28 Jun How this accountant’s business survived despite his severe case of Covid
Ever stopped to think what might happen if you couldn’t service your clients – for whatever reason – over an extended period of time? Kenneth Coetzer, an accountant from Hermanus, found out in a way he’d prefer not to repeat.
There have been many learnings from the pandemic, both in life and in business… And, in the balance of the two. Volumes can be written. (And have!) What’s been perhaps the most overarching theme though, is that those who are adaptable – who are able to roll with the proverbial punches – are the ones who have come through the least affected.
Cliched? Perhaps, but bare with us, as this was brought home to us again – through the rather harrowing ordeal of highly esteemed accountant Kenneth Coetzer. Coetzer is an internationally accredited Business Made Simple University Coach, and serves as a member of the accounting group DoughGetters’ Exco, of which he is also a franchisee.
“I was totally out of it for around four or five days,” Coetzer explains of his time in ICU, downplaying the gravity of his condition (when he was admitted to hospital in early January his blood oxygen level was at around 36%, anything under 95% is abnormal). “From around the 7th of January I was conscious enough to perform very basic functions again, just around the time when all my clients were returning from their summer holidays,” he says.
Unable to work at all, Coetzer was in no state to hit the ground running into the new calendar year for his accounting clients. “I reached out to Willem Haarhoff, the co-founder of DoughGetters and outlined the situation,” Coetzer says. Fortunately for Coetzer the company’s franchise systems are setup in such a way that Haarhoff and some of the other associates could step in and share the load. “These systems include people, processes and tools,” Coetzer says. “And, as sole proprietor, these saved my business.”
That is the short story.
The longer version, is that Coetzer spent close to a month in ICU. After that, his recovery took longer than expected and he was only able to function fully from around April. Thankfully these were in place:
“At DoughGetters we have a collaborative working arrangement with the other franchisees, as well as Willem and Murray,” says Coetzer outlining how before his COVID situation he’d done work for some of the other franchisees’ clients while they had done the same for some of his. “This means that everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the client base and have certain relationships already in place.” What this allowed, was for Haarhoff to divide Coetzer’s client list when he was unable to attend to their needs in January.
“A minimum set requirements exists within our digital ecosystem,” Coetzer says. “There are certain things that need to be done at a particular point in time, which creates a history. This system allows anyone within the DoughGetters realm to jump on board with a client and perform the tasks required.”
According to Coetzer, the team (which he refers to as a family) of Exco and franchisees is crucial because of the type of people that they are, but as key were the digital systems in place
“…it would firstly have been near impossible to on-board them, and secondly, for the amount of time that he was unable to work, would have cost a significant amount of money.”
Coetzer explains that DoughGetters, has very carefully selected the most powerful in cloud-based accounting tools and apps. “This technology-based business model allowed Willem and the other franchisees to log in and access my clients (with granted permissions, of course) and carry on with the work, as well as support my clients with queries,” he says.
“At the centre of this is Xero and we’ve found as many additional tools which are seamlessly compatible with Xero to add to the ecosystem,” Coetzer says. “This allows for a comprehensive body of realtime data on all your clients, available at at any time.” According to Coetzer, as sole proprietor, if he were to have hired in stand-in accountants outside of the DoughGetters fold to service his clients during his enforced down time, it would firstly have been near impossible to on-board them, and secondly, for the amount of time that he was unable to work, would have cost a significant amount of money.
“Because of our systems, only incremental effort and input is needed by the stand-in bookkeeper,” he says. “This cost me only around 10-12% per month of what it typically might have and I didn’t lose a single client. Without that I would now be teaching accounting at the local high school, there is no way my business would’ve survived.”