Each installment of the Bento Customer Spotlight features a current customer who shares their story of how they run their business, and how Bento plays a part in their success.
“Credit cards simply approve transactions,” explains Ron Johnson, Founder and General Manager of Nuvia Water Technologies, Incorporated, headquartered in Corona, California. “Aside from imposing maximum spending limits, bank cards provide very little control over employee and contractor spending—and that’s a formula for misuse. In the early days of our business we used traditional credit cards but quickly recognized the high costs of unauthorized expenditures and the hours it took to identify them—we were always working backwards.”
Operations Manager Halley Cuevas says that in contrast, the Bento for Business platform makes it easy to set specific purchasing parameters and control spending in real time. “In the past, the most-asked question in the office was, ‘What are these expenses?’ We seldom had a definitive answer and always had to play catchup at the end of the month when we reconciled the credit card accounts.
- Misuse of company credit cards
- 30 minutes to hours spent on daily transaction monitoring
- Lack of visibility and detailed reporting
- Time-consuming reconciliation
- Bento for Business expense cards and financial operating platform
- Saved thousands in monthly expenses
- Streamlined purchasing and approvals processes
- Reduced month-end reconciliation to one hour
- Improved responsiveness to staff and customers
- Focused resources on brand and revenue growth
“By switching to Bento for intelligent expense management, we’re able to be proactive and stay ahead of any issues. We rarely find misuse, and month-end reconciliation takes about an hour. Overall, we’ve eliminated thousands of dollars of unauthorized monthly spending.”
Johnson emphasizes the significance. “Bento gives us peace of mind, allowing us to focus more resources on our mission to become a nationally recognized brand leader in the water-filtration industry. This year we’ve introduced new products, expanded our markets, and expect to achieve record revenues.”
The Company: Nuvia Water Technologies, Inc.
Johnson founded Nuvia Water Technologies in 2011, bringing eight years of industry experience to the new business. Today, his multimillion-dollar company provides water- and air-filtration systems to residential customers from Sacramento to Bakersfield, California, throughout five counties in Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties), and across the Houston, Texas, metropolitan area. Four distribution facilities in the U.S. and two in Canada enable coast-to-coast systems delivery to support the company’s growth objectives.
Nuvia products today include five whole-house water systems, drinking-water filtration systems, and air-purification systems. The company has also recently launched a wholesale division through which plumbers and other professional water dealers market the Nuvia-manufactured Evince Water product line.
Nuvia carries a platinum certification from the IAPMO research and testing organization, along with product- and component-level certifications for compliance with relevant UL and NSF International quality, safety, and performance standards. The company also holds ISO certification for quality-management systems.
The Goal: Support staff without enabling expense abuse
Johnson says that quality and cost control were key corporate objectives from the beginning. “We originally worked with independent contractors to install our systems. But in order to maintain greater control over both service quality and costs as our business grew, we started hiring our own staff of technicians and installers.
“It was at that point that we issued bank credit cards to both field and office staff to use for their job-related purchases. That didn’t work. With just five cards out, we were already seeing problems of misuse. Reviewing transactions took at least 30 minutes every day. If we found an issue, it took even more time to dig into the details, make phone calls, charge back the expense, or take other corrective action. We were determined not to let the problem develop and astute enough to know we needed a more capable expense-management application.”
Results: Empowered staff, time savings, and a partner in growth
Johnson says Bento was an ideal fit for Nuvia requirements, citing functionality such as fine-grained expense controls, real-time monitoring and alerts, and security. “By transitioning to Bento early on, we avoided many of the spending problems that can plague small businesses. We effectively eliminated expense leaks without having to develop specific processes or set up complex checks and balances to manage the activity of company credit card holders.”
Trust but verify
Our staff has the freedom to make legitimate purchases with their Bento cards, while pre-set controls protect the company against unauthorized purchases.
Cuevas says that unlike bank cards that can’t distinguish between legitimate and unauthorized expenses, the Bento cards let Nuvia set very specific controls to prevent misuse. “I thought I had seen it all, but it was a real eye-opener when we did our very first audit of transactions declined by Bento—soda pop, expensive coffee drinks, groceries, even a video-game subscription! Using Bento has actually allowed us to turn those attempts at misuse into opportunities to give employees more freedom and encourage their integrity.
“For example, before we implemented Bento, there was a brief period of time when we actually confiscated all of our company credit cards. If installers needed to make unplanned job purchases at a local home-improvement or hardware store, they had to call us for approval and we’d make the payment over the phone. Now, instead of putting charges on their personal cards or tracking down a manager—potentially losing hours on a job site—our staff has the freedom to make legitimate purchases with their Bento cards, while pre-set controls protect the company against unauthorized purchases.”
Cuevas adds that Bento alerts help her stay responsive to staff and to gauge spending-forecast accuracy. “I have to be available to staff 24×7, so I love the Bento phone app. If an installer calls about a declined purchase, I can log onto the Bento app, identify the problem and address it—quickly and without having to go back to the office. Usually it’s a spending limit issue, so I can immediately allocate more funds.
“By tracking the frequency of staff requests, I can improve the accuracy of expense forecasting. Bento also lets us review transactions by category or department.”
Bento makes it easier for Nuvia to issue cards to new employees and to quickly turn off access in the event of a lost card. Today, the Nuvia team uses Bento employee cards for all fuel purchases, building and job materials, and office supplies.
Spend more time on revenue-producing work
Today we’re bursting at the seams with growth, but because of the effectiveness of the Bento controls, we only spend about an hour each month reviewing expense transactions.
Cuevas says that keeping field teams productive is vital to Nuvia success. “We provide the best equipment with the best technology on the market, backed up by good old-fashioned customer service. That’s what sets us apart from everybody else.
“Bento helps us on so many levels. We currently run six company vans and service vehicles, employ 30 direct staff, and work with 34 independent sales representatives. In the past, we had to check credit card activity every day, and that was for just a handful of staff. Today we’re bursting at the seams with growth, but because of the effectiveness of the Bento controls, we only spend about an hour each month reviewing expense transactions.
“In a business our size, the accounting manager juggles a lot of jobs and simply can’t afford to dedicate a large portion of her day to reconciliation. The time savings realized from Bento is reinvested into managing our installation contracts, processing commissions, streamlining procedures, calculating operating costs, analyzing marketing programs and conversion rates, and other activities with direct revenue impact.”
Stay efficient and focused on growth
Johnson expects to derive long-term value from the Bento platform. “Had we not found the Bento application early on, we might be telling a very different story today. But Bento delivers the expense controls and security that we need, so we’ve consistently managed our costs to stay highly efficient, productive, and competitive. Nuvia is a very growth-minded company, and we will continue with Bento as we further extend Nuvia products and services across North America.”
 International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
 International Organization for Standardization