Calgary-based Clayton Achen, a founder of accounting firm Achen Henderson CPAs, is a huge proponent of our software. Earlier this year, Spotlight Forecasting was a key tool in their efforts to keep their local business clients viable in the face of the pandemic and local lockdown regulations.
“Our clients went from asking, ‘what am I going to do?’, to saying ‘I know what I need to do’,” says Clayton. “That’s the real magic in the product: actionable insights, based on real data.”
Highlights at a Glance
But it’s not just Forecasting that delivers value for their clients. Spotlight Reporting is rendering Achen Henderson’s traditional end-of-year reporting package obsolete. They’ve traded uninspiring financial statements for sleek data visualisation and actionable insights, and they’re not looking back.
“Everyone loves the reporting and insights that we generate with Spotlight,” Clayton says. “We are able to use the software to facilitate better conversations with our clients, to the point where clients are willing to pay more for the year-end service. Spotlight drives a lot of value, and keeps advisory meetings on track.”
Turning Panic Into Purpose
When lockdown regulations began coming into effect across Canada, Achen Henderson started receiving calls from clients who were worried about their long term viability. One such client was a local doctor, whose lawyer had advised him to close up shop immediately, something which wasn’t financially viable for him.
“He was teetering on being an essential service,” says Clayton, “so we decided that the best course of action was to provide him with a Spotlight Forecast. We set up three scenarios for him, showing exactly what he could expect if this happened, or that happened… and he went from panicking, to feeling better prepared and more in control—he and his business were going to be just fine.”
Not long after this experience, Clayton’s team decided that every single one of Achen Henderson’s clients deserved the same level of forecasting and insights to help them get through the pandemic. They sent out an email to all their compliance clients, offering free forecasts until they ran out of capacity to generate more.
A client who took them up on their offer was a local photography company that specialised in event and portrait photography. As their stream of work dried up, the team at Achen Henderson met with them to discuss their options.
“We used Spotlight Forecasting to project out their future costs, and came up with a revenue target for the next few months,” says Clayton. This provided them with an exact target that they could aim for, which allowed them to really focus on new ways of generating revenue.”
Giving the client that vital insight into their financial data reset their frame of mind, and inspired them to pivot their services in order to stay viable, says Clayton. That’s the value of forecasting—it gives business owners a chance to look into the future, so they can make better decisions in the present.
“That’s valuable insight that the CEO of every major company has, because they have a devoted financial team,” says Clayton. “Spotlight gives you the ability to bring that capability into small businessland, and give business owners those insights that they really need.”
Better Conversations, More Revenue
Spotlight Forecasting isn’t the only source of value in Spotlight’s suite of tools for Clayton. Before making the switch to Spotlight, Achen Henderson reported to their clients with the typically hefty end-of-year “package” found throughout the accounting industry, which includes a pile of documents that are difficult for clients to navigate.
"It was essentially like, here's all this paper that you don't understand," says Clayton. "We didn’t feel like we were being as valuable as we could be."
Handing clients stacks of paper filled with information they couldn't interpret meant that actionable insights often got lost in the data—not just for clients, but for the accountants themselves.
“Translating issues that are simple for accountants into plainspeak can be very challenging, and important issues were often missed, or lost in translation,” says Clayton.
Spotlight Reporting revolutionised this process. Bright, engaging graphs and charts translate important data into easily measurable metrics, while the Action Plan page keeps actionable insights and next steps at the forefront of client meetings. But the benefits of Spotlight Reporting don’t end with better advisory services.
“For a basic level of reporting with some nice analysis in it, and extra discussion, it’s pretty easy to get $1000–2000 a year extra per client,” Clayton says. “As long as you include an action plan and meaningful and actionable insights, it’ll be easy for the value to exceed the cost. The actual extra revenue will be substantive—and that’s not even including forecasting!”
At its core, Spotlight’s suite of tools is all about enabling accountants to become trusted advisors, and driving better business outcomes. Spotlight Reporting allowed Achen Henderson to focus more time and attention on actionable insights, while Spotlight Forecasting helped steer clients through the pandemic and into a stronger future. With a recession looming across the globe, it has never been more important to deliver the advisory services and insights that every business owner deserves.