Going the Extra Mile with Dext and Tripcatcher

Almost a decade ago, Debbie Whitaker had a decision to make: break ties with her accountancy partner and start her own company or stay where she was. 

She took the plunge and launched her Leeds-based accountancy firm Not Just Numbers in 2011 with the goal of helping SMEs look beyond the numbers cluttering their lives and clear the space for growth instead. 

Currently, her practice stands on the front lines of the industry. With an impressive app stack featuring Xero, Tripcatcher and Dext, Debbie and her team use cloud software to streamline the accounting and bookkeeping process for their clients. Here’s how they did it.

Three roads to success 

When she was first forming her practice, Debbie decided to make the shift to Xero. 

“I realised that this software would change the way accountants work and it’s just what the market needed so we started using Xero in 2012.”

Next up was Dext (then Receipt Bank). By 2013, both Xero and Dext were already in her stack but there was something missing. Quick and easy mileage reimbursement. 

“In the past, mileage expenses would mainly be on spreadsheets or not at all – people weren’t expensing fuel. They probably did 8,000 business miles and had no ability to claim back on mileage – it was too difficult for them. We actually gained a client because of mileage issues.”

Nearly a year later, Debbie found Tripcatcher. “So many people don’t know they can claim the VAT back on the fuel element of mileage,” said Debbie. 

In the UK, nearly everyone from solicitors and salesmen to CEOs and construction workers need to travel for work occasionally. Nearly 68% of SMEs use their own cars for business travel and fuel is not cheap – it costs nearly £75 to fill up the tank of an average-sized car. 

Debbie realised the need to include software that could fill this hole in expense reporting. 

Going the extra mile

Tripcatcher is the only mileage expense app available for business owners who need to claim VAT on fuel and calculate mileage rates. The collaboration between Tripcatcher and Not Just Numbers happened organically.

“I met Suzanne [co-founder of Tripcatcher] at XeroCon in 2014 and immediately got on board with Tripcatcher,” explains Debbie.

“Before technology like Tripcatcher, expenses were dreadful. We found it really difficult to deal with clients’ expense claims – we had no control over them. Dext then announced an integration with Tripcatcher. Once we realised we could integrate with expense claims, it was absolutely perfect for us.”

Finally, the app trifecta of Xero, Dext and Tripcatcher was complete. 

Steering clients in the right direction

Now, Debbie is a firm believer in the power of information and keeping SMEs in the know, particularly when it comes to the latest technology. 

Using an integrated app stack has changed how Debbie and Not Just Numbers approach their clientele.

“I had a client who was a consultant for the Ministry of Defense. It took a member of his family an entire day every month to calculate the expenses to be recharged – laying out and photocopying the expense receipts, creating a spreadsheet to analyse it all, creating a PDF and attaching it all together before finally sending an invoice.”

Using an integrated app stack has changed how Debbie and Not Just Numbers approach their clientele. 

“In the first conversation with clients, I ask about their challenges, pain points, time issues and expenses claims, every time. Then I tell them about our solution and that we use Dext, Xero, and Tripcatcher together.”

For their client from the Ministry of Defense, Not Just Numbers got the process down from one day to one hour. “He said ‘even now if I came to you for anything else, Dext and Tripcatcher would nail it’. He added that the MoD wished all their contractors worked with us as it saved heaps of time and effort.”

Invoice Fetch has been transformational. We just give them certain tasks to do, all they have to do is log their mileage on Tripcatcher, scan their receipts and everything else is done in-house.

Debbie and her team insist that all her clients jump on board with the Not Just Numbers method. 

“We’re very clear about not taking anyone who doesn’t want to go onto Xero or isn’t already. Our package [Tripcatcher, Xero and Dext] is built and priced together. If a prospective client doesn’t want to use Xero, then we’re not the best advisor for them. We are clear that this is how we work, we know its efficient and easy for the client.”

In fact, per week Debbie estimates she saves ⅔ more time using cloud-based software.

“I look back on the time it used to take me to do 10-12 accounts. I can now do 30 because of added efficiencies, dashboard reporting and most of the software we’ve used since day one.”

Driving training initiatives 

Not Just Numbers offers extensive training and onboarding for new clients who aren’t as familiar with the technology they offer. 

“One downside of cloud accounting software is that people believe anybody can do their own bookkeeping. It’s an art in itself and can be tricky without the right support and training. Our big thing is educating clients. We’ll set them up with training, whether that’s a zoom call or a workshop. What frustrates me is that accountants offer software but don’t realise everything needs to be trained and supported. Group workshops are a nice way to scale this.

Hands on the wheel 

The hard work and innovation infused in Not Just Numbers by Debbie and her team are evident. At XeroCon a few years ago Debbie and a colleague were surprised by a special acknowledgment from the industry. 

“Our name popped up as shortlisted for Bookkeeper of the Year – and it’s down to our bookkeeping team. They’ve worked so hard to get these efficiencies in and have everyone working as cleanly and efficiently as possible. To be shortlisted down to 4 and shown in front of 2,000 accountant’s as a 5-strong team was amazing.” 

The future for Debbie and Not Just Numbers looks bright. Thanks to a more streamlined way of working, Debbie established a financial strategy service offering offers financial guidance to time-poor business owners and managing directors.

“We talk a lot about growth with our clients. We recently reduced our client bank by 20% to dedicate more time to our clients. Our goal is to do more of the good stuff that makes a lasting impact and spend more time supporting and advising our clients – that’s where we add the most value. That’s why we’re Not Just Numbers.”

Find out more about the Tripcatcher and Dext integration here.

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