How Oyster Hub added 42% additional revenue during the coronavirus pandemic
When he is asked to describe Oyster Hub, the accounting firm that he co-founded three years ago, Adarsh Dutt is quick to respond.
“We help businesses manage and generate cash flow, whilst also giving the people behind the business time to enjoy the joys of life," he says. "We allow people to use their business as a tool for their lifestyle, and to do more of what they love doing.”
That focus on helping their clients to use their business as a vehicle to gain more fulfullment in their lives—however that might be achieved—has remained central to the Oyster Hub mission throughout Adarsh and his team's journey.
The gift of time
Oyster Hub was established when Adarsh and Vik Naidu identified a gap in the accounting and advisory industry.
“Too many small business owners work long hours and almost seven days a week,” says Adarsh. “They are stressed, unhappy, and never have enough time to enjoy their lives. We are humans, not robots. And we need to use the time that we have on the things that we love doing the most.”
“I do a lot of research about technology, automation, and time-saving systems, and I knew that there was a great opportunity to help these people.”
Adarsh and Vik established Oyster Hub based on their philosophy that time is the most important thing that humans have. And their top objective is to give their clients’ more of it.
“We teach our clients how to utilize modern technology to gain more time so that they can enjoy the most important things in their life.”
“When it is used in the right context, technology can help mental wellbeing and give more time to do the things we love. That’s the philosophy we have and that’s why we named our firm Oyster Hub. The world is an oyster, and we help you find the pearl,” says Ardesh.
This mindset is proving effective. In 2020, the Oyster Hub team and Adarsh received 6 nominations in the Australian Accounting Awards.
Practicing what they preach
Oyster Hub has grown quickly in its short three years, and one of the key reasons is that they live by their own philosophy.
As well as empowering their clients through technology, they invest in systems to automate their own processes.
“Sometimes I’m talking to a client who is stressed trying to juggle their role between business owner and employee, and trying to do everything themselves,” says Adarsh. “I show them how we do things, and how much we automate.”
“I demonstrate how we combine TSheets, QuickBooks, and Receipt Bank to save about two months in a year. And they can do the same.”
At the center of the internal operations of Oyster Hub is Karbon, which they use for work management, internal communications and email.
“Everything is done through Karbon,” says Adarsh. “We have notes on work, comments on emails, tasks, and every chain of communication stored. We manage so many small businesses, but it’s easy for us to find whatever we need.”
“If someone spends several hours on a Karbon work item, that time is sent straight to TSheets. We know how much time has been spent and can measure it in terms of how productive we are. Then we know if we are pricing our services appropriately.”
“More importantly, we can drive staff training and development to increase our own efficiencies, and pass on the cost-savings to our clients.”
What happens when a pandemic hits?
In early 2020, as the coronavirus crisis quickly escalated, Adarsh was holidaying in his country of birth, Fiji. After quickly boarding the next flight back to Australia, he was forced to quarantine at his home for 14 days.
“We had no idea what was going to happen,” he says. “Overnight we had to move all of our staff to work from home.”
Despite the uncertainty and global chaos, the Oyster Hub team enjoyed a smooth transition.
“We already managed everything in Karbon and all of our other systems are cloud-based too,” Adarsh says. “So accessing all of this from our homes was a seamless exercise. The only difference was that our morning meetings moved to Zoom.”
“Karbon gave us the flexibility to work from home. It didn’t matter where we were, we discovered that we could work from any location and maintain efficiency.”
Managing 350+ new business client inquiries
Despite a smooth transition to remote work, Adarsh and his team were faced with a separate coronavirus-related challenge—a sudden influx of new clients.
“When the Australian Government announced their stimulus packages we received more than 350 new business client inquiries,” he says. “We had a duty to our current clients, hundreds of new inquiries, a team working from home, and I was in self-isolation.”
“But thanks to Karbon, we got through it. New leads came in, the team was notified of the work scope, and everything was managed from within Karbon.”
“In 28 days we raised invoices for new client work, which increased our revenue by 42%. To put it simply, if we didn’t have everything organized in Karbon, that wouldn’t have been possible.”
Adarsh says that most of their new clients already had accountants, but they weren’t happy with the service they were being provided.
“I know that their old accountants had a lot of knowledge, but they didn’t have the systems to accommodate an increase in workload,” he says. “And if we didn’t have a scalable system, where we could replicate processes for different clients, we would be in the same situation.”
"It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you can’t solve a client’s problems better than the other person, you will not get that client. And luckily for us, we were equipped to solve these kinds of problems".
Workflow is the key
Adarsh says that having the systems to manage their workflow effectively has enabled Oyster Hub to scale without the challenges that plague many other growing practices.
“The most important thing for accounting firms is how their workflow is managed,” he says. “If you don’t have the right system for your workflow you won’t be able to serve your clients well.”
“All our templates are in Karbon. We have automatic tasks sent to clients, and if they are delayed they get automated reminders too. Not only does this save us time, but our clients appreciate it too. They’re not used to the level of contact that we are able to provide them.”
“I’m not an organized person. But that doesn’t matter because Karbon does the organizing for me. Everything is there, which allows us to meet accounting compliance and documentation obligations with ease. Even if I am going through my emails in bed and a new job comes in, I can create a work item, add a note, and the next day nothing will be missed.”
Automating the work of two staff members
Oyster Hub’s investment in Karbon actually saves them money in the long-term, automating work that would otherwise require the services of additional staff.
“The value we get from Karbon is worth every cent,” Adarsh says. “It saves a lot of time and work for us.”
“Karbon is saving me more than $100,000 a year. If we didn’t have Karbon, we’d need at least another two full-time staff members.”
The extra time that the Oyster Hub team has, combined with one scalable system that contains their most important information, allows them to provide a better service to their clients.
“It’s not just the automation,” Adarsh says. “Having everything in one place makes us more efficient. Emails come through, we put all the notes on there, we add a photo of each client so we remember them because we are growing so quickly.”
“Karbon helps me add more value to my clients, be more client-facing, and have more strategic conversations.”
Added 42% of new client work in 28 days
Managed over 350 new business client inquiries with a remote team
Automated the work of 2 full-time staff members
Saved over $100,000 in staff and opportunity costs