Montana Brands Management is a fast-growing franchisee that has expanded from eight to 12 Taco Bell locations in western Montana over the last two and a half years. Above all else, MTB Management strives to deliver exceptional service to drive customer satisfaction and execute on Taco Bell’s operating standards.
MTB Management has been recognized as a Taco Bell Golden Bell award winner six times in the last four years. This award recognizes the top 100 performing Taco Bell stores and leaders in the country out of nearly 8,000 Taco Bells. By aspiring to continue to receive such a prestigious award, MTB Management will foster the high-performance culture it has created and deliver excellence in all of its services and customer interactions.
Challenges Caused by a Manual AP Approach
Before the pandemic hit, MTB Management used a manual, paper-based approach for its entire accounts payable (AP) process. This included receiving, managing, and approving invoices for its then eight different Taco Bell franchises, as well as paying all of their suppliers.
Matt Ogle, MTB’s AP and Vendor Manager, described the many challenges associated with this approach. “It was an outdated way to manage our AP,” he said. “It was extremely time-consuming, not as secure as we would have liked, and too inefficient to support the company’s projected growth from eight to 12 stores in the next year or two.”
At the time, MTB Management received a high percentage of invoices in the mail, which Ogle then had to manually enter into QuickBooks Desktop. When it came time to pay the invoices, Ogle would run and print aging reports and deliver them by hand to the CFO for review. The CFO then approved certain invoices with a stroke of his pen, sending Ogle back to print those select checks and return with them for signature. Finally, Ogle would put them in the mail before starting the process all over with the next group of invoices.
“I used to spend up to 30 hours a week just on the clerical parts of our AP process,” said Ogle. “Clearly, we knew this time could be – and should be – spent on higher value, more strategic work to help the company in other ways. We also knew it wasn’t scalable and would hold us back as we continued to grow.”
MineralTree checks all the boxes – and then some
Ogle recommended that MTB Management consider an AP automation solution and led the vendor evaluation effort. While he originally had two key requirements for the ideal solution – one that would automate the end-to-end AP process and enhance payment security – the COVID-19 pandemic soon added one more item to the list: the ability to manage, approve, and pay invoices remotely.
“The pandemic hit right as we were evaluating different vendors and products,” explained Ogle. “It immediately highlighted the fact that we wouldn’t be able to keep doing things in the same ways we had in the past, and that we’d need an AP automation solution that could support remote workflows and approvals.”
After conducting extensive research and participating in many product demos, Ogle and MTB Management decided to go with MineralTree.
“For us, MineralTree was the only option that made sense, for a few different reasons,” said Ogle. “We immediately saw that it would automate our entire AP process to save so much time and effort. Plus, moving away from paper checks and using more electronic payments increased payment security, which was high on our CFO’s priority list. Finally, all of the people at MineralTree were extremely personable, knowledgeable, and clearly committed to our success. Once we saw all the other AP automation solutions that were out there, we were convinced that MineralTree was right for us.”
“Once we saw all the other AP automation vendors and solutions that were out there, we were convinced that MineralTree was right for us.”
AP and Vendor Manager
A win-win: MineralTree provides benefits to MTB Management and its suppliers
After a smooth implementation, the MineralTree solution is now up and running, and has been instrumental in supporting MTB Management’s opening of four new locations over the last two and a half years.
MTB Management now receives up to 90% of its invoices by email, triggering MineralTree’s automated invoice capture process and virtually eliminating the need for hand coding and manual data entry. A typical day entails processing approximately 50 invoices – up to 50% more than when they first implemented the platform. Despite this growth, MTB’s AP workflow is faster, easier, and much more effective than before.
Ogle now starts his days by logging into the MineralTree system to check for new invoices and review existing documents. “Thanks to MineralTree’s user interface, I can quickly go store by store to review all the invoices that are ready for approval,” he explained. “From there, I can select certain invoices and email them to the CFO for his review, and once approved, they are paid by ACH, check, or virtual card.”
In some cases, faster payments have helped MTB Management maintain better working vendor relationships for its own benefit. “Some of our preferred vendors offer better services or discounts in return for faster payment,” said Ogle. “MineralTree gives us real-time visibility into invoice status and the ability to hit these deadlines so we’re always making the best decisions for the overall business.”
MTB Management’s new AP automation system has also helped to strengthen its relationships with the 20-30 vendors at each of their 12 Taco Bell locations. The MineralTree platform offers them flexibility by catering to suppliers’ varying payment preferences and overall technology sophistication. This approach honors vendors’ payment preferences while still providing substantial efficiencies for the AP team.
“MineralTree gives us real-time visibility into invoice status and the ability to hit our preferred suppliers’ deadlines so we’re always making the best decisions for the overall business.”
AP and Vendor Manager
Powerful, Scalable AP Automation
Despite invoice volume growing by 50%, Ogle estimates that the time spent on AP has shrunk from 30 hours weekly to just 10-15. “MineralTree has been a big improvement,” he said. “If you factor in our recent growth, it’s easy to see that I wouldn’t have been able to do it all myself. MineralTree has saved us from having to hire additional accounting staff, while also freeing more than half of my time so I can focus on finding new ways to help run the business, such as producing better reports or improving other internal AP processes.”
When asked to summarize the business value MTB Management has achieved with MineralTree, Ogle described a range of benefits. “MineralTree automates, consolidates, and simplifies what would be an extremely time-consuming, tedious process. We now have less errors, more visibility, and complete confidence in our payment process, all of which helps us manage our business much more effectively.”
“MineralTree has saved us from having to hire additional accounting staff, while also freeing more than half of my time so I can focus on finding new ways to help run the business.”
AP and Vendor Manager