Adam Pritchard, director of Linford Grey Associates, left a life as a singer-dancer in London’s West End to pursue accounting. His favorite show was ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, which is where he met his wife.
Adam prioritized hiring a marketing person when he started Linford Grey—and it paid off. His firm experienced record growth in a short period of time.
Linford Grey’s preferred vertical is the hospitality industry. Adam takes pride in providing specialized advice based on hospitality’s unique needs.
Adam Pritchard may have left show business, but the spirit of performing remains with him in his day-to-day accounting life.
Early on, Adam recognized that much like show business, accountants need to draw in clients and give them an experience they won’t forget. And it makes sense, given that he got his accounting start backstage. Rather than read a book or work on a crossword, Adam used his downtime between scenes to study accounting and work toward his certification.
In 2016, he founded the accounting firm Linford Grey. Adam chose the name for the famous Lady Jane Grey who was queen for a mere nine days, and for the town where the business is located, Newtown Linford. Linford Grey proudly serves the hospitality industry, a niche that grew organically as Adam built out its client base.
“We know the space. We know the tech. We know how to communicate. But we're not your traditional accountant,” Adam says. “We don't take on ad hoc work from people that just call it upon us to do their statutory accounts. We focus on those relationships that we have.”
On episode 58 of the Accounting Leaders Podcast, Karbon CEO and host Stuart McLeod chats with Adam on the eve of his wedding weekend to his stage sweetheart. Stuart and Adam talk about marketing, career moves, and how to provide the best experience for employees and clients alike.
So how does a guy go from singing and dancing professionally to crunching the numbers?
During a tour of ‘South Pacific’, Adam had enough downtime to start looking at his future options.
“[In South Pacific] the boys are on stage for maybe 40 minutes out of a three-and-a-half-hour show, so I picked up some distance learning on the ACCA because I had A-level and a degree in economics,” he explains.
When it came time to head into the workforce, Adam wanted to stay close to the show business industry. He put his feelers out to multiple film studios for an accountant position. He ended up at River Film, getting a year of experience there. But after getting antsy, he gave River Film an ultimatum: present a new salary offer or he’d move on.
Adam ultimately moved on to a management consultancy. When that job was made redundant, he decided he was ready to strike out on his own.
“That's the point at which I said, ‘Well, I know what I'm doing now. I've got my qualifications. And I think I can do it better.’ I didn't like the way that [the management consultancy] was doing it,” Adam says of that time. “It was boring. It was frustrating. It was slow, and it had very little value. So I thought, ‘I'm gonna try and do this for myself.’”
Typically, many firms struggle to get the word out about their offerings beyond word of mouth from satisfied clients.
But, Adam took note of his performing days. When he started Linford Grey, his first priority was hiring a marketing professional. Choosing to get the word out first paid dividends.
“People are surprised at how fast we've grown over the nearly four years we've been trading. I think there are more traditional accountants out there that would do that growth in 10 years, rather than in four.”
While many accounting firms don’t usually prioritize bringing on a full-time marketing specialist, Adam had good reason to. He couldn’t afford a long lag from starting the business to profitability. He needed to focus on the accounting end of the business so he had a service to sell, while someone else worked on business development and marketing.
The model worked well. Within six to eight months of starting the company, Adam’s books were full and he needed a second accountant. That very first marketing hire continues to work for the company, adding value as Linford Grey fills the remainder of its service capacity.
Recommended reading: Marketing vs. selling: what has the biggest impact on your business?
As a cloud accounting firm, Linford Grey has the flexibility to serve businesses throughout the UK. Over time, a vertical naturally emerged: the hospitality industry.
Especially through the pandemic when hospitality took a big hit, Adam’s work became even more critical. He helps his clients understand their margins—and the margin for failure.
“A lot of the narrative that we see around [hospitality] is that business is coming back, but it's not coming back the way it was pre-pandemic. They're making small losses, breaking even, or making small profits. They're really having to manage the fixed overhead of the business and understand their breakevens to control their margins on the top lines,” Adam says.
Adam takes pride in providing a high level of service for all Linford Grey clients. He appreciates the confidence that comes from providing high-quality analysis and helping clients find the areas where they can improve.
“We ask ourselves the question, ‘What's going to help the client?’ And often, that's not a three-paragraph email that explains to them how their payroll tax is calculated. It's a Loom video that shows them how their payroll tax is calculated. ‘How do we help people?’ Not just ‘How do we process the work?’” Adam shares.
Adam keeps similar tabs on his own business’s health by making the most of KPIs. He likes to use Karbon for monthly and annual targets, as well as making sure his staff gets to tasks in a timely manner.
Adam does his best to keep luck on his side by keeping his team happy. He shares the story of cultivating his youngest staff member.
“She came to us with no skills, having worked for 12 and a half grand a year for the last three years. We got her a proper job and invested in her education. And now, just a few short months later, she’s buying her first-ever house,” Adam says.
Even while giving raises to keep up with the rising cost of living, Adamstill has the capacity to take on more clients. However, he accepts that not everyone will stick around—and that’s okay.
“If you aren't growing and want to move on, our aim is to send you into the world thinking of Linford Grey as the place where you learned your trade,” he says. “We want them to see it as a reputable practice that you can think fondly of and would recommend and trust.”