many tools in their toolkit to offer new talent and retain existing ‘stars’. Tools such as within or above market wages, flexible working arrangements, or extended paid maternity/paternity leave. All this costs money.

If you are using a hybrid working model with combined work from home and office days, you may not fully utilise your office and parking spaces. Providing flexibility to your team may be ticking the employee satisfaction box but is it the most cost-effective way to do business.

Now that our borders are open again and flights are getting back on track, we are seeing increases in business travel and customer events. After a couple of years away from customer drinks, lunches, dinners and events, there is plenty of catching up to do. It can get expensive when you factor in the drinks, meals, flights, accommodation, parking, and transfers. Whilst it is all for a good reason and does cement the customer relationship, there is no doubt that getting back into relationship building is costly.

It’s not just business feeling the pinch – your customers are in the same boat

As we start to recover from what seems like a litany of crises – droughts, bushfires, floods, and COVID-19 – we are feeling the fatigue of having to endure ongoing stressors.

The cost of living is a hot topic lately and it is simply because we are feeling the pinch of many things all at once.

With offices opening back up, employees are heading back into the office in increasing numbers.

But being back in the office means employees need to start budgeting for things they haven’t had to consider when working from home. Such as more stops at the petrol station, tolls, public transport tickets, take away coffees and even work clothes. Maintaining a wardrobe of shorts and t-shirts for a couple of years has undoubtedly been kinder to wallets than having to splash out on office wear every now and again. Not to mention the occasional coffee or lunch at the local food court.

Increases in everyday living expenses are felt almost across the board. Whilst the anxiety you feel when filling the car with petrol has been lessened recently after the federal government halved the fuel excise, it is still by no means an inexpensive endeavour. With supply chain impacts due to drought, fires, floods and most significantly, COVID, our groceries are without a doubt costing more with every shop.

Add in recent interest rate hikes – and the almost certain notion that they will rise further–and the average mortgage increases are set to rise. For many Australians, this will mean increases in mortgage repayments, loans, and credit cards, and with less disposable income to hand, many will need to tighten their belts.

This means that your customers have less cash to spare and will be less likely to part easily with their left-over funds.

What are your options?

Your choices are relatively simple, carry on as you are, continue to see the cracks of increasing cost pressures, or do something. Whilst something is better than nothing, some ‘things’ are certainly better than others.

Streamlining your internal business processes and eliminating inefficiencies is a good start. For example, removing manual processes such as clunky payments and implementing integrated solutions will help streamline your payments process and help you get paid faster.

It’s also worth considering the payment process from your customers’ perspective. If you can find a solution that streamlines your payments and is a simple, easy process for your customer, you will be off to a head start. Making your payment process as easy as possible removes the first hurdle for your customers. The next hurdle to consider is your customers’ financial situation. For any customers with financial limitations that need your services — you just have to find the right solution for your business. 

With less disposable income available, customers will be selective in what services they take on. When finances are tight, and there is uncertainty around what costs will go up next, providing your customers with certainty and flexibility when it comes to payment will ease their concerns.

Providing flexible payment options that allow your customer to extend their payment period and pay using various payment methods provides them with clarity on what expenses to expect each month and budget accordingly.

Fortunately, not all payment plans are created equal, and QuickFee offers financing plans for professionals with an effortless and transparent customer experience. Your customers can take advantage of the flexibility of payment plan options that allows them to pay in full or in instalments using their Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit or debit cards.

Interested in offering QuickFee’s payment solution to your customers? Contact us today at 02 8090 7700 to learn how QuickFee can help

The ATO honeymoon is over – Don’t get caught with a COVID hangover

With the world starting to recover a sense of normalcy after the ravages of COVID, we are starting to get back to living the lives we led in that seemingly free and easy world of pre-pandemic times.

It was a time when we didn’t have crumpled up face masks stuffed into the pockets of our activewear when we used our car gear sticks as make-shift mask hangers.

Business also did it tough, though the government was able to step in to help enterprises through various fiscal arrangements.

 

Business has never been on worse terms with the ATO

But now, as we merge back into a sense of normalcy, the ATO, in particular, is less inclined to look past overdue debt and is indeed coming after any business that owes more than $100,000 in tax. The pandemic saw the ATO put such bold actions on hold so Australia could get on with staying in business.

Now the honeymoon is very much over. Any business that is not on the front foot with outstanding debt will suffer the consequences and be hit with a COVID leniency hangover if they don’t act swiftly to ensure the health of their cash flow.

What happened when the stimulus was turned off?

For larger firms, there was work around options such as work remotely and downsize office space to save costs; however, not all industries had such options. For example, hairdressers, chefs, and pet groomers can’t work from home if they are required to go into isolation today – for them, there is no work if they are isolating.

With stimulus now a thing of the past, business costs growing, increasing pressures on the cost of living and wage growth flat, the current economic landscape is perilous for the unprepared. Businesses can no longer delay paying their ATO commitments lest they harm their credit rating.

It is quite clear that now more than ever, Australian businesses need a healthy client book with a steady cash flow.

The perfect storm

The withdrawal of stimulus and concessions will undoubtably impact business in Australia.

Further, acute staff shortages, increases in staff costs due to increased sick leave payments, growing employee demands as a result of the great resignation and the general increase in the cost of living are all adding pressure to an already tenuous economic stability some businesses are maintaining.

Pair this with the supply chain shortages across multiple industries and a downturn in consumer activity, and it’s an almost perfect storm for business failure.

We are all under the same pressure

It’s not just small businesses that have been hit hard recently. We have seen some big players go down, with building companies seemingly falling like dominoes lately. For every business that closes – big or small – the knock-on effect for every link in the supply chain takes a hit.

From the stationery suppliers right through to the accounting and legal firms that support them, every client that goes under comes with associated cash flow impacts. The cost of replacing lost business is significant and there is no guarantee that there will be plentiful new business opportunities in this current financial climate.

 

How can you weather the storm?

For small and big businesses alike, cash flow is king, and if you can help preserve your client’s cash flow and still get paid what you are worth, you should pursue every opportunity. Professional service firms can no longer afford to be a bank for their clients.
It’s not so much a case of wanting to be paid what you are worth right now; it is more a case of needing to be paid what you are worth, on time.

Acknowledging a client is struggling and offering a payment plan solution will support your client’s needs and provide your business with full, upfront payment so that both can get on with the business of doing business.

If you would like to hear more about how QuickFee can help you avoid the COVID stimulus hangover, support your client base and get paid today, contact our team today on 02 8090 7700.

In the Spotlight – Michelle Messer, MJM Accountants

This month, QuickFee is launching In the Spotlight to recognise legal and accounting practitioners who demonstrate innovation, success, and commitment throughout their work. 

Each month, we will select individuals or firms to acknowledge the positive impact they have had on their community or their industry sector. If you think you know someone who fits the bill, please send us a 100-word summary to media-au@quickfee.com telling us why they deserve recognition.

Submission criteria:

  • The legal or accounting professional has shown an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction while still assuring the profitability and viability of their business or profession.
  • They have helped a client turn around business profits with innovative business opportunities.
  • They have outperformed their peers in their sectors, market segments and geographical areas in terms of community service.

 

In the Spotlight – Michelle Messer, MJM Accountants

Michelle Messer from the QLD-based accounting firm MJM Accountants is our first to be In the Spotlight. MJM Accountants, founded in 1992 by Michelle and her parents, focuses on bringing colour and fun to the accounting industry. Michelle’s vibrant personality brings a breath of fresh air and just seemed like the perfect way to launch our new Spotlight series.

It’s fair to say that Michelle likes to do things a little differently. Whether she is running the practice, painting watercolours, or creating comic books, Michelle manages to be both effervescent and down to earth at the same time – which is an approach that she has carried through to her practice.

 

From the vibrant and engaging superhero theme branding to their love of a good night out, this is one firm that doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mould of most suburban firms. Their website even challenges this stereotype by asking, “Who says accountants are boring?”

Beyond being a successful business owner, Michelle ensures that fun is the core of everything she does, which means that the team at MJM Accountants also does things a little differently.

 

The team has built a profitable book of clients who love working with them while maintaining their positive outlook and creating a sustainable work/life balance.

They are firm believers of flexi-time, and for every minute someone works over their contracted 38 hours each week, they get time off as compensation. They also don’t hesitate to cross over roles within the team, with everyone jumping in to answer calls or complete admin work or anything else that needs completing. Michelle says that this all-hands-on deck model works so well because they don’t have any deadwood in the team. Instead, every team member wants to be there and support each other and the company. 

 

They are a tightly bonded group that is intent on having fun. Like the time that the whole firm rented camper vans and took a road trip to Melbourne – alternating driving duties with completing tax returns – so that Michelle could don a horse costume and take part in Hamish and Andy’s Race That Slows Down the Nation. Their clients loved it, with many following them along the way on Instagram. 

 

 

Their culture is founded on having fun, and they are so serious about maintaining a positive culture that they don’t tolerate demanding customers. Therefore, all potential clients need to meet with the firm in a two-way interview process whereby the team must agree they are the right fit before coming on board. By doing this, Michelle says they ensure they have a great group of clients who refer other great people.

 

Through initiatives like this, Michelle has built a loyal client base and an even more loyal team that genuinely enjoys the work they do and the people they work alongside.

But Michelle’s work-life looked very different seven years ago. 

 

Her days were filled with back-to-back client meetings and phone calls, and to get the work done, she was consistently having early starts and late finishes – all with a young family at home. So, Michelle knew there had to be a better way of doing things.

 

It wasn’t until she attended a few medical appointments that she noticed that most specialists have specific days each week when they see patients – a very standard practice in the medical field. Which begged the question… if a patient is happy to accept this from their doctor – why would they not accept the same from their accountant?

 

So, in 2015 Michelle’s practice implemented something they call Client Days. These are two scheduled days per week purely dedicated to meeting with clients, meaning the remaining days are free to spend getting through the workload. With balance restored to their days and stress levels lowering, the team also decided to start sending two team members into every client meeting so that the client always had multiple people to contact if they needed help. It also meant that if someone wanted to take leave or was off sick, the client’s needs were still being met, and the business could keep ticking along. 

 

This simple change instantly impacted the staff and created a lifestyle change that allowed for greater productivity and flexibility – while still delivering high service levels to their clients. With their streamlined processes, the team can balance their work and home lives and thrive in both. 

 

Michelle has a lot to be proud of, from their humble beginnings in 1992 to the vibrant business they have built today. So, on the 16th of Sept 2022, MJM Accountants will celebrate its 30th year in business, and true to Michelle’s style the party will be a big one. 

Learn more: https://www.mjmaccountants.com.au/

 

Rules for scaling your business – Join the Elites with Bruce Coombes

Join the Elites – Insights from the minds of the super successful

Our Managing Director, Bruce Coombes, was recently invited to participate in the first-ever episode of the webinar series Join the Elites. Host Taryn Holman, National Sales Manager at Seamless SMSF, is joined by a different accounting industry expert each episode to hear about their formula for success and seamless profitability.

According to Bruce, the accounting formula that gives you less frustration, more profits, and more time to yourself is one where you position “the right customers, the right staff, doing the right things that you want to do. So it stops being work and starts becoming fun.”

With 42 years of industry knowledge, Bruce outlined his key insights to help you get to that end goal and enjoy yourself along the way.

 

 

Surround yourself with good people

With the amount of time you spend at work, it’s essential to surround yourself with good people. Most successful businesses will agree that it is easier to find good clients than find good staff. However, once you find nice clients, they will gladly refer like-minded people if they are happy with your service. Likewise, nice employees will refer good people to work with you if they feel valued. Ensuring you invest the time to keep good people by investing in your culture and refining your processes builds an environment where you have the right people in the right positions doing the right jobs with a positive mindset.

Don’t try to solve all of the problems

The impact of the pandemic on Australian business has unfortunately meant an increase in the number of business closures. The flow-on effect to the accounting industry has been significant in terms of work volume. Accountants across Australia have been working tirelessly to support their clients as we work through the economic impact of the pandemic. According to Bruce, the “sheer fatigue in our profession needs to stop” as you can’t solve every problem for every person.

Being realistic about what clients should be a part of your practice is vital to the long term success of your business, and you will need to manage your clients to ensure you have the right ones on board.

Triage your clients

Helping struggling clients is one thing, but when you overload your books with too many of these clients, you will start to see the impact on the macro level. You are a business, not a charity.

Bruce identifies three criteria for good clients;

  1. They have the ability to take advice
  2. They have the capacity to listen
  3. They pay

Simply put, clients that don’t take your advice or don’t pay should not be your clients.

A business that can balance helping clients in crisis and getting paid what they deserve will survive and thrive. Ultimately, you have an obligation to your primary stakeholder – your family. However, you do not have an obligation to a failing business that will not take your advice.

Finding good clients makes it easier for you and your team to do the work they enjoy. Don’t put up with the difficult clients – if they don’t align with your vision and culture, help them find a better-suited firm.

Don’t undervalue yourself

Consider this analogy, would you choose a discount heart surgeon or the best, most expensive one when it comes to your health? There is no doubt that surgeons deliver fantastic value to their clients – but they do not do it for free, and nor should you.

When you lower your costs, you undervalue yourself and the service you provide your clients. Which is a trend that Taryn says is all too common in accountants as, by and large, they are genuinely caring, good people and feel that minimizing their costs is the best way to help their clients. Remember that your clients are not paying for an hour of your time – they are paying for your experience.

Book a meeting with yourself

There will always be something that demands your attention, but according to Bruce, “being busy is not a badge of honour”. Instead, ensure you block time in your diary to allow yourself time to think and reflect. By taking back control of your time, you have the chance to properly digest information and create the opportunity for innovative thought.

Rules for scaling your business

According to Bruce, there are two basic rules for scaling your business.

  1. “Growth for growth’s sake is absolutely pointless. There is no point in having a chart that goes up and profit that doesn’t move. You are in business to make money.”
  2. You are in business to make money!

These rules mean that you simply will not stay in business in the absence of making money, and to stay in business, you must have a clear vision of your end goal in mind, value and invest in yourself, and surround yourself with good people.

 

About Seamless SMSF

Seamless SMSF is an Australian, privately owned Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) Audit Firm that offers SMSF Audit services to accounting firms. Having built a Live, Fully Integrated Workflow Portal, accountants can access contractors who supply back-office labour to assist them with functions necessary to run their accounting businesses successfully. This unique portal, paired with outstanding service, has made Seamless SMSF Australia’s #1 SMSF provider for accounting firms, now auditing in excess of 19,114 funds. Click here to enquire.