Sam Newton is the founder of Gravitate Accounting and the 2023 Yorkshire Accountant of the Year award winner
I set up my practice three years ago with another ACCA member Mike Crocker. I used to work for a practice that was well on its digital journey, but it was still traditional in some respects. Attending Xerocon one year, I saw all the opportunities coming in and that the entry barriers were fairly low. I wanted to take the opportunities that would come with a 100% digital practice, and it was a good opportunity to put my stamp on something offering more of a relationship-led accountancy practice.
We were motivated to enter awards when we saw a similar-sized practice in Sheffield win an award two years ago. Since then we’ve entered awards and had been shortlisted but never won. We had some feedback that our applications needed more information so that the judges could understand the practice. We also learnt that although sending in your nomination in the form of a short video seems the more modern route, the judges can’t get the information they need that way – they need a longer written application to understand your journey.
Many accountants are not good at self-promotion – we certainly weren’t - but one of our clients is a copywriter so we talked with her about the work that we’ve done and she was able to capture that so we could really tell our story and show our achievements in the application for the Yorkshire Accountancy Awards.
We also put in an entry for the team award and Gravitate was shortlisted for Small Firm of the Year but we didn’t win this time. Going forward, we’ll be more focussed on team awards, employer awards and client service awards – we really want to get some appreciation for the hard work that everybody puts in.
One of the good things about entering awards is that as you work through the application form, you see what they’re looking for. Working our way through an application form for a customer service award last year, we realised that a lot of that is centred around the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and that it was something that we needed to be doing. So we did our research and in the past year we’ve done two customer feedback reviews and seen our NPS increase to +89. Now we have the data to show how strong our client relationships are and we’re ready to put in an entry for the Accounting Excellence Client Service Award.”