Will Russell of Eclipse Bookkeeping
Rob Prior first met Will at Lincolns working as an Accountant. They worked together for about 7 years before Will decided to do something completely different……and got into bookkeeping instead!
Rob caught up with Will to talk about his career and what it takes to be a business owner.
How have you found bookkeeping different to accounting?
Personally, I’ve found that bookkeeping has a deeper involvement with clients. You talk to your client and see them all the time, rather than seeing them every few months or even annually. Being a bookkeeper involves more contact and a deeper understanding of the factors involved with their business and the limitations that their business may have, particularly cash flow requirements and timing of payments.
As you have had the opportunity to do both, which field would you prefer?
I prefer bookkeeping as you’re into the “nitty and gritty” of each business. At Eclipse, we differ from most other bookkeeping businesses – as we provide more of an advisory service with what we do. I have a greater understanding of our clients and have a hands-on role in their business, rather than just pure data entry type bookkeeping.
You currently employ a team of 10 bookkeepers. Tell me about some of the challenges you’ve faced being an employer?
Finding good quality staff is the biggest challenge, especially since we are in a regional town. We provide a comprehensive training program to all our new employees, as we specialise in such a narrow field of pharmacy bookkeeping. I also have a great joint Manager in Hudson.
Retaining staff can be a challenge at times. If the employee is at the right skill level and experience we allow them to work through remote access. To help retain staff, we offer flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely – three staff work this way and my joint Manager worked remotely for a year while travelling.
I know that you specialise in pharmacies. What are some of the peculiarities you deal with in bookkeeping for pharmacists?
Understanding how the PBS works and how it flows through the business is very unique with pharmacy bookkeeping. Cash flow management is also very important to pharmacy owners. Major suppliers need to be paid by a certain date of each month to receive their discounts. This can be of significant stress to pharmacy businesses, as compared to other industries.
Most of your clients are either in Perth or the Eastern States. How do you manage to service your clients, given the remoteness of our location in Albany WA - as well as the time differences between WA and the Eastern States?
We’ve adapted our business to suit the circumstances. Having cloud software is the biggest advantage to us – enabling us to move to a paperless office and owners can log into the software at any time and get any reports or information that they need. We can easily also provide reports to our clients to show how their business is doing and what’s going on. This allows us to instantaneously provide advice when it’s needed and assist with any problems as they arise.
We’ve also adapted to the time differences by adjusting our office working hours to more closely resemble the eastern states time zone.
I keep an open line of communication with my clients. I’m regularly on the phone plus I regularly travel to functions and workshops each year over east to keep that consistent contact. I catch-up with my key clients over the phone at least monthly and I’m always contactable through email – even if that involves me replying late at nights or early mornings from home.
As the owner of your business, I know that you spend considerable time working in your business. How do you find/make time to work on your business and to also switch off and have some personal time?
The joint Manager and I set aside time to get out of the office monthly to work on the business - looking at our history, future plans and what we can do to improve.
Unfortunately, I’m not very good at switching off my phone. However I do set aside time to go through emails each day and typically reply to the urgent ones as required. Being in the industry we are and specialising in pharmacies, email can be time sensitive and often needs to be dealt with in a timely manner.
As a bookkeeper with clients around Australia, you obviously work with a number of different Accountants. So how do we at Lincolns compare?
I like working with Lincolns because they are very quick to respond to my questions. I can always contact somebody straight away when needed. In the past I’ve emailed you or your team and then received a phone call and answer back straight away, even when out of normal office hours.
Having a great relationship with Lincolns has allowed us to develop the kind of connection where I can bounce ideas past you, for the benefit of our mutual clients. Lincolns also takes my feedback and customises reports and data according to our requirements and what is needed specifically for our clients.
For more information, please visit:
70-74 Frederick Street
Phone: (08) 9842 2990
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