Chris Cheeney is a man to be reckoned with.
Chris first cut his teeth as a financial analyst, working on spreadsheets “all day every day.” Back then, automation was his downfall. He would go into a new job, see what could be automated and turned spreadsheets into databases with every new gig – invariably leaving him without a job at the end.
This flair for automation resulted in low input and high output – a trait that fared well for starting and scaling his own business. And when his wife Sara started her own beauty salon, Chris was quick to locate issues in cash flow.
“It involved both of our financials and impacted both of our lives. We needed to find a way of making it work. I started by implementing some processes to first understand the numbers behind the salon.”
While Sara was on maternity leave with their second child, Chris started to see the results of the new system. While discussing with Sara’s business coach, Simon Lotinga, he was quick to recognise how this could help more businesses like his wife’s.
“Simon told me, ‘If you do what you do for Pure Perfection for other salon owners, you have the power to change their lives!’. I decided that this was what I wanted to do and with the help of Simon’s contacts, left my full time job. Thanks to a blog post Simon posted on CDC Accounting, I went from 0 clients to 17 practically overnight.”
RETHINKING THE MEANING OF ADVISORY
Chris tackles advisory services differently, having approached his business as a coach first and an accountant second.
“For me, a true advisor is someone who understands a particular person’s business model and can offer support,” says Chris. “It’s not just your net profit or sales, but what should they have been? What can you earn per hour? What are you doing to make sure revenue comes in every week, then spend that money wisely?
“It’s who I was supposed to be. I never wanted to be an accountant, I wanted to change lives by helping people implement the same system [Your Salon Success] which changed my wife’s life.
Working on my own became a culture shock. I enjoyed the social aspects of having conversations with colleagues. When I first started my business, I was all of a sudden in the back bedroom on my own. I’d hear the tractor coming up the lane and come out to say hello. Now, I’ve moved to a co-working space [The Malthouse] and love going out and seeing clients.”
A TECHNOLOGY TOUCH-UP WITH RECEIPT BANK AND XERO
For Chris, his first five years in business were spent on the fifth step of the Your Salon Profit formula. Having never worked at an accountancy practice before, Chris implemented Receipt Bank and Xero from day one then learnt everything from compliance to payroll from scratch.
“I had a lightbulb moment at XeroCon, where I realised that I could create the business I wanted. I met Xero and Receipt Bank – the only ones at the time – in 2013. After speaking to Alexis [Receipt Bank’s co-founder] and Ella [Head of Sales Effectiveness], I made the decision there and then to have faith in them both.
“We didn’t have a life before Receipt Bank. We had a bookkeeper, yet never knew how our business was performing. We used to send paperwork once a quarter and didn’t know what we were missing until they told us. By then, it was usually too late.”
Until 2017, Chris used Receipt Bank’s post functionality (now archived) to receive paperwork from clients in the post. He described moving to the app as a “turning point”.
“It used to take around 20 working days to get data from clients. I was nervous about moving clients from sending their paperwork by post to using the [Receipt Bank] app, but I’m so glad it happened. It was a really easy transition. I walked them through the new process, sent through a how-to video then followed up with a call to make sure they had downloaded the app. There and then, we did an invoice together. Now our average delay is 5 days.
“Now, I talk about Receipt Bank as a better, easier way to do things. It’s as simple as that.”
RECEIPT BANK OPTIMIZE
Chris moved to the final step in the Receipt Bank product range, Optimize, at Xerocon 2018. Having outsourced bookkeeping to India, one of his team members heard about the new features and asked him to bring bookkeeping back into the UK office.
“All of the features improved,” explains Chris. “We implemented Optimize for its ability to auto-publish, smart-split, match paperwork with existing bank transactions, create missing paperwork reports and the app itself. Now if the client has outstanding paperwork, all we do is press a button and send it straight to the mobile rather than going backwards and forwards over emails. Optimize has been game-changing.
For Chris, the definition of success centres around people.
“We have a team of eight, from apprentices to bookkeepers, accountants and payrolls. We feel like a proper business. I’m proud to be where we are, proud to be out and about seeing people while we have seven people back in the office working hard. And I love seeing staff develop.
“The other day, I was told to sit down and look at a gross profit model that one of my team had developed. It allows you to see profitability by category of services for a Salon. For instance, as an owner you’d be able to see if you were making a loss on nail extensions, and whether you could increase the price or reduce the time to get back to profitability. She had made this completely off her own back, showing the same care for clients that I do.
“That makes me so proud. If you can grow a business with a team that share your values, you can scale it. I’m not in it to make money, I’m here to help people. As a business coach, you have the power to change people’s lives. I want to build a community of salon-owners, to run regular events across the country to inspire others.
“I don’t want to be any busier; I want more time to spend with my children. I’ve just set up an under 7s football team for my son, so I want to have the time for that. I want the time to take my daughter to ballet and swimming.
“Ultimately, technology like Receipt Bank has allowed me to have a life. Between 2014 and 2016, I was working sixty-hour weeks. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, I employed my first staff member. I wish I’d done that earlier. Since growing my team, revenue has doubled year-on-year and I’ve got my life back.”
Learn more about what Receipt Bank Optimize can do for your practice here.