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Automating Accounts Payable Slashes Labor Time 25 Percent

Quickfire Restaurants CEO Michael Kornman believes in working smarter, not harder – that’s why he runs a remarkably efficient, technology-enabled operation. All back-office work is centralized in the company’s Dallas headquarters and a state-of-the-art point of sale (POS) system serves as an information pipeline to its Cricket’s Drafthouse and Grill locations in Lubbock and Waco, and the award-winning Diamondback’s Steakhouse in downtown Waco. However, the way Quickfire paid the 120 invoices that each of its three restaurants received every month was a time consuming and largely manual process.

Individual restaurants scanned their invoices and put them in an online drop box for retrieval by staff at the company’s headquarters. Most payments required approval from Kornman who had to find time to review stacks of invoices left on his desk every week. After approvals, Quickfire’s controller and CFO, Vickie Walker, then printed paper checks, stuffed and stamped envelopes, and dropped everything in the mail. The weekly chore took more than two hours, and kept her from doing other, more productive work.

When it first started looking for a way to automate payments, Quickfire wasn’t happy with the options, finding them either too expensive or not compatible with Quickfire’s payment process. “[One popular solution] would have complicated our managers’ work and taken extra time, because there would be two systems to work with, and double entry,” she says.

Quickfire ultimately selected MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay as its payments solution because of its ability to significantly increase efficiency without requiring any major changes. It works seamlessly with Quickfire’s QuickBooks accounting system, allows the company to work with multiple entities (e.g., its three restaurants), and it saves money.

MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay is an end-to-end solution that brings new efficiency to all aspects of payments. Invoices are automatically entered into the MineralTree system and anytime, anywhere access lets Kornman and Walker review and approve payments quickly and easily. Once approvals are made, MineralTree executes payments directly, saving Quickfire from printing checks and stuffing envelopes.

 “It’s a much more flexible and mobile process now. If I happen to be out of the office, it doesn’t put the business on hold,” said Walker. “Now when I travel, I can still get the payables out without lugging checks and a printer with me. Yes, I’m still the one who’s responsible for payables, but with MineralTree, approvals and execution are so much easier.”

Automation brings efficiency and integrity to back-office
The entire process is also more streamlined and secure because MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay integrates directly with QuickBooks and Quickfire’s bank. As a result, it eliminates the need for double entry, which can introduce errors into the process. In addition, built-in segregation of duties protects the integrity of the payments process.

MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay also lets Quickfire keep its three restaurants as separate entities while accessing them via one log-on, an approach that keeps the company compliant with various licensing requirements. As the business grows, MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay also offers the capacity to add new restaurants quickly and easily – and to handle higher invoice and payment volumes with the same high level of efficiency.

“We did some analysis and found that MineralTree pays for itself just from the money we saved on the payment execution side – the stamps, materials, printing, etc. And that doesn’t even include the time savings and other benefits,” said Walker.

With the new efficiencies in Quickfire’s accounts payable processes, it has reduced the time it takes to approve and pay invoices by more than half. The weekly chore now takes about 30 minutes, a dramatic reduction from the two plus hours it used to take.

To other growing businesses that want to automate AP and payments, Walker offers this advice. “Take a close look at how much time you’re spending processing payables,” she says. “Then factor in the expenses that come with a paper-based process. For us, MineralTree Invoice-to-Pay has certainly been a worthwhile move. Even though it might seem unusual for a restaurant business to focus so much on technology, it’s important to stay as efficient as possible, no matter what you’re doing.”
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