Jessica Minkus, chief operating officer at Bookminders, the mid-Atlantic’s premier outsourced bookkeeping service, shares with us how the firm provides timely, accurate, and cost-effective bookkeeping for a variety of nonprofits and small businesses. When the pandemic hit, the firm was able to onboard 50 clients to BILL, enabling them to do all their bill pay remotely – all within two weeks of the release of work-from-home requirements. Minkus shares insights into how it impacted the firm’s clients.
We onboarded our first client with BILL in 2017. In the past, we would prepare the checks and bring them to our clients to have them signed. However, we had check signers with a client that were not local, and we needed to get their bills paid. After doing some research, we found that BILL offered all the services we could potentially need. It’s one thing to have electronic bill payment, but we needed restrictions, security, user controls, and that not just anyone could release payments. We wanted to put all the necessary safeguards in place so if an audit occurred, they would have everything they needed. BILL checked those boxes for us, so we started using them with our clients.
When the pandemic hit, we had about 20% of our clients on BILL. When we could no longer go on-site to our client locations, we needed to figure out how to manage the payables for the clients remotely. We came up with different options they could choose. One was BILL. As a firm, we pride ourselves on our templates and procedures. As a result, we already had an onboarding form for BILL, and our clients were able to get set up quickly. Within a two-week time frame, we had 50 additional clients on BILL.
When using BILL, printing checks is no longer needed. Bills are either loaded into the inbox or emailed. The auto-fill feature is great. Not only does it reduce potential errors, it saves time. While clients have seen a decrease in bills that need to be paid due to the pandemic, we still experience about an hour a week per client in savings – which is substantial when there are multiple clients to process. Check-signing processes that used to take multiple days and a courier service to get them to all the necessary people, now can be done through the BILL app.
We are seeing about a 20% improvement to our workflow due to BILL. The best part of BILL is the paperless aspect. We can give vendors an email, and they can get their payables delivered right to BILL. We don’t have to track down missing bills. They can just forward over any bills they get in their inbox. Prior to BILL, we would go on-site weekly and pick up bills, and the client might not know what we have. Now they can just log in and see what we have anytime. They also have historical access to view all prior bills.
BILL also helps with a client’s cash flow. Now we both know when a check is mailed and that it hasn’t been lost on a desk or left in a car or just held for some reason. We are making sure something truly did go out the door. With BILL, balancing the books has never been easier or more accurate - making cash flow management so much simpler.
Joseph Hall is the executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh. The theater is a non-profit community performing arts center focused on advancing live art through strategic vision and community collaboration. The theater started working with Bookminders in 2009 but only began using BILL when the pandemic hit the U.S. and it wasn’t possible to have Bookminders come on-site every week to deliver checks. Hall showcases how the transition to BILL took place and what the theater has experienced since.
Prior to BILL, all our AP was paper-based, and the process would take 10 days to complete. Bookminders would visit us once a week to pick up bills that would then be put into Quickbooks and, checks printed, attached to supporting documentation, and brought back to the theater for the check signers to sign. They would need to be couriered to some of the signers so the process was not quick. Then they would need to come back to the theater for them to be put into envelopes and mailed. We knew it was more time and energy than it needed to take, so we were happy to try BILL.
Once we implemented BILL, everything was electronic and we were able to cut four days out of the process. Now, Bookminders enters everything into BILL, then I approve it and reports are sent to the check signers to review. Once approved, it’s as simple as pushing a button to get the checks released. What used to take the theater’s former director 4-5 hours to complete with interruptions or an hour to an hour and a half without, I can now take care of in as little as 10 minutes with BILL.
The theater employs many different types of artists – and most of them rely on getting their checks quickly. Delays can be bad for artists, so having the money directly transferred into their accounts is a godsend for local artists as well as touring artists. It makes it so much easier.
While we originally switched over to BILL because of the need to be able to do everything remotely, I don’t think there is a reason for us to switch back to our old way of doing things. It has saved us time, our vendors appreciate the quick payments directly put into their accounts, and bills can be approved from anywhere.
We really trust Bookminders and the relationship we have with them. They feel like an extension of our staff.