Seeking a Modern Solution: Fresh Tracks Canada Explores New Ways to Manage Spend

There was a point when it seemed the pandemic would break Fresh Tracks Canada, a Vancouver-based travel-agency — a fate faced by many businesses and industries in those tough times. As it happened, navigating the challenges helped the company thrive.

That is because, despite a more than twenty-year track record of delivering stellar personalized travel experiences across Canada, many of the company’s processes and systems had fallen out of date. Then the pandemic hit, and the company was forced to lay off more than half of its staff. 

“The pandemic was chaos, but chaos brings opportunity,” says the company’s Director of Finance, Robert O’Herlihy. “We broke down a lot of our systems and processes and rebuilt them up during the pandemic to be more efficient, and we’re seeing the rewards of that right now.”

Bringing A Travel Agency into the Digital Age

The process we used was to assign a new virtual card to every booking,” O’Herlihy says. “Customer service would apply for a card, which had to be approved by finance — so inevitably there was a time lag before someone sees and approves it

O’Herlihy says that the company emerged from the pandemic under new management with a mandate to operationalize new technology projects to drive productivity. For the accounting team, the area most ripe for improvement was payments. 

O’Herlihy explains that in the hospitality industry just about everything runs on credit cards, from hotel and tour bookings to employee expenses and even overhead costs. Overall, he estimates about half of the company’s transactions go through credit cards, which often racked up six-figure statements, with thousands of transactions requiring manual reconciliation. 

To make matters more complicated, Fresh Tracks Canada used one provider for its physical cards and another for virtual cards, of which they required many. 

“The process we used was to assign a new virtual card to every booking,” O’Herlihy says. “Customer service would apply for a card, which had to be approved by finance — so inevitably there was a time lag before someone sees and approves it — then it goes back to customer service so they could book the hotels and tours and other components.” 

Not only was the process itself inefficient for customer service staff, but it was also a nightmare for the accounting team, who had to chase staff for receipts and spend hours comparing them against bookings. As the company emerged from the pandemic with a mandate to find modern solutions, O’Herlihy says Float seemed like the most obvious fit. 

“It seemed to have a lot more features than other options on the market,” he says. “Some of them had receipt matching but didn’t allow us to add a description [to each transaction], or they might not integrate with our accounting system — Float just seemed like the full package of features we wanted.” 

One Platform, Many Solutions

“The integrations with our online banking and to our accounting software Xero were very easy, there was no custom API needed, it was plug and play essentially,”

Fresh Tracks Canada began using Float in August of 2022, following what O’Herlihy describes as a seamless onboarding process. 

“The integrations with our online banking and to our accounting software Xero were very easy, there was no custom API needed, it was plug and play essentially,” he says. “The system itself is also pretty intuitive, there wasn’t a lot of training that we had to give to the teams.” 

O’Herlihy adds that reception at Fresh Tracks Canada was “overwhelmingly positive” because Float provided a degree of autonomy and efficiency that had been lacking previously. 

“They don’t have to seek approvals, we don’t have to chase them for receipts; it’s all kind of self-managed,” he says. “When someone’s name is on a card, they’re more likely to manage it correctly, but we can set approvals in Float as well.” 

Within the accounting team O’Herlihy says life has gotten a lot easier now that all the company’s cards are managed in one system, including their U.S. dollar transactions, of which the travel company processes many. In fact, O’Herlihy says the company is saving thousands on American transaction fees alone, but cash savings wasn’t even the biggest benefit of the transition. 

“Time savings is the biggest one, like operational efficiencies, because we’re enabling our Legendary Hospitality team to take ownership and accountability of their own spending,” he says. “Getting the Float system in place was a big win for us, especially because it integrates with our accounting software, so there’s no manual entry into our accounting system — it’s all uploaded automatically.” 

How Float Improves Supplier Relations

“We’re striving to play our part in facilitating more efficient operations across the board, not just in the finance department, which is where the idea of using Float was born.”

In fact, O’Herlihy says that the change has even had a positive impact on the company’s relationship with its suppliers, as Fresh Tracks Canada can now issue virtual cards with spending limits to tour operators directly. 

“We give them a dedicated virtual supplier card, so ‘here’s a Visa, it’s got a limit of $5,000 or whatever it might, whenever you serve our clients feel free to charge that,’” he explains. “That builds trust with them and good relationships with them, and they know they won’t have any problems dealing with us.” 

While the pandemic nearly ended the now 26-year-old business, O’Herlihy says it ultimately made it stronger. These days Fresh Tracks Canada is back to its pre-pandemic headcount, even hiring back many of the staff it previously let go, and is now on track to surpass pre-pandemic revenues. 

“We’re striving to play our part in facilitating more efficient operations across the board, not just in the finance department, which is where the idea of using Float was born,” he says. “We kind of became a little stagnant before the pandemic, and in hindsight tearing down the system and rebuilding it was the best thing for the company.”

About Fresh Tracks Canada

Vancouver-based Fresh Tracks Canada has been creating personalized Canadian vacations since 1996. Their team has explored the country — because they love to travel too — and have used this insider knowledge to create more than 25,000 personalized trip itineraries.

Find Fresh Tracks Canada at www.freshtrackscanada.com. You can also book tours and vacations operated by the Fresh Tracks Canada team at www.canadiantrainvacations.com and www.northernlightscanada.com.

Feeding Efficiency: Fresh Prep Scales Their Spend Management with Float

Fresh Prep’s ad hoc employee expense management system worked fine in the early start-up days, but as the company expanded the meal kit provider was hungry for a more robust solution. 

Founded by three friends in Vancouver in 2014, Fresh Prep now boasts more than 430 employees and operations in both Alberta and British Columbia, with plans for further eastward expansion.

How Company Cards Keep the Lights On For Small Businesses

“We had two company cards, and there weren’t any names attached, so it was really hard to get a hold of any records or receipts, which becomes a particular problem when we have an audit.”

When Shannon Lee joined the company roughly five years ago, she says the organization leaned heavily on two small pieces of plastic. 

“We had two company cards, and there weren’t any names attached, so it was really hard to get a hold of any records or receipts, which becomes a particular problem when we have an audit, which happens once a year,” she says. “We had a lot of issues identifying who was responsible for the transactions we were seeing.” 

Lee, who gradually rose the ranks from customer service to her current position as a staff accountant, says up to 10 staff members might use the same card in a given month, and their access to funds was vital for fulfilling orders and paying bills on time. 

“We have our grocery suppliers, and we do typically pay by EFT or ACH, however a lot of times when we need top-ups for whatever reason — if one ingredient is short — we need to do store runs, so the card comes in handy for those,” she says. “Sometimes digital ads [providers] don’t accept any payment methods other than cards, and our digital spends are typically pretty high.” 

Fresh Prep’s reliance on card transactions can also push their monthly spending needs well into the six-figures, which Lee says banks weren’t always happy to provide, often requiring additional paperwork of collateral. Furthermore, all this spending on two cards made it hard to know who was responsible for what. 

“We used the vendor information to kind of guess what the spending could be, there was just no other choice,” she says. “I’ll be honest, a lot of the time if we couldn’t find out exactly what the expenses were we had to move on.” 

When Startup Solutions Don’t Fit a Grown-Up Company

“We really enjoyed how intuitive the Float platform is — it’s very user friendly — which was really nice, especially when we were used to these classic banking institution interfaces that are frankly really outdated and made it difficult to get a hold of data; Float just offered it to us on a platter.”

While the ad hoc approach worked well enough in the start-up years Lee says it became obvious they needed to find a better solution for managing employee expenses after Fresh Prep expanded beyond its provincial borders. 

“Employees in Alberta we didn’t know at the time were buying all these things because you need a lot to get a manufacturing plant started, so it took months before we could reconcile most of these transactions,” she says. “It was chaotic.” 

At that point Lee says the company realized that it would need to find a better solution before attempting any further expansion. Though she wasn’t part of the selection process herself, Lee suspects that Fresh Prep chose Float for the ability to assign virtual and physical cards to individual users, finally bringing transparency, oversight and greater organization to its expense management practices. 

“Our bookkeeper loves it, because she knows exactly who to ask [about company spend]; even if we’re missing receipts, we can hold someone accountable for those transactions,” she says. 

Lee adds that implementing Float in early 2022 proved very straightforward, thanks to its user-friendly interface and strong customer service. 

“We really enjoyed how intuitive the Float platform is — it’s very user friendly — which was really nice, especially when we were used to these classic banking institution interfaces that are frankly really outdated and made it difficult to get a hold of data; Float just offered it to us on a platter,” she says. “The customer service is also really awesome. The wait times aren’t very long, everyone seems very friendly, and it’s easy to talk to customer service — they seem to know what they’re doing.” 

How a More User-Friendly Solution Facilitates a More Friendly Workplace

“We really enjoy letting our employees not have to spend and get reimbursed; we’re able to set a limit and give them the room to make purchases on behalf of the company.”

An additional benefit Fresh Prep enjoyed once switching to Float include a high spending limit without any of the headaches imposed by their previous providers.

Lee however suggests that perhaps the greatest benefit was the ability to change the finance team’s relationship with their colleagues. That’s because Float lets them set merchant and category restrictions, spending limits, and even generate one-time use cards for specific purchases, letting employees spend freely while maintaining even higher security, reporting, and oversight standards. 

“We really enjoy letting our employees not have to spend and get reimbursed; we’re able to set a limit and give them the room to make purchases on behalf of the company,” Lee says. “We’re able to give them a bit of autonomy, but at the same time we also don’t have to risk the company possibly losing money due to transactions that shouldn’t have gone out, or transactions that we can’t track.” 

When asked whether the company could pursue its ambitious growth plans without this level of spending insight and control, Lee says the answer is “an absolute no.” 

“Having the means to be able to make those transactions definitely makes us feel more confident in our ability to grow,” she says. “Knowing that Float will be there when we expand in the future gives those of us on the finance team more security knowing we will be able to track every transaction along the way.” 

About Fresh Prep

Vancouver-based Fresh Prep joined the meal-kit industry to serve busy Canadians with a focus on reducing packaging waste and providing fresher, quality ingredients. Find Fresh Prep at www.freshprep.ca.

SPI Logistics Chose Float to Bring Their Vendor Payments Into the Digital-Age

When James Lemon moved from Calgary to Vancouver, he took the first accounting job he could find. Fifteen years later, he remains with the same employer, Surrey B.C.’s SPI Logistics.

“Honestly, I just sort of fell into it,” he says. “Logistics is a very interesting world because it’s way behind the times, it’s just starting to catch up, technology-wise, so it creates a lot of interesting challenges; there’s always something new and interesting to learn and deal with.” 

During that time Lemon gradually climbed the ranks from junior accountant to his current position as VP of finance and CFO. While he says a lot has changed since he first joined the team much of the innovation has occurred in just the last few years. 

“Five years ago, most companies in the logistics space were still writing things on spreadsheets,” he says. “With COVID we saw a major shift from physical cheques to electronic payment.”

Embracing Innovation in a Traditional Industry

“If for some reason my card had ever been compromised, we would have had to go to dozens of vendors trying to get our corporate card information updated before they try to run another transaction.”

Prior to the pandemic Lemon says he wrote checks for “virtually everything,” from office supplies to employee expenses, and paid its network of vendors using a single corporate card, both of which posed significant challenges and liabilities.

“If for some reason my card had ever been compromised, we would have had to go to dozens of vendors trying to get our corporate card information updated before they try to run another transaction,” he said. “Our bank requires two signatures for every cheque, so especially during the pandemic when nobody was together anymore it was really difficult.”

In hindsight Lemon says there were a lot of reasons to upgrade SPI’s spend management system, but admits that one of the things that first attracted him to Float was the ability to log expenses and generate reports simply by taking a picture of the receipt.

“Before we moved to Float I hadn’t received a receipt from our VP of sales in four months, and so when I started researching and found Float and saw it gave us the ability to text images of receipts, that right there was a godsend itself,” he said.

Soon after, in November of 2022, SPI Logistics onboarded the solution, which Lemon says proved “seamless.”

“We went with the Pro version, so I had a dedicated person help me do the initial set up, and the system was super intuitive,” he said. “We had another call scheduled for a couple of days later to see if I needed any more help, but I already had it all set up and running before that call was supposed to take place.”

The Benefits Keep on Rolling

“One of the other offerings we didn’t realize was going to be such a benefit was the fact that they have Canadian and U.S. dollar cards,” he says. “Now when we travel to the States rather than paying the 3% fee the bank charges on every U.S. dollar card transaction, we can now pay the actual exchange rate.”

Pretty soon, however, Lemon says he began discovering extra perks that made him wish he had signed on earlier. For example, he says that each of the many cheques the company issued cost about $20 to clear, while its company cards were processing about one million dollars a year without any added benefits.

The switch has turned a two-hour monthly card expense reconciliation process into a 20-minute activity, creating time savings for the team.

“One of the other offerings we didn’t realize was going to be such a benefit was the fact that they have Canadian and U.S. dollar cards,” he says. “Now when we travel to the States rather than paying the 3% fee the bank charges on every U.S. dollar card transaction, we can now pay the actual exchange rate.”

So far this year, Lemon estimates Float has saved SPI Logistics $10,000 in U.S. dollar conversion fees alone, but the benefits don’t stop there, either. He adds that when Float launched its virtual corporate card program earlier this year it immediately proved massively beneficial.

That’s because previously non-executives of the 35-person organization had to dip into their own pockets when traveling to conferences and events. The new feature, however, allowed Lemon to generate virtual cards in minutes, set merchant and category restrictions, spending limits, and even generate one-time use cards.

“In today’s economy lots of people don’t have lots of extra money to spend a few hundred dollars on a work trip to hopefully get paid back within one to two weeks,” he says. “Now with the ability to offer virtual cards from their phones, we can issue small temporary cards to the employees who are traveling, which makes their lives easier, and makes our life easier, because I get all the receipts electronically.”

Taking The Risks Out of Vendor Payments

Furthermore, all those vendor payments that used to come from Lemon’s corporate card have been replaced with a new system that assigns each vendor their own card, meaning that if one is compromised the others won’t be affected.   

“One of our executive cards did get compromised, and Float caught it right away, and disabled the card automatically, without us having to do anything,” he says. “That was hugely beneficial so that we weren’t dealing with any fraudulent transactions.”

Lemon adds that innovations like Float are part of what keeps his work feeling fresh fifteen years after taking the first job he could find. 

“Being able to embrace new technology and new ideas keeps things interesting,” he says. “If you work at a company that isn’t doing that, it’s really hard to stick with something for 15 years.”

About SPI Logistics

For over 40 years, SPI has been a leading firm providing a dedicated transportation network and third-party logistics hub to shippers, receivers, and carriers. Find SPI Logistics at www.spi3pl.com.

Black Feather Does Expense Management Differently with Float

Much of Stef MacDiarmid’s life has been shaped by Black Feather, a Canadian wilderness adventure company that specializes in expeditions to Canada’s north.

Not only has it been her employer for the last ten years, but it’s also how she met her now husband, Ken, with whom she shares a two-and-a-half-year-old, and a second child due in December.

“I had been working as a head instructor of a canoe and kayak school and ended up wanting to get back to my roots in canoeing, so I contacted Black Feather,” says MacDiarmid. “Each year they do a guide warmup, and my husband had already been working with them for a number of years, so it was in that guide warmup that we ended up meeting each other, and then paddling together for the first time; I guess you could say the rest is history.”

Bringing a legacy business into the digital age

“I could be spending $15,000 to $30,000 on canoes, but I wouldn’t know if it made sense to spend that money, because I didn’t know what our profit was going to be at the end of the year, so I couldn’t budget properly.”

After a decade working side by side — first as guides and later in management — the husband-and-wife team took over Black Feather as co-owners earlier this year. At the time the duo felt it was their responsibility to shepherd the now 50-year-old business into the 21st century. One area most ripe for improvement, according to MacDiarmid, was the company’s process for expense reimbursement and tracking.

“Everything was manual; each guide was given an advance for whatever expenses they needed to procure on whatever trip they were guiding, and we asked them to keep hard copy of the receipts, and a hard copy hand-written expense form, and mail those back to our head office, where our bookkeeper would sort through them,” she says. “It was painfully slow, the receipts would get damaged, we’d have to follow up with people all the time, and sometimes not get them back because someone had lost them, misplaced them, or was poor at getting stuff back.”

At the time MacDiarmid, who now serves as director as well as co-owner, says the team of four full time staff and three part-time helpers dedicated significant time and resources to managing the expenses of between 50 and 60 guides, who lead between 60 and 100 trips each year.

To make matters more difficult, the nature of the work meant paper receipts were commonly lost, damaged, or misplaced. During peak season guides may only have a few days between trips, and often didn’t have time to fill out expense reports before their next expedition. This ultimately created a range of challenges for Black Feather when it came to financial management.

“Forecasting and actually having an idea of how we’re doing in terms of profitability to make decisions about gear-buying for the following season was the biggest challenge,” MacDiarmid says. “I need to order canoes in August for the following year, and I could be spending $15,000 to $30,000 on canoes, but I wouldn’t know if it made sense to spend that money, because I didn’t know what our profit was going to be at the end of the year, so I couldn’t budget properly.”

Finding one solution that met a range of needs

“We were looking at other platforms that helped us track expenses, but it was still going to be out of pocket for people,” she says. “Float allowed them to have a company card without the hassle at the bank and the extra fee for each of those cards.”

MacDiarmid spent some time exploring potential solutions with her accounting team, and ultimately chose Float for its unique approach to expense management, seamless onboarding and integrations, and high level of customer service. Specifically, MacDiarmid says she was most interested in Float’s Spend Management features, which allowed her to distribute physical and digital company cards to her team, while having the ability to set limits, controls, and custom approval policies.

“We were looking at other platforms that helped us track expenses, but it was still going to be out of pocket for people,” she says. “Float allowed them to have a company card without the hassle at the bank and the extra fee for each of those cards.”

MacDiarmid adds that Float gave Black Feather’s guides access to the funds they needed to run expeditions without dipping into their own bank accounts, while providing the company with real-time financial visibility, oversight, and security. It also saved its guides and accountants countless hours of manual expense tracking and filling through Float’s Automated receipt collection and Accounting integrations.

“Especially with the integration and being able to export directly to Xero, that saves a ton of manual data input,” MacDiarmid says. “Not only is the spend tracked in a way where I can go and look at who spent what whenever I want to audit a little bit better and have that insight, but because we can export automatically to Xero it means our overall manual woman-hours ends up being drastically reduced.”

Ongoing improvements add more value

“It has essentially saved us a huge headache and time wasted and a lot of manual data entry. That is not where we want to be at this point, so we’re very happy with the switchover.

MacDiarmid notes that onboarding Float proved relatively seamless, adding there have already been several meaningful improvements to the product since Black Feather began using it just six months ago.

“The onboarding for me felt really good — there was lots of transparency in how things were set up and how they would work best for us — and there have been a few improvements as we’ve been rolling through,” she says. “One is having more than one account linked, so I don’t need to log out of one to log into the other… and the same thing with the expense reimbursement rollout; that felt like an added bonus within the program.”

MacDiarmid has also been impressed with Float’s customer service, and its ability to meet the needs of its large and diverse community of guides.

“If we have an issue and we don’t know how to solve something, the support comes quickly, and in a really great solution-oriented manner,” she says. “It has essentially saved us a huge headache and time wasted and a lot of manual data entry. That is not where we want to be at this point, so we’re very happy with the switchover.”

Getting ready for the next generation

Though she would love to see her children take over the business someday MacDiarmid says she and her husband don’t want to pressure them into it, either. No matter who takes the reins next, however, MacDiarmid feels a strong responsibility to pass along a stronger and more financially sound Black Feather, and not just because of its place in her family’s story.  

“We’re at an interesting crossroads right now in terms of tourism and travel and climate change,” she says. “When you experience a place, you’re much more interested in conserving it, and much more connected to the land and the water and the people.”   

Finding new, more efficient ways of operating, adds MacDiarmid, is the best way to ensure Black Feather remains a strong conduit to Canada’s northern communities.

About Black Feather

For over 50 years, Black Feather adventurers have paddled wilderness rivers, hiked remote landscapes, and sea kayaked along pristine coastlines and through sparkling fjords. Find Black Feather at www.blackfeather.com.

PolicyMe Turns to Float for Smarter Spend Management

Founded in 2018, PolicyMe is a startup life insurance company that modernizes the way people purchase life insurance online – making the process quicker, smoother, and more approachable. We sat down with their Strategy and Finance Manager, Suvansh Mehta, who has been with the company for just under two years. Since onboarding, Suvansh has first-hand experience using Float and had nothing but excellent feedback on the platform. 

How long have you been using Float? What about Float made you choose them?

We started using Float in February 2022. Last year, our company headcount grew by 50% and our spending process at the time simply wasn’t cutting it for our level of growth. Our team and expenses increased and it was getting difficult to keep track of. In January, I noticed a lot of gaps and missing invoices from year-end. This wasn’t the way we wanted to start Q1 2022 so we became eager to find a better solution. That’s when our CEO introduced me to Float and I was instantly impressed with the quality and breadth of their features. 

PolicyMe was looking for a way to issue credit cards easier – both physical and virtual – and Float deemed the best solution. Previously, we were sharing credit cards across the team, but this process wasn’t setting us up for growth. It became difficult to distinguish who was spending what, there was little accountability among spenders, and the reconciliation process was unimaginably tedious to say the least. 

Float’s receipt management feature really won us over. The capability to link receipts from an employee and finance perspective, being able to forward invoices directly into Float, and automatch to the correct transaction together has saved us so much time. 

What were the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business? 

Before Float, we had very little oversight of who was spending company dollars and what the transactions were for. Today, we have the ability to instantly issue credit cards per vendor and assign them to specific users in various departments, resulting in greater spending accountability – all thanks to Float. 

Being able to set card limits also helps us stay on budget and reassess whether a specific vendor is still worth using. These pre-set spending limits have been a positive trigger point and encourage us to constantly question and stay on top of our expenses.

“If there’s one corporate card used across the company, it’s difficult to discern if there are fee increases or unauthorized renewals from a vendor. But Float makes it easy for us to monitor and avoid that altogether.”

“Float’s approval workflow feature is also really helpful because it enables us to structure spend approval based on job titles. We’re able to give department managers the authority to approve a specific dollar amount, while anything greater goes to upper management to approve. “

As a startup, it’s incredible for us to experience this level of financial organization by implementing a platform that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag or intense infrastructure. Not only has Float upgraded the way we keep track of how and where money is being spent but it has also improved our lives in the finance department. We’ve got multiple eyes on our dollars now. 

What particular features were the most useful to your team and why? 

The ability to issue and assign individual cards to employees was incredibly useful for us. Before, our team would have informal discussions on corporate spending and there was no clear or documented form of communication for it. At one point, we started using Google Forms to formalize the way we approved spending but it didn’t hold a candle to Float.

Now that we are fully immersed in Float, we’re able to easily communicate cross-functionally about spending policies, card limits, and authority – with the added benefit of being able to instantly distribute cards and adjust spend as we need to. The entire process is speedy and efficient – it’s exactly what we needed.

“Float has also played an integral role in the way we monitor and prevent expense fraud. While we haven’t come across any grave instances, it’s reassuring to know that we have these controls in place. “

How did the PolicyMe team respond to Float? 

We received a really positive response from leadership.

There’s a general reassurance that Float offers – we know where funds are going and there’s more accountability being shared. 

Float makes our spending process less ‘top down’ and allows us to provide managers and employees more autonomy to make daily spending decisions.

Our employees were also very enthusiastic about the simple process of getting a corporate card and requesting spend. We also received a lot of positive feedback about being able to upload a picture of a receipt via text. Our employees value convenience and Float delivers every time.

What would you say to other companies that are considering working with Float?

Go for it! Float is a fantastic company. It’s really great to be able to issue cards, manage receipts, monitor spend, and integrate with your accounting software.

“The level of support from the Float team is unmatched. It’s been the best part about working with their team. They are extremely responsive, personable, and always address my questions and concerns without delay.”

It’s very easy for us to reach out to Float and have our questions solved in a timely manner. There’s zero down time because the team addresses our problems within an hour, as opposed to three days or more. If I have a problem, I’m able to get a solution quickly. This is important especially if I am troubleshooting something for someone else in the company. If you’re looking for a software that checks all the boxes, it’s definitely Float. 

About PolicyMe

PolicyMe offers a better way to buy life insurance in Canada with a mission to always put families first, protecting them with simple and affordable insurance policies.

How Athennian Streamlines, Simplifies and Scales with Float

Athennian is a SaaS startup with a mission to make work easier for paralegals, law clerks, lawyers, tax professionals, and finance teams – with software that manages documents and legal entities all in the cloud. With a lean finance team and rapid employee growth this past year, Athennian knew they needed to level up their internal spend and expense management process; that’s when they found Float. We sat down with Athennian’s Director of Finance, Zach Hill and Junior Accountant, Trevor Aasen to learn how Float is changing things at their startup for the better. 

Q1: How long have you been using Float and why did you decide to choose us? 

We’ve been using Float since September 2021. We had always been interested in virtual cards as a way to manage spend but there weren’t really any solutions available in Canada. We found Float and it was everything we needed and more. Prior to Float, we had difficulties categorising purchases and identifying spenders on many of the expenses coming through our corporate card. As the company continued to grow and the volume of transactions continued to increase, old processes were no longer sustainable. 

“Float’s functionality met all of our needs for a spending software. They make it easy to set up and issue cards, automate approvals and manage transactions across all departments.”

Our global headquarters is in Calgary and we have employees scattered across North America. We believe it’s important for everyone to be able to travel and come together as one team and this is a major reason why we were so eager to partner with Float to help manage that category of expenses.

Q2: What did company spending and expense management look like at your company before Float? 

Super manual is the best way to describe our old way of doing things. Our processes lacked structure and expenses didn’t always have a clear paper trail. With a fast-growing team, it became increasingly difficult to categorize our transactions and identify spenders.

Managing expenses became more onerous as our team grew, particularly as a company that has folks travelling from different parts of the continent. We had credit cards from traditional Canadian banks and different employees would use those cards to make business purchases. The problem was that it wasn’t always crystal clear where to code those purchases and our finance team had to move mountains to figure everything out, while getting a hold of receipts at the same time. 

Working with Float has changed things immensely for us. Today over 50% of our SaaS subscriptions have their own designated Float card; we know exactly what the subscription is for and which department owns the subscription. We can also issue corporate cards easily for individual employees so they can make business purchases directly on their own card, whether they’re travelling or not. 

Q3: What were your biggest pain points?

Zach: A significant portion of our month-end process used to involve the finance team tracking down receipts and trying to understand the nature of the expenses. Without a scaleable way to accurately code expenses, putting together departmental forecasts required a significant lift. Float has unlocked so much additional time for the team around month-end. Even as the company has nearly doubled in size since we engaged with Float, Trevor can now independently process the company’s expenses in less time, while I have significantly more visibility and insight into departmental expenses which drives an effective forecasting function.

In March 2022, Athennian closed its Series B funding round to secure $42 million of funding to take the company to its next growth stage. Due diligence for the funding round required us to provide potential investors with SaaS financial metrics and other detailed financial reporting.  Float allows us to easily capture these metrics with accuracy, while giving us the confidence to share them with potential investors to accelerate our growth.

Q4: What particular features were the most useful to your team? 

“The receipt capture feature has played a big role in improving receipt compliance to close to 100% and enhancing the overall accuracy of our accounting.”

Before Float, we maintained all of our merchant, account and department relationships in an Excel spreadsheet that we had to refer back to everytime we posted a transaction. We also had people sending JPEG files of their receipts – not a scalable process to say the least. When team members found out they could automatically submit receipts by sending in pictures, it was such a game changer! Float also automatically codes our receipts by merchants, accounts and tax codes, making the process even more efficient and significantly improving the employee experience.

“We’ve been able to reduce our number of manual expense reports by 80% even with our company headcount growing nearly 40%.”

Being able to issue individual cards for specific spend categories has also been a huge success for us. As mentioned, business travel is a big one for us. Now that travel restrictions are easing and people are out and about, we have had employees venturing off site and attending conferences in Las Vegas and New York. With Float, we were able to issue our employees physical cards to book their accommodations and flight tickets, as well as any other business-related purchases during their trip. 

Our team also loves the flexibility of having SaaS subscriptions on separate cards. It provides visibility on categorisation and is much cleaner to wind up one card when we want to close off a particular software subscription. Previously, we had all of our SaaS subscriptions on two credit cards which was difficult to manage, and it wasn’t always clear which employee owned the software relationship. Because so many vendors were mapped to only two cards, simply cancelling a card after terminating a specific vendor contract wasn’t possible. 

Q5: What is the best part about working with Float?

Athennian prides itself on being a company of builders, learners, and creatives, and working with Float has unlocked so much more capacity for us to do those things as a team. 

About Athennian Athennian is a modern, cloud-based business entity management platform that powers legal, finance, and tax professionals to seamlessly manage and automate corporate entities. As an innovative business solution disrupting one segment of the business world, Athennian is helping clients reduce expenses and increase efficiency while enabling them to be transaction, audit, and compliance-ready at a moment’s notice. Business professionals use Athennian to automate workflows for ownership, governance, tax, and corporate compliance. Athennian’s headquarters is based in Calgary and has a second office in Toronto, with additional team members across the U.S. To learn more, please visit www.Athennian.com.

How Forma.ai Found True Financial Autonomy With Float

Forma.ai, the world’s first end-to-end sales performance management (SPM) platform, is growing and they’re growing fast. Andy O’Reilly, Forma.ai’s Senior Manager of Finance & Technology, swiftly recognized after joining the company in 2021 that a quick and efficient spend management solution was necessary. With the company’s headcount increasing 4x in a little over a year, Float was the obvious solution to help manage spending and track expenses. Read how Float has enabled Andy and the entire Forma.ai team to reach their goals and maintain their rapid growth without the distractions of over-complex and manual spend management processes.

Q1: How long have you been using Float? What about Float made you choose us?

I joined Forma.ai in March 2021 and coincidentally, in April 2021, one month after I joined, Float reached out to us and we’ve been working together ever since. Given the nature of my job, I see a lot of demos – but Float’s was one of the best I’ve seen. I felt immediate confidence in the platform and in their level of service and attention. I also quickly saw that Float was able to offer our teams the financial autonomy and agility we were searching for, while maintaining full control of budgetary spend. At the time of onboarding, I was a team of one and we were a company of 50 employees.  Checking expenses against receipts was a huge bottleneck for everyone. We’re over 150 employees now and without Float we would have had an A/P nightmare.

Float has created an independent workflow where everything is automated, integrated, and digitally captured – allowing us to focus all our attention on taking Forma.ai to the next level of our growth.

Q2: What did company spending and expense management look like before Float?

Before Float, spend and expense management was tedious and time-consuming. We did not have an efficient system in place or a way to track expenses. We had one credit card and often had to facilitate wire transfers, which cost us money every time! 

Working with Float, we’ve been able to save so much money and become more streamlined at the same time. AND we get back what we spend on our Float cards with their cashback feature – it’s a win-win! 

Float also gives me the power to manage and oversee everything without having to be directly involved. Our senior leadership team can now control their own spending and expenses without constantly seeking approval to use their corporate cards. It not only makes my life easier but for our whole team too!

We recently raised $45 million in our Series B funding round, which is a big milestone for the company. Given our tremendous growth in the last year, I don’t think it would have been possible to get to where we are today without Float.

Q3: What were the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business? 

Before using Float, we had a single corporate card that a lot of people needed to access. We have a large sales team distributed across Canada and the United States – just imagine the receipt tracking that came with that!

I really value how much Float has streamlined our bookkeeping. It integrates so well with our accounting software and the process of balancing our books is no longer manual. 

Float also sends every employee a notification after a transaction has been completed, reminding them to take a picture of their receipt and upload it. It’s now so much easier to get a handle on our receipt paper trail because it’s all stored in the cloud.

Q4: What is the best part of working with Float?

Float’s ability to integrate has been a game-changer for us at Forma.ai. The automation gives us back so much time we otherwise wouldn’t have had. It has also created a smooth expense approval workflow, with no hold-ups or delays in reimbursement. 

With Float, we can easily set financial or time limits on cards and having this control gives everyone clear guidelines and expectations when it comes to company spending. 

Since implementing Float at Forma.ai, I’ve recommended the product to several colleagues in the industry. The Float team is always available and attentive, supporting us with whatever we need. The direct chat has allowed for seamless communication and no mixed messages. 

Aside from the people, the Float platform is critical for us now. Float’s virtual cards continue to give our team the flexibility and autonomy they need and deserve – we have a total of 60 currently active. If one of our team members leaves, we can immediately stop their card without having to worry about cancelling any of their subscriptions or memberships.

About Forma.ai

Forma.ai is the only sales compensation platform that allows organizations to flexibly manage what are currently brittle and easily broken sales compensation management processes. Their unique platform enables organizations to design, execute, and optimize their sales compensation strategy with a scientific approach driven by a collective data model. Forma.ai transforms one of the largest cost centers in an organization into its most powerful lever for top-line revenue growth. Founded in Toronto in 2016, the company is backed by ACME Capital, Crosslink Capital, xFund, Panache Ventures, Golden Ventures, Uncork Capital and Gaingels. Forma.ai is trusted by a growing list of innovative global enterprises with clients including Autodesk, TrustPilot, OpenTable, CareerBuilder, and more.

How Klue Found Its Way to Better Spending

We sat down with Adrian Pape, Klue’s VP of Finance, to discuss the company’s experience with Float over the last year. Klue’s software combines the best of competitive intelligence and revenue enablement — giving their clients a leg up through advanced market and competitive insights. When it came to their finances, Klue needed a change, especially after facing regular issues of fraud, blocked credit cards, unauthorized purchases and more. Here’s what Adrian had to say.

Q1: How did you hear about Float?

I found Float after doing a bit of my own research. Eventually, I met with Shawn and watched some pre-recorded demos of the platform. In terms of customer care and service, the standard Shawn set was a cut above. As it turned out, Float (called Journal at the time) was exactly what we were looking for. Plus, the 1% cashback was definitely something that caught our eye.

Q2: Before Float, what did company spending and expense management look like?

We had roughly 13 corporate credit cards — seven American cards and six Canadian. During that time, our credit cards were constantly being blocked. Employees who didn’t have corporate credit cards were filling out reimbursement forms and uploading receipts. As you can imagine, correctly capturing tax information from those receipts was a headache. There was probably between $10,000 and $20,000 of accumulated GST from old expense reports that fell through the cracks.

Credit cards in our company were scattered everywhere and there was a slew of unidentifiable charges on these cards. Finding out who they were from or what they were for took days, if not weeks.”

There were also a few instances of external fraud. Because all the cards had been compromised at one point or another, 13 new cards had to be issued, with each and every connection having to be re-established using a new credit card number. We had no control over who was adding recurring charges to cards and there was no visibility or accountability. Essentially, no one knew who was spending what because the cards were used so often – it was a significant challenge. 🤯

Q3: What are the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business?

At the time, we didn’t have someone dedicated to looking after payroll – so I had  taken on the responsibility in the interim. On top of my primary responsibilities, I had to review and import expense reports and keep track of 150+ people who needed to be reimbursed. Since implementing Float, the burden is a lot smaller. At Klue, we have established a strong culture of trust and transparency, so it’s been a nice perk to be able to set up virtual cards for employees and give them the freedom to make business-related purchases. Another huge advantage for us is the SMS receipt capture feature. 🤳🏾 ​​It allows our employees to submit their receipts in real-time directly through Float using their smartphone. 

“It gives us greater control because we’re able to monitor company spending, easily approve purchase requests, and Float reminds employees to submit their receipts on time.”

Float also saves our employees time since the last thing they want to do at the end of the month or year is dig out and submit hundreds of receipts. Instead, it gets it done in the moment and is off their plate, which many of them appreciate.

Q4: What features were the most useful to you and your team?

“Float’s Quickbooks integration allows us to seamlessly connect to our chart of accounts and retrieve and update our tax codes – no problem!” 

With the QB feature, we no longer have to waste time producing expense reports. It’s as easy as reviewing the tax figures, allocating the expense, and clicking Export to Quickbooks – then Float takes care of the rest! 🤩I would also say that being able to give non-managers and non-finance employees access to an individual corporate credit card with a pre-approved limit has been great for our team. 💳  It’s eliminated a lot of the complication and mess we were previously experiencing with unauthorized purchases and poor spend visibility.

Q5: How did your finance and operations team respond to implementing Float?

The crew was ecstatic that it all worked out. 👏🏼 Buying software is always a little frightening but after a couple of demos, and working with the Float team, we were up and running pretty quick. We also have a Float x Klue Slack channel where Float employees can read our threads and listen to what’s going on. Every now and then, we will tag their team and share any key concerns and the team is incredibly responsive and helpful. 

Q6: What advice would you give to other companies considering Float?

Don’t hesitate and get started right away. 🙌🏽  It’s quick, saves a lot of time, and the onboarding process is straightforward and easy. And the best part is that the Float team is right there with you at every step. They’re always taking our ideas and needs into account and continually looking for ways to better support us. 

About Klue

Klue provides a lens into your competitor’s world, continuously updating and connecting the dots to help you win more business. It’s a new way to capture, manage, and communicate market insights from the web and across the company, in the platforms you already use.

Float and Letterbox Doughnuts Make for the Sweetest Combo

Letterbox Doughnuts was growing fast, but with all that dough coming in they needed a solution to keep up a pace with all their expenses. Donut worry, Float saved the day!

During the summer of 2020, Jonathan Oliver and his wife found themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Priom Mahbub, a baker at heart, was constantly churning out doughnuts for all the socially distanced celebrations in their family. Eventually the two of them along with their friend Mallory Greene decided to officially share these delicious treats with their community. What started in their kitchen at home eventually grew into Letterbox Doughnuts, a local Toronto bakery selling personalized, lettered doughnuts perfect for any occasion. With such rapid growth and expansion, Letterbox was looking for a better way to manage their expenses and make company spending a hole lot easier. We sat down with Jonathan to discuss how Float is helping them spend smarter as they scale.

How long have you been using Float and what made you choose us?

We joined Float in December 2021 but officially began using the platform earlier this year. Our motivation for signing up was two-fold. We had recently moved from Toronto and were no longer going to be in the kitchen everyday. Being there all the time made it easy for me to pick up receipts from staff and later input them into Quickbooks manually. After moving, this way of doing things was no longer working. Second, we are growing our team and just hired a Bakery Manager at our Toronto store. Right now, our team consists of five bakers and we’re hoping to double that in the near future, as well as grow our delivery team. We’re also planning to expand our business across Canada and potentially in the U.S. and U.K. in the coming years. With that in mind, we want all our employees to be able to spend and purchase easily – whether it’s supplies, ingredients or other business-related transactions based on the needs of their location. Now that we’ve signed on with Float, we can issue multiple corporate cards to employees, set clear spending limits and even get 1% cashback too!  

What did company spending and expense management look like before Float?

Before, we would use my personal credit card and I would have to keep track of everything myself. I was the one filtering through transactions, balancing the books on a monthly basis and double-checking receipts to match up expenses. It was very manual, time consuming and oftentimes, many receipts were missing. I would like to be spending my time focusing on growth and what the future looks like – reconciling and looking for receipts was not a useful way to spend my time. I used to spend every Saturday doing this but now, I have my Saturdays back to plan, forecast and look at other markets to grow in. 

“Float is a massive time-saver and it empowers people who don’t have a financial background to be in a position where they can confidently control their corporate finances and gain greater insight on company-wide spending.”

As we continue to grow, I know that having Float will provide even more simplicity and clarity over spending from one location to the next. Right now, we have a Float card designated to our one location but as we plan to hire more people, I’m looking forward to issuing individual cards to team leaders and having a platform that automates all the heavy lifting for us. 

What were the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business? 

Since we were experiencing such quick growth, we were faced with the challenge of making the ordering process more seamless. Originally, I was placing orders myself, but we needed to find a way to allow the team to have full autonomy and purchase ingredients and supplies on their own. We wanted to empower our employees to do this but still wanted to be able to set the guidelines and expectations from a management standpoint – and Float made this possible. 

“Float is a very simple, unintimidating system to use. It gives people the ability to spend without any roadblocks but also makes it quick and clear to track spending. It allows managers to set expectations for monthly spending and empowers employees to feel like owners and take on more responsibility.” 

What particular features were the most useful to your team? 

“Float keeps us on top of our corporate spending. I don’t have to constantly put reminders in my phone and I can easily review the transactions at my own discretion.”

The fact that Float provides an automated breakdown of the subtotal and HST on every purchase has saved our team a lot of time. I also have the ability to change things on my end if there’s ever gratuity, which is even more of a game changer. At the end of the day, the team doesn’t have to run to me with questions and I’m not chasing anyone down for answers. 

Float allows our employees to make smart spending decisions and feel a greater sense of financial responsibility in their job. Accountability is shared across the team and if I set a specific spend expectation, Float makes it easy for everyone to comply. It eliminates a lot of awkward and confusing conversations and there’s never any guesswork. Sometimes, managers and team members don’t have a good grasp on finance stuff, and the reason why we love Float so much is because they provide a very straightforward way of going about it without getting overwhelmed.

A lot of the bakery suppliers we work with operate in a more traditional sense. Translation: paper receipts and invoices. Priom and I both come from a tech and investing background where everything integrates. So much so that while I used to pick vendors based on pricing and quality, part of that criteria is whether they could integrate with our systems. With Float, this isn’t something I need to think about. If we receive paper receipts, all our team has to do is take a picture and upload it to Float and it’s taken care of. 

About Letterbox Doughnuts

Letterbox Doughnuts creates custom lettered doughnuts for Canadians to celebrate their special moments and enjoy personalized treats. Baked fresh daily, the doughnuts are made using authentic ingredients with no artificial preservatives – just great taste!

Porta meets Float: A recipe for success

We sat down with Porta’s General Manager Jason Cassidy to discuss the company’s experience with Float since their launch back in November. Porta is a subscription-based direct-to-consumer Italian food distributor that sells freshly prepared and frozen Italian cuisine. Porta engaged Float in their earliest days out of their desire to set up and automate payments for their digital advertising platforms. From the get-go, Float has made life easy on this fast-moving startup. Here’s what Jason had to say.

Q1: How long have you been using Float and what made you choose us?

We’ve been using Float since our early days back in November 2021 when we first launched. Our marketing team was finding it challenging to pay for online advertising with multiple cards across multiple sites. It became a hurdle to manage and we knew we needed a better solution. When we expressed this to our external accounting firm, they immediately referred us to Float. We did our homework and were instantly amazed with everything they had to offer. Being able to set up multiple cards for different channels was a big selling point for us. As a busy startup just getting off the ground, the last thing we wanted to do was spend time searching for a corporate card let alone setting them up. Float’s software was quick, flexible and super effective. Their automation and reporting dashboard was also really straightforward and simple to use. We also got access to all of our virtual cards in less than 48 hours!

Q2: What were the biggest pain points that Float solved for your business?

Float gives us the peace of mind of not having to constantly think about processing payments for multiple vendors and partners. It allows us to focus on higher priority projects while knowing that our vendors are being paid from the capital we already have. The platform is also automated and secure, and in the event that we exceed our spend limit, the system is always updated and reloaded within 12 to 24 hours. Before using Float, I would email my accounts payable team and have them pay nearly 30 bills a day. We certainly don’t have the mental capacity and time to do this as we grow. Today, Float gives us greater control on corporate spending and fully executes all our payments with ease.

Q3: What did company spending and expense management look like before Float?

“Before Float, we were doing things more conventionally — sending payments to vendors through e-transfers and having to keep track of it all. Now, we’re taking a more dynamic approach as Float automates the entire process for us.”

Our total spend has increased since we started using Float. The platform has not only allowed us to keep up, but it’s been able to keep up with our changing needs too. We’re buying all day, everyday in the digital advertising space so having this kind of flexibility has been great for us. We needed an option that enabled us to set parameters on spending, automate meticulous tasks, while still being able to access the capital available in our accounts.

Q4: How has Float helped to streamline your processes? Which features are the most useful?

Float has made our spend and expense management process a lot more streamlined for us. We’re not paying for anything that we’re not aware of and we have full visibility over the money going in and out. We’re a small but growing team and Float plays a key role in our ability to continue expanding. We can quickly spin up virtual cards for our employees, set limitations and categorize them virtually – it’s a huge time-saver. If we sign a new partnership, I know I can easily create a credit card for that vendor in a matter of 30 seconds, which is perfect for the way we work. At the end of the day, Float has removed a lot of the complexities by automating the flow of approvals, speeding up card issuance and simplifying the payment process with vital partners on a daily basis.

“Float feels like a product that was built for the future and will continue to evolve as we grow as a business.”

Q5: What would you say to other companies that are considering working with Float?

“Float has the feel of a major financial institution, but they treat you as if you are vital to their success – and that’s something I believe many startups can appreciate.”

Float provides entrepreneurs and business owners a consistent and reliable platform to track and manage their spending with the flexibility to simplify and automate daily accounting tasks. It allows businesses to focus more on growth and less on the nitty gritty. If you have capital and you’re looking for an easy way to issue corporate cards to your team, I would consider giving them a try. The platform also streamlines well with any existing SaaS products your team may be using – which is a key benefit that eliminates so many headaches. 

About Porta

PORTA™ is Ontario’s first Italian meal delivery service that delivers restaurant-quality, authentic Italian dishes to your door that are freshly made, flash frozen and cooked in 15-minutes or less. Use code FLOAT30 to get $30 off your first PORTA order at www.eatporta.com