Acuity and CollBox: An Ideal Partnership
When running a full-service financial firm, knowing and solving your clients’ problems is the name of the game.
Acuity was started by Kenji Kuramato as a CFO practice in 2004. In 2013, Matthew May joined the team and it relaunched as a financial services firm that helps clients with everything from a simple balancing of the books to solving the most in depth and complicated problems as virtual CFOs.
Today, Acuity has a wide spanning portfolio of clients including e-commerce enterprises, SaaS and tech startups, and creative agencies. Their ability to scale is in part due to their penchant for using technology to tackle problems including merging with the largest ecommerce cloud accounting firm Catching Clouds in 2021.
CollBox began in 2015 as part of the QuickBooks Connect hackathon. Co-founder Matt Darner had previously dealt with chasing down payments in his tech consulting firm. Always looking for a technologically based solution to persistent problems, Darner and fellow co-founder Cameron Desautels partnered to build out the first version of CollBox—winning $100,000 in the process. Interest was immediately drummed up as Darner and Desautels realized they had created not just a product, but a whole new market for tech-based collections solutions.
With Acuity and CollBox similarly interested in how technology can shape financial services, their paths inevitably cross. And when they crossed, it resulted in a valuable and enduring partnership.
A serious problem for businesses
A common problem Acuity noticed its clients experiencing was AR building up. “In some of the verticals that we work in, we always seem to have this recurring collections issue,” said Matthew May in a recent chat, “Especially in the professional services realm.”
This pushes businesses to become collectors, sinking time into communication rather than providing services. An unexpected result from this was customers avoiding calls and contact efforts from businesses, even if it wasn’t a collections call. “You need to help somebody and they think you're trying to call to collect and they're screening so you can't help them, it's like a double whammy.”
Not only was a growing accounts receivable amount causing cash flow problems, it was straining relationships with customers and bringing on unnecessary stress. Acuity saw this and, knowing a valuable service starts with a pain point, set out to solve this problem.
The challenge for accounting firms
As much as business owners aren’t collections specialists, neither are accounting firms.
For Acuity, the immediate answer started with members of different teams. “We had been kind of attacking it using our bookkeepers to follow up with some just email notifications. But our observation was that they don't like making phone calls. I mean, accountants are helpful by nature, not persistent necessarily by nature.”
Having people handle your clients’ collections issues can work for a short time. But this solution proves to be unscalable as you start chasing down more invoices by more clients. Not to mention using people from different teams takes them away from the thing they’re best at, something Acuity learned from experimenting with bookkeepers and sales team members.
An ideal solution would offload the collections responsibilities from business owners without taking Acuity’s in-house talent from their usual tasks. That’s when CollBox came on their radar.
CollBox as a solution
Acuity’s relationship with CollBox started with multiple run-ins at industry events. Initially impressed with the technology, it was the people behind the product that sparked an interest in working together. Chats with co-founders Cameron Desautels and Matt Darner about the future of the platform as an accounts receivables tool that actually helps with outstanding amounts grew into a partnership that has been going strong for 4 years and counting.
CollBox partners with accounting firms to help them simplify and automate the accounts receivables management process. It works by integrating with your accounting software, providing you a single dashboard to view all clients A/R balances, and pairing you with A/R specialists who do all the follow up.
Through using CollBox, Acuity found a way to solve their clients’ biggest pain point with minimal lift. With all follow-up communications handled and managed in the dashboard, bookkeepers and sales team members could focus on what they were best at. The additional revenue stream is nice, but the genuine assistance of getting earned money into their clients’ bank accounts was the biggest satisfaction.
Acuity now participates in the CollBox Partner Program where they get a percentage of the subscription when suggesting CollBox to clients. “We'll recommend CollBox and then the client has a full accounts receivable solution without us as an intermediary,” says May. Your clients get paid, you get paid, it’s an easy win-win.
Solving your clients’ biggest pain = a client for life
“I think most firm owners feel the obligation to meet all the accounting needs of their clients,” reflects May, “and it's very difficult to do when you don't fit in your business model.” But with CollBox, Acuity is able to service their clients' needs with no change to the model that’s been working so well for them.
When you provide a solution to your client’s biggest problem, they become a client for life. It instills a strong sense of trust and confidence in your services.
May recalls a client who was struggling to collect from their three biggest customers. “They had never gotten into a rhythm of sending and collecting invoices on a routine basis.” It’s not hard for business owners to fall into this trap—they’d prefer to conduct business rather than spend their time on the phone and writing emails.
With Acuity’s help, the sales of the top clients actually meant money in the bank. This means more consistent cash flow and a better chance of accomplishing their financial goals. “We made it more predictable and it starts with the invoicing. You get into some kind of cadence because all accounts receivable consists of communication between two companies.”
That customer struggling with cash flow has been a client for 6 years now, a testament to the fact that solving your clients problems creates loyalty. Every major financial problem a business faces is an opportunity for an accounting firm to step in and show its value.
With CollBox, showing that value is easier than ever. We help your clients get on top of and stay on top of their outstanding accounts receivable with an easy to use dashboard with alerts and warnings for delinquent customers and long outstanding amounts. Our messaging goes beyond basic automated alerts by using real A/R specialists. Learn more about how we help accounting firms or get started today.