How to find the support you need to keep your bookkeeping business moving

We all hate getting stuck.

In our experience, running a highly profitable bookkeeping business depends largely upon two things. The first is your pricing and the second is efficiency.

If your systems are inefficient then you need to charge more to cover your higher time costs. Therefore, applying the same rule means you can price competitively or decide to make greater profits, the more efficient your systems are.

The problem is that most us agree our price with our clients in advance.

This means that if we get stuck on a technical issue, the additional time it takes to resolve the problem goes straight to our bottom line.

With desktop software, the updates were often small and most of the time took place annually when you renewed your subscription. With Xero, the updates can be monthly and they can also be significant. Whilst this is good news as it creates a more effective software, it can, however, increase the likelihood that you’ll face a technical roadblock.

So how can you cope with these software updates to maintain an efficient workflow?


Try to figure it out yourself

We’ve all been in the middle of a bookkeeping job and another client has phoned up with a quick Xero query.

They’re asking something simple such as whether they can use bank feeds to link their new credit card to Xero. You’re not confident enough to be able to answer immediately, so you tell the client that you will check and call them back.

Even though you feel that you are busy at this point, in our experience this is an inefficient use of your time. This is because you have stopped the job that you were previously working on and you will now begin to research how to answer this new query yourself.

Xero has a good help button when you are within their system, but the results can be varied. You’ll notice that this is a global help button so if your query is anything to do with bank accounts or payroll, for example, the results will be filled with answers from Australia or New Zealand which you’ll need to filter out.

If your query is simple, it is likely that you will find the answer this way. However, we recommend keeping an eye on the clock as it is so easy to lose half an hour to an hour reading the community discussions and online guides. This is time that you could have spent on the bookkeeping job that you had to stop in the first place.


Use Xero’s email support

Once you have exhausted the Xero’s Help button, the next option is to contact Xero directly.

It may be worth noting that Xero only have an email support line.

The advantages of this, is that you won’t waste any of your time on hold and it means that they are able to offer you support around the clock.

The disadvantage is they give a 24-hour response window and their reply will be dependent upon how they interpret your initial email.

If you are positioning yourself as a Xero expert and you pride yourself on a responsive customer service, having to wait a day for a response from Xero which could even be a request for additional information, might not cut it.


Turn to your favourite social media channels

There is a growing trend for bookkeepers to be using social media.

Whilst this is great as an additional marketing channel, it also enables you to connect with fellow bookkeepers.

If you have a Xero query which you haven’t been able to answer yourself but you can’t afford to wait the 24 hours for Xero to respond, turning to your fellow bookkeepers for advice is a great way to tap into their expertise and practical experience.

Joining a supportive community where you can all bounce ideas off each other and seek the opinions of those outside of your staff and subcontractors is highly valuable.

However, if you already use social media then you will be aware of how it can drain your time. Relying upon it for technical answers can be efficient but it is possible that you will counteract this efficiency by answering other people’s queries and getting side tracked by other discussions.

It may also be worth noting that not all these Facebook groups are closed. This means that there is a possibility that anyone within your network, including your clients, could see your questions.


Undertake additional training

Inevitably, there will be occasions where you will come across a far more technical roadblock.

This may be something that requires a process to resolve rather than a simple email response, such as moving your payroll over to Xero mid tax year.

Xero has a vast array of on-demand training. Most of which will count towards your certification points, which is a great plus.

In terms of effectiveness, you will certainly have any queries answered within these training videos.

However, the problem is that firstly, we don’t naturally go straight to these training videos so we’ve often already wasted a large amount of time going through the previous options. Secondly, we generally must sit through several videos before they cover your problem.

So, whilst the training videos are a fantastic way of building upon your Xero knowledge, when it comes to maintaining your workflow and dealing with client queries promptly, they are not the most efficient method.


Sign up for on-demand help

We set up Fresh Bookkeepers because we know how important it is to deal with queries quickly and efficiently.

Maybe you need to submit a VAT Return and you simply do not have the time to waste trying to figure out why Xero won’t let you file it through their system.

It could be that you are sat with a client so undertaking additional research isn’t physically possible.

Or perhaps you simply want to speak to someone.

Part of the Fresh Bookkeepers membership is a direct phone line to our team of Xero certified advisors. We all use Xero daily with our own clients so you get the advantages of the immediate response that a phone call brings, as well as the bookkeeping practical expertise and knowledge of your peers in any of the online forums.

The reality is that you will probably use the first four methods that we detailed in this blog already, but we wanted to offer the fifth. Partly because our industry is filled with deadlines so we need answers quickly. But also, because no matter how online and cloud based you go, it’s still nice to talk to someone. Especially someone who knows what they’re talking about.