This week, AM’s Marcus Bellis caught up with Paul Cain, owner of Croydon-based practice Cain & Beer. Paul has been using AccountancyManager for two years. In fact, the same year he joined AM, he closed his offices and moved everyone home. A decision he’s certainly been grateful for this year.

Paul streamlines himself out of a job

Paul Cain started life as a credit controller and eventually got into credit management. The company he worked for mainly focused on the amusement industry, working with businesses that supply arcade machines. “Then I got asked to take over the financial controller role” he says, “which was obviously a big step.”

Not only did Paul excel in his new role, he managed to cut out two days a week of work, through careful systemisation and maximising his use of technology.

“I managed to change the job from five days to three days because I computerised everything.”

“Obviously I had to find work for the other two days, so I started to advertise myself locally – the little tickets in shop windows and writing to accountants, to say I’m Paul Cain, I work with Sage and various other programs. And within a couple of years I was able to pack the other job in.”

Cain meets Beer – and Curry & Beer nights are born

After many successful years, Paul combined forces with Dover-based accountant Ellie Beer, who had been working with Paul remotely for a while. “I really liked working with her and the only way I could think of to keep working together was to close my business and start Cain and Beer. Unfortunately, after about a year or so, she left due to personal issues which was a real shame, but we agreed that I could keep the name. Which is great because of our Curry and Beer nights!”

Paul is quite rightfully proud of his Curry & Beer nights. Created to raise Cain & Beer’s profile in the local area, the nights are immensely popular networking events with good food and good company. “They’re open to everyone, all businesses, business owners, service providers, banks. We started our first one in Ashford and we had in excess of 28, 29 people. Now we’re two away from our 50th event!” We reckon we’ll have a few volunteers from AM to go down and join in the celebrations. Marcus has called dibs already.

AccountancyManager: Give your brain a break

Before AccountancyManager, Paul would keep an ongoing list of to-do tasks in his head. “If I forgot it – or forgot to write it on the whiteboard – it didn’t get done and all hell would break loose!”

Automated task management: Job(s) done

New AccountancyManager users are always drawn to AM for different specific reasons, then discover just how much it can do. In Paul’s case, he was looking for a systematic way to organise his – and his team’s – time without having to remember it all.

“It solves the problem that we had, which was – I don’t have to remember things anymore!”

AccountancyManager uses dates from Companies House to automatically organise client-related tasks around their deadlines. Giving you a constantly updating to-do list. These tasks can be allocated to different staff members and anyone can check the progress jobs at a glance.

It also stops you from waking up in the middle of the night thinking ‘did I do X or not?’ As Paul can attest. “There was a time when I was on my way to another client and I’m thinking ‘Did I do that VAT return?’ And I had no means to check. Now, with AccountancyManager, of course it’s done and I can just go in and check anyway.”

Automated emails: A weight off your shoulders

With his main pain point alleviated, Paul discovered plenty more features that solved problems he didn’t know he had. The first? Automated emails which, like the automated tasks, use dates from Companies House to send out emails requesting accounts and records from clients. If these don’t show up, AM will automatically chase your clients.

“It’s given me a lot of time back, but I think the key thing here is it’s taken a massive weight off my shoulders.”

“I like that it sends out emails to the clients or contacts as well. So we can say ‘We need your figures by the 21st so we can get it all together.’ It relieved a big burden off my shoulders.”

Companies House integration: Faster onboarding

Next up – the time Paul’s team is saving when onboarding new clients. “When we’re onboarding, the fact that it links with Companies House and fills in all the boxes, that’s good, that’s one of the key functions I like.”

Texting clients: Giving in to popular demand

When you send emails from AccountancyManager to clients, you can send a text at the same time – just letting them know there’s an email waiting for them. “I’m a bit old-fashioned” Paul admits, “but I actually like the texts (AM) sends to clients. Because although I may not like it or think it’s overly professional, other people are quite happy with it.” (We’ve heard that it dramatically speeds up clients getting back to you, too.)

Xero integration: No more seeing double

Asked which newly released feature he likes the best, Paul was quick to thank us for the Xero integration. “It was a while ago now, but the linkage with Xero has been good. It means I’ve not got to keep moving screens.”

When you integrate AccountancyManager and Xero, all your client details and invoices are synced, in both directions. So if you, or your client makes a change to their details on either software, the change will be reflected in the other.

Calling time on offices (due to the washing up)

In 2018 – around the time Paul started using AccountancyManager, one of Paul’s team asked whether she could work from home full-time. Paul agreed. Then, one Saturday a few weeks later, Paul was at the office when a thought struck him. “So I’m in the office on a Saturday, tidying up after everyone, cleaning the toilets, cleaning the kitchen and I thought who’s the boss here? Doing everyone’s washing up on Saturday?

“I just sat down and worked out the numbers, and realised “Wow, if we all work from home, we’d save about £1,200 a month, which is a big chunk of money. So Monday comes and I said to everyone ‘right, we’re all working from home.’”

So, what are new clients looking for in 2020?

So far (Paul touches wood), no Cain & Beer clients have had to close due to coronavirus and Paul hasn’t lost any clients. In fact, he took on two new hospitality clients last week. “So the pub wasn’t getting on with their accountant and the restaurant just wanted to computerize things a bit better. They still update a ledger book every week with their sales.”

Paul thinks a large part of why clients choose Cain & Beer is the amount of personal care each business gets. “We insist on, ideally monthly, but at the very least quarterly, meetings where we go through the figures with the client and explain what it all means. So we’re proactive and offer them solutions.”

Considering AM? Here’s Paul’s advice

“I would definitely say, give it a go because from my own experience and how it’s helped us and me in particular, it’s invaluable. And your pricing is very good as well.”

“What would I change? To be honest nothing springs to mind. It does everything that I need it to do. And the new changes that are coming in just improve it.”

“There’s a lot of other solutions out there, but what I like about AccountancyManager is that it’s not clunky. It’s easy to navigate. I’ve seen some that are an absolute nightmare, it’s like ‘how do you work this?’ It’s a job in itself to work it. Whereas AccountancyManager’s so easy to use. It’s really saved me a lot of time and headaches”.