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How one practice saved time while offering clients better value with Xero

Focus Collection is an award-winning accountancy practice with offices in Doncaster and Retford. The firm offers tax, payroll, bookkeeping and advisory services to companies of all sizes but started out working with limited companies, sole traders and other small businesses.

Before moving to the cloud, Focus Collection was looking for ways to be more time efficient. Founder and managing director, Claire Markham wanted to maintain their high standards of service, but she also wished to have more time at home. She explains, “As a mother of two young kids, I wanted some flexibility to be able to work from home when I needed to. So, the efficiencies and the flexibility were the two things that I was after.”

Back then, their practice systems were slow, prone to human error and not integrated. Claire was frustrated with the company they used for submitting tax returns, calling the service “shocking”.

Onwards and upwards with Xero

At first, Focus Collection only used Xero Tax for their limited company clients and Claire says their experience was brilliant. Since then, she’s been moving more and more of her practice’s processes into Xero.

“Xero’s Partner Consulting Sessions have been excellent. They keep us up to date with product launches and the best ways to use the software. The whole process of attending online consulting events such as Xero Energise is easy.”

Taking advantage of Xero’s training sessions

One of the Xero Account Managers recently contacted Focus Collection and suggested Claire and her partner Daniel, attend a Xero Energise session. They learned about practice efficiency workflows, how to effortlessly input data into Xero and easy ways to manage client information.

Claire and Daniel were also shown how to document practice processes and create a visual workflow, which makes it easy to see the jobs in progress and who’s doing what.

“We soon discovered the benefits of automating our backend workflows and how it could give our leads and clients a smoother, happier onboarding experience,” Claire says. “It eliminates the risk of things falling through the cracks. The reward is not just saving time but also having more flexibility over our hours.”

Claire admits that, prior to being involved in the Partner Consulting sessions, Focus Collection didn’t really know how Partner Edition tools, Xero Tax and Workpapers could all work in unison. She says, “Attending one Energise session lit the spark for getting our Xero project going and was a turning point for us as a practice.”

“Having Xero walk through how to do this really helped to lighten the load.”

How Xero Ledger fast tracked their tax work

Before attending the sessions, Claire was unsure how to move their clients to Xero. When Focus Collection tried to convert clients to Business Edition they had little success. Back then, the practice was mainly dealing with smaller clients that didn’t want to make such a large leap.

“Once we got clients onto Xero Cashbook or Ledger, and submitted through Xero Tax, it became easy from a cost efficiency point of view,” Claire explains.

“Using Ledgers has been brilliant as the client can see what’s happening without actually having to use the software. And when they see how much extra work we’re doing for them, they appreciate us even more.”

Many of Focus Collection’s clients could see the power of Xero for themselves and have made the switch to a Business Edition package.

“We’ve had quite a high take-on rate. Around 55 new clients over the last few months, and Xero’s been great in getting them on board.”

Claire’s advice about attending partner consulting sessions

“As we’re busy accountants, we think it’ll take so long to implement new systems. At first we weren’t going to attend partner consulting workflow sessions as it would take time out of the diary. But from our point of view, I’m really pleased we attended– it worked for us. The amount of time you end up saving is unbelievable.”

Reaping the rewards

Claire admits that they didn’t fully understand the value of Xero Workpapers, and how their team could prepare, review and approve workpapers from any device. She says, “It’s also so easy to use Workpapers remotely and share data across the team.”

With the ability to work more efficiently and from anywhere, Claire felt like she had taken control of her time, especially when it came to the practice’s compliance workflow.

“Xero Workpapers has helped us reduce our working time, that’s a big thing for us.”

The benefits of moving smaller clients to Partner Edition

According to Claire, the biggest benefit of using Xero Workpapers is the analytical review. “It helps us see all the key information more clearly, so we can give more detailed advice to clients,” says Claire.

“Interestingly, when we save time, we have more billable hours.”

Recently, Focus Collection had a rethink about how they charge clients. The Xero tools enabled the practice to provide great value to their clients, even though they upped their charges.

Xero has a team of 30+ qualified accountants, who have many years of experience working in and with practices. The Xero Partner Consulting team has been set up to help you get the most out of Xero. If you’re already a Xero Partner, speak to your account manager about attending Xero Energise consulting sessions, or get in touch with the partner consulting team at If you’re not yet a Xero partner, visit our Xero Partner Programme page where you can find out more about becoming a partner and gaining access to Xero’s team of experts.

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