With a stint in the Air Force and a souped-up 1965 Falcon XP, Matt Jeavons isn’t your stereotypical bookkeeper. But that’s exactly why his clients love him. After he was told to trade in his Harley Davidson for a nice ‘professional’ vehicle, he bought a classic car to do up, started drag racing, and began winning new business wherever he went. We caught up with him to see how going his own way led to success.
You’ve had an interesting career, could you tell us about it?
When I was kid, I dreamt of being a fighter pilot. I studied hard at school to get the grades needed to join the Australian Defence Force Academy. I ended up acing my exams and they accepted me. However, I soon realised I hated it and after completing the initial 6-week training I left.
Being great with numbers and in need of work, I managed to get a job as an accounts payable clerk at the same company my mum worked at. There I worked alongside two senior accountants who were great mentors and I quickly climbed the ranks. I then took up a role as an assistant accountant at a large window manufacturer before landing a dream job as a field auditor at Foot Locker. The role involved a lot of travel setting up the financial and administrative systems and process for new stores across Australia, New Zealand and Guam. It was awesome, but after ten years of working hard and playing harder, I wanted to spend more time with my young family. So, I opened my own bookkeeping franchise.
So how did you go about winning new clients?
I used to ride around on a Harley Davidson when I was establishing my business, but the powers that be didn’t think it looked professional so they advised me to get a sensible car. Around the same time a friend introduced me to drag racing. He’d moved into my neighbourhood and was looking for new mates, so I agreed to join him at a race at Willowbank. I was instantly hooked! As a bit of speed freak, I thought: “wow, now I can go as fast as I like without getting in trouble”. As luck would have it, a beautiful 1965 Falcon XP was up for sale so I snapped it up, covered it in business signage, and used it for racing and work.
It’s a distinctive set of wheels and it wasn’t long before car enthusiasts started calling me to compliment my motor. Soon enough, I was converting them into clients. Realising I was on to a good thing, I started targeting mechanics and motor industries with great success. Today, fifty-percent of my business comes from these clients. Even my more conservative ones love it when I rock up in my Falcon. In some cases, they’ve even brought their motorsports mad kids into the office to see my car! My hobby has really helped me to stick in their mind for all the right reasons.
What is it about motorsports that gets your heart racing?
Apart from the obvious thrill of rocketing from 0-200km in lighting speed, it’s learning the mechanics of how to make my car go faster on a budget. When I started drag racing I blew up my first engine quite quickly but I wasn’t too bothered because failure is part of success. So, I bought another engine and spent hours researching it online before covering myself in grease learning how to fit parts to make it go better. Most of the work I do myself but some things I have to outsource if I want to stand up to the competition — and that can get expensive. But in my eyes, it’s a small price to pay for doing what I love. (I’m not sure my partner sees it that way though!)
Apart from winning clients, do motorsports bring any other benefits to your work as a bookkeeper?
While bookkeeping is different to screaming down a race track full throttle, there’s a similar logic behind both that I find rewarding. You need a good grasp of numbers to successfully engineer a motor, and like bookkeeping, if you follow a formula the results are black and white. However, it’s the smell of motor oil and the excitement of thinking how much time I could shave off the clock with my handy work that really helps me tune out.
Do you think it’s important for bookkeepers to have outside interests?
Absolutely, as much as I love helping my client’s businesses grow I need to get away to recharge. And for me, there really is nothing quite like the smell of burning rubber to make me feel alive!
Matt Jeavons is a highly personable First Class Accounts bookkeeper. He prides himself on building long-term relationships with clients through trustworthy bookkeeping and high-quality financial solutions.
This feature was originally published on Xero’s blog here:https://www.xero.com/blog/2017/08/secret-life-bookkeepers-racing-matt-jeavons/