Matthew Hickman, director of Speedy Marquee and Marquee Print, Bournemouth, hails bookkeeper and IAB member, Geoff Young of YoungSmith Co Ltd as an “asset to the business.” He explains why bookkeeping is important to his business.
Managing director Martin Hickman set up family-owned printing enterprise Marquee Print more than 35 years ago, later adding Speedy Marquee, an office supplies business. Both have enjoyed substantial growth, with a combined multi-million pound turnover and 15 employees. Martin’s son Matthew is a director. The company is official stationery supplier to Championship soccer club AFC Bournemouth.
“Our business was named after the Marquee Club in London and we specialise in printing and office supplies. But we get people ringing us up asking for a marquee for the weekend!
“We run the two companies as separate activities. Geoff is our self-employed resident bookkeeper, coming into the office three days a week and working from around 9am-1pm.That is beneficial for us, and also for him because he can go off and work for other clients.
“The work is a bit more complicated for Geoff because he has to deal with two sets of facts and figures. I might be talking to him about print-related invoices one moment and in the next breath about an office supplies invoice.
“We knew of Geoff through a company we dealt with on the print side which he had worked for. He applied for the job and that previous connection helped. He was the perfect person for this role.
“He does everything related to the financial side of both businesses – Vat returns, payroll etc. He compiles all the facts and figures and passes them on to our accounting guy who does the yearly accounts.
“His banking experience is invaluable. A lot of people in the accounts world are a bit insular and not necessarily very customer-focussed.
“He’s very good with customers, speaking to them on our behalf, chasing payments, dealing with queries. He always gets the best out of people with his personality and approach.
“He’s very switched on. We need someone who thinks outside the box. He’s very personable, good with customers, suppliers and staff.
“I’m pretty good but there have been occasions when Geoff has spotted things that have slipped through the net. While we’ve got Geoff doing the books, we can focus on sales and growing the businesses.
“He produces a monthly spread-sheet which enables me to see what our current margins are. It’s in-depth, looking at our purchases and what we’ve sold them for so we can see how we’re doing, relative perhaps to the previous year. We see a breakdown of associated costs such as wages, which is very useful.
“We’ve never had that service before and I don’t think I could live without it now. It’s a bit like a comfort blanket. It’s nice to see in which direction you’re heading and tweaks can be made along the way. If we see margins dropping off, we can ask the question why.
“I would never entertain using an outside bookkeeper, purely because I think it would be too disjointed. Just the thought makes me shudder. That suits some people but with multiple invoices – Speedy Marquee generates 30-40 a day – and 300-350 active accounts, there’s an awful lot of work for Geoff to do.
“Last year, we had our best year ever. We signed up as official stationery supplier to AFC Bournemouth. We had a table of 10 at a recent sportsman’s dinner that was very entertaining. Geoff came along and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“He’s a great member of our team, and an asset to the business. We’re very lucky to have him.”