And why a firm that achieved Xero Partner of the Year for moving their clients to the Xero platform is now helping other accounting firms do the same.
I’m often asked why the Poole Group—after achieving Xero Australia Accounting Partner of the Year in 2013—started Zerobooks in the first place.
After all, we put in 12 months of intense work to not only learn about Xero ourselves but also move all our clients across to the new platform. So why would we then set up a specialist bookkeeping business to help other accounting and bookkeeping businesses move their clients across to Xero? Why would we openly share everything we learned instead of keeping those ‘trade secrets’ to ourselves?
The reason is simple: We’re more interested in the big picture.
We’re passionate about helping small businesses, and we love how Xero and its interconnected ecosystem of apps can help them become more efficient.
But at every Xerocon event and Xero Roadshow we attended, accountants and bookkeepers kept telling us the same thing: As much as they wanted to educate their clients and move them all across to Xero, they were struggling to look after clients as it was.
Ironically, as they told us this they were surrounded by the latest in cloud-based technology and Xero apps. And yet there was nothing there that could solve their dilemma.
They didn’t need technology. They needed hands-on help to make their dream a reality.
And that’s why we started Zerobooks—to fulfil that need.
That all happened back in February 2014, and Zerobooks has evolved quite a bit since then. So here’s a little ‘retrospective’ about the business, and the three main ways we help accounting and bookkeeping firms:
- outsource the legwork involved in moving clients to Xero
- provide support with ongoing Xero and bookkeeping-related services.
How it all started
As I said earlier, the Poole Group established Zerobooks back in February 2014 to provide a processing platform and back office solution for Xero-focused accounting and bookkeeping firms. We wanted to:
- help firms move to the Xero Practice platform
- remove data entry and processing from accounting firms
- allow firms to focus on the technical and advisory aspects of their business.
- provide a white label bookkeeping solution to help firms clients become more efficient
- improve the quality of data being delivered to accounting firms leading to improved productivity.
And why are we so good at what we do?
- We’re a data processing platform—period. We don’t offer any BAS, tax or business advisory services. Instead, we concentrate on providing a specialist solution for Xero clients globally.
- We’re Xero specialists, and only work with firms and clients who use Xero or the Xero Practice Studio suite.
Zerobooks is now a Platinum Xero Partner in Australia, and appears at the top of Xero’s list of Australian bookkeeping firms.
Here are the three ways we help accounting firms and their clients become Xero heroes.
Xero Practice Studio set ups
We help firms make the transition from legacy platforms to the Xero suite of products.
If the firm isn’t already using Xero, we start by converting the financial data from their legacy platform into Xero ledgers. This involves:
- importing the previous year’s trial balance (and extra years for comparatives and tracking categories if needed)
- setting up new account codes and general ledger accounts
- setting up report codes for each account
- setting up of GST codes for each account
We also convert the Asset registers from their current platform to Xero Asset registers.
As well as all that, we can also:
- set up and populate tax returns with the previous year’s details to prepare for the current year
- set up the master report packs, the four standard ones being Sole Trader, Partnership, Family Trust and Company
- provide training on various aspects of the Xero suite, including report packs.
You might think this would be an extremely time-consuming process. But rather than entering the information manually we’ve developed a set of programs to help us perform these tasks quickly.
There are other advantages, too:
- We only need one person in the firm to upload the files we need, so there’s little disruption to workflows and productivity while we set up the new platform.
- Having already processed thousands of files, we have the training and processes to deliver these services quickly, easily and professionally.
- We can provide advice and guidance to help firms set up their systems.
Ongoing Xero services
With the firm now set up on the Xero platform, we can provide a range of services to help remove data processing from their office so they can focus on client service, client relationships and building their business.
To start, we can populate their Xero ledgers from another software product they may have been using (e.g. MYOB, Quickbooks or Sage). We extract whatever data is required for a given period, and then use that data to populate the Xero ledger. With this unproductive task out of the way, the firm can focus on higher-value advisory services.
We can also pre-populate their Xero workpapers. We archive their old workpaper pack as a PDF file (which they can then put wherever they keep their files), and set up a new workpaper pack. From there we populate the new pack with source data either from Xero or other files that hold details such as accounts payable/receivable ledgers, bank reconciliations etc. We then send it back to the firm so they can start the review/advice process.
And all for a fixed fee.
Finally, there’s our white label Xero bookkeeping service—the most popular service we provide. We perform all the data processing functions ourselves, and present the firm with a standard, uniform and consistent set of accounts that lets them provide real advice in real time with real data.
As part of the standard service we:
- process the firm’s Accounts Payable (using Receipt Bank)
- perform bank reconciliations for the firm twice a week so they can review their clients’ files at any time knowing they’re all up to date (providing they’ve answered all our questions)
- manage their debtors using the Chaser automatic reminder service
- prepare the firm’s payroll.
We also offer:
- customised solutions for clients who need help with other aspects of their business (e.g. invoicing and data entry)
- “rescue” services to bring clients files up to date.
A big feature of our bookkeeping service is that we only contact clients if the firm specifically asks us to. We’ll direct any queries we have to the firm, who can then forward on to their clients if necessary. This ensures the client never gets confused about who to contact, and strengthens the firm’s relationship as a trusted advisor.
As you can see, Zerobooks offers a range of services and support that can help firms:
- focus on their core strengths and higher-value services
- eliminate unproductive and low-value activities in their offices
- reduce the overhead costs to deliver these services
- scale up their business without committing to additional overhead costs
- fix their costs for a range of service offerings
- strengthen the relationships with their clients.
And we can help your firm, too.
Why not get in touch with us today, and find out how Xero’s number one Australian bookkeeping firm and one of Australia’s leading Xero focussed accounting firms can help you grow your business and achieve your dreams.