We Put Our Money Where Our Clients Are

We believe that most valuable thing we can do for our clients (after providing business services and advice) is to use their services ourselves, or to make introductions where it benefits both parties.

Blackler Smith & Co client The Beauty Room

Nicole Moore, Owner/Operator of The Beauty Room, client and supplier to
Blackler Smith & Co.


We try hard to connect people. When we know someone needs something that another client supplies, we put one client in touch with the other. If we trust someone and give a recommendation it usually goes a long way to transferring that trust so that others can do some good business together.

We live the referral process ourselves. We believe in our clients. In the past few months we have given our clients priority for our own business, either through Blackler Smith & Co as the buyer, or through our personal patronage. To make it real, here are some examples:
Beauty Therapist. Architectural Services. Carpet retailer. Picture Framer. Electrician. Catering. Dental Services. Storage Provider. After School Care. Travel. Hotel. Painting. Packaging. Restaurant. Roofer. Plumber. Engineer. Panel Repair. Insurance. Legal.

Our clients demonstrate belief in us and we reciprocate wherever possible.

To download the article click here.

Blackler Smith & Co clients – The Bolton Hotel

The Bolton Hotel

Our clients are always up to interesting activities, and we are proud to be associated with them. We’d like to share one with you:

Warick Angus - Bolton Hotel

Warwick Angus, Owner of Bolton Hotel and nephew of featured painter Rita Angus

You may wonder why The Bolton Hotel has so many wonderful pieces of art by the well-known New Zealand artist, Rita Angus.

The owner of The Bolton Hotel is Warwick Angus and he happens to be Rita’s nephew. Rita passed away in 1970 and through his family connection Warwick managed to secure the copyright to a large number of her art works, many of which have not been seen in public before.

Art may have been in Rita’s blood, but for Warwick it was building. He worked for the family firm for 40 years and it was during this time that he came across the Bolton site. It was a car park at the time but he could see its potential as a good site for a hotel, as it offered protected daylight on all four sides as well as a lovely aspect to the Wellington western hills and the city. Under Warwick’s direction The Bolton Hotel was built, and it opened on the 1st of February 2005.

The transition from the construction industry to hotelier was a big step. Warwick has many stories of the things he learnt along the way. One of the most memorable was in the early days of the hotel when Warwick thought it might be a nice gesture to return a lady’s earrings found in one of the hotel bedrooms. A short time later Warwick received a telephone call from the lady of the house to say, “thank you, but these are not my earrings”.

The Bolton Hotel team has matured since those early days and Warwick is extremely proud of the hotel, its independence with no allegiance to a hotel chain, and its many successes as a top ranked Wellington hotel. Warwick puts the success of The Bolton Hotel down to the skill, dedication and hard work of management and staff. He also gives credit to Blackler Smith & Co for their tremendous assistance particularly in the formative years of his businesses.

To download the article click here.

Put your money where your clients are

At Blackler Smith & Co we believe that after providing business services and advice, the next best valuable thing we can do to support our clients is to use their services ourselves, or make introductions where it benefits both parties.

We try hard to connect people. When we know someone needs something that another client supplies, we put one client in touch with the other so they can use one another’s services. If we trust someone and give a recommendation, it usually goes a long way to transferring that trust so others can do some good business together.

We live the referral process ourselves. We believe in our clients. In the past few months we have given our clients priority for our own business, either through Blackler Smith & Co as the buyer, or through our personal patronage. To make it real, here are some examples:
Carpet retailer, Picture framer, Electrician, Beauty Therapist, Legal services, Architectural services, Catering, Dental services, Storage provider, After school care, Travel, Hotel, Painting, Packaging, Restaurant, Takeaways, Roofer, Plumber, Engineering, Panel repair, Insurance.

Our clients demonstrate belief in us and we reciprocate wherever possible.

Please call Ben Blackler or Blair Smith on 04 555 9090 to learn more about us.

To download the article click here.

sam-broad-picture-framer

Sam Broad www.sambroad.co.nz, client and supplier to Blackler Smith & Co.

Almack Electrical

Alan McGhie Almack Electrical Limited, client and supplier to Blackler Smith & Co.

Buy Well – Part 2

The SWOT Analysis BEFORE you buy

In our post in July we wrote about how to Buy Well when it comes to buying a businesses. Now you’ve found what looks like the ideal business to buy, you’re about to put an offer in. About now, undertaking a SWOT analysis as part of your due diligence before you go unconditional could save you thousands of dollars and give you a wider appreciation of what you are about to leap into.

WHAT’S A SWOT ANALYSIS?

It’s a sound business tool that’s used to highlight the key issues and features of a business, and the environment it operates in. A SWOT analysis gives you a focus for areas you need to concentrate on. It’s part of your strategic analysis.

A SWOT analysis gets you to ask FOUR questions. What are they:
• Key Strengths of this business?
• Key Weaknesses of this business?
• Main Opportunities for this business?
• Main Threats to this business?

Strengths and Weaknesses relate to the business itself. Opportunities and Threats can also refer to issues outside the business.

Sit alone, put your detective hat on and start your thinking under each question. After you’ve done your solo part, ask questions of others in the industry, consider the SWOT of competitors, ask your advisers, your friends and the people currently working for the business. Even ask Google! The more information you can gather, the more knowledge you have to make an informed decision about one of the largest purchases you may ever make. Here are some ideas to get you started:

STRENGTHS:
• What are the key products or services sold?
• What does this business do well?
• What key skills and capabilities are held within the business?
• What are the things this business has going for it?
• What is its USP – it’s Unique Selling Proposition?
• What is the business’s reputation?

WEAKNESSES:
• What are the areas the business may struggle in?
• What aspects of the business don’t appear right, or don’t make sense?
• What needs attention?
• What can be improved on?

OPPORTUNITIES:
• Where can you go with this business if you make some changes?
• How can you put your own personality into it?
• What new products and services you can add or develop?
• What can you do to improve performance?
• What efficiencies can you gain with the current systems/processes?
• What can you do that is not being done now?

THREATS:
• What are the issues that could threaten the business’s financial situation?
• What are the significant changes in this industry that could occur?
• What is changing in the wider marketplace?
• What are the competitors doing, who are they and where are they?

A careful SWOT analysis will alert you to important issues to consider during your due diligence phase of checking the business with eyes wide open before you fully commit to buying it. Remember that “a business which fails to plan, plans to fail”. For help with a SWOT analysis, due diligence and all things business give the experts Ben Blackler and Blair Smith a call for an obligation free chat. Call us on 04 555 9090.

To download the article click here.

 

Searching for Efficiencies

We always advocate any business to strive internally to search for efficiencies. Usually it involves systemising processes and spending a bit longer to template things if they are likely to be used again. It’s also being open to embracing new software that offers faster and smarter systems than you currently have. The hardest part is keeping up with all the new offerings out there.

Efficiency Tips

There are many examples of time saving software out there but most people don’t know what they don’t know. Here are a few gems:
• Payroll software – do pay runs in a couple of minutes and have all your returns filed automatically with IRD. Have employees login for a payslip or leave balance without asking you to work it out.

Modern accounting software – send electronic statements/reminders at the click of a button.

Pay invoices in batches. Paying 1 invoice should then take the same amount of time as paying 100 invoices.

PDF editors – scan almost any of your documents allowing you to edit, and will get 90% plus of the words correct without you having to retype it. If numbers are embedded in a Word document, the editor can also reformat them into Excel.

Excel skills – Excel is a massively powerful tool and pivot tables/lookups can automate further reports and analysis in a minute with properly set up templates.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin by listing down what tasks you spend most of your time on or your main frustrations. Then ask us for any hints or ideas on what solutions might be out there to reduce the time involved in these areas.

To download the article click here.

Buy Well – Part 1

Having your own business is a dream shared by many people. After all, what’s better than taking on a new challenge and building an enterprise that rewards you not only financially, but also provides your life with greater purpose and, hopefully, freedom?

A popular avenue to obtaining your own business is to buy an existing one. An existing business offers some advantages over setting one up from scratch, including starting with:
• An existing brand and existing customers
• An established organisational structure with trained staff, systems, supply chains and relationships
• Premises and equipment
• A history of past performance including turnover, margins, expenses and overall profits.

The last item here, a ‘history of past performance’ could be the best predictor of your future with the business. It’s one we see buyers too easily dismissing by adopting too optimistic an attitude of “we’ll do it better”, and “we’ll put more hours into it”.

Businesses can always be improved but turning around an unprofitable or truly declining business takes something very special. It requires skills beyond those held by many people. It’s usually better to buy well in the first place.

Things to both understand and look for in the accounts provided by the seller include:
• Key themes, ‘signs’ and trends, including those of the industry itself
• Key people and seasonality impacts
• Unsubstantiated turnover claims
• An excessive asking price; amounts attributed to plant, fixtures and goodwill
• Cashflow
• Adjustments to expenses to improve the appearance of the result.

That’s where professional advice comes in. Our firm reviews a lot of financial information of businesses for sale under a ‘due diligence’ process as well as many practical issues of buying a business. One of business-life’s ‘no-brainers’ must be to find yourself an experienced and motivated chartered accountant (they’re the qualified ones) to explain what information you need, to review this for you and to help you decide whether to keep going, run away or help to negotiate a better outcome for you.

A final part of the pre-purchase process is structuring your purchase for GST, risk protection and tax benefits according to your particular circumstances. People are often (understandably) confused about the best order to see advisers about buying a business. This is a generalisation but we suggest this order:
1. Chartered Accountant (they see the financial results for hundreds of businesses and might even know a business that’s for sale)
2. Bank (to get finance shored up and other insights)
3. Lawyer (to work through the detail a sale and purchase agreement requires before presenting it to a seller). Your lawyer will also work with your chartered accountant to ensure the tax and GST detail is optimal for you.

To speak to us about the business you’re considering buying, please call Ben Blackler or Blair Smith on 555 9090.

To download the article click here.

 

How a modern business embraces technology

How a modern business uses and embraces technology to save time and make more money.

Have you helped your child or grandchild do their school homework lately? Chances are, they have used some form of app like “Mathematics” or “Reading Eggs”. Schools have fully embraced modern technology. Some schools see technology from a budgetary viewpoint, using apps to save stationery/school book resources. But the majority see technology as a relatively low cost alternative which allows the teachers to free up their time to plan better education for their classes, or to just deliver a better experience than the teachers could do without it.

We believe schools have their logic correct. Embrace technology and free up your time. Work smarter, not harder and don’t reinvent the wheel. A lot of Blackler Smith & Co. clients use technology in their business. Most would never look back. It allows them to spend less time on their book work and have more time with their family, or to work on productive client work.

Conversely, we have also had some clients who are put off by the perceived cost of technology and believe their current systems are better, because they don’t have to pay a monthly fee. Let’s hope we can help open your mind to the use of new technology in your business, like we  have for many of our clients.

What would a modern system look like
The majority of businesses are quite simple. They are either selling a product, selling their time, or both. If you are selling products, chances are that a good accounting system with online technology can keep track of what your customers owe you and what your inventory levels are. You could chase up overdue invoices at the click of a button and send out professional looking statements and invoices all via email in a matter of seconds. Manual GST returns are a thing of the past and for a small business a couple of hours a week on accounts is probably plenty.

If you sell time and are a tradie
As a generalisation the worst offenders with paperwork are tradies. They typically have messy records, manual systems, hate invoicing, and each month’s billing (other than the getting paid bit) is just an annoying chore. Imagine having a system where you take your Smartphone on the job with you. It’s already set up with the tools / product lists you use for each job. All that’s missing is the labour charge.

Today, many businesses are setting simple rules for their staff and themselves, such as:
1. Don’t leave a job without opening your app and doing your timesheet. It’s a two minute task. You can then email the invoice on the spot. Even better, get a device that connects to your phone to accept payment on the spot. What could be easier? No more end of month invoicing. Cash flow is much better, time captured and billed is much higher.

2. Ground rules such as eight hours’ worth of entries per day of timesheets are laid down which then just becomes a new habit.

Other benefits
Chartered accountants also love having access to real-time systems. It allows us to see how you did yesterday, rather than seeing how you performed a year after the event. It allows us to become your business advisers rather than your recorders of history.

An efficient system(s) can save hours per month, in which case it pays for itself. Use your extra time to do five more hours of paid work a month. Finding a system(s) that fits your needs is easy. Online tutorials are usually easy to follow and free trial periods apply to most software.

We would almost guarantee that once you have a new system up and running smoothly you will wish you did it years earlier.

To speak to us about assistance with changing how your business uses technology call Blackler Smith & Co. on 04 555 9090 or send us a message.

To download the article click here.

 

Blackler Smith & Co. turns 1!

We celebrated our 1 year anniversary in February.

We would like to sincerely acknowledge all of our clients for your belief in us and for your support. We enjoy dealing with you. With our first year behind us we now look forward to continuing to build a solid business that will be around for many years to come.

Local Business – What We’re Seeing

Income Protection – we’ve seen the negative side of insurance – an insurer not paying out for income protection under an older type policy.

Buyers – there’s a healthy appetite from people looking to buy profitable, lower risk, good cash flow businesses in the mid-price range. Franchises are also popular.

Banks – banks are competitive for your custom when there’s good security and strong cash flow businesses to be financed.

Sellers – when we’re advising buyers we’re asked to review the numbers and look at practical aspects of deals. We’ve seen sellers lose the confidence and interest of possible buyers when they have poor quality financial information, often prepared by unqualified accountants.

IRD – They can target industries. We’ve also seen them ignore what they consider unreliable information for businesses of a cash nature (with what they deem to be irregular accounts and records) and use benchmarked financial information to calculate what they consider to be a more appropriate tax bill.

Provisional tax – we’re seeing new clients whose old accountants didn’t seem to do any tax planning for their clients. We’ve also arranged tax finance to save interest and penalties for people paying their tax late.

Residential property – under our specialist property brand The Property Accountants, we’re dealing with lots of new investors. But we’re also seeing some investors reviewing their portfolios where a capital gain hasn’t arisen, and where they have no real confidence of seeing a capital gain the near future.

Not yet part of Blackler Smith & Co?

We’re boutique in size but we’re professional and street-smart. For us it’s always the relationship that comes first. Surprisingly, even being fully qualified chartered accountants is a point of difference these days. Membership of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand gives us the big ticks of training, experience and expertise, strict standards and constant upskilling. If you’re not already dealing with us, is your accountant a fully qualified chartered accountant?

– don’t assume that they are if you haven’t asked.

To download the article click here.

Spotlight on Business

February 3 2015 marked the first anniversary for Blackler Smith & Co. an innovative and new chartered accountancy firm based in Margaret Street, Lower Hutt.

While the firm may be relatively new the experience of the principals Ben Blackler and Blair Smith goes back a long way in Lower Hutt and the wider Wellington Region. Both Ben and Blair come from previous careers as principals of the largest accountancy firm in Lower Hutt.

They both act for clients who have been with them for many years. They set up Blackler Smith & Co. when they felt they were at the right stage in their careers to deal with clients in their own distinctive way, with strong professionalism and personal style. It is important to them both they are local with a lot of local knowledge and wide community networks, as Blackler Smith & Co. is a relationship-based business. They are here for the long haul, provide stable relationships and continuity, and plan to look aer their clients for many years to come.

Ben and Blair put a great deal of emphasis on the quality of the service they and their team of experienced accountants provide. Because they have worked locally throughout their careers they understand local businesses and the Wellington market. They particularly enjoy dealing with family owned businesses, whether large or small.

“Dealing with the people who make the decisions and who are affected by those decisions is extremely satisfying” they say. Ben and Blair and their team work hard to achieve the best results for their clients, they are easy to deal with and have a “no surprises” approach to their fee structure.

Having come from a large corporate accounting environment they have longstanding experience dealing with complex trust and commercial work – “it’s what we do”. ey are true business advisers offering strategic advice and direction, and day to day advice on “almost anything business related”. They also offer business valuations and tax compliance services (tax returns, financial statements, returns for GST, PAYE, FBT etc) for companies, trusts, partnerships and individuals. They are progressive and innovative and equipped to solve problems and provide solutions for their clients.

As well as these accountancy services Blackler Smith & Co. has a special division set up to handle tax returns for and provide advice to property investors. is division named The Property Accountants prepares annual financial statements and tax returns at fixed prices to those owning rental properties. is is a specialised area. Their expertise coupled with the fixed price model is ideally suited for those with any number of rental properties, be they residential or commercial/industrial.

Being a person who loves black and white I was immediately impressed by their iconic New Zealand branding. Everything about Blackler Smith & Co. is sharp, new and impressive while still having a strong professional feel.

Their offices, located on Level 1, 8 Margaret Street, Lower Hutt, are modern and extremely family friendly. Ben and Blair both have young families (who all help in the business) and their offices are deliberately designed to accommodate clients who may need to bring children with them when they attend appointments. A room designed with children in mind is decked out especially for their smaller guests. As they both pointed out they don’t want their clients to have any barriers to seeing them when they need to.

To download the article click here.

Introducing Blackler Smith & Co.

Blackler Smith & Co began after Ben Blackler and Blair Smith moved out of what became a large international accountancy group. We wanted to help the same types of people and provide the same types of services, but in our own distinct way.

Thank you to everyone that has been in touch with us since we opened in February.We’ve been really humbled and we really appreciate your loyalty.

Our Aims Are Simple, to:
• Focus on people and families who have their own business.
• Get to know our clients really well and have some fun along the way.
• Offer the best advice and focus on your plans and ambitions.
• Offer continuity of people you’re dealing with – we know that constant change is frustrating for you.
• Have great offices that are nice to visit, are easy to find and get a park.
• Be completely professional but have a relaxed, approachable style.

The Won’ts
Here’s what we won’t do:
• We won’t tell you what to do.
• We won’t dictate when to supply your year-end information and we won’t tell you what accounting package you need to use.
• You’re in the driver’s seat with us. We will, however, offer you suggestions to save you time, remove stresses, make you more money and to achieve your potential.
• And we won’t be changing our name.

Our Clients
To highlight the types of work we do, this may be best illustrated by some recent examples:
• We met with an owner seeking to take their business to a whole new level. We first got clarity on their strategy (market positioning, target market, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and the functions of their business (responsibility areas). On top of that we bring focus on the business’s monthly results and suggest areas for ongoing improvement.

• We helped three different parties buy their first businesses. We talked through each person’s ambitions, assessed whether they’re onto a good thing by valuing the business and discussing the business’s potential and risks, helped them borrow money from the bank, set up the best ownership structure for the business and supported the transition into the new business.

• For the partners of a business, we met and mapped out a change in a company’s ownership to better protect assets from business and personal risks and saved a lot of tax in the process.

• We helped a number of our clients sell their long established businesses. For two parties this involved talking over what they wanted to achieve, setting a selling price, preparing sales information in a professional way for buyers, assisting with negotiations, reviewing the sale and purchase agreements, working out how to take the money without adverse tax consequences.

• For other clients we’ve been designing better accounting systems (XERO and MYOB) to simplify their administration, to save them time and to get better information, more quickly.

• We provided some specialist family trust advice when things haven’t quite gone as they should have.

• We’ve been involved with many of the all-important annual accounts and tax returns. We usually recommend meetings to talk over the past financial year and more importantly to focus on the future. We find clients get great value from our meetings.

Moving to Blackler Smith & Co
We’ve received a number of questions about the process of changing accountants. Firstly, the harder the decision to move is for you, the more we’d like to talk to you. That’s because we will invest time and energy into establishing our relationship with you. If it’s hard for you to move on from your current accountant, which tells us a lot about the way you like to operate.

Anyway, what’s the process?
• Come and check us out – meet with Ben or Blair
• From there we will contact your current accountant and arrange the transfer of your records (company and trust accounts, minutes, tax returns, etc)
• We cover the cost of the transfer to us. Yes we have some set up time, but again that’s at our sole cost.

To download the article click here.