From Farming to Cloud Accounting: How Adding 75% More Time Transformed Gerty Green’s Practice

Gerty Green founded Conquer in 2017 from the kitchen table of her farmhouse in Brits, South Africa. 

After training as an industrial engineer at the Tshwane University of Technology, she cut her teeth in insurance, before everything changed. One trip to intensive care, a farmhouse and an expensive VAT return later, she began her cloud accounting journey.

Here’s how Conquer uses Sage and Dext to cut processing time by 75% and become one of the most successful cloud accountants in South Africa.

Exploring greener pastures

At the beginning, Gerty had no desire to be a farmer’s wife.

“When I started dating my now-husband, he told me he was going to buy a farm one day. Now, I wasn’t too keen on that. I was no farmer’s girl. After we married, I fell ill and had to go into intensive care. My husband waited until I really couldn’t say no to tell me he’d bought a farm.”

After a shaky start, Gerty grew to love farm life. When they moved to a new farming community in Brits, a North West province in South Africa, Gerty and her husband registered for VAT. Upon handing in her paperwork to a local firm, her bill was twenty times more expensive than expected. 

“I said to my husband; you know what? I can do this myself,” says Gerty. 

Accountancy 101

Gerty enrolled at the University of South Africa to study accounting and finance. 

“I studied for eight years in total, getting my postgraduate diploma in Applied Accounting in 2017. My children and I would do our homework around the kitchen table. We also moved around a lot during this time, staying in Durban for a while before returning to the farmhouse.

“After completing my studies, I went to work in the private sector. While I earned a decent salary, it bored me to death. I quickly resigned and in just a couple of weeks, founded Conquer.”

Conquering cloud accounting with Dext

Creating a buzz around a new company is hard enough in a big city, but doubly difficult in a small farming town. 

When I started, I didn’t know many locals in Brits. I realised I needed to get my name out there and read up about marketing. I discovered The Profitable Firm, which was where I first heard about Dext.

From there, Gerty’s relationship with Dext (former Receipt Bank) and cloud accounting began. “I decided to go down the Dext and Sage route. I used Sage Pastel [the desktop version of Sage] then converted all clients on to Sage Business Cloud and Dext Prepare Streamline. That’s where it all started.”

Gerty now offers her services in conjunction with Dext, charging clients a monthly fee for usage of the platform. 

“I give them a presentation on how Dext works then ask them to contact another client already using Dext to explain the benefits, i.e. You don’t lose any slips and everything is taken care of.”

The power of cultivating trust 

Gerty’s marketing method is broken up into a varied mix of communication and networking channels; online, her BNI (Business Network International) membership and word of mouth. Building Conquer into a solid, trustworthy brand using as many available resources as possible is her priority. 

It’s simple. People won’t refer you if they don’t trust you. You first need to instil some trust in them and show that you are reliable and add value to their business as well.

“Marketing for an accountant is challenging – but it makes the challenge so much sweeter when you get a client, it’s a feather in your hat. You’ve done something right.”

For Gerty, creating a trusting relationship with her clients also means going beyond the cloud. “A company must stand for honesty, integrity and values. I try to always add value to my clients’ lives through interaction. That interaction is very important to me. You need to know about what’s going on in their lives, that impacts their business as well.”

Cutting processing time down by two thirds

When it comes to running Conquer, Gerty sees Dext as a life and time saver – particularly when working in a community that relies on paper. 

“I can’t live without Dext Prepare! I have a client in retail and he gives me three sets of files per month, full of [paper] invoices. The first time we worked together, it took me three days to work through his paperwork by hand. After introducing Dext Prepare, it only takes me a day to finish.”

Thanks to Dext, Gerty can now also work with UK-based clients. “If it weren’t for Dext, it wouldn’t be possible to do their work. To send it here by mail would take forever.”

Revenue-wise, Gerty moved to a fixed pricing monthly revenue to ensure consistent revenue and help her clients budget.

I have a constant stream of revenue coming in. Processing time, it’s a vast difference. I cannot imagine servicing our clients as well as the turnaround time if it wasn’t for Dext.

Eyes on the horizon

Gerty’s goal is now to grow her team and build upon the international success of her business.

“A lot of my clients have grown substantially. Without Dext Prepare, I wouldn’t be able to do it all myself. At the point and position I’m in, I need to employ someone to assist me. The first thing they’ll learn will be Dext and Sage.”

Since beginning her journey, Gerty has always strived to maintain a sense of honesty, integrity and innovation in her business practice. 

“It wasn’t an easy journey in between moving houses, farming, being a mother and a wife. Despite these challenges, I still made it. For me, the next challenge is to grow Conquer into a recognisable company that focuses on adding value to my clients’ lives.”

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