Picture a car dealership, a restaurant chain, or a hotel group that has several or even dozens of locations across multiple states. Some of them are owned by the company, others are run by franchise holders, but they all have issues in common. In particular, each of them places volumes of orders with their vendors, each generates amounts volumes of business expenses, and each struggle with lots of paper that comes with every transaction and delivery.
While that paper struggle is a constant headache with a manual process, it turns into a full-blown migraine at the end of a month. That's when somebody inevitable has to catch up with hundreds - sometimes thousands - of invoices across the company's entire geographical footprint. Each one has to be collected, manually entered or scanned, checked for errors, and then coded correctly, routed to the right managers for approval, and finally (hopefully) payment. Checks have to be signed while suppliers and employees are waiting for their payment and while the clock is ticking to avoid late fees and dealing with inquiries.
Simply put, handling accounts payable for a multi-location organization can rapidly become a royal and recurring pain, a reality that many companies in the automotive and hospitality industry will attest to. And the situation becomes even more complicated when the company has international locations or deals with international suppliers submitting invoices in more than one currency and varying tax rules.
In other words, the management and processing of invoices from multiple sites comes with a slew of challenges including:
- High invoice processing costs and the difficulty in processing documents quickly enough to avoid penalties.
- Invoices arriving from multiple locations in different formats, leading to a risk of duplicate payments, lost documents, increased fraud, and more.
- Difficulty obtaining an instant overview of your cash flow and making accurate financial projections.
- Complicated, often time-consuming approval processes.
- Understanding and conforming to different areas, multiple currencies, and varying legal regulations.
To many Accounts Payable (AP) clerks on the front lines, monthly crunch time still means a manual round up of piles of papers (hoping that none were lost or misplaced), stuffing them in a courier pouch or package, and then handing them off to be sent to a central office for processing and approval. Waiting for general and department managers to sign off on every check that’s cut. Always being ready to hunt for the strays when an inquiry can’t be easily answered. And let's not forget that once processed, all of these documents have to be sent someplace and sorted for storage.
There is a better way, as Yooz customers such as the burger chain Five Guys, Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants or the Peterson Auto Group in Boise, Idaho (part of the CDK Global family) have already discovered. Cloud-based Accounts Payable automation easily handles all of these pain points, and may be one of the best ways to simplify your AP for multiple locations no matter how large or spread-out the network.
AP automation offers a simple solution to immediately ingest any type of invoice, using artificial intelligence and machine learning software to understand the contents of each document, automatically assign the correct GL code, compare specific details to validate the data, and then routes the information to a designated person for review and approval. An automation platform such as Yooz extends the process all the way to initiating and recording an electronic payment. Instead of mounds of paper, a network of drivers and delivery personnel, and increasing workloads, the entire process is digitized and simplified. Best of all, the process is reduced to hours and even minutes instead of weeks and months. And these are just some of the features and benefits offered by digitization and automation.
For example, consider Peterson Auto Group. Integrating Yooz into their existing ERP system helped them to reduce the time required to enter an invoice from five minutes to 15 seconds in addition to eliminating the need to mail 2,500 paper invoices every month. Invoice approval also takes much less time, dropping from an average of 45 minutes per invoice to just five. Instead of spending two to three hours a day attaching invoices to checks and routing them for signatures, the system now automatically sends the checks for electronic signatures, and funds are electronically transferred. Paying bills this way takes only about 15 minutes a day. The cost associated with cutting checks also dropped from about per check to just $1.43, a savings of nearly $35,000 a year.
Moving your AP process into the cloud has another key advantage. It prepares a company for growth because it makes it easier to bring a new location or franchisee on board in a matter of days. It also helps advance employee knowledge and prepare them for further digitization, especially knowing that the point of automation isn't to replace them but rather enhance their skills. In summation, AP automation can be the catalyst for more efficiency as your network grows. It’s an integral part of how to make your team work better and delight more customers.