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Growth through right tech, people & processes

Abbeygate Accountancy
Tom Jamison, Head of Growth & Business Development

Tom Jamison is Head of Growth & Business Development at Abbeygate Accountancy, a progressive practice based in Bury St Edmunds, England. It offers a range of accounting, bookkeeping and advisory services to over 175 clients. In 2020, the practice embraced technology, combined with the right people, to become more productive, profitable and provide clients with a truly personalised service. Ignition has since helped Abbeygate Accountancy increase their annual recurring revenue by£250,000 over the past 12 months; grow their client base 70% in one year; and provide each new client with a video-based proposal, setting them apart from the competition.

How did your practice operate before you introduced Ignition?

So to give you a bit of context, before I arrived, the team looked quite different—not just in terms of personnel but also with regards to how we operated. It was a small practice, in a small town, with that small-time feel.

I was brought on with one clear mission in mind: growing the practice. But this wasn’t just about adding as many clients as we could. We realised that there were two key elements to successfully growing our practice: people and processes. We needed to make sure we had the right people internally, that we were attracting the right sort of clients, and that both employees and customers alike were supported by rock-solid back-office processes.

What steps did you take to reinvent Abbeygate Accountancy’s approach?

We first conducted rigorous customer journey planning sessions, identifying the end-to-end journey from a client agreeing to our proposal right the way up to them paying us for our services.

This helped us on two key fronts. First, we were able to clearly identify areas that could be automated. Second, it gave us the confidence to tell new clients: “This is the precise process that we follow during onboarding and when serving you going forward”.

That said, we were still working with manual spreadsheets and siloed data. I felt like this wasn’t sustainable in the long term. The more clients we took on, the more complex it would become to manage them effectively.

I wanted a centralised solution that allowed us to all sing from the same song sheet and follow the same approach. We wanted to make sure that even if one of our team wasn’t in the office, a colleague could instantly pick up a conversation with one of their clients.

So what made you choose Ignition?

There were a number of different reasons, but to be honest with you, Ignition just felt like the right tool for us. It’s so comforting implementing a centralised tool where we can stay on top of all our clients: the proposals we sent, the services we’re offering, their payment details, billing schedule, and more.

As a growth guy, my main concern is getting clients on board. Ignition allows us to rapidly send out personalised proposals and we can even include a personalised Loom video. So many new clients have told us that this personal touch was a major differentiator between us and the competition.

I’m also a massive fan of the fact that you can see when a client has opened your proposal/viewed your video. There’s nothing worse than being in the dark, unsure as to whether or not a client has even taken the time to read what you’ve sent over.

Of course, proposals are just one tiny part of what Ignition does. It’s had such a wide-ranging influence on our practice that I can’t imagine operating without it.

Can you tell us a little more about the impact that it’s had?

In terms of numbers, we’ve been able to grow our client base from 22 to 176 companies in roughly two years—and we’ve added an extra £250,000 annual recurring revenue.

We’re able to serve more clients, more effectively by virtually eliminating the time spent on creating proposals, setting clients up in various systems, and managing/chasing payments. We’re now able to set up automated monthly payments with all our clients, providing us with a consistent cash flow. This has had a major influence on our strategic decision-making—we know what our future revenue looks like, which helps us forecast accordingly, and we no longer have to manually manage a debtor book.

Ignition allows us to get on with our day job: serving clients. Throughout every stage of the customer journey, from sending a proposal to receiving payment, Ignition has provided both us and our clients with a seamless, automated experience.

How does Ignition fit in with the rest of your tech stack?

In one word, seamlessly.

Ignition easily connects with our other tools (such as Calendly, Trello, and Microsoft SharePoint 365) through Zapier and also integrates directly with Karbon. For a rapidly growing practice, having the ability to automate mundane back-office tasks has been a genuine life-saver.

For example, once clients sign our proposal, this automatically triggers a new folder to be created in Karbon. Zapier also allows Ignition to connect with Calendly, meaning we can keep track of when we’re due to be speaking with each client. Given that we’ve increased our client base by 700% in the past couple of years, this has been invaluable!

What would you say to someone considering implementing Ignition?

Take the plunge as soon as possible. You have no idea how beneficial it’ll be until you actually get started. Believe me, it will reinvent your practice for good.

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