Zenbooks is a Canadian firm specializing in the integration of cloud bookkeeping applications and technological advisement. The firm’s goal is to introduce cloud technology to guide businesses across Canada through this significant technological transition by providing software systems, as well as support for those systems. Zenbooks specializes in ongoing advisory and as an outsourced accounting department.
Somerset Health and Wellness Centre is a multiservice health centre specializing in naturopathic, chiropractic, and therapeutic treatments. Based in Ottawa, ON, Somerset Health has been treating patients for more than 10 years, and has been working with Zenbooks on payroll and all financials since 2016.
Most business owners agree that happy employees make happy customers – that’s a primary reason why many businesses have been optimizing for workplace flexibility, with a focus on employee satisfaction and growth.
For Canadian accounting firm Zenbooks, employee happiness has been central to the firm’s success. Since its founding it 2014, Zenbooks – which provides cloud accounting, CFO, bookkeeping, and advisory services to Canadian small businesses – has been on a mission to create happy, long-term employees, who translate their job satisfaction to their work on client accounts.
While employee flexibility may be a great concept, a major barrier to making it a reality has been the way accountants and bookkeepers traditionally work on client accounts – namely, the need to work with large amounts of paper invoices and receipts.
“Accountants tend to work long hours by nature of what we do,” says Eric. “We used to spend a ton of time on document collection, whether it was scheduling a time for a client to come drop things off, or for us to go pick them up; then physically meeting the client and chatting about the documents. Alternatively, we’d have to order a courier, which is costly to do, and was just as hard to schedule.”
Naturally, a process predicated on back-and-forths between client and accountant didn’t make for the best experience for any party involved. “It would always come back to friction with clients when there were inevitably missing documents,” adds Eric. “You might get 11 of the 12 yearly bank statements, for example, because a client misplaced one. Then there’s unpleasant back and forth and trying to get the missing document. Not to mention, if a client did miss a document, we’d have to go through the entire process again to get what we need.”
When Zenbooks launched, cloud accounting was just becoming a reality in Canada. The firm adopted Xero shortly after launching to facilitate their cloud accounting vision. “Xero is the best cloud platform for businesses,” says Eric. “They’ve created so many connections to apps and softwares, so it covers basically every feasible program our clients are using, and creates a seamless experience for both us and our clients.”
While Xero started to open the doors for Zenbooks’ staff to work from any location, completing the necessary compliance tasks still prevented them from achieving their vision of being a fully remote team.
That’s when Zenbooks sought additional cloud technologies to further enable employee flexibility, and of course, better client experiences. “Document collection was still difficult for us, as it is for most accounting firms,” says Eric. “The time and effort spent just getting client documents was still manual and tied our staff to being at one location.”
A manual, paper-based document collection process was just as frustrating for Zenbooks’ client Somerset Health and Wellness Centre, who struggled with paper-based bookkeeping.
When Jennifer moved from desktop-based accounting software to Xero, she found that the business’ bookkeeping immediately improved. “When I learned about Xero, I thought it could fix a lot of the accounting challenges we were facing, so I sought a bookkeeper who was already using this program – that’s when I found Eric and Zenbooks.”
Creating a great employee experience can be tricky for any practice. For Zenbooks, employee experience has always been tied to flexibility, which is why the team sought to eliminate the document collection barrier it was experiencing. “We found Hubdoc and immediately saw how it could benefit the firm,” says Eric. “Eliminating the need to go visit clients, or wait on them, just to collect documents had the potential to enable remote bookkeeping.”
Zenbooks implemented Hubdoc in 2017, moving their entire document collection process to the cloud. “Using Hubdoc makes things so much smoother for us,” notes Eric. “The whole document collection workflow was rewritten because we were able to eliminate a huge segment of the process.”
Rather than waiting for clients to send documents, having staff bookkeepers visit clients to retrieve documents, or arranging a courier, Zenbooks now implements Hubdoc along with Xero as a standard tech stack for all clients. This includes training to help clients leverage Hubdoc’s upload tools (i.e., take photos of receipts with Hubdoc’s mobile app, and email or scan documents into Hubdoc), and set up automated connections to automatically fetch monthly bills and statements.
If a firm can create a system that makes employees happy, the whole business benefits. When Zenbooks introduced Hubdoc into their Xero workflow, it helped the firm create the experience they had always wanted to provide for both staff and clients.
“Now that we get all our documents digitally through Hubdoc, Zenbooks staff can work while travelling, and that’s been great for employee satisfaction,” explains Eric. “We’ve been able to allow our accountants work from Australia and the Philippines because there are no document collection roadblocks anymore. All six Zenbooks staff work remotely!”
On the client side, things have improved immeasurably for Somerset Health. “For us, time is money, so if we’re spending time needlessly searching for receipts for hours at the end of the year and trying to get all the documents our bookkeeper requested, it’s not a good way to be spending our time,” says Jennifer. “Hubdoc completely eliminated this – it’s very rare nowadays that we lose track of a document, which is huge. We upload documents to Hubdoc in several different ways, but the great thing is, I always know where to find them, and Zenbooks can always be on top of it. No surprise requests!”
Beyond employee satisfaction and happy clients, Hubdoc has improved Zenbooks’ efficiency. Where an hour to two per month, per client was previously spent just on document collection, that time is now being utilized for more meaningful tasks. For staff, this process has helped them constantly stay busy throughout the year, so during year-end taxes, everything is ready to go and no one is overloaded by documents.
The results speak for themselves: “Hubdoc and Xero enable us to be a leader in providing good employee benefits and having happy employees. If your employees are happy, they’ll make the clients really happy!”