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Underground Service Alert stays grounded in safety with financial control from BILL

Customer Stories >

Underground Service Alert stays grounded in safety with financial control from BILL

When there is an emergency, everyone knows to call 911. Most people also know that 411 is the leading white pages directory. And recently, 311 has been gaining traction as the number for non-emergency municipal services. But have you heard of 811?

811 is the national call-before-you-dig number that helps anyone conducting an excavation to avoid hitting buried utility lines. This hugely important service doesn’t just protect against property damage, it also saves lives. High voltage electric lines, high pressure water lines, and gas lines can all be deadly. And if you call 811 in Northern California or Nevada, Underground Service Alert will be on the other end of the line keeping you and your community safe.

Underground Service Alert is a nonprofit organization that serves as the connector between utility companies and people doing excavation work. But while they were used to navigating the complicated network of underground utility lines, the complexity of their financial processes was an accident waiting to happen. To help, Underground Service Alert called BILL.

Buried under paper-based accounting processes

Before adopting BILL, the team at Underground Service Alert was up to their necks in paper bills. To make matters worse, as many as 90% of those bills were paid with paper checks. These paper-based processes were a nightmare in terms of approvals.

“I had to have two department heads sign for each check that we sent out, and they weren't in the office every day, so I was always having to ask for their time,” recalls Bethany Dillon, Accounting Clerk at Underground Service Alert. “Sometimes I'd have to put off the payment until I could get their approvals.”

Trying to keep track of all those checks was far from easy. Underground Service Alert pays for home internet services for their completely remote workforce, which means paying different companies in multiple states for 65 employees. They also have charges for employee software. Doing everything manually was time-consuming and left a lot of room for error.

Even for the 10% of bills that were paid via ACH, the process was tough. Each vendor had to set up payments with their own bank. Then for each transaction, the vendor had to make a report and send Underground Service Alert a form to fill out.

Accounts receivable (AR) was just as challenging. Underground Service Alert has about 1,500 members, whose membership payments are collected in two chunks throughout the year. The organization was using PayPal for member payments, which was a huge hassle.

“Because Underground Service Alert is a nonprofit, we can't accept discounts on any payments,” explains Dillon. “PayPal charged a 3% charge for every payment. So if a customer wanted to pay the credit card, we had to charge them that additional three percent.”

Worker painting white line on road

Building a smoother accounting process with BILL

Underground Service Alert was looking for a change, and eventually they found BILL. “We did some research trying to find some different solutions, found BILL, and thought: ‘This is way better than what we were doing,’” recalls Ryan White, Managing Director at Underground Service Alert.

With BILL, the beneficial impacts were immediate. “The approval process now is super easy,” says Dillon. “Not only in terms of approvals themselves, but also to enter the bills.”

Not only are invoices easy to enter, but with BILL, she also has the option to hold bills until she has a full batch. “It doesn't make sense to do one or two invoices when I know I have 10 more coming in later that week,” says Dillon. “BILL made the payment process faster and easier for both me and our approvers.”

BILL automation: A lifeline for remote work

Financial automation with BILL allowed the organization to move to a fully remote working model. “Our company is based out of California, but a lot of my approvers and users live out of state. For myself, I actually wanted to move to Arizona,” says Dillon.

“Having already started the transition to BILL before the pandemic was a huge benefit. We didn't have to scramble to make changes like many companies did.”

“Before BILL, we were spending 20-25 hours a week just writing checks and managing our essential AP functions. We needed a way to pay vendors faster.” — Bethany Dillon, Accounting Clerk, Underground Service Alert

Remote capabilities became even more important when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “Having already started the transition to BILL was a huge benefit. We didn't have to scramble to make changes like many companies did,” remembers Dillon.

BILL-powered credit card payments for accounts receivable

Receiving payments from their member customers is also much easier for Underground Service Alert. Dillon can set up ePayments herself if she needs to, or she can send an email to a member to set it up themselves.

“Being able to easily transition to accepting credit cards through BILL was a major deal.” — Ryan White, Managing Director, Underground Service Alert

“Being able to easily transition to accepting credit cards through BILL was a major deal,” says White. “Today, everybody is using touchless payments or tap-to-pay or credit cards. Our members don’t use physical checks as much as they used to.”

Simple and seamless integration between BILL and QuickBooks

BILL seamlessly integrated with QuickBooks Enterprise, which eliminated the need for manual entry of invoices. “With QuickBooks alone, I had been entering things manually, which just gives more opportunity for errors,” says Dillon.

“Once BILL was set up, it was super easy to integrate with QuickBooks. Eliminating manual entry also eliminated a lot of errors,” says Dillon. “The BILL AI detects duplicates and other mistakes.” She appreciates the BILL AI feature and adds, “The BILL AI really helps with accuracy. AI will detect duplicate invoices and notify me: ‘Hey, this looks like the same invoice. Are you sure?’”

Truck with working equipment

BILL Spend & Expense relieves the stress of expense reporting

After settling in with BILL, Underground Service Alert was ready to tackle their next financial challenge: managing employee expenses. Previously, they had been using credit cards provided by their bank, which had proven to be a huge hassle.

Among the problems? Their bank only gave them a $65,000 credit limit. For a multi-million dollar organization, that wasn’t enough, and when they asked for more, their bank usually rejected the request.

Then they found BILL Spend & Expense.

“I had been asking for over a year for a better way to manage expenses. We did our first demo session with [BILL Spend & Expense] and I said, ‘Can we sign up today?’” laughs White.

“Now with [BILL Spend & Expense], right off the bat, we got a million dollar credit limit. We never hit that credit limit, but it’s helpful,” says Dillon. “It’s easier to work with [BILL Spend & Expense].”

Another advantage with BILL Spend & Expense is the software, which sends instant notifications every time there is a charge. For White, it has been a game changer: “Whether I’m at a gas station or a restaurant or wherever, once I get the receipt, I just snap a picture, fill out a couple of fields, and it’s done instantly.”

Out of the accounts payable and expense management danger zone with BILL

With BILL, the Accounting team can track everything including payments and expenses going in and out to vendors, members, and employees. And the company can now accept credit cards. “BILL does so much more in automation, and so much more than anything we've had to use in the past,” says White. “We have definitely recommended BILL to other companies.”


Underground Service Alert is a nonprofit organization that helps private individuals, construction companies, and utilities avoid damage to underground utility lines, keeping people and property safe.

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Public Safety and Construction


The organization had a complex AP process that relied on 90% of payments being made with paper checks, as well as inflexible financial capabilities that made AR and reimbursement a major pain point.


BILL Accounts Payable and BILL Spend & Expense

Accounting software integration

Quickbooks Enterprise


With BILL, Underground Service Alert automated their finances and upgraded their credit card capabilities, resulting in faster processes, fewer errors, and much more efficient handling of credit card transactions for customers and employees.

Customer since


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