We have a great record for retention, both staff and clients. Our staff have grown up with KJG, which is testament to our recruitment procedures, values and culture. It’s the same with our clients, who benefit from long-serving staff offering long-term relationships. I even have one client who has been with KJG since its formations in the 1940s – now that is loyalty!
Service is very important to KJG. We ensure that all our clients get high quality, personable service, so that they know they matter to us. It is important to have good relationships when you are discussing client finances and business opportunities. You need to understand their business from top-to-bottom, which can only be achieved by showing you care and take an interest in them and their business.
We know our way works because referrals is what our business is built on.
How many employees work for Kay Johnson Gee?
You advise businesses on a number of issues. What do you consider to be the biggest mistakes businesses make?
Not having up-to-date information. I meet too many businesses that don’t have updated information clarifying where they stand on a number of performance issues. I’m an accountant, so this stuff is my bread and butter, yet I’m surprised by the number of businesses that lack the basics like regular management reports, internal audits, productivity figures etc. KJG offers this information crunching service to our clients, but it helps us to get to a more advanced position in helping a client grow their business if this sort of information is available from the outset. It saves a lot of digging!
Where does HR rank on the important issues list?
It is certainly becoming more important to clients, who need to be aware of new, mandatory initiatives like auto-enrolment. A lack of HR awareness affects small businesses more that the larger firms, for obvious reasons. The smaller firm tends to rely on personal relationships between colleagues, as well as employers and employees. They might not offer watertight contracts or frequently update their policies, and few provide regular employee performance reviews. It is all based on trust and understanding, yet it is always amazing to see just how quickly this trust and friendship evaporates as soon as a HR issue arises and the employer is caught out because they lack the correct policies and procedures. Getting HR wrong can end up costing a lot of money in unnecessary penalties.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Prior to KJG, I worked in the industry for ten years – which is unusual for accountants. During this time I had a very strict mentor who taught me the importance of discipline and regular reporting. He was meticulous, a pedant, and expected the same from those he worked with. He knew this discipline was essential for running a successful business, and he was right.
In addition to detail, you have to be passionate about what you do, otherwise you’ll never succeed. Passion drives motivation and the will to prevail, even during hard times. Without the passion, these hard times slip into drudgery and despair.
You’ve developed a strong local network in Manchester. Howe important are networks for the strength of a business?
Networks are very important. At KJG we’ve made networking our number one priority, to the extent that we’ve employed two managers to take the admin jobs away from the partners and allow us to get on with building and fostering relationships.
Understanding people and what interests and motivates them is essential for building good relationships. Finance is a complex subject and it can be difficult to personalize our approach if we were to simply concentrate on finance and figures. It requires more. We have to get to know our clients and then we can talk in their language, which makes it easier for them.
What makes you optimistic?
The recent election result makes me optimistic as it offers much needed economic and political stability. The last thing we needed was someone new coming in and reversing all the policies put forward by the Coalition – it would only set us back, rather than take us forward. Consistency and direction is what this country requires.