Workplace Wellness offers a tailored occupational health service to organisations by helping them keep their workforce happy, healthy and safe in the workplace. Originally founded by Dr James Heffer and Dr Fiona Tees when they realised there were no options available to businesses on the NHS, they offer everything from health and safety assessments to a travel clinic and immunisations.
James and Fiona found themselves in a frustrating position with their previous accountant and decided to approach us after a recommendation from InspireBiz, another client of ours. Through a lack of clarity and communication, their financial system was confusing and disorganised, which had led to a lack of understanding and confidence in their numbers.
When James and Fiona sat down with Liz, our Operational Lead, they had a great open minded attitude and were keen to hear her expert opinion on where to go next. This gave Liz and Craig, a Financial Business Partner here at FD Works, the opportunity to really get under the skin of the business and understand what needed to happen to get them into a situation where they could work towards their goals, rather than just survive.
It was clear that Fiona and James had lost faith in their last accountant and we would, understandably, have to earn their trust. Liz met with them regularly to explain our thinking and our progress. Being transparent and communicative the whole way through slowly started to build up our relationship, which has allowed us to have a much bigger impact in the long term.
The initial challenge was to understand exactly where the business was financially and the complexities surrounding it. Records from the previous accountant weren’t clear or accurate, but we had to collect all the information we needed to be able to make an informed decision on how we were going to tackle the project. This involved facilitating conversations to understand James and Fiona’s professional and personal goals, and get under the skin of the business to really get to the root of its complexities. Only then could we move forward to support their mission.
The next task was to tidy up their finances across the board. We introduced them to Dext and Chaser which reduced debt and the bookkeeping workflow. We also took over their bookkeeping day-to-day and brought it up to FD Works standards.
This allowed us to tidy up their chart of accounts (an index of all the financial accounts in the general ledger of a company) and explain the benefit of prioritising them. They had no real understanding of what a chart of accounts was which meant they had very little visibility, and therefore control, over their numbers. Once we refined things in Xero and talked Fiona and James through it, their confidence soared.
Each SME has their own complexities and Workplace Wellness was no different. VAT was a major pain point when they joined us, but by taking the time to understand this from the beginning we were able to simplify the process. Liz clarified the VAT implications of various types of work they do to make the VAT records more accurate. She then ran through every transaction in Xero and made sure the correct VAT treatment was applied. Coding them in Xero means that they’re recognised going forward which leads to less mistakes.
Another process we simplified was surrounding their sales invoices. Their staff would record hours on a makeshift sheet that gave no direction, and then sales invoices were created from there. This obviously left a lot up to human error. By changing the process to limit the number of options available through drop down lists or tick boxes, invoices became less of a frustration because it was easy to pull the correct information through to them.
Part of understanding the complexity of their business is continually assessing their needs openly. For example, at times we have handled their staff expenses, but when this need lessened during the pandemic we adapted quickly to ensure we were offering only the best and most appropriate possible service for them at every step.
When Fiona and James joined us, they felt deflated by their finances and then were hit hard by COVID. Far from being empowered by their numbers, they felt lost and even contemplated closing the business for a moment. Once we had the financial ecosystem cleaned up, we were able to offer some clear, actionable insights to take them forward.
We were sure that all they needed was a little direction and some support to get moving again. Craig built a template in Fathom (a reporting software that links to Xero) for their management accounts which he discusses in quarterly meetings with Fiona and James. This keeps them on top of what’s going on, and is a chance for us to weigh in on the business with a different perspective.
More recently, Craig challenged Fiona and James to build a budget for 2021/22 to allow them to understand what the year might end up looking like and provide them with a target. Now they have a budget in Xero which they can use as a benchmark to plan for the years ahead, and they know exactly where the business is financially at any time.
The groundwork and day-to-day maintenance is essential to ensure everything is accurate so that we make sense of the numbers. But the increased communication has been the real game changer for Fiona and James. An open line of conversation where we can share our insights has meant that they have the time and the confidence to plan for the future instead of constantly finding themselves in survival mode with their finances.
This gives them the confidence in their numbers so that they can plan effectively and pass that confidence onto their team. Instead of sorting through receipts, worrying about when a tax bill is due, and trying to figure out why they’re bank statements don’t add up, they have time to spend on the actual business. Not only is this beneficial to the development of Workplace Wellness and their clients, but it means James and Fiona themselves can use their energy on the things they love again.
More importantly though, we’ve taken the stress out of handling their numbers. We’ve empowered them to take control and see the story behind them. They’re no longer fighting fires in their finances or making decisions blindly, and instead can enjoy seeing their business thrive.