The Mouse Over with Ralph Smith of Do My Books

Sep 29, 2012   //   by Helen   //   The Mouse Over  //  No Comments

Business Contact Details

Name: Ralph Smith
Title: Managing Director
Business Name: Do My Books Limited

Business BIO:

Do My Books is a firm of incorporated public accountants. We specialise in online accounting and using technology to provide customers with the real time business information they need to be profitable.



Q: What are you doing now?

I am sitting in the passenger seat in my wife’s car, travelling at 120kph on the M6. We have a new baby and I try to bring them both with me on business travel. Today I have been meeting existing clients and pitching to new clients in Dublin. With offices in both Dublin and Galway, I travel between the two cities on a weekly basis.

Q: What’s your typical work day?

I’m lucky in that almost every day is different. Some days I go out training on compliance or software packages. Other days I stay in the office and work at my desk. I’m quite sociable so I don’t like spending too much time in the office. I have a book keeper and a tax consultant working with me so time spent on office work is minimal. I prefer to spend time looking after my clients and discovering new business software and technology. We’re lucky enough to have some European clients so I often have Skype conference calls and training sessions in the afternoon.

Q: What’s your favourite aspect of work?

My favourite aspect of my work is working with people. I love going out and meeting my clients and colleagues. I’ve been told I’m not a ‘typical’ accountant in that respect as accountants can often be slightly introverted.

I also like working with the latest technology, we use two online accounting packages Xero and Sort My Books. We have also recently put some of our clients on Plendi which uses smart phones to capture receipts bringing us closer to the coveted paperless office.

Q: What is your background?

I originally studied mechanical engineering which gave me a good grounding in problem solving. I didn’t do too much work in that area and worked in retail management just after college. One of my retail roles involved accountancy, which I enjoyed, so I decided to get an accountancy qualification. Once I had qualified as an accountant, I realised the only way I would be happy would be if I was working for myself. So two years ago I bit the bullet and started out in practice part time with one client! Thankfully things have grown since then and I now have a reasonable book of clients.

Q: What’s the best thing that happened in the last year?

Best thing in the last year was of course, my daughter Róisín being born. Not work related I know, but what can I say, I’m a proud dad!

Q: What is your best source of new business/ new members?

My best source of new business is personal networking and client referrals.  We work hard to give our clients an excellent service and they repay us by recommending us to friends and colleagues.

Q: How do you communicate with your customers?

I like to meet my clients in person as much as possible, but given the online nature of our business, that not always necessary. In that case we use Skype, as the screen sharing feature is excellent for collaboration.

Q: What does customer service mean to you?

Customer Care means meeting and exceeding clients’ expectations with an outstanding service. We try as much as possible to operate on a fixed price basis so our clients get no surprise bills.

Q: How do you use the internet in your business?

We use the internet extensively with “Xero” and “Sort my books” online accounting and capsule for our CRM needs. Accessing real-time information from any internet enabled device is a one of the main benefits of hiring Do My Books online accountants.

Q: What form of business planning do you use?

I’m in the middle of reading “Adapt – Why success always starts with a failure” by Tim Harford which aligns quite well with our business planning process. Our planning process is sometimes based on trial and error. I like to try something out for a month or two first as a trial period. I personally don’t agree with sticking rigidly to a business plan. It’s better to be lean and react to events as they occur. For that reason I have our business structured with no debts or external investment.

Q: Any low brow vices? Jedward? Coronation Street? McDonalds?

I’m a little bit of a petrol head and tend to let my heart choose my cars as opposed to my bank balance. But since becoming a dad I’ve become a little more sensible.

Q: What does innovation mean to you?

To me innovation involves constantly investigating and researching the latest technologies to assist my clients’ business.

Q: How do you handle negative feedback from customers?

I think negative feedback should be seen as a guide to improvement. If the client isn’t happy, then it’s time to look at why we let them down and work on improving our processes.

Q: Is business networking, either online and / or offline, of benefit to you?

Yes both! I have a lot of clients from Twitter and personal networking.

Q: Best time management tip?

Use Xero and Sort My Books to and automate your accounting.

Q: Is there anything that defeats you?

I can be a terrible procrastinator. Sometimes I focus and get things done, some days I squander hours on end online.

Ralph, thanks for an insight into the the art of accounting in the online world.
I’m sure readers will join me in wishing you continued success. 
Got any questions or comments for Ralph? 
Then please let us know in the comments below  ~ Helen.

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