The key to incorporating a cash flow advisory service into your service offering is to start simple. Starting with a small sub-section of clients with similar problems will help you learn and iterate on the process required to roll out the service to more clients.
So with that in mind, we recommend looking for no more than three-to-four clients that fit into the categories listed below to start off with. Think of each category below as a ‘funnel’ where you pour all your new and existing clients in at the top and each filter helps you get to the three-to-four clients you should pilot your cash flow advisory service with.
1. Which clients would benefit from the service?
We recommend that you group the majority of your clients into the following categories.
Category 1: Clients that are asking for cash flow forecasting
This is an often-overlooked category but it makes sense to start with the “low-hanging fruit” if you can.
Category 2: Clients that are experiencing cash flow problems
Clients don’t always use the words ‘cash flow forecasting’ when you ask them about their biggest concerns.
The triggers to look for would be if a client starts their sentence with “I don’t know…” as this is likely to signal that they don’t fully understand something in their business, such as:
- “I don’t know if I can make my VAT payment”
- “I don’t know if I can pay my staff this month”
- “I don’t know how much I can afford to pay myself in dividends this month”
They may also tell you that it takes them a long time to get paid. These are all concerns that a cash flow forecast can help to mitigate.
Category 3: Clients that are making fundamental changes or growing quickly
- Look for clients that are looking to make fundamental changes to their business model or business operations or are chasing ambitious growth targets over the next 3 -12 months
- E.g. A group of fitness instructors looking to double their revenue in 12 months wants to know whether they can afford a lease renewal on an existing studio that will allow them more space to hire more instructors and offer more classes
- It’s incredibly important for growing businesses to make sure they have cash available to take the actions and opportunities that will fuel their growth
It may be a good idea to split the three-four pilot clients across the two or three categories so you can learn how to use Float in different ways.
2. Which clients have up-to-date data?
Once you have segmented your new and existing clients into the three categories listed above, the next step would be to assess the quality of the data in their accounting software. For a client to be “Float-ready”, they must have their accounting software regularly reconciled/matched and have a streamlined chart of accounts.
At this stage, you are looking for those clients that meet the following criteria:
- Their transactions are reconciled/matched (at least monthly in their accounting software and there is resource available either within your firm or the client’s business (e.g. in-house admin/bookkeeper) to continue to do so
- The clients’ chart of accounts are streamlined (we recommend using a tool like Xavier Analytics to help with this)
We’d recommend using a data capture tool such as Hubdoc or ReceiptBank to help your clients get their Xero accounts in good order.
3. Which industries should I start with?
Generally, you want to start with clients in those industries that use invoices and bills for income and expenditure, and those that have ‘lumpy’ income. Particular industries that tend to do well in Float are digital agencies, professional services, IT/software companies, manufacturers and makers, consulting firms and trades and construction.
4. Which clients will show genuine interest?
Given that a cash flow forecast requires information from all areas of the business, you want to start with those clients that show a genuine interest in their business and a desire to improve their current situation.
Selecting those clients that, historically, haven’t been receptive to outside help when it comes to the direction of their business will make it more difficult to test out the new service in the early stages. These clients may take more of an interest over-time but at the start, it may be difficult to justify the time and effort to bring these clients around when there are others who want the help you’re looking to provide.
How do I prioritise clients during the Coronavirus pandemic?
During the Coronavirus pandemic, you may want to take a slightly different approach to prioritising which clients to add to Float first.
We spoke with Float partner accountant Helen Crapper of Insight Finance Solutions, who had this to say on prioritising her clients:
In a nutshell, with your clients demanding your cash flow guidance now more than ever, we recommend prioritising them using the following considerations:
- The most at-risk industries – for instance hospitality and leisure industries where the company isn’t able to easily ‘pivot’ into offering their services online
- How tech-savvy the client is – will they be open to learning a new tool?
- Can this client continue to pay for your services? Consider whether your firm has capacity to support clients with lower cash reserves
- Financial expertise – is this your client’s first financial crisis, or are they a seasoned pro? Prioritise those who need more help
- How emotionally vulnerable is your client? If they need more support, get them on sooner.
Regardless of economic climate, we always recommend onboarding clients in batches, rather than all at once, so that you have the time to properly train them and your own team on the software.
For more information on how to use, promote and price Float, check out our Accountant & Bookkeeper Resources Hub