XPAC - Xero Partner Advisory Council
As part of being crowned Xero’s Partner of the Year for Victoria, I am invited to sit on XPAC for the next 12 months. What’s XPAC you say?
XPAC = Xero Partner Advisory Council.
The council is made up of the two winners from each state (Accountant & Bookkeeper) and the National Award winners.
Xero understands that listening is the most important part of any conversation. So each year Xero brings these Industry Leaders onto the committee to represent their state & peers. The aim is to help drive conversations that will make a difference to advisors and small businesses across Australia.
Xero will regularly check in with our council to ask:
What industry change do you think is needed right now?
What keeps your peers awake at night? Where can Xero make the biggest difference?
What are we getting right?
What can we improve?
Throughout the year we will have two sessions where the entire group gets together for a few days and then more virtual catch ups.
The first session was is Melbourne from the 25th to the 27th of November.
Xero well and truly rolled out the red carpet for us and we spent this time getting insight into what each department within Xero is working on and providing our feedback as the representatives from our state.
Here we all are at the group dinner on Sunday night.
Small Business Advocacy
Our first session and in my opinion most valuable session was with Duncan & Angus to talk through our ideas around how Xero can use their influence and small business data to help the government form policy to make running a business in Australia easier.
It was an interesting discussion around cash flow and the impact the “big guys” in the market are having on smaller operators by setting 90-120 payment terms. It makes it very hard to stay cash positive when you are paying staff weekly, but only getting paid from your customers every 3-4 months! But with their power they basically have a “like it or lump it” approach. But it also doesn’t hurt to get on the front foot with these big suppliers and negotiate more suitable terms.
While government intervention on payment terms may not be the answer, we have found e-invoicing & working with your customers to make sure you’re invoices are meeting their requirements are good ways to make sure payments are even more delayed.
We are also seeing a rise in Debtor finance companies in Australia. This is process where you can “cash in” your customer invoices and receive payment upfront. Once the customer pays, you then repay the finance company and there is interest and fees involved.
As long as the costs related to this are factored into your pricing, it can be a great way to get on top of your cashflow.
The other great tip that was discussed is understanding how much it will cost you if your customers don’t pay on time. Things like interest on an overdraft? Admin costs associated in chasing the payment? Debtor finance costs?
Costing this out is something do with our clients to again make sure they are pricing appropriately and mitigating these costs.
The biggest theme throughout the whole conversation was the need to educate small business owners. I feel there is not enough information given to start ups around their compliance requirements and the skills required to run a successful small business. Accountants and bookkeepers aren’t seen as sexy and often compared to visiting the dentist!
Love us or hate us, having a small business finance export on your team from Day 1 makes a huge difference to your financial success. Throughout my 7 years in business, not one of my clients has run a business that has failed. I don’t know about you, but I like those odds!
We also put forward some great ideas to Xero about ways in which Xero can present important “financial health” information to us as Advisor and to our small business clients. Things like traffic light systems, alerts & prompts.
We have these systems in place for our Freedom clients however they require extra work on our behalf to investigate. If Xero are able to bring these into their platform, the impacts will be huge.
Xero Department Presentations
A big part of the session was spent with head of different departments within Xero. They used this time to present to us the new things they are working on and gain our feedback. They were also game enough to open up for general feedback on how they were performing in our opinions. While all the feedback was constructive, I was impressed at how well it was received and there was a genuine interest of self improvement throughout all departments.
The departments we heard from were:
Sales & Professional Services
Marketing & Events
Trent Innes (Xero M.D) - more on this below
Xero Ecosystem (Add-ons)
Customer Experience / Education
Trent Innes - M.D of Xero
Trent called into see us at the end of Day 1 and he talked about the speech at Xerocon this year about being #human and the difference the 1%ers make.
I’ve met Trent a few times and the one thing that always sticks with me is how genuine and humble he is. He has time for everyone that crosses his path, no matter who they are.
I also got to see the “Staff Award” trophy while I was there. Trent shared the story behind this and it showcases one of the great things about the culture at Xero. They have always been big about equality within Xero , to the point where Trent sits alongside his colleagues and doesn’t hide away in a corner office. In fact the only person with a corner office at Xero is the CFO for privacy reasons. In that vain, there is a simple expectation that everyone washes their own coffee cup. They are not left for someone to clean up at the end of the day.
There is a prize each week for who has done the best in displaying this #human and 1%ers attitude. What started off as a small trophy is now a massive statue full of quirky things that each winner has added. Check out the pic of it below :D
Xero have a strong focus on their people and have a big focus on making sure in the technology driven world that we don't forget about the importance of human connection & balance. A key thing for us all to remember I think.
I loved my first experience with XPAC and it has left me with a lot to think about and even more motivated to keep finding good solutions to grow the small business community.