Bringing Order to Fast Food. Quick-service franchiser NRD Holdings finds speed and efficiency with Bill.com.
Atlanta-based NRD Holdings is one of the country’s largest operators of quick-service restaurant franchises. But for years it was handling accounts payable the slow way.
“We were doing manual AP processing, from physically entering invoices to cutting checks and mailing them,” says NRD founder and CEO Aziz Hashim. “It was creating serious bottlenecks.”
NRD’s AP person would scan invoices into PDF format, then email them to the appropriate people for approvals. They’d OK the invoices, then send them to the CFO for his signature. Finally, invoices would go back to the AP person, who would cut checks and mail them to vendors.
The process added up to a lot of labor and paperwork for NRD, which owns more than 30 restaurants in Georgia, and California, including Popeyes and Subway. The company cuts hundreds of checks a month—300 a month at its Popeyes restaurants alone—and the job of processing them all was a supersized drain on resources.
NRD needed help. So Hashim put in an order for Bill.com.
“It’s very rare you get a service or software that works as advertised,” Hashim says. “I would say that Bill.com is as close to that as we have ever gotten with any software service.”
Bill.com has brought order to NRD’s once-ponderous payments system. Before, the company’s AP person would scan as many as 100 invoices at a time and email each of them to three or four different people for approval. She had to keep track of them all manually to ensure that each was approved by the right people and returned to her before she could cut checks. But as thorough as she was, she never knew where a particular invoice was in real time because of all the different approvals and emails flying around.
“The whole process was very time consuming,” Hashim says. And that’s when it was working well.
“Where it got more difficult is when managers came back and said, ‘I don’t approve this invoice, I have a problem with it.’ Now you’ve got to go back to the vendor and explain the problem. And if you multiply that by hundreds and hundreds of checks each month, pretty soon it’s a very complex workflow and things get missed. Bills sometimes don’t get paid. Emails get lost. All kinds of things can go wrong. If you’re a multi-unit franchise operator with different brands and different approval authorities, it’s just too much to keep track of.”
With Bill.com, the tracking of bills is automated, and all invoices and approvals are centralized for easy viewing. At any given time, NRD’s AP person knows exactly where an invoice is in the process.
Another real advantage of Bill.com is the ease with which it integrates with NRD’s accounting software. Once a bill leaves the AP person’s desk, that information synchs with the accounting system. “Then we’re done,” Hashim says. “That’s a feature we really like. If you have systems that are not in synch, issues can come up. But now we’ve eliminated those problems.”
Bill.com has freed days’ worth of time for NRD’s AP person. It has also freed up restaurant operators in the field to be more productive, because they don’t spend hours at their desks reviewing and approving invoices. Now they get an alert via Bill.com when an invoice is ready. They pull it up, check to see that they ordered the work, then sign off. Bill.com automatically keeps a record of every approval and provides an audit trail.
“That’s the biggest reason we went with Bill.com—the workflow and approval issue,” Hashim says. “The second is communications. Now, if someone in the chain of approval has a problem with an invoice, they can make a comment right in Bill.com via the notes feature and everyone can see what’s happening with this invoice and people can comment on it directly in Bill.com.”
When an invoice requires Hashim’s signature, he can read the notes and find answers to his questions before he asks them. For example, if he has a bill for equipment repair, he can read the notes attached to the bill to learn if the equipment is under warranty or not.
And he can do it wherever he is. In one month alone, Hashim was on four different continents and he was able to approve invoices at Bill.com every step of his travels. On the road or at home, he can see who before him has approved a bill, sign off and green-light payment.
And he can do it with peace of mind, knowing that Bill.com’s fraud-prevention features ensure NRD’s bank account information is secure. Account and routing numbers are invisible to payees and anyone else who might try to access them.
“We did have a problem with fraud before. One of our accounts was compromised,” says Hashim. “Somebody got their hands on some check writing software, took all the coding off our check, and starting writing bad checks all over the place. With Bill.com, we don’t have to worry about that ever happening again.”
The beauty of Bill.com is that lets NRD Holdings make fewer mistakes and be more efficient. “The most tangible benefit is that I now have a much higher level of confidence that errors have been reduced,” explains Hashim. “And that reduction in errors translates to dollars in savings because there is less chance we’ll mispay a bill or overpay a bill or pay a bill that wasn’t properly approved. Because once you pay a vendor, you’re not getting that money back.”