considering account software? wondering about Xero? our in-house xero expert, mishali patel can help
SME Financial is a Xero Gold Partner and a finalist in the 2018 Xero awards (NZ Accounting Partner of the Year) – so we know how to make Xero work for you and your business.
At SME Financial, our Xero training service will show you and your team how to use online software to make your business more productive. That way you can spend less time accounting and more time building your business.
Our Xero Training Programmes
Plus, all our clients get a discount on their Xero subscriptions.“We try to cover Xero from A to Z, not just what you’ll be using when you start out. As you get better at using the software, we know you’ll find new features, so we try to show you the potential right from the start,” says Mishali Patel, who runs two-hour training sessions and provides ongoing Xero support for SME Financial customers. She goes into client’s businesses to work with them, face to face, walking them through Xero at their own pace.
Why choose Xero?
- Reconcile in minutes, not hours.
- Quote and invoice directly from Xero.
- Capture bills and receipts directly.
- Available on the go via the app.
- Generate performance reports any time.
- Integrates with more than 800 add-on apps.
- Secure SSL encryption for data protection.
Mishali says reconciling is one area where clients really notice the impact of switching to Xero: “They tell me how easy it is to use Xero, without any existing knowledge. You can get straight in and reconcile everything quickly. Unlike MYOB, you really don’t need any understanding of accounting to be able to navigate it. And for clients who have been using spreadsheets, it’s a huge upgrade.”
Once you’ve got to grips with using Xero for daily accounts, you can start to expand into using extra features like Payroll and Projects. You’ll also find add-ons that provide tailored services – such as retail inventory, project management and marketing.
How to get started
You can try Xero free for 30 days, with no limit to the number of users and no need to enter a credit card. If you like the programme and want to know more about how it could work for your business, or you’d like to sign up, get in touch – because SME Financial is a Xero partner, our clients get a discount on the usual price.
Client Story: Independent Building Supplies
Small Improvements add up to big success
Independent Building Supplies was launched when Jason Bardell found a way to solve a problem and created a business for himself in the process. Major distributors in New Zealand wouldn’t sell products to an emerging new merchant group that Jason’s dad was a member of. The distributors said the merchant group did not have a range of panel products, so the group could not move forward. However, Jason’s dad had those accounts and Jason came up with the solution:
“Instead of them buying a whole pack of every product or thickness, let’s do a ‘rainbow’ pack with five sheets of everything. Then we got accounts with all the suppliers and I thought we should try to sell this rainbow pack idea to other people.”
That idea turned into Independent Building Supplies (IBS), which grew steadily, branching out into importing and then into product development. The business now creates certified sustainable and renewable building products that sell around the world. You’ll find IBS products at local merchants like Mitre 10, ITM, Carters, Buildlink, Bunnings and PlaceMakers.
The company now employs 22 full-time staff members and has been operating in the New Zealand market for nearly 30 years. How does a medium-sized Kiwi business thrive for so long as part of the tough construction industry, particularly trying to do expensive R&D?
“It’s not just one thing,” says Jason. “I suppose wrapping it all up would be good management – and I’m not patting myself on the back, it’s from the whole team, suppliers, consultants and staff.”
One of those consultants has been Geoff Hamilton at SME Financial, who has been working with Jason and the IBS team for around six years.
“What I like about Geoff is that, while what’s happened isn’t unimportant, he’s always focused on the future. He helps us see what we can do today to change tomorrow’s outcomes.”
That has meant analysing profit margins and weeding out unprofitable line items. For instance, Jason had one standing order for builders’ grade ply that dated back many years. The profits kept eroding, but Jason was reluctant to walk away.
“For a while Geoff had been saying ‘You’re not making any money on this’, but I really didn’t want to let it go,” says Jason. “But looking back a year later I realised he was right. And the supplier that undercut our pricing couldn’t make a profit; they ultimately went out of business in New Zealand.”
Eliminating unprofitable SKUs and concentrating on the better-performing items has made IBS a more enjoyable business to own and run, Jason says. He uses the data generated by SME to create more accurate forecasts and budgets, taking some of the stress out of managing the company.
“If you actually use that data it makes a difference – it works if you work it,” he says. “I feel I’m more in control of what’s going on. It also helps to catch up with Geoff every now and again. He acts like an independent board member and it’s great to bounce ideas off him. As the business owner, your staff don’t always tend to question you, but Geoff does.”
Jason has also translated some of his success into a side-line in commercial property leasing. As a multiple business owner, he finds using Xero has been a useful way to keep on top of what’s going on: “I use it in my commercial property business and I’m not involved at the pointy end of the day-to-day work. I like to go into Xero just to look at what’s going on. I like it as a business tool – it’s not complicated; you can just follow your nose.”
Despite the challenges presented by some difficult times for the industry, IBS is going strong, and Jason hopes it will still be around in another 30 years, developing outstanding products.
“I think one reason IBS survives is that we have a drive for continuous improvement in our procedures, and our systems, and how we treat our staff. That little percentage of improvement here and a little percentage there? It really adds up to quite a big difference. The harder you work, the luckier you are.”
Client Story: Chenery
100 YEAR OLD KIWI BUSINESS GETS A TECH OVERHAUL
It’s rare for a family-owned Kiwi business to survive for over 100 years, but Chenery was established in 1918 and it’s still going strong. It began as a family plumbing business and it’s now one of New Zealand’s most trusted commercial plumbing contractors, with regular maintenance contracts for clients like the Auckland District Health Board and the Department of Corrections. And when a huge commercial build is being planned that needs specialist plumbing skills and knowledge, Chenery is the go-to supplier.
Moving out of the dark ages
Plumbing is a practical business and some of the basics don’t change much over the years. Some of the principles used by the company’s founders during the First World War are still going strong today. That can make it tough to implement change, and CEO Eugene Klokie admits that six years ago the business wasn’t doing enough to keep up with changing technology:
“We were stuck in the dark ages,” he laughs. “All our work orders were paper based. Our supply invoices, our time-sheets, our job reports – 100% on paper. Hours and hours were spent filling out paperwork and filing it. But nobody wanted to change. It wasn’t until our server was on its last legs that we decided to do something about it.”
The server was so unreliable that everyone held their breath each morning hoping it would work, and every evening back-ups had to be done and stored off-site. The management team at Chenery decided it was time to invest in all-new systems, including a new accountancy practice to help them embrace a new way of doing business – that’s when they met SME Financial.
Saving time and money – a good investment all round
Working alongside SME Financial, the team at Chenery moved everything online and into the cloud. They started using Xero for day-to-day accounting and simPRO job management software to keep track of each project. All their daily job reporting, invoicing and job information is stored on simPRO, which talks to Xero and makes it easier to run the whole business. Eugene says even something as simple as finding an old file demonstrates the change: what would have taken hours now takes minutes.
“Previously, we’d had accountants who were pretty old school; SME was a breath of fresh air. They showed us how modern accounting works, introduced us to Xero and helped us evaluate the pros and cons of the systems on our shortlist. They tipped us towards simPRO, which works hand-in-hand with Xero; we can now integrate almost every part of the business.”
Where the paperwork had once been a full-time job, it’s now far less onerous. As a result, after the upgrade Chenery was able to expand without hiring extra staff members to work on admin; “a good investment all round,” Eugene adds. “We can pull reports a lot faster and more accurately than we could before.”
When it comes to simPRO and Xero, the team at Chenery were recently talking about how much more they could do with the software – they’re hoping to use more of the features to their advantage in the future. But despite over 100 years in business, the Chenery team were leading the way on technology when they were working in a joint venture with another plumbing company: “We were giving them lessons! It surprised us to see how far we’d come and how much we’ve learned.”
Continuity drives success
SME Financial provides continuing technical advice to the Chenery team and over the past six years Chenery has grown its profitability and its turnover. Working successfully as part of a team is an integral part of what’s kept this company in business for over a century – many of the employees have been at Chenery for 25 or even 30 years. That continuity of service and solid performance helped them weather the 2020 coronavirus lockdown and come out the other side strongly.
“We try to be a really good employer and maintain excellent relationships with our staff, and with our clients,” Eugene says. “We appreciate what our clients bring to Chenery and we try to deliver a service that they’ll appreciate, too. Our relationship with SME has also helped us get to where we want to be. A good bond amongst everyone translates into the work we put out.”