It’ll be no surprise to our clients – business owners all – that growing Crunch has been a huge challenge. The most challenging aspect of Crunch, however, is that the challenge never ends! What we’re building is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s not just a bit of accounting software; it’s not just a small business accountancy firm. It’s both of those things, everything in between, and much more besides.

The reason I’ve chosen to take to the blog and write about this is that we’ve introduced a lot of changes to the Crunch service in recent weeks (and there are more yet to come) and it’s important to us that our clients understand why we take these decisions.

Before we get to that, you need to understand why change is an important part of our service. Crunch was set up to be the antithesis to dusty, expensive, visit-once-a-month, bill-by-the-hour traditional accountants – and one thing traditional accountants hate is change. They want to keep the same group of high-value clients, use the same software forever, and always keep their Fridays free for golf.

Building a service that fixes these problems is not enough. Crunch will never be ‘finished’ – to remain the best solution for freelancers, contractors and small businesses we need to constantly iterate, tweak and refine. To coin a rather cliched phrase, the perfect Crunch service is not a destination, it’s a journey.

We recognise that sometimes people will not like these changes. Some of our recent updates have provoked strong reactions from our clients – and that’s great. We need feedback, good and bad. If we mess up (which happens sometimes) we’ll always put our hands up and do our best to fix things.

We recently turned off the paper bank reconciliation feature in an attempt to get more people to move to statement upload reconciliation (it’s more accurate and results in fewer errors). We underestimated how much people needed this feature, and lots of you told us off in the Help Centre. We’ve now reached a happy middle-ground – this is the kind of process that is hugely important to us.

Each and every change we make is to improve Crunch as a whole. We’re not chasing profits, and we’re not trying to please some greedy investors by hitting growth targets. What we’re trying to do right now is build the very best small business accountancy service in the world.

(The profits and greed will come later.)

Being everything to everyone

We know that Crunch needs to be more extensible, more customisable, more flexible. Every business is different and, even though we’ve always pitched ourselves as the “everything under one roof” accountancy solution, there are some things we simply can’t fit under our roof. This is why we’ve recently been launching a selection of add-ons that improve upon our core services. We’ve been putting these together on the basis that we have 4,500 clients, and all that buying power can help reduce costs significantly.

Here’s an example – lots of our clients have been asking for proactive tax planning services for their companies and themselves. Crunch is great at taking care of all your business accounting and tax obligations, but these clients were asking for proactive, complex advice – which we simply can’t do at a £64.50 per month price point. We soft-launched a standalone product to address this but got the pitch totally wrong – people thought we were introducing a paywall meaning they had to pony up an extra fee before speaking to an accountant. We went back to the drawing board and we’ll shortly be launching our new, hopefully-correctly-positioned service.

This optional service will be priced at £74.50+VAT – amazing value when you consider that a High Street accountant would charge hundreds of pounds for a similar service.

Comparison of receipt scanning servicesAnother difficult choice we made recently was moving Snap from a model that provided free but heavily limited access for all, to one that provides unlimited access, but for a small fee. Obviously those who used Snap now and again will be disappointed, but the people who constantly told us they wanted more capacity to go Snap-mad will now be satisfied.

We launched Snap in an open beta almost two years ago because we knew we wanted it to be part of Crunch, but we didn’t really know what to do with it. It’s taken since then – and tens of thousands of pounds in running costs – for us to decide how it best fits into our big picture.

Snap Unlimited, when it launches in a few weeks, will cost just £5.50 a month, around half that of a standalone receipt scanning service. We’ve been able to achieve this lower price on the basis of our huge client numbers, and we’ve launched it because we genuinely believe it will make Crunch a better, more flexible accountancy service.

All aboard

The next year is going to be an incredibly exciting time for us, and we plan to introduce many more additional services to make Crunch accessible to even more industries. Just remember that our core product – great accounting software with a team of experts at your beck and call for a flat fee – will only ever get better.

There have been plenty of changes recently, and there’s more to come. But that’s what we’re all about. If you feel one of the changes has dramatically impacted your Crunch experience we want to know about it. If we’ve called it wrong – as we did in the case of paper bank reconciliation – then we’ll address it, learn from it, and get it right next time.

Photo by Jes