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Bringing a regional care franchise and its finances to life

Bringing a regional care franchise and its finances to life
Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Greg Renk is managing director of Walfinch Mid- and South Buckinghamshire, part of a national franchise which provides personalised home care support services across the UK. Panthera has been his accounting partner since the start, helping him to plan and bring the new business to life.

Getting off the ground

The Walfinch franchise owner introduced Greg to Panthera Accounting in 2020. First, it helped him to tune his business model and forecast effectively. This was particularly important due to the complexities of the care sector.

Greg recalled that “Panthera helped me a lot in the early months. Starting this type of firm is complex, and there was a lot to take in around service delivery. I’m not sure how much head space I had for finances! I needed an enormous amount of trust in the people I was working with. Not only do Panthera really know what they are doing they are very refreshing, compared with accountants I’ve worked with in the past.”

The business began delivering services in January 2021 after receiving Care Quality Commission certification. Panthera has supported its core accounting and finance needs throughout a successful first year in operation and continues to provide Greg with financial counsel and business advice.

A thoroughly modern business

Greg ran a successful business in London for many years, so he knew how to manage business finances. But he knew that things would need to be done differently this time around. He explained: “I understood all about VAT, PAYE and company tax returns. Working with an accountant was not new. But this required a transition from old to new practices. My immediate perception was that Panthera was modern, more flexible, and could help me through the transition to digital finance.”

The business was founded with the intention to be paperless and embrace digital efficiencies where possible. Greg told us “The aim is not just to be paperless on the client side, with secure digital care plans, but on the financial side. Panthera helped me transition from paper invoices and lever-arch files to using Xero for accounting with Dext for digital receipts. It all works beautifully with my Starling Bank mobile app.” 

Panthera organised coaching sessions to show him how to gain maximum value and business visibility from Xero. They illustrated how to generate management information, and how his bookkeeper could use Xero to work effectively with Richard Towens, his client account manager. Greg reflected: “At the start of a new business, you don’t have a feel for the figures. You forecast and create budgets, but they aren’t real until you’re in operation. I had a series of meetings with Panthera that took me through each stage of learning to use Xero.”

Building firm financial foundations

One of the first priorities was to take the estimated forecasts, test them and personalise them to the local geography. “At the very start all I had was the core franchise forecast, so I asked Panthera for some support in forecasting. I had to shape the initial figures to fit Mid and South Buckinghamshire.”

One key factor was the high costs of staffing and recruitment in Buckinghamshire. Another was the Local Authority care rate, which varies around the UK. This must be factored in, since care businesses usually derive income from two sources, including council as well as private clients.

Panthera helped Greg to understand what to factor into his business model and the cashflow impact of different scenarios. He recalled: “I had to shape the business and understand what its income would be with different scenarios. What if we had 50% private clients and 50% Local Authority – and what would change if the balance were 70:30 or 60:40?  I needed Panthera’s help to put more depth behind the headline figures.” 

Working through the model enabled Greg to plan. “It helped me decide what I needed to put into the business. Panthera helped ensure I had a picture six, nine and twelve months ahead.”

Keeping pace with growth

Ongoing and regular interaction with his accountancy team has helped Greg steer a steady course in the crucial first year. “Knowing that I have a professional and flexible accounting firm gives me confidence. That really matters. In this business we are dealing with human beings, and the phones are open fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. We need our partners to be flexible too.” 

The business has grown fast, which itself brings new challenges. “We are very much ahead of the forecast now, in terms of the finance and also the numbers of carers and clients” he said.

Greg grew his team to 24 people over just nine months, but the growing payroll administration was easily handled: “Panthera has taken a lot of the headaches away. Payroll could have been difficult with the number of staff we have taken on. Not only is everything managed easily through Xero, but my bookkeeper can simply liaise with Richard as needed on care hours – so the whole process works smoothly.”

Sage advice for entrepreneurs

Greg is clear about the key role that finding a flexible and capable accounting partner has played, stating: “There is no doubt that Panthera invested in me. When I meet with them, I don’t simply get a bill for an hour’s meeting like with previous accountants, because my package is designed to include it. I need to know that when I call for help someone will always respond. With Panthera, it’s all taken care of.” 

“I don’t dread phoning my accountant now, as I did in the old days. Richard is really human, and you can have natural conversations. Of course, figures aren’t always easy, but it’s very easy to pick up the phone. You must put total trust in those you work with, and I feel very comfortable with both Tory and Richard.”

His advice for anyone starting out is equally clear. “It is so important to understand the finances of your business, and any team is only as good as everyone on the pitch. You can’t do this alone. You need good people around you, especially in your accountancy function. Let professionals handle the professional services – you focus on delivering your services and making sure the business is working and growing.” 

What our clients say

For us, there is nothing better than a happy customer. Here are just a few that let us know how much we mean to them.

Pete Dungey

Simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

We found Panthera via our search for a Xero expert. We knew the software we wanted to use, and needed a forward-thinking accountancy partner who could get us up and running, and teach us the ropes moving forward. Tory and her team have always been on hand to answer our questions, and help us to grow as a business, particularly during periods of big change, such as becoming VAT registered. They are always on hand to alleviate any concerns and help to keep our records in order, which makes our year-end accounts an absolute breeze! Being based in Bristol, our relationship is entirely email based, alongside one consolidation meeting at year end - this keeps things simple, efficient and most importantly, hassle-free.

Pete Dungey Kaleido Grafik Limited
Anita van Eijndhoven

Talk Our Language

The support and service we receive from Panthera Accounting is very good. Everything from regular meetings, a prompt e mail response and the transition of our Xero software (which we find very pro active indeed) has and is all remarkably efficient. We find Panthera talk our language and make any process as painless and easy as possible.

Anita van Eijndhoven Quidne-IT
Ash & Tim Lane

Panthera brush aside the stereotype of the typical accountant

We got in touch with Panthera Accounting by way of a recommendation; we haven't looked anywhere else since. They are an extremely professional yet relaxed group of people. We were slightly daunted by the idea of accountants but Panthera brushed aside y the stereotypes. They are very understanding when answering any questions we may have. They are completely efficient, offer sound business advice, and are fantastically priced. We will continue to recommend them.

Ash & Tim Lane Starveacre Fencing
Jayne Johnson

An Asset to my Business!

The whole team at Panthera are great! Working with them has been a huge support to my growing business. They help me to understand the numbers I need to know. They give me technology solutions like Xero so that I can process things quickly and have access to my own figures. They are quick to reply, highly knowledgeable, nothing is too much trouble and as well as making sure that everything is compliant and on time, they are enthusiastic, professional and fun to work with.

Jayne Johnson Better People
John Baker

Absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level

Working with Tory and the team at Panthera is an absolute joy - they provide a first class service on every level; from simple Xero issues through to more complicated tax enquiries, they’re always on-hand to help me get it right. I’m certainly not their biggest customer, but I’m always made to feel like their most important one.

John Baker BKR Solutions
John Castle

Professional and Friendly

I would like to say that Panthera Accounting have helped me with my business accounts for more than 4 years now. They have consistently offered an excellent competitively priced service that works both professionally and in such a friendly way that I would highly recommend them to everyone considering using their services.

John Castle Ilexanna Limited & Birch Castle Homes Limited
Jonathan Morrison

They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues

I had been with Mr Dunn for 20 years when upon his death Panthera took over the business. They now play a bigger part in the running of my business, they do all the stuff that has to be done but I don't like doing ie book keeping, VAT, wages, and returns. They are always there to answer queries and sort out issues and make sure all Tax deadlines are met. Their costs are fair, service is great and I have and would highly recommend them.

Jonathan Morrison Wallingford Builders
Pippa Scott

Professional, friendly and personal service.

Panthera Accounting have gone above and beyond the call of duty to guide and support our Company. They offer a professional, friendly and personal service that can take the stressful and sometimes frightening feelings out of running a business. They have guided us through the working of Xero and have offered “teaching sessions” on the day to day running of the accountancy package. Our only regret is that we didn’t join their team earlier.

Pippa Scott Scott's Commercial Services Limited
Sara Southey

Panthera puts the personal back in to accountancy!

Tory and her team have provided a friendly, approachable and helpful service from the start. They have delivered a quality service, above and beyond anything I could have expected. Panthera, with the help of the Xero package, have taken the stress, strain and confusion out of managing my company and personal accounts. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Sara Southey Bluestones Garden Design
Tracey Miller

Panthera are fantastic.

Panthera are fantastic. Always professional, going the extra mile for their clients and delivering superb service. I recommend them all the time to my clients.

Tracey Miller Bigger, Brighter, Bolder BBB

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