Case Study

Case study: Flow Works Bookkeeping and Consulting

Joe Griffin
Joe Griffin

Sara Gibb is a bookkeeper based on Vancouver Island. She has seen her business, Flow Works Bookkeeping and Consulting, grow from a one-woman show to a thriving small firm, with 40 clients. 

And she recently won a Sage Circle of Excellence Award for Best Bookkeeping Partner of the Year.

Sara was initially employed as a bookkeeper for 2 construction companies on Vancouver Island. But circumstances changed and she ended up setting up her own business with those construction companies among her first clients. 

Sara works predominantly with cloud applications. Sage is her accounts package of choice and she’s a big fan of AutoEntry. 

The problem with paper

This will sound familiar: data entry was taking too long and lost or damaged documents needed to be re-issued. There were also logistical issues relating to storage.

When it comes to losing receipts and mislaying paperwork, Sara says that the construction industry who make up several of her clients can be especially challenging. Their work involves frequent travelling from site to site, endless purchases of items big and small (from huge lumber orders to last-minute hardware purchases) and numerous people making purchases and sales. As Sara puts it: “Those guys lose everything!”  

Like many of us, Sara also works a lot from home and wanted to decrease the volume of paperwork (such as boxes of receipts) dropped to her house. She says that keeping physical paperwork under control is “even more important now that my office is in my home. I don’t want their stuff here! Because once they give it to you, they never want it back.”

Like many successful business people, Sara also faced scaling challenges: meeting clients face to face can take anything from 5 minutes to almost an hour. 

AutoEntry helped address all of these issues. 

Getting started with automation

Most of our customers start out with AutoEntry by uploading their own personal documents and letting automation take over some of their data entry.

Sara took a different approach. From the outset, Sara decided to use the tech with one of her own clients first (with their permission, of course) as a test case. This gave her a very realistic feel for how the software works in real terms.

“Once you have worked through their books,” she says, “take some time to look at what went well and what could have been done better. Then roll this out to your other clients.”

Sara’s implementation of AutoEntry into her practice is very evident when she tells us that 95% of her clients that are in the cloud use AutoEntry. In fact, for new clients, she insists that they incorporate the software. 

“It’s the number 1 app that I use,” she says. “It’s part of my onboarding process now. My older clients who are not on the cloud...fine. But any new clients coming on this year, it’s been mandatory to use AutoEntry.”

Getting clients on board 

Sara has had to onboard clients that might not be so comfortable with technology. She shares a very simple take on using AutoEntry shares with these clients. “I use the reasoning if you can take a selfie and post it on Facebook, then you can use AutoEntry. It’s probably one of the most empowering updates to accounting software in the last decade or so.”

The AutoEntry effect 

AutoEntry has helped Sara in several ways, namely: 

  • Less time spent on manual data entry 
  • More accurate tracking of clients’ paperwork, especially receipts 
  • A more efficient business with less time spent on meetings 
  • More flexible work 

AutoEntry and efficiency

Sara loves chatting with her clients, but now that she has 40 of them, it became increasingly untenable to hold a meeting with them every time they gave her paperwork: “As much as I like to see my clients, it’s a huge time sucker too. They drop in the receipts and we shoot the breeze for half an hour and I can’t bill for that! My 8-hour working days are now more focussed. At the end of the day I know I worked for 8 hours. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case if I was chatting with clients.”  

There’s the logistics of transport and travel too: “One of my clients who came on was adamant about not using AutoEntry. And finally covid hit and I said ‘I’m not driving 45 minutes during a pandemic. You have to do it. Sit at your kitchen table and do one month.’ He was in shock at the ease of it.” 

AutoEntry and receipts

There’s also the power of habit: “The big [benefit] is receipt processing and being able to capture receipts,” she says. Once a customer gets into the habit of snapping a receipt, it’s easier for everyone involved: no more keeping track of receipts, no more clogged wallets, no more lost receipts. 

Flexible work, changing times 

“I’m picky these days about who I choose as a client,” says Sara. “It’s a good feeling to be in that position, to not be desperate about who comes my way. If a client is too old school I don’t have to take that on. The last 4 people that came looking for a bookkeeper their reasons were because their current one wouldn’t switch to the cloud. 

“They want to do everything on their phones now. To be able to be at the park and be able to do something on your phone while your kids are playing that’s the generation we’re heading into.

“I can only imagine what tech will be like when my 8-year-old kid is my age. Being in a small town, I have 60% of my town’s business and a large portion of them are on AutoEntry. Even though they’re local, they’re automated you don’t have to come to me [with your documents]. You can upload it.”

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