Clerik Business Solutions are business management consultants focused on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that power the UK economy. The company works with owner-managers or directors to identify solutions to improve and grow their businesses. As most SMEs battle the daily pressure to drive sales and improve cash flow unfortunately other aspects of their businesses suffer. Clerik Business Solutions has designed pro-active and practical solutions to get these businesses on track. Herts Review spoke exclusively to the Founders, Peter Hall, and Mike Douglas about their passion for SMEs and plans for the future.
Peter and Mike have extensive experience in the corporate world. They both held senior management positions in the financial services sector. They have also successfully run and sold various businesses. While working on another business involved in autoenrollment of SMEs pensions, they observed that the SME market has been underserved from a business advisory perspective.
“A lot of the businesses we spoke to were good at service delivery. That was their core competence. They knew about the other administrative and strategic elements of the business but did not know how to go about it. An estimated 75% of these companies had Accountants that only focused on compliance stuff – annual returns, preparation of financial statements and self-assessment. Their accountants had little input in the sales numbers, the cashflow position or supporting the businesses to achieve their goals. So, we set out our consultancy to fill this space. There are 5.4 million SME’s in the UK which account for 99% of all businesses. That is an outstanding number” says Peter.
“Since we started out our main challenge has been articulating the enormity of the task and how to design and develop the right solutions to support these businesses. Both of us cannot serve this massive market so we have worked extensively on building the right team and networks to support us. Finding the right people that believe in our vision and want to maintain the high standards we have set has not been easy. It has been a big task of trying to pull it all together” remarks Mike.
Usually most of these businesses are set up based on an idea or skill. Other structures for running the business successfully may be non-existent as they experience growth. Clerik’s solutions for SMEs covers sales & marketing, strategy & planning, time management, risk review and helping these businesses to secure grants or business relief. “We have a hands-on approach to helping businesses get and retain customers, access funding for growth and expansion, save money as well as minimize their risk so they operate efficiently” says Peter.
Clerik has developed 62 trusted business solutions to support SMEs across the UK. Its services are divided into two main categories – Working in Partnership Programme (a Retainer Package) and the Clerik Business Club (monthly subscription). The Working in Partnership Programme (WIPP) provides tailored business solutions to SMEs with turnover of £0.5m to £20m. Clerik Business Club is an affordable solution even for the one-man business. The monthly subscription starts from £59 per month.
“We know that cashflow is one of the main challenges to SMEs, the Clerik Business Club solves that problem by offering solutions that are affordable for all. We expect businesses to start with the Clerik Business Club, get results and then upgrade to the Working in Partnership Programme” says Mike.
Mike and Peter are supported by a team of 9 other senior consultants and 35 other associates that are specialists in various fields. “As we are based in London, our primary focus is on the South East. To deliver our services, we go into the company to understand their processes and talk to people working in various departments. It is key we understand the challenges the business is facing to design the right solutions. We do not have all the answers and that is why we have many associates to draw on their expertise and for knowledge sharing” says Mike.
“We assign a dedicated professional consultant to each client that advices and assists them on a day to day basis. Our associates are specialist in their fields, and they complement the activities of the consultants which allows us to provide the best solutions. This means the business can focus on achieving their goals knowing that other aspects are taken care of” says Peter.
The founders have ambitious targets for Clerik. They are looking to grow their consultancy by taking on more clients. Currently, a lot of their business comes through recommendations from businesses they have worked with and through relationships they have built over time. “From our experience, after speaking to various SMEs, we acknowledge that we need more education for the SME community. For instance, most businesses we speak to assume they have a marketing problem i.e. they don’t have enough customers. When we do a deep dive, we sometimes discover they have a huge customer attrition rate which means they are not looking after their existing customers well enough to provide other services” says Peter.
“Our approach is to get a toe in the door by helping SMEs with one aspect of their business. As soon as they see results then we will extend other services to them. We are building relationships with Chambers of Commerce, Accountancy firms that do not offer advisory services and are making more investments in marketing. We expect to see results in the coming months” says Mike.
For SMEs that are struggling or need help with a road map to get back on track, the team at Clerik Business Solutions are available to assist you. Contact them here.