Industry Experts on How to Enhance Efficiency, Convert Shoebox Clients And Build a Paperless Firm

Dext’s partner community, Orange Select, recently hosted another discussion with our global partners.

Topics ranged from cloud advocacy and paperwork submissions to how to get the most out of Dext (former Receipt Bank)’s features. 

Since its launch in 2017, Orange Select has become a communication hub for over 8,000 Dext partners, with more than 300 joining every month. 

The discussion board is the hot spot for the latest news on product releases and best practices worldwide. 

This round, four of our experts kicked off the conversation:

  • Jessica Pillow, Founder of Pillow May, based in the UK. 
  • Ellie Appleby, Founder of My Books Online, based in the UK but operating 100% online.

Let’s dive into which answers stood out in the latest get-together. 

How do you convince shoebox clients to use cloud accounting applications?

According to Dext research, over a third (34%) of SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) believe financial admin is holding them back from focusing on growing their business.

Convincing a third of SMEs that cloud accounting is a solution can be tricky. Luckily, accountants and bookkeepers all over the world are tackling the same challenges.  

“Don’t sell: educate”, suggested Michele Grisdale. “Teach them how to use the app and software and explain the time savings versus billing the time – 2.5 hours equals about 50 receipts.” 

Educating reluctant clients is like most things in life: keep it simple. Know what pain points to address and try not to over-complicate communication with jargon.

“The key is in helping the client to see the value it brings them in time savings, organisation and efficiencies and why those benefits are worth more than the cost”, said Ellie Appleby.

Show, not tell

Our experts recommended taking a practical approach to converting shoebox clients, from running a virtual or in-person demo to hosting an onboarding workshop for new clients.

“Demonstrate it”, advises Jessica Pillow. “When your clients realise they won’t need to do any bookkeeping [or have] boxes of paperwork in their lofts, they soon get very excited. It’s likely that they have also already heard of this from friends and will be disappointed if you don’t offer a demo.”

Sometimes getting down to brass tacks can save the day. Nadine Chetty leads clients down the digital path by highlighting the obvious. 

The way we have converted some of our shoebox clients is by showing them that the text on slips fades over time. If we have a VAT audit, we have to provide these slips to SARS (South African Revenue Service) – if they cannot read the slips then they will deny the expense.

What’s the trick to getting paperwork submitted to Dext on time?

Chasing clients for outstanding paperwork is the bane of most accountants and bookkeepers’ lives. Dext discovered that without cloud accounting, 31% of SMEs need to be “frequently chased” by their accountant or bookkeeper for their paperwork, with one in four not able to send them what they need.

With the Dext mobile app, it’s easy to obtain the data, but it’s also up to the clients to snap and send to their accounting firms. So how do our partners keep to a schedule and make sure they snap and send on time?

“Use the Outstanding Paperwork feature to send unreconciled and unmatched items. We schedule this twice a month,” suggested Michele Grisdale. 

Our Outstanding Paperwork feature was created to identify individual transactions that were paid for but not submitted. A push notification simply pops up on a client’s phone as a reminder. You can read more about it here.

These automatic reminders have made Ellie Appleby’s life much more straightforward. “If the client has not submitted anything for a while, Dext can give the client a ‘nudge’ automatically to make sure they’ve not forgotten they are meant to be sending you things.”

How do you use Dext features to make your firm more efficient?

We believe that practice makes perfect, and the more you play with the Dext app and platform, the more you align with its features and functions. There are a few features worth exploring if you haven’t already. Here, our partners went into more detail on one of the features they like best. 

A common occurrence is the splitting of receipts and invoices into multiple line items, such as delivered goods split into materials and postage, or utility bills being split into tax payable and tax reclaimable halves. Michele Grisdale went further into this topic, explaining how Dext’s Smart Split feature makes this process simple. 

We use the split rule to add personal or business percentages for items such as motor vehicle and internet use. It’s also a great tool for splitting invoices into different categories. If you want to be sure the invoice is split, add lines with .01 on each, and it will show whenever that supplier is entered. For our butchers, the account wants to see food separate from packaging and store supplies but all on the same bills. With the split rule, you change the .01 to one line. The program will advise what remainder to allocate.

How do you successfully work with clients remotely?

Cloud accounting lays the world at your feet, literally. Once clients have WiFi, then a business relationship can be established across borders, without the need to meet face to face. 

Ellie Appleby sees remote clients as another way to remove paper from the equation. 

It’s absolutely feasible – we’re doing it! We work remotely and meet and chat with our clients using technology rather than seeing them in person. Some aspects of paper-free can take a little thought to get organised, but using Dext isn’t one of them. We never get sent paperwork as everything is dealt with digitally.

Our latest huddle was full of insightful tips, tricks and sage advice. If you missed this one, don’t worry. The next discussion has already started and will be live until 20 December, so see you there.

Interested in continuing the conversation? If you like the sound of enlightening discussions, amazing prizes and a little bit of healthy competition, then Orange Select is for you. Find out more here.

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