There are currently more than 500 apps that connect to Xero.
If you are considering extending the cloud services that you offer, choosing the right ones for both your business and your clients can be overwhelming.
To begin with, you need to be clear as to what tasks you’d like to integrate.
This will influence your search and help you to reduce the results further depending on the volume of clients you have and what industries they occupy.
You may also want to consider whether these apps will form an integral part of your clients’ businesses such as an EPOS systems. Or if the new apps will act as an internal system for your own business such as management reporting.
We also recommend being honest with what you are willing to pay for the new software. If your intention is to save time on current processes then you may be prepared to pay less than for software that will form the basis of a new service.
For us at Fresh Financials, the introduction of Xero and the software apps have helped to transform our business from desktop Quickbooks to a fully remote working team. We wouldn’t be without them.
So here are our favourites.
Onboard your clients effortlessly – Practice Ignition
You’ve just come back from a meeting with a potential new client. It’s gone well and now all you need to do is the final pieces of paperwork to take them from a warm lead to a client.
First, there is the proposal. Once that is signed and returned, you then need to create and get signed your letter of engagement and if you are using fixed fees, arrange for payments to be set up.
This all probably takes one to two hours per client. Which in most cases is non-chargeable time.
Practice Ignition automates all of this for you.
From within the software, you can create templates for your proposals and letters of engagement, enabling you to quickly create a custom document for each new client. This can be sent and signed electronically to the client.
Whilst they are signing both the proposal and letter of engagement, Practice Ignition also enables your new client to set up their payment collection. So, the whole process can be done in a matter of minutes.
We love this app, not only because it streamlines what can be a slow process, but because it’s paperless. We market ourselves as a cloud-based, modern bookkeeping business. So, if we started our client’s journey by sending out paper documents in the post, this would be a conflict of systems.
We want to demonstrate that we run our business using the systems that we recommend to our clients. So, consistency helps to reinforce our position as an expert in this field.
Get paid easily, quickly and securely – GoCardless
When it comes to getting paid, you want to put up as few barriers as possible.
How often have you gone to sign up to a service or buy a new product only to find that you need to print out and return a direct debit form, or send a cheque, and then forgotten or changed your mind?
Equally, how often have you visited the Amazon website and left it having spent money without even realising it?
You do a fantastic job and your clients want to pay you, but you need to make it easy for them and GoCardless is a great software app for this.
We send our clients a link to GoCardless as soon as they’ve accepted our proposal. This enables them to quickly and easily set up a direct debit and this in turn kick starts our onboarding process.
If you still charge your clients per hour, you could consider linking your GoCardless account to Xero. Doing this will add a Pay Now button to your online invoices.
Remove the need for boxes and files of receipts – Receipt Bank
We’ve found that the expense capturing apps are the ones that bookkeepers feel the most passionate about.
This is understandable as data entry is at the heart of our profession. It is also an area that generally involves both yourself and your clients.
You don’t want to invest in software that your clients struggle to use. This is because you don’t want your clients to only use it half of the time as that will create more work whilst you try to work out what has been sent to you and what hasn’t. You want the software to become a system that they can incorporate into their day to day lives.
From your bookkeeping businesses point of view, it’s important that the data that the software extracts from the paperwork is accurate. You need to have confidence in the software as otherwise, the process of checking and correcting receipts will end up taking longer than if you simply entered the information yourself.
We’ve discovered that there is a trade-off between price and accuracy within this market.
Our favourite, and the app that we use exclusively is Receipt Bank. For us, they tick all the boxes in terms of accuracy and ease of use.
They are also continually improving the software so it is moving from simply expense management to workflow and client onboarding. We love having the ability to send our new clients a text with a link to their new Receipt Bank account and the Practice Platform dashboard gives us an overview of who is sending us their information and when.
Make sure everyone gets their money – Chaser
Poor cash flow is one of the main reasons that businesses fail.
For this reason, introducing Chaser to your clients is an instant way of improving their cash flow and in some cases, even saving their businesses.
Chaser links to Xero and is an automated credit control system. It sends out email reminders to your clients to remind them to pay you. It’s as simple as that really. You can create the email reminders yourself so they sound like they are coming from you.
You can pause the reminders if you know that a client is on holiday or if they have promised payment so it feels more natural and follows the same process as you would if you were running the credit control personally.
We love Chaser because it can make a big impact to our client’s businesses very quickly. It can also dramatically reduce the time either yourself or your clients spend on credit control as you only need to get involved with the awkward or stubborn payers.
Help your clients to predict the future – Futrli
We are constantly being told in the media and by our professional bodies how bookkeepers need to move over to advisory services.
With an increasingly large portion of your working being automated, you may have considered additional ways in which you can use the data that you have available.
If advisory work is something that you want to consider, then we recommend looking at Futrli. If you don’t recognise the name, that may be because until recently they went under the name CrunchBoards.
We like Futrli for many reasons. It’s easy to use. It’s paperless. It’s beautiful to look at. They do fantastic one on one onboarding sessions so you understand the product. Plus, our clients respond very well to the reports.
Futrli is different from its reporting competitors because it refreshes its link to Xero every hour. This means that should your client choose to, they can access up to date figures on their mobile phone whenever they want. This is great for fast moving industries such as retail or hospitality or even any of your clients who work to tight margins or have sensitive cash flow.
We like the flexibility to create custom reports that suit each client. It gives us the opportunity to show our clients the information that they want to see. We also love the ability to update the figures in front of the client. This starts more conversations about their business rather than having you present a PDF report made up of your own assumptions.
If this is still daunting….
No one expects you to go out and fill your bookkeeping business with software apps on day one.
This is a gradual process that involves a lot of thought. You also need to have the time available to invest in your own training and understanding of the software.
If you would like a mentor or simply someone to talk to, to discuss your journey onto the cloud, you may want to consider Fresh Bookkeepers. We are here to help not only you, but also your team, to comfortably incorporate these apps into your business. We don’t work for any of these software companies. We don’t receive any commission. So, this is a great opportunity to hear about the true pros and cons of these apps from fellow bookkeepers who use them every single day.
It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect app. But it’s about choosing the ones that will work and evolve with you and your growing bookkeeping business.