Blue River PetCare Doubles Accounting Efficiency and Saves 75 Hours Amid Triple-Digit Annual Growth
For Blue River PetCare, trying to use QuickBooks to manage dozens of locations in a fast-growing multi-entity environment would have been something like, well, herding cats. It’s a scenario that the nationwide network of veterinary hospitals avoided with a well-timed upgrade to Sage Intacct as it expanded from 20 locations in 2014 to over 145 today, across 31 states.
"We knew we'd have to hire a lot more accounting staff if we stayed on QuickBooks, and still we’d be wasting time on inefficient manual processes," as Controller Amy Ward says in our new Blue River PetCare customer success story.
With its 2015 move to Sage Intacct, the Chicago-based company has financial management scalability to support triple-digit year-over-year revenue growth, up nearly 12-fold from 2014 to 2021. And it’s able to execute on goals of acquiring 20 to 30 new clinics a year.
“Sage Intacct allows us to innovate and scale with growth,” said Tiffany Hanken, accounting manager. “It can seem daunting to be acquiring 20 to 30 clinics a year, but the technology lets us embrace that goal. We have a lot more time to focus on growth, special projects, and new initiatives to help the company move forward.”
A 42% Reduction in Monthly Close Time
Selected after an evaluation of Microsoft Dynamics GP, Sage Intacct has equipped the Blue River accounting and finance team to rack up impressive gains in efficiency and insights. For example, the team has:
- Boosted overall accounting efficiency 2x
- Eliminated 75 hours a month of manual work
- Reduced monthly close time 42%, from up to 12 days down to just seven
- Accelerated the pace of intercompany settlements from quarterly to monthly
- Delivered deeper insights for business decisions with Sage Intacct’s dimensional reporting
The 2,500-employee company has seen big time savings in journal entries by using Sage Intacct templates to help automate the process, after initially doing that work manually in Sage Intacct. And it’s streamlined accounts payable with capabilities to upload bills covering multiple clinics and items, eliminating previous manual data entry.
“We do anywhere from 250 to 750 checks a week, so we probably would have had to double our AP staff as we grew if we had kept doing it the old way,” Ward said. Time savings in both journal entries and AP add up to about 50 hours a month.
Blue River is saving another 20 hours a month in biweekly payroll journal entries imported into Sage Intacct from PayCom, their HRIS system. And with automation, Blue River shifted from quarterly to monthly intercompany settlements, saving up to seven hours while improving data accuracy.
“Intercompany used to be very manual, but if everything goes smoothly it's a 30-minute process from start to finish,” Hanken said. “Before it could easily take more than a half-day at the end of the quarter if you had to dig into data to find an error that happened three months ago.”
A Smooth Close with Sage Intacct and FloQast
Those efficiency improvements helped Blue River reduce its monthly close time from up to 12 days down to seven, a 42% reduction also aided by a close management solution from FloQast, a Sage Intacct partner.
“Sage Intacct and FloQast work really well together,” Ward said. "Given our multi-entity setup and fast pace of acquisition, they allow us to scale relatively smoothly without adding too much to headcount.”
Blue River also benefits with commenting capabilities in Sage Intacct, sparing the need to call, email, text, or use a Post-It note to discuss or highlight issues. Sage Intacct “smart rules” also helps eliminate manual checks on data while guarding against inadvertent errors.
Ease of use through a modern, intuitive interface lets a new accounting team member quickly ramp up and speed productivity.
“I had never used any sort of accounting software when I joined Blue River, and Sage Intacct wasn't hard to learn at all,” Hanken said. "It's set up very easily and it's very intuitive as you click through information.”
More Time to Focus on Growth and Innovation
With the time savings, Blue River finance pros are contributing more value to the business through enhanced reporting and innovations. For example, the team has deployed its first-ever financial planning and analysis solution, Solver, and Lease Query software for lease accounting to help comply with FASB 842 requirements.
“We have a lot more time to focus on growth, special projects, and new initiatives to help the company move forward,” Hanken said.
The team also added cost metrics as a percentage of revenue and EBITDA to reports supplied to clinic managers. That’s been especially valuable in managing payroll expenses and vendor spend at the clinic level.
"We try to be super user-friendly and not dictate how to operate their business, so providing metrics provides a basis to optimize costs and make more real-time decisions at the clinic level,” Ward said.
The ease of report creation, customization, and drill-down into detail in Sage Intacct has been a huge improvement over manual reporting in Excel, equipping the team to deliver better information more quickly to executives and clinic managers.
“Sage Intacct reporting is very easy, and the dimensions have helped us build things the way we want to see them,” Ward said. “If someone wants to view something differently, it’s easy to customize a report however the person wants to see it.”
Hanken agreed. “Sage Intacct gives us the ability to report at the level we need to report on and provide quick information to stakeholders without this whole manual process," she said.
Data-Driven Decisions During COVID-19
Sage Intacct also helped Blue River adapt when COVID-19 struck in March 2020, with timely data helping guide decisions on curtailed services and reduced staffing hours.
After initial scrambles, Blue River adopted curbside services and saw business return with a spike in “pandemic puppies” among homebound employees, ultimately doubling EBITDA between March 2020 and 2021.
“Sage Intacct definitely allows our business to grow without hiring a ton of people,” Hanken said. “It also empowers our young team to really think outside the box on how to use the technology and improve processes and culture from the ground up.”
See our full Blue River PetCare customer success story to learn more about how the veterinary clinic network is scaling amid rapid growth with Sage Intacct.
With 12+ years of global high tech customer marketing experience. Andrew has lead global customer reference team responsibilities for generating awareness, building sales pipeline, creating customer success evidence, and growing revenue. As the Director of Customer Marketing at Sage Intacct, he is responsible for leading the customer reference and advocacy program.
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