RightWay Accounting is a nationwide accountancy and advisory firm specialising in helping its clients build a better business. 


It was one of the first New Zealand businesses to join Xero in 2008, and later joined Cradle in 2016. 


Cradle sat down with its Chief Executive, Stuart Wilkinson to talk about their journey with Cradle and its integration with Xero. 

Thanks for meeting with us Stuart. Why don’t you start by telling me about RightWay?


We are a nationwide accountancy and advisory firm focussed on helping our clients to build a better business to build a better life. 

We’ve got a broad range of clients out of our 800 plus; we have lots of clients in the construction space; professional services such as lawyers, but are also right into hospitality and retail. In terms of the sizes of those businesses, some range from a one-man-band up to some pretty sizeable businesses. 


The majority of our clients are business owner-operators, so for us that means helping them achieve what they need for retirement, for their children, or whatever financial goals they want to achieve with their business. 


A big part of the RightWay mentality is helping our clients in their business so they can have the life they want.


For those 800 clients, RightWay has a strong team behind it. We’ve got over 30 staff based across the country, with a mixture of in-office, hybrid and remote. 

How important is good customer service when it comes to RightWay?


Customer service for any business I think is really important but for our business it’s incredibly vital. 


We’re dealing with business owners in areas which are particularly sensitive but also particularly timely - so making sure we can deal with our customers' queries promptly and effectively is really important. 


What was life like before Cradle?


Before we started with Cradle we were utilising a system from a major mobile supplier, so everyone at RightWay had their own mobile phone.. Which had massive problems.


To start with, if a client phoned a team member's mobile phone and that person wasn’t available, there was no way of knowing that call came through.  Some of our team also weren’t great at getting back to customers and again, we had no oversight of that. 


You’d think mobile phones created a sense of flexibility and while it did to some extent, it didn’t really manage the fact we had some people in an office where phone calls and workflow could be shared. More importantly we had zero reporting on our call data. There was no standardisation of how we managed calls and everyone having a mobile phone was a really expensive solution. 


When did the penny drop?


Feedback from clients was coming through.. Some people weren’t returning calls, or clients weren’t able to get through to the right person. 


Think of it this way; if you’ve only got a mobile number as your main point of contact for a business, and if you can’t get through, or if you weren’t called back - that is your only experience with RightWay, irrelevant of how well everyone else is performing. 


I feel like there could be more to that.. 


So we had an 0800 number…


You did not. 


We did. It was directed to a phone in our Wellington office, and it sat in the corner of the room on a desk. When it rang, everyone used to just sit there looking at each other, to kind of say ‘go pick it up.’ 


So it was fair to say we weren’t exactly maximising our sales enquiries and we were in desperate need of something that was a lot more agile and much more fitting for the type of business that we wanted to be.

Now seems like a good time to tell me about how your journey started with Cradle?


We’ve always been really feature focussed at RightWay and have been cloud based since we started 11 years ago; so while we were paperless from the beginning, we were still very reliant on our team taking accurate notes, logging them into the system and to follow things up with the right people. 


What we found with the old system is that you’d only phone the person you knew, or vice versa, even though there were plenty of other people in the organisation that could help a client. 


By moving to Cradle we were able to connect with our clients with the best person possible for whatever their issue is at that time. And this is what really really transformed the relationships we had with our clients. 


How was the switch-over from mobile phones to using an integration tool like Cradle?


It was a huge shift. And the big change was for our clients - they now had their accountants phone numbers saved in their phones for RightWay and it was default on a mobile number meaning anyone could pick up a call. 


So the change process wasn’t exactly internal - it was more about how we started to migrate our customers over. We did some cool stuff, and James and the team really helped us on how we could then redirect some of our mobile numbers back to a central line which really started the process. Once we got into it, we definitely noticed really good feedback from customers and were able to answer queries quicker, and that was really even before we had the HubSpot integration.


Just that flexibility that we had, started to mean that simple things like when people were away, we could make sure there was really good tiering on making sure we’re answering the phone after certain rings.


We had a starting point to actually make a difference for our customers.


Talk to me about that difference, let's start from a sales point of view?


From a sales point of view? Well first of all we answered the phones! [laughs] That was a good start. But the main one was customer service. We started to really get much better feedback from our clients that hey, this is really great I’m actually getting dealt with quicker. 


Also what we were surprising our clients with was they could actually deal with other people from the team with what they knew because they had one point of contact. So people’s queries were getting answered a lot quicker which was fantastic.  Overall the client experience was just remarkably different.


Going back to a sales point of view.. One of the things we found really useful was we could actually better measure our incoming calls, and from that it meant that we could report on the number of enquiries and the number of leads. 


Beforehand, it was becoming a little bit ad-hoc on whether we were recording stuff in our CRM properly. Whereas if someone phoned the default number, we could measure the ROI on any marketing activities we were doing. So that was really useful for us and we could link it through google my business and tag it. 


And what about the RightWay team, what kind of response did you notice when you implemented Cradle? 


For our accounting team in particular they found it a really good experience, and really useful.  Then we had people like our business partners who were very mobile phone heavy; with clients mobile phones were the way to get hold of them, so that was a bit of a change and a bit of a hurdle to get over.


But on the whole, they did find it a lot easier to pick up the phone, connect with our customers but also hand off calls when needed. 


Let’s get into the star of the show, Xero. Talk to me about the impact it’s had on your business?


To say that Xero’s played quite a significant role in this business would be an understatement.


When we started at RightWay, it was just at the forefront of when Xero was really taking off in New Zealand. 


The founders of RightWay went to the second ever Xero-Con. Xero has this big party each year -  it’s now in flash places like New Orlean - but this one was in Taupo, and so they went to the second ever one of it and said look, this is going to change the nature of how accounts work with our clients. 


I’m going to need to see a photo.


No chance. 


Found one. Nice moves. 


From that, we really went into bed fully with Xero and became a Xero-only practice. 


We were probably the first, or one of the first globally to be a Xero-owned business. These days around 60% of New Zealand businesses are on Xero, back then it was five or 10%, it was very early days. 


Xero was a great success story and it was one we wanted to be a part of. 


It was very much geared around New Zealand business, and was very client driven in the sense that a lot of clients would be going to their accountant and saying ‘Hey, I’ve heard of this Xero thing, it looks great - can I do it?’ and the accountant groups were like ‘Whoah, no we're not ready, we can’t do that.’


But for those who were champing at the bit for Xero, RightWay was ready. So we picked up a huge amount of business. 


Since then, Xero has become a foundational part of our business. It’s integral in how we communicate with our clients; we have one system and that system is super simple. 


We also feel we’re pretty up there in the sense of our technical knowledge of how Xero works. We’re able to offer great advice on all the features and the development Xero put in to make sure clients utilise Xero really well from a time perspective and a data management point of view - so they’re getting the results and insights they need for their business. 


Can you give me an example of that?


Sure. I had a client, a builder, who joined us last year. He joined because he was looking for more support in understanding his margins and also growing a profitable business for him and his family.


When we took a look at his account, we saw he would only update his Xero every two months for GST.  ‘Well I just do it for my GST.’ And I said, well, no, we need to do this for you. I don’t care about the IRD, we need to use these insights for you and your business growth. 


That’s a pretty common view we get with new clients; ‘This is just for my accounts’ or ‘it’s for the accountant’, or ‘it’s for the IR.’ But the real power is to go, yeah the GST stuff is a by-product; what this actually tells us is the insights, the result sheets of your business. It’s the financial outcome of all those things you do, all the sales, all the customers you’re dealing with, all the purchasing decisions you make there; this gives us an indication of what’s working, what might need some more focus.


Xero’s got some great tools to help show data in different ways; revenue by store, your profits by store, your sales channel, all those things which can unlock better decisions for our clients. 


Utilising Xero is a huge tool in your tool belt, but you’ve got to use it like any other tool.


Builder pun, great.


Yeah I had to get something in there. 


So you’ve been using Cradle and its integration with Xero for a few years now, what comes to mind when you think of the two together?


The word I would use is seamless.


Xero for us is completely part of the RightWay DNA; it’s how we work with our clients. And after five years of working with Cradle, it’s become part of the furniture in a good way. 


It’s a big part of our everyday tools, it’s ingrained in how we work with our clients, deal with our phone calls, whether that’s from a call management and routing point of view.


There’s no doubt the integration with HubSpot has made that adoption quicker and more beneficial. The ability to be able to just type someone's name and their number comes up, makes it incredibly simple. 


There’s no doubt the development that Cradle has made with our systems has made massive gains to make that seamless experience to connect with our clients. 

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