Pebbles Bookkeeping & HR

Customer Success Story

We chatted with Sean Huxley, co-founder of Pebbles Bookkeeping & HR, an award-winning family-run bookkeeping practice in Stockport, about the scheduling challenges they faced early on, how they came across Practice Flow, and how it's helped them stay on track and save time in their practice.

Please can you tell us a little about your bookkeeping practice?

Pebbles Bookkeeping & HR is a small, family-run bookkeeping practice based in Stockport. My colleague Diane and I look after bookkeeping, payroll, management accounts, VAT and CIS returns for around 60 SMEs across Manchester and Cheshire (and a few further afield). We’ve been fortunate enough to win our fair share of awards over the years in recognition of the personal service and tailored approach we strive to consistently deliver for all our clients.

What practice management software did you use before Practice Flow?

None! When we started up in 2014 we knew from previous experience in the industry that we would need some software to help us keep track of filing deadlines. We tried using Google calendar reminders but quickly got in a mess! It was just too much time and effort keeping everything in sync and highly error-prone. We ideally wanted something that would link up with Companies House. After a bit of Google searching we came across Practice Flow. We’ve been using the software ever since and it’s been brilliant, especially with the V2 overhaul in 2023.

What other practice management software did you try before settling on Practice Flow?

Back then there wasn’t a lot around apart from Excel, which we considered, but even though it’s “free” we knew it would end up being a hassle, especially as we grow. Over the years other options such as AccountancyManager and Senta have come along, and we’ve had a peek, but they all seem to make everything so much more complicated than it needs to be with lots of confusing screens and settings we don’t need as a small practice. They’re also more expensive. 

Why did you choose Practice Flow?

Simplicity. It does everything we need and it does it really well. It’s really user-friendly and never misses a beat - all the filing deadlines track correctly with Companies House, it calculates VAT deadlines based on the client’s VAT quarters and last filing date and keeps everything in sync as we tick off tasks. It’s also very reasonably priced, especially for a small practice like ours.

How easy was it to move all your client details across to Practice Flow?

Piece of cake. We simply pasted in our clients’ company numbers and Practice Flow imported the accounts and confirmation statement due dates and other details from Companies House in a few seconds. From that it generated our initial tasks for year end etc and we were away.

How easy was it to get to grips with Practice Flow?

Again, really easy. The software is very intuitive and logically laid out - getting started is pretty much self explanatory, though the team are always on hand to help if you need them. On the face of it it’s really simple - you have your lists of clients and tasks, you add your clients and start ticking off tasks, but as you start to gain confidence and dig a little deeper you keep finding little bonus features, such as being able to choose which columns to show and even drag columns from side to side! This allowed us to customise the software to suit the way we work.

Which Practice Flow features do you find particularly useful?

The recently added Smart Tasks feature is brilliant and a massive time-saver as it automatically generates tasks for company accounts, VAT, CIS, Self Assessment and more from our clients’ details, and keeps everything in sync as we tick off tasks. Makes onboarding new clients much quicker as we no longer need to set up lots of recurring tasks manually - Smart Tasks does it all for us! It even reminds us to get engagement letters signed and AML checks done every 2 years so nothing gets missed. Although the “out of the box” setup is great, we ended up tweaking it a bit to suit our practice in terms of when we aim to start and complete specific services/tasks.

What other software do you use alongside Practice Flow in your bookkeeping practice?

Most of our clients are on Xero so we spend a lot of time in there. We also use Dext for receipt and invoice processing and it’s brilliant once set up correctly - works hand-in-hand with Xero. We use Timecamp for keeping track of time and it syncs with Xero projects albeit only one way. We’re currently chatting with the Practice Flow team about adding a time tracking feature to Practice Flow, ideally one that syncs both ways with Xero. Nothing concrete yet but they’re receptive to our ideas as always and I would be surprised if they don’t add something soon.

How has your experience been when dealing with the Practice Flow support team?

First class. When we first signed up for a trial a call was offered to run through the software with us and get our clients imported and tasks set up and scheduling correctly. Since then I’ve been in touch with the team numerous times, often to suggest features and additions, and I’ve always received a quick and friendly reply, usually within 1-2 business hours and always the same day.

What impact would you say that Practice Flow has had on your practice?

Given we’ve been using Practice Flow pretty much since we started out it’s hard to know what it would have been like without it, but if our brief experience with Google Calendar was anything to go by, I suspect it would have been utter chaos! So yes, I think the impact Practice Flow has had has been invaluable, and I’m not sure how we would manage things without it at this point.

What advice would you give other bookkeepers considering using Practice Flow?

No two ways about it, as a bookkeeper in this day and age, you’d be mad not to use some form of practice management software to help you keep track of everything, and from our point of view, we can’t see any reason to look any further than Practice Flow. Unless you need features geared more towards larger practices (and you’re happy to pay more for them) Practice Flow is a no-brainer in our opinion! The software is the perfect balance of simplicity and flexibility, and the support from the team is second to none. Give Practice Flow a try - you won’t regret it!