Customer conversations with Full-Stop Accounts
Lauren Harvey, Founding Director of Full-Stop Accounts, sat down with our Head of Sales, Jon Oakley, to chat about one of her firm’s biggest strengths – prioritising client relationships and conversations.
Full-Stop is a Cardiff-based agency working to support independent organisations and passionate change-makers.
Going on 10 years this year, Lauren and the team help their clients to understand their finances and take control of their businesses. And it’s how Full-Stop centres their firm around giving their clients a personable, communication-lead service that makes us so proud to have them on our list of Seed Partners. We believe that it’s good to talk with clients and clearly our values align with Full-Stop’s.
There’s no doubt that client relationships have changed. Having used Connect4 for nearly 100 meetings over the last 2 months alone, the core 6-people Full-Stop team are embracing the new way forward.
Here are the highlights of their conversation as Lauren and Jon discuss, not only the importance of client meetings, but also how they have evolved.
What do you at Full-Stop offer your clients?
We’re actually redefining all of our services to make sure that, as a minimum, we talk to every client once a month. And I can imagine people breathing in through their teeth and saying, “Oh, that’s a big commitment!”
But we’re redefining why, as you say, it’s good to talk and actually, what are we to those clients. Are we a bookkeeper and just doing compliance each month, or are we there to share expertise and keep them on track and offer accountability? The reason I took my IT degree and studied to become an accountant in the first place is because I was like, “that’s the profession that best helps businesses!”
I think it’s remembering that.
And what kind of conversations are you having with your clients?
I mean, we’re at the point with an increasing number of our clients where we’re not just planning for the business now; we’re planning for when restrictions lift, how can they go on holiday etc. We want them to actually feel comfortable talking about stuff like, “oh, my husband’s having a rough time at work. Can I take more out of the business to support him?” That sort of thing. But you’re not going to potentially have that rapport straight away, depending on the person. Some of these things come over time, because it’s about money, right. It can be embarrassing. That’s why we want to build up that relationship. And it may be in the first few months that we’re talking about reconciling issues, but we’re building that relationship with people.
The pandemic has made that easier, you know. People no longer have to allow for travelling across town or cross-country. Wherever you are as an accountant, and we use Connect4 for this, having these conversations is much easier. In fact, just before this with you Jon, I had a chat with a lady – we spent 15 minutes talking and she’s now going to be a paying client. These times just remove those barriers and make having that kind of conversation so much easier.
We use Connect4 for this, having these conversations is much easier…I had a chat with a lady – we spent 15 minutes talking and she’s now going to be a paying client. These times just remove those barriers and make having that kind of conversation so much easier.
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Have your client conversations changed? What makes that communication easier?
Obviously, now we know you guys, Zoom has been replaced with Connect4 because we get to keep to an agenda. The agenda thing is massive for me! You know, keeping to time seems like such a small thing, but time is money. Time is money for you and your client, right?! You don’t want to be wasting it, and in your time together you want to be able to give them really tangible stuff.
Something that also changed is that a year ago we agreed that we had 105 clients and we said, “Right, you’re the 105 Club. We’ll do whatever it takes to get you through the pandemic.”
Nobody knew what was ahead, but we said we would do that. So we started offering cashflow forecasting to those who weren’t using it, for example. And stuff like that has, for me, redefined everything at Full-Stop. No longer do we just do payroll for people and a bit of year-end – we now have a different base package. And that includes catching up monthly on Connect4.
Obviously, now we know you guys, Zoom has been replaced with Connect4 because we get to keep to an agenda. The agenda thing is massive for me! You know, keeping to time seems like such a small thing, but time is money. Time is money for you and your client, right?!
How will Full-Stop continue to be client-facing in an increasingly hybrid environment?
We used to see a lot of people face-to-face and we had a shop front, quite a nice shop where people would come in and work on their business. And people have missed that in a way.
We are very people-centric and Connect4 is great in helping us to continue to do that. Because we always have a virtual place, especially for those clients we’ve got all around the country. It’s nice to have both, even for the team.
What’s also changed when it comes to meetings is this attitude of, “Oh, well I’ll just book an hour slot in your diary.” There used to be this weird thing of using a whole hour, even if you don’t quite need to. I do, you know, as I said, I do love the agenda bit in Connect4 for pushing that along. But yeah, going forward from the last year, we now never set an hour meeting.
Yeah, I think keeping it to the point and useful is what we’ll continue to do. All of us who’ve worked through the pandemic, especially if we haven’t been furloughed, we’ve realised how valuable time is. We’ve all got other things to do in life, you know?