How Pulling the Trigger on Bill.com Solved a Major AP Headache

Many businesses avoid thinking about AP until they hit a major bump in the road with their current processes. That was the case for Bill.com customer United Fire, a 36-employee, family-owned business with 6,000 clients in Portland, Oregon. United Fire provides maintenance, testing, and inspection for fire equipment at commercial businesses across a variety of industries.

When United Fire’s long-time accountant left on short notice, the company scrambled to find a new solution, and turned to AcctTwo, a trusted VAR partner, for advice. AcctTwo recommended to United Fire that they immediately make the switch to Bill.com, and the rest is history. As Jeff Wallace, Office Manager of United Fire, says: “Processes are not our niche. We fly by the seat of our pants in a lot of ways, so it’s been good to get into Sage Intacct and Bill.com to help keep us streamlined, but still have the flexibility of a small, family-owned company that we like.”

Making the Switch to Bill.com

United Fire didn’t consider new AP solutions until they were in what they admit was a dire need of a change. They had a very old dot matrix system they called “the black screen of death” before moving to Sage Intacct to boost their systems and processes. A single person in the company used Sage Intacct for all their AP. When that person had to abruptly leave, United Fire was left without processes that allowed anyone to pick up where he left off.

As Wallace explains, “When we hit our massive bump in the road, we reached out to AcctTwo about handling our AP and they recommended Bill.com, so it made it an easy decision for us. They had a history with Bill.com, knew the processes, and felt comfortable recommending it. Seeing it on our end and liking Bill.com and also having a premier partner like AcctTwo recommend it at the same time just solidified our decision to go forward.”

The implementation was quick and painless, and took about two hours over the phone. Bill.com walked them through everything, determined the processes they needed, and “just kind of flipped the switch on and within a day we were up and running,” Wallace explains. “They made it simple. We’re a family-owned business focused on fire protection, not accounting. We want vendors and partners we can trust, and AcctTwo helped with that” in recommending Bill.com and overseeing the implementation.

Reaping the Benefits of the New System

After being on Bill.com for only a few months, United Fire already saw a marked improvement. They set up Bill.com so that vendors send bills directly into the Bill.com inbox, where they’re automatically redirected for any necessary approvals. Their purchasing system through Sage Intacct also links with Bill.com, allowing purchases to directly flow through the system. Once bills are set up for payment, Wallace approves them. “We have clarity on who we are paying and for what. In my millennial eyes, it’s easier to see how we’ve been paying vendors and their history,” he says.

Bill.com has definitely helped with AP efficiency. Previously, United Fire didn’t do a lot of electronic payments. Instead, they paid by check and had a dedicated day each week to do check runs. They were spending at least a half-day each week just handling payments. With Bill.com, Wallace explains, “we now keep this AP machine running efficiently, rather than having dedicated time each week to get it all knocked out, which I felt was very inefficient. The majority of the month is already planned out for payments.” Bill.com cut the company’s time spent on AP in half, and has reduced Wallace’s time spent on approvals by at least 50%. Plus, their vendors are happy to be receiving electronic payments now.

Bill.com also integrates with Sage Intacct, the company’s core software. As Wallace explains, “we’ve figured out that none of these software companies are going to be your Swiss army knife, they’re not going to be able to handle everything 100% the best in the entire market. Sage Intacct is a great hub for our information. Bill.com is great for AP, and the information automatically falls back into Sage Intacct. We like to use Bill.com and other software each to do what they do really well, and then other packages that work with Sage Intacct to do other parts of our business. This approach bolsters our use of Sage Intacct.”

At the end of the day, one of the best things about Bill.com for United Fire is actually how little they have to interact with the system. For Wallace, it takes less than 30 seconds to approve 20 payments. “To be honest, I don’t go into Bill.com a ton, and that’s one of the nice features too,” he says. “I don’t think you hear about too many people who want to spend a lot of time in AP. You want to be in and out as quickly as possible and make sure all your ducks are in a row, and that’s what it’s given us. We’re all about higher-level fire protection, not about higher-level accounting. We want vendors and partners we can trust, and who will do A to Z and support us. Bill.com did that.”

 

“I don’t think you hear about too many people who
want to spend a lot of time in AP. You want to be in
and out as quickly as possible and make sure all your
ducks are in a row, and that’s what it’s given us. We’re
all about higher-level fire protection, not about
higher-level accounting.”


Jeff Wallace, Office Manager of United Fire

 

Navigating the Pandemic

Using their combined systems of Bill.com and Sage Intacct, United Fire’s employees have been more efficient working from home than in the office. Some have even caught up on their workloads and started asking for more projects. Such efficiency would never have been possible with their previous “black screen of death.”

Cloud-based tools meant never having to worry about their core processes going down, which was critical when other aspects, like in-person inspections, were major things to worry about during the shutdown. With dashboards, Wallace can track KPIs and see all the performance information he needs within 15 minutes. Now he can track weekly or even daily how the company is doing.

Having all this insight has been crucial to running a business during all the recent uncertainty and shutdowns. As Wallace says, “Having Bill.com won’t prevent the blips that hit or the rollercoaster ride that we’re all on right now, but it gives us a lot more visibility into where that roller coaster is going for our company, so we can hopefully navigate those waves a little bit better than we would have if we were blind.”

 

“The biggest thing is to know that implementation
is not that hard. Bill.com also has creative
solutions to fit whatever unusual AP setup you
might have. Just ask them.”


Jeff Wallace, Office Manager of United Fire

 

Advice for Other Businesses

United Fire has seen immediate success with Bill.com. Their advice to other businesses in a similar position? Implementation is quick and painless, so just do it now. “As accountants, we like to have our hands on everything and know what’s happening,” Wallace explains. “The biggest thing is to know that implementation is not that hard. Bill.com also has creative solutions to fit whatever unusual AP setup you might have. Just ask them.” You can build out a robust AP system if you want or have just a simple AP system, as United Fire has done. Smaller companies don’t have to have complicated accounting setups.

Wallace has one simple message for other businesses considering making the switch to Bill.com: “It’s easy to not want to think about AP. Definitely just pull the trigger.”

 

“It’s easy to not want to think about AP. Definitely
just pull the trigger.”


Jeff Wallace, Office Manager of United Fire