Bridge to Health is an osteopathic and multi-therapy clinic with centres in Ealing and Uxbridge. After two years of working together came the coronavirus crisis and what clinic owner Mathieu Rossano described as the “acid test” of our relationship.
Mathieu asked us for our help in putting together an application for funding under the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Harwood Hutton’s Jonny Hague and Tom Gooder helped Mathieu pull together the core information required by the banks and help draft the all-important accompanying narrative.
“In my hour of need, Jonny and Tom stepped forward magnificently,” said Mathieu. “They were unstinting in guiding me through the CBILS process and helping me to produce the right information to support the proposal. Together, we looked carefully at how Bridge to Health can deal with the disruption and the effect on cash flow and take a careful and sensible view of revenue moving forward.”
Bridge to Health was launched in 2007 and appointed Harwood Hutton as its accountant in 2018. “Looking back over the past two years, I realise just how much Harwood Hutton has contributed to our development and professionalization,” said Mathieu.
“The initial meeting with Jonny Hague was a taste of things to come. Apart from some very apt comments about our bookkeeping and commercial performance, Jonny zeroed in on two key areas that could imperil our standing and future performance.
“Jonny suggested the tightening of language in our contracts to confirm our contractors were not employees, and he highlighted a revenue tracking issue that would help stop us pricing ourselves out of the market by having to charge VAT on some therapies.
“Such insight suggests you just have crossed the dividing line between an ‘institutional accountant’ and a potential strategic management partner. My mind was made up to hire them and in the first year of our association, the benefits of Harwood Hutton’s input filtered into many areas of the business.”
Mathieu described how Xero accounting posts were rationalised, how treatment tracking was modified so the discreet contribution of each therapist could be assessed, and how Xero was synchronised with the clinic’s banking statements, enabling the clinic manager to increase accuracy, eliminate all delays and bring bookkeeping up to real-time.
There was also a full overview of Bridge to Health’s profit extraction methods, encompassing salaries, dividends and benefits in kind, with the aim of maximising any available tax efficiencies.
“On a routine basis and wherever required, our clinic manager Susan finds excellent support and input from Harwood Hutton’s bookkeeping team, increasing the accuracy and saliency of our bookkeeping,” said Mathieu. “Most significantly, we schedule quarterly review meetings – key milestones in the management and planning process for the business – where I am held to account on my decisions, planning objectives and investment plans. This is profoundly healthy, because otherwise, I would be left to my own devices as a business owner, practice principal and clinician – i.e. both poacher and gamekeeper!
“The meetings are very professionally run and are preceded by an agenda that is agreed collegiately, tightly timed and run and followed promptly by minutes to support a continuum of traceability and accountability.
“But the coronavirus crisis has been the acid test of our relationship. Tom Gooder contributed his wealth of banking and finance experience to help me build and articulate the business case for my CBILS loan application, and Jonny helped me talk through and present the assumptions and projections of the 12 months P&L forecast central not only for the loan application but also for my business recovery plan.”
“As I look at the protracted business recovery phase beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, I know I will have able, seasoned business advisers alongside me that understands my business inside-out and who will support me with both integrity and commitment toward full recovery. In Harwood Hutton, I see a partner that is a strategic asset.”
Jonny Hague said: “The owners of small businesses often see accountants as a cost centre, focussed mainly on ensuring compliance with accounts and tax filing requirements and deadlines. I believe the true role of an accountant should be to maximise the wealth of their clients, and to that end, I see myself as a profit centre for business owners like Mathieu.”
As well as osteopathic treatment (including cranial osteopathy), the therapies offered by Bridge to Health include acupuncture, Alexander Technique, counselling (including child counselling), nutrition, perinatal yoga, Pilates and therapeutic massage. Follow Bridge to Health on Facebook @bridgetohealthosteo for health advice and exercise videos; for an appointment, contact Mathieu on 01895 2000 50 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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