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.
It was nine o’clock at night when they finally switched off the office lights. The good news was that the company was on a revenue roll. The bad news? So were expenses.
Allison Lopez, Chief Operating Officer at Texas-based Precision Facility Services, explains. “Unfortunately our company’s multi-million-dollar growth came at the cost of out-of-proportion spending and increasingly complex expense management. Work days for the financial team had routinely turned into 12-hour, transaction-chasing marathons. To protect profits and the future of our business, we knew we had to get a better handle on spending. And we had to do it without further burdening administrative staff.”
- Out-of-control expenses and spending
- Transaction-chasing marathons by finance
- Paper-based processes
- Lack of visibility and detailed reporting
- Bento for Business expense cards and financial operating platform
- Saved nearly $30,000 in the first 6 months
- Cut expenses by more than 50% across the company
- Reduced administrative workload by at least 70%
- Maximized profits to re-invest into revenue growth and employee benefits
Lopez’s spending-reduction strategies paid off dramatically. “In just one year we reduced monthly spending by 60 percent. To achieve that savings, we made a number of important changes, including moving to the Bento for Business platform for managing employee expenses. We realized savings almost immediately—nearly $30,000, in fact—in just the first six months of using Bento cards.
“Setup was fast, and the dashboard was easy for our administrators to learn. By saving us hours of manual expense management every day, Bento significantly improved our quality of work life. And of course, by minimizing expenses and maximizing profit, we’re able to invest more in our team, to purchase more and better equipment for the business, to be more competitive in our pricing—those are the real drivers for achieving higher profits.”
The Goal: Intelligent expense management for a fast-growing SMB
Although our existing business checking account included debit cards, the account did not provide the level of detail and reporting options we needed. I’d have to say that spending on those debit cards was out of control.
Founded in 2004, Precision Facility Services provides professional cleaning, facilities maintenance, and other services to commercial businesses across Texas and beyond. From offices in the state’s four major metroplexes of Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Precision serves a diverse base of customers, including large-scale property-management companies, parking businesses, and a number of the nation’s largest gas-station and convenience-store retailers.
Lopez says an emphasis on quality and communication garners customer loyalty. “We’re a niche business in an industry where many smaller mom-and-pop vendors come and go. We’ve worked hard to raise the bar on expectations, delivering consistently professional-grade service and being responsive and available to customers, 24×7.”
But Lopez says that with success have come challenges. “Because our team brings a breadth of skills to the job, we’re able to take on an array of projects. But not every job is profitable or in line with our business strategy. One of the ways we’ve controlled spending is to focus on businesses like power washing and striping—services we can offer with zero or low overhead. We also try to be smart about choosing clients and the scope of contracts, carefully matching our expertise with client requirements.
“To make such decisions, we need fast access to accurate expense data. Until recently, however, many processes were paper-based. And, although our existing business checking account included debit cards, the account did not provide the level of detail and reporting options we needed. I’d have to say that spending on those debit cards was out of control. One evening, for example, I checked the expense-account balance at 8 p.m. and saw more than $5,000 available for work crews. When I checked again at 6 a.m., the account was completely depleted. We clearly needed a tool more geared to expense management.”
Thousands of dollars in monthly savings
Today transactions are strictly controlled through Bento, and we continue to fine tune spending allocations for additional savings. We’ve eliminated most of the unpredicted bulky expenses, smoothed out spending, and decreased total maintenance costs.
Today, all Precision Facility Services employees and 1099 contractors use Bento cards for work-related job, equipment, and office expenses. “We maintain the business bank account for payroll and bills but now manage all other expenses through Bento,” notes Lopez. “We’ve currently assigned some 50 employee and utility cards, each with the appropriate category and spending controls set from the Bento dashboard.
“Using Bento, we can closely track company-wide spending against budgets. Administrators use the dashboard to monitor every transaction every day, and we also receive text alerts based on the controls we set. We know exactly the spend in each category and against every job, as well as project profitability. In addition to streamlining job-cost analysis, Bento reporting lets us look at weekly and monthly averages, compare peak- versus slow-season job costs, and run other performance analyses.”
Lopez says the first days of Bento card use brought eye-opening discoveries. “One employee working on a six-week project routinely spent around $100 at 1:30 a.m. Our old bank card showed the early-morning transactions, along with the out-of-state business name—which we thought sounded like a gas station. But within the first 24 hours of using Bento, we learned that the ‘gas station’ was actually a bar/restaurant. All that time he hadn’t been on the job site and two weeks into the project had already cost our company more than $1,000. Without Bento tracking, we might never have known. Although we ultimately found that misuse—intentional and otherwise—was not widespread, it was costly. Today transactions are strictly controlled through Bento, and we continue to fine tune spending allocations for additional savings.”
Precision Facility Services also uses Bento to allocate spending for preventative maintenance. “Realizing that vehicle breakdowns used to cost $2,000 or more every month, we now religiously schedule and allocate expense dollars for oil changes, tire replacements, etc. We’ve eliminated most of the unpredicted bulky expenses, smoothed out spending, and decreased total maintenance costs.”
70% less work
Lopez says Bento gives her team more information and control in much less time. “In the past, for example, reporting and replacing a single lost card meant a potential security issue and a 20-minute (often frustrating!) call to the bank. With Bento, it’s a matter of seconds to turn off the missing card and assign a replacement. Once we started using Bento, expense tracking got a little simpler each day until one afternoon when 4:30 rolled around, we realized we were finished for the day, everything was done. Today, that’s the norm. Overall, I’d estimate that Bento has decreased administrative workload by at least 70 percent.”
More profits to invest
Honestly, I don’t know how we’d have been able to get expenses under control without Bento.
Lopez reflects on the company’s savings and describes the opportunities she believes will come from higher profits. “Bento is a great resource and a vital tool in our efforts to rein in spending. Honestly, I don’t know how we’d have been able to get expenses under control without Bento. Over the past year, the changes we’ve made across the company have allowed us to cut expenses by more than 50 percent and given us more resources to apply to producing revenue—which we aim to double this year.”
Lopez says the business is already reaping the benefits of higher profits to: increase employee benefits; offer competitive salaries to attract the best project managers and technical talent; reduce prices to gain market share; and invest in the best equipment. Precision Facility Services, for example, is one of only a handful of professional-cleaning businesses in the country using drivable Cyclone Technology equipment with water reclamation and other eco-friendly features to meet environmental requirements.
A power team
Lopez says that Bento helps everyone better understand company finances. “We’re fortunate to have a team of highly skilled, dedicated workers. With the spending visibility they have through Bento, each of them can be more engaged in budgeting processes and more proactive in identifying ways to save. We’re truly working together to help our business grow and to continue to provide rewarding opportunities for personal development.”