At a glance
- Stephen Paul of multi-award-winning accounting firm Valued struggled to keep his firm on top of credit control after seeing explosive growth
- Identifying Chaser as the best of breed solution for his firm, Valued’s success with it internally led to delivering Chaser to clients - for one key client recovering over 70% of their £29,000 overdue debt and reducing their time spent on credit control from 25-30 hours a week down to just 3 hours a week
- With the effectiveness and efficiency Chaser enables credit control to be conducted, Stephen is now piloting a virtual credit control offering for Valued’s clients - removing the pains of credit control from them completely, and further adding value to their offering
In what he describes as feeling both like “two minutes” and “a lifetime” ago, Stephen Paul told me about the origin story of his firm, Valued, beginning in 2011. Today a Xero Platinum Partner and multi-award winner (including Xero’s Overall Accounting Partner of the Year 2015 and Xero’s Fastest Growing Partner of the Year 2012) with 850+ clients across the UK, Valued came from humble (and noble) beginnings.
“Right before starting Valued, I was working 70, 80, 90 hours a week. When my mother fell on ill health, I realised that Xero gave me the freedom to spend more time with her - something I wouldn’t have been able to do not all that many years ago. That really struck a chord with me.”
Inspired by that freedom, Stephen took it and built a practice around it, with the mission of delivering his clients that very same freedom he’d cherished being able to have. Stephen’s yearning to connect with his clients on that human level did wonders for Valued’s growth - in its first three years, 95% of new clients were word of mouth referrals.
“It could be a mortgage payment, or it could just be a weekend off. What I really love doing with Valued is finding out, as human beings, what our clients really want, and helping them achieve that.”
Simply too busy
Part and parcel of Valued’s explosive early growth as a firm were the pains that came along with it. And key amongst them was credit control. Without consistently chasing their customers up, cash flow would come to a halt, and Stephen wasn’t about to see his success crumble from poor cash flow.
“With so many clients, we had to be spending the time with them where it mattered most - in conversations about what they wanted to achieve, and how we could help them do that. We were just too busy to handle credit control. Finding a solution to that was critical for me.”
Having explored two prominent credit control solutions in the marketplace at the time, Stephen found they weren’t up to Valued’s standard.
“I remember one of them went zero to one hundred - it started sending out solicitors’ letters automatically, which just wasn’t at all how we do things at Valued. The other might have done the job okay but it was just way more complex to use than it needed to be.”
With providing an essentially human experience to his clients so important, Stephen couldn’t justify bringing onboard an automated credit control solution that wouldn’t align with this. He needed an app that could handle the overwhelming volume of credit control, without distorting Valued’s core ethos.
A human-centric solution
It wouldn’t be until a LinkedIn post from Chaser’s Founder David Tuck serendipitously came across Stephen’s feed that he would finally discover the app he was looking for in Chaser. After seeing it in action, he was convinced.
“David’s someone who just ‘got it’. I absolutely love Chaser, it approaches the concept of automated credit control in such a simple way - it’s easy to use, it does the job well, and it always looks and feels human.”
Stephen saw in Chaser the one thing he was looking for above all else - for an automated credit control solution that looked and felt exactly like Valued’s own manual credit control function. Being able to ensure his firm’s human-centric ethos was reflected in all credit control communications put his mind at ease - this was a solution that he could relax and ensure no client would take problems with.
“I remember right after getting Chaser setup I went off on a holiday to Lanzarote. I can remember this clear as day, sitting in Casa Felix eating tapas, and all of a sudden my phone goes off. It was my bank. The first chasers had just gone out and client after client was making payment. At that moment I knew Chaser was the one.”
Clients struggling for resource
Inspired to help his own clients see the same benefits from Chaser that Valued had, Stephen began speaking to them about credit control and cash flow issues. One particular client, he recalls, was being swamped by the beast of credit control.
“This client had 12 staff, none of them a dedicated credit controller. It was the office manager who’d been stuck with that hat and it was taking up 25-30 hours of her week. That’s a huge amount of time.”
Even with the amount of time that was being poured into credit control, the business had £29,000 tied up in overdue debt. And at the rate the credit control function was consuming her time, their de facto credit controller was struggling to perform any of her duties to her usual standard. The business was looking down the barrel of needing to hire more staff to keep on top of it all.
“I spoke to him about Chaser - he’d be able to cut out a lot of that time spend, save himself the cost of a new hire, and bring that overdue debt in. But the fear of automation was very real. He was worried that handing over the reins of credit control to automation was going to undermine the relationships with his customers. That they’d see through the automation or be chased when they weren’t supposed to.”
Stephen attributes the turning point in his client’s attitude to one simple conversation they had. In it, he asked them “Do you get bothered by my credit control emails?”
When his client answered no, Stephen saw that little ‘click’ moment in his client’s head and it was decided - they’d bring Chaser onboard for their business. While Xero’s in-built invoice reminders were discussed as an alternative solution, the functionality the client needed wasn’t all there. With their business dealing in high volume small value invoices, they couldn’t afford to have individual email reminders be sent out for every invoice - they needed credit control software that would automatically group multiple invoices due to be chased at the same time into the one email. Just like a human would.
Providing them a demo of the Chaser product, Stephen saw his client become increasingly comfortable with bringing it onboard for their business. Stephen attributes this largely to the level of customisation Chaser allows.
“They fell in love with Chaser for the same reason we did - it can be made to look and feel exactly like your own business. It never appears to your customers like a bolt-on that doesn’t feel human. Being able to control who you’re chasing, when you’re chasing them, and how you’re chasing them put all [my client’s] concerns to rest.”
After implementing Chaser for their business, Stephen’s client recovered more than 70% of their overdue debt and brought down the time spent on credit control to only 3 hours a week. Being in the market for a new house at the time, the client was able to put a deposit down on his dream house thanks in part to the cash Chaser helped recover for his business.
“At the end of the day, that’s the result we look for at Valued. As one human to another, we figured out what he really wanted, and we helped him achieve it.”
The lasting effect
Off the back of the success Chaser has helped bring Valued’s clients, Stephen is now working with Chaser to pilot a virtual credit control offering for his clients. The effectiveness and efficiency of conducting credit control with Chaser has enabled Valued to completely remove the pain of credit control for their clients and add further value to their offering. All by managing clients’ credit control functions via Chaser.
I asked Stephen what he feels the lasting effect of Chaser is on his firm and his clients’ businesses.
“Chaser’s the kind of tool that lets you have your family dinner, or go on holiday, in peace. You know that your credit control is going to be taken care of. If someone were to ask me in fifty years about Chaser, I’ll always remember that day in Casa Felix, eating tapas and seeing messages pour in on my phone of clients paying. I want to be able to give each of my clients that same feeling. And Chaser really is the best of breed credit control software to do that.”
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