13 Apr, 2021
Fathom customer Robin Johnson is the owner of the TaxAssist’s Norwich North franchise. He’s been in the TaxAssist network for 17 years, and for the last nine years owned the franchise. In this customer catch up, Robin tells us how he uses Fathom to help clients grow their business, and how the additional advisory revenue complements his compliance revenue stream.
Tell us about your branch of TaxAssist
We handle clients' tax, payroll, bookkeeping and accounting needs, providing a tailored and local service. Our typical clients are small businesses with a turnover range of up to two million. We have all sorts of clients; electricians, construction, building services, scientists, consultants, pub chains, we don't niche or target specific sectors.
What sort of problems are clients bringing you daily?
A typical client, like an electrician, for example, will come to us and say, "I don't want to touch any of this finance stuff. I can wire a house but I have no idea about tax or accounts and nor do I want that knowledge." So it's a case of helping them with that and then seeing where they want to take their business. We remove client’s headaches when it comes to their tax, bookkeeping, accounting and business advice, letting them get on with what they do best.
Watch on Advisable: How bookkeepers can design and launch advisory services
How are you using Fathom with clients?
Compliance work will always be there, it will never die. However, by using Fathom, we can offer additional services to clients that they will value. This lets us tailor the package we give clients, some are happy with the annual tax return service but now we have the option to introduce more regular business advice through Fathom.
Recently I sent a Fathom PDF report to a client which showed their key metrics in a visual format. They could see how COVID had impacted their turnover and where it could have been without that external impact. This gives the client more insight into their business, rather than hitting them with a load of numbers on a page. I pinged over a Loom video as well to talk through it all, highlighting key points.
We picked Fathom to help us deliver this service because the reporting brings the figures to life and engages the client more, it just really brightens a pile of digits and provides clarity on the client’s business position.
Read more: Presenting Fathom remotely
How are you introducing Fathom to clients?
I have several existing compliance clients where we do their tax returns. As the client grows, we grow with them. We can offer them a higher package with more support and more services, which is where Fathom comes in. I showed one client some Fathom reports and he said, ‘oh I didn't know I could look at things like this,’ and I said, ‘yes you can, and if we look at the year on year comparisons, your turnover has doubled; business has grown double in the past year.’
I also use Fathom to bring in new work. Recently I had a meeting with a client where there's the potential to do a lot more work, and we've been asked to quote for effectively a virtual FD role. They want more impact from a financial person within the business. So I logged into their Xero account, pulled their data through into Fathom in seconds, opened up a Fathom template report, and it met half the criteria of this tender straight away.
For another client, we were looking at the KPI chart and just seeing what caused the KPI results, and then looked forward to the rest of 2021 to see where those KPIs may end up. It was great to get this extra insight into the key metrics. There's a lot more we can do for clients with Fathom we can even segment further into all sorts of things and drill into what's working and what's not, and suggest changes to strategy to improve financial performance. We’re just scratching the surface of what Fathom can do.
Tell us how you’re using reporting in Fathom.
I've created a basic report template that covers turnover, cash position, Financial Statements and KPI visualisations: the things that a small business owner wants. If people want to build it out more, we can do that, add things in, explain the KPIs in greater detail. But at the same time, we don’t want to overwhelm our clients. With Fathom we have the option to make it as simple or complex as we need to.
How were you delivering this kind of service before you implemented Fathom?
We just weren't delivering it. To do it without Fathom would be difficult. It would have been, ‘we can talk more about it’, but we couldn't do much more than that. Tools like Fathom have a really useful place in accounting because you can make decisions instantly as opposed to waiting for a quarter-end or even a year-end because then the decision is no longer relevant anyway.
What would you say is your biggest obstacle to delivering more advisory to clients?
I think it’s the confidence to deliver en masse, so to speak. If you sit down and you get inundated with stuff to do it can be a little bit, not unsettling, but you're worried about juggling balls. Whereas if the work comes in steadily, you can really devote the time to your clients. And by doing that you're going to get more people to come through the door because it's a more personable service as well.
Talk to us about your tech stack
We're 99% Xero. We use TaxCalc for compliance, we use Fathom obviously, Dext, Chaser, Clarity, Practice Ignition, GoCardless and Pixie.
Read more: Accounting technology round up
What do your next six to twelve months look like?
If it's anything like the last two weeks, it's going to be mad! With what we're doing here now, with me taking a more business-focused approach I think it's going to be a good year.
Start your Fathom trial today
If you'd like to find out more about how Fathom can help your practice grow, start your free 14-day trial today or get in touch to find out more.
Written by Andrew Webb
Andrew is Fathom’s Content Strategist based in the UK. He has a background in journalism and has worked for companies like the BBC and HuffPost, as well as start ups in education and technology. Andrew has also published 5 food books and makes a great pie.