Not Your Average Accounting Firm

Accounting & Audit Solutions Bendigo

The people of Accounting and Audit Solutions Bendigo (AASB) have never been content to offer the same old services in the same old manner. Instead, the company continually creates individually tailored accounting and audit solutions that make the most sense for each client. The company has crafted a niche for itself in the accounting industry by offering a pricing system that works for clients, not against them.

AASB is well equipped to offer a diverse range of general accounting services catering to small businesses, as well as taxation and audit services. The company also offers highly specialised services for clients in the healthcare and gaming industries, and has quickly become a valuable and respected resource for clients in these fields.

The company works with clients in modern, personalised ways to design solutions that most authentically address each client’s needs. This desire to offer the highest level of quality customer service often means travelling to meet with clients face to face to best understand the client’s business and needs.

Steven Jackel, Partner with Accounting and Auditing Solutions Bendigo, recognises what this means to its clients. “These two areas of speciality mean we often work onsite at client premises and this is something we have also found beneficial in our general accounting / taxation services,” he explains. “Working onsite with clients allows you to see their business in operation and avoids a lot of telephone calls chasing information.”

The company was established four years ago this month, and, in that time, its reputation for excellence in service has built a loyal and satisfied base of clients, leading to continued growth. The four original partners recognised they offered a valuable and innovative service. “We could see that our particular client base was a bit different than your typical accounting practise. So what we wanted to do was to take the client base we had and work with them a bit differently than you could within the confines of a general accounting practice.”

Driven by understanding the needs of their clients across the healthcare and gaming industries, the partners began developing of a suite of services and processes and designed a standard billing model based upon annual fees, instead of the traditional and restrictive hourly model. Using an annual payment model, clients are less restricted by what Steven calls “the fee factor” and the company is able to actively engage clients in a regular, onsite manner.

“Over the last three years we’ve continued to grow purely because of the fact we can dedicate a little bit more time to these clients and word gets around.”

The company’s staff of thirteen, possessing an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in the industry, is its greatest asset. Steven explains that all of the staff in the firm are willing to go the extra mile whenever a client requires it. “A key feature of being able to offer the services that we do offer is that if we say we can do it, then the staff make sure it gets done.”

In accounting, it’s not unusual to encounter bottlenecks as major reporting periods and deadlines often occur for many clients at the same time each year. AASB accountants understand this need and work to make sure each and every client is satisfied. Some of this satisfaction can be attributed to the company’s innovative pricing structure which does not discourage on the job training. When new staff members are brought out to the worksite to build experience working with clients, in the traditional pricing structure, clients would be billed for the extra hours of having a trainee on site. AASB covers this sort of training under its easy annual payment schedule and encourages the inclusion of new trainees.

“One of the limitations in the old structure was charging to train people on the job, expecting at least some recovery. In this model, we can wear that cost as part of the initial training process. We’re able to train them so down the track they can do the work on their own.” AASB staff and partners are happy to absorb this cost to serve clients as effectively as possible.

The company also includes regular travel ¬¬¬– which some accounting firms would not be willing to do. “It is easier to be on site to meet with people and resolve their issues face to face rather than trying to do it via the phone or internet,” says Steven. Remote systems have improved significantly in recent years so the firm can also access and work on clients’ systems from the office. “Even in these cases, we will visit several times a year.”

Systems integration across the health industry has allowed the company to offer an even more efficient process for clients, as shared systems streamline the accounting process and allow the company to work from a set of industry standards. “The good thing, for us, is we can access all of our health clients from the office and work with one system to resolve their needs.”

Being able to meet with client boards and finance committees gives rise to an even greater understanding of client needs, and is important in the business model and philosophy of service that AASB employs. “It makes the process much more efficient,” shares Steven.

One of the great attractions for clients is the company’s ability to retain consistent quality while offering flexible service. Today, AASB staff are able to modify reporting structures quickly to meet the evolving needs of clients across the company’s areas of focus. “From our perspective, if we set a fee for a client for a year, we have to be as efficient as possible.” The client has the flexibility to change how they want reports done and AASB is ready to deal with that instantly.

Since inception in 2010, the company has seen organic growth and increased exposure. Through client satisfaction, the company has been able to develop a reputation of service and customer satisfaction. Throughout, Steven explains the focus has never been, nor will be, to grow so quickly as to lose those valuable relationships with clients and the ability to effectively serve them. “It’s the fact we are doing what we set out to do, by servicing the clients that little bit better so people are satisfied with the service they get.”

Moving forward, Steven suggests he expects the company to become even more engaged with the company’s speciality clients, and he expects AASB to play a more active role in industry discussions. “The Partners are still hands-on in our day to day work, but we’d like to work more with the bigger issues by working with industry at a higher level,” he says.

Being a small firm that is relatively new, Steven expects to see more involvement in discussion at the top-end of the industry going forward. “Whether it’s working with government or high end decision makers, we want be part of that process.”

It is important to the company that clients feel free to remain connected, and AASB makes it a point to encourage ongoing communication. The point of difference is the set fee that allows the client to feel they can pick up the phone and have a conversation at any time

Steven describes the accounting industry as one that is still based on trust and loyalty. Customers that receive excellent, efficient service are likely to stick with that specific firm and spread the word about the service they receive from it. In only four years, AASB has proven the company is able to consistently provide effective, innovative service and has developed a broad range of customers, largely through word of mouth referrals.

“If you offer something a little bit different from the rest, and are prepared to go the extra yard, clients recognise that and appreciate it,” he says. “We continually work hard to get to the point where people say our firm provides more than they expected. That’s what we work to achieve.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 9:23 AM AEDT