Choose your own adventure - The story of a modern Virtual CFO

December 1st, 2015

by Guy Pearson 4 minute read


This is a guest post from Steph Hinds of Growthwise, who are one of eight Xero Platinum partners in Australia. They provide small business accounting on steroids that focuses on their client’s entire business to automate, streamline and improve their systems, processes, and profits. Steph’s passionate about helping clients improve and hit their targets, she’s provided us with some insights into how she achieves this for so many of her clients.

How excited do you get showing your clients a profit and loss statement? More importantly how excited do your clients get when you show them a profit and loss statement? I’m sure most of you would’ve said not very, if at all. How easy do you find it to explain results to a client in order for them to understand it?

We spend so much of our lives at work that we try and make things as fun as possible at Growthwise. We do this by implementing training that is both fun and worthwhile. Add a dash of healthy competition and we have training process that really gets results!

Have you ever watched the TV show House MD? You may be familiar with the whiteboard where Gregory House's diagnostic team come up with hypotheses about patients’ illnesses. We have adopted that concept as part of our process of training to help get staff into the frame of mind of being diagnostic for clients and how we can help them improve and hit their targets.

Our process begins each Monday where we pick a client to work on. You have from Monday to Friday to come up with a diagnostic on all the potential problems the client has. Then each Friday our team training is diagnosing all of our clients "illnesses" (example: what isn't working perfectly in their business). But instead of prescribing procedures or medicine, it's changes or strategies for that client. We provide actionable recommendations to improve and not just a historical ‘look back’. It makes both us and our clients really think about how to make their business’ more efficient. This provides so much value to our clients.

We use Spotlight Reporting as the tool to diagnose those problems. It's a really effective way of getting your entire team to really think about ways clients can improve. As well as then being able to use Spotlight to show the client what they’ve discovered.

When communicating what we’ve discovered to clients, I like to tell clients stories. I find this the easiest way to explain what happened in the past and what needs to happen in the future in order for them to achieve results. Clients care about you showing them something they can action, but also something they can understand. This is why we use Spotlight Reporting as our tool to do this, as it allows you to show clients exactly what happened, as well as project the future and how we came up with our “diagnosis”. The result is the ability to have easy conversations with the client because not only can you show the client what’s going on, but it’s all backed up by real data.

Clients can also tell their own story about what is going on if they get visual tools. They can start to understand and see what is going on in their business. They start to ask questions and become more engaged. You can build something from that conversation. This then opens up the opportunity to discuss everything else we can do for them and their business.

Spotlight Reporting has actually made the process of meeting with clients fun! You get to enjoy your time with clients and make a real impact on their business and the work they are doing. Spotlight is an essential tool that lays everything out for you. You, as the accountant, then just have to tell the story!

If you’d like to hear more about Steph’s approach, watch the talk she gave at our Launchpad Series below.

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