Simplified Finances Take Root at Massachusetts Horticultural Society Thanks to BILL
From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the discovery of microplastics in human blood, plastic pollution has emerged as a daunting environmental challenge in the world today. Because we use plastic so much in our everyday lives, it’s hard to imagine how we could live without it. But plant-based materials company Repurpose is doing just that—producing sustainable plastic substitutes for consumers. And automated, time-saving solutions from BILL and Divvy, a BILL spend and expense management solution, are helping make this green company even greener—and leaner.
Senior Controller Sarah Sanders was an early convert to the vision of Repurpose. In fact, she was the company’s first employee when it was founded 11 years ago. “I'm an environmentalist and an advocate for sustainability, and I really wanted to find a path in the green space,” explains Sanders. “I didn't anticipate working for a small business, but I love it. Now, I can't imagine doing anything different.“
Repurpose manufactures compostable home and partyware products including plates, picnicware, toilet paper, and trash bags. Their products are available at more than 17,000 stores nationwide. With the company’s success, headcount has grown from just Sarah to 25 employees, including a five-person finance team which she oversees. Perhaps more important, since their founding, Repurpose has kept more than 3.5 million pounds of waste out of landfills.
Bogged down in unsustainable billing processes
Most of Repurpose’s bill pay is for warehousing, freight, paying consultants, and promotions. As the company grew, managing all those invoices with manual billing processes became a pain point. The need to physically sign all the checks was another hassle.
When the pandemic hit, the problems with manual processes became even more acute. “Before COVID, our accounting team was very attached to physical records. We liked to staple things together and put them in a file, and have our boxes of source documents,” recalls Sanders. But in the post-pandemic remote work environment, this paper-based system was no longer feasible.
Repurpose needed an automated and paperless finance solution. “In my search for a finance automation solution, there was nothing that offered the same kinds of services as BILL,” Sanders says.
“In my search for an AP automation solution, there was nothing that offered
the same kinds of services as BILL.”
– Sarah Sanders, Senior Controller, Repurpose
Paperless, automated AP from BILL drove their processes and their mission forward
With BILL, Repurpose's approval process for AP is much improved. “Now, it's so simple. We can just set our approvals on BILL,” says Sanders. ”I can send the checks myself as well, which is helpful because there is no waiting around for check signatures.” Eliminating paper checks and the need to keep paper documents was also instrumental for going remote. Using BILL online, the Repurpose finance team could be on the same page in real time. Reducing the amount of paper also made Repurpose greener as a business. “The less paper we use, the better I feel about the job we are doing to serve our overall green mission,” explains Sanders. “Our primary mission is to reduce plastics in our environment, but we also like to protect our forests.”
BILL’s AI technology, which uses machine learning to extract, remember, and autofill invoice and vendor information, revolutionized Repurpose’s payments process. “Our AP manager is very impressed by the AI technology that BILL employs,” Sanders says. “The pre-populated invoice information makes the bill recording very painless.”
The AI capability from BILL has saved the finance team two days out of every work week. “The AI pulls all the information for you and it makes it so much easier,” says Sanders. “You just review. It's easier to cross reference than to actually key everything in.“
“Our AP manager is very impressed by the AI technology that BILL employs. The prepopulated invoice information makes the bill recording very painless.”
– Sarah Sanders, Senior Controller, Repurpose
BILL automation has also reduced the number of mistakes and supercharged Repurpose's ability to manage data. “We love data at Repurpose, and BILL makes accessing and reporting our data really simple,” explains Sanders. “We can import and export CSV files, and it cuts down on wasted time and errors. The report module for BILL is super helpful for achieving a fast and efficient month-end close. All the reports we need are easily accessible, and we can see our bills, our payments, and our funding history all in one place.“
Many of Repurpose's vendors are among the 4.7 million members who pay or get paid on the BILL network. Says Sanders, "Having so many of our vendors on the BILL network is good for our cash flow. Because we have shorter blocks of time between issuing the check and our vendors receiving them, we can wait longer to make payments."
Empowering employees with Divvy, a BILL spend and expense management solution
Originally, Repurpose used spreadsheets for expense reporting and management. Then, they migrated to Expensify—which was not a good fit for their needs. “It was a headache,” remembers Sanders. “There were always issues on the employee side, like technical issues with submitting expenses or setting up their accounts.”
Sanders needed a change, and with the successful rollout of BILL, it made sense to give Divvy, a BILL spend and expense management solution, a try. This ended up being the right move.
“Divvy makes it really easy to add card users and it's super convenient to have all of our card information available on the portal,” explains Sanders. “When we need to put our card details into a payment, we don't have to wait around for somebody to dig out their wallet and take a picture, which never feels secure.” The most important benefit of Divvy is that it is easy for employees to use, so they have more time to focus on their jobs and don’t have to worry about managing their expenses. “Making things simple for employees is also critical. Otherwise, we just don't get the expense records,” says Sanders. “Sometimes it is like herding cats to get the receipts from last month! Divvy has been really helpful in that regard.”
Saving the planet is hard, but financial automation is easy with BILL
“BILL makes payables easy,” says Sanders. “There's visibility for anyone who needs it. And the AI technology saves so much time.”
“Overall, a huge benefit of BILL is that I have much more time for big picture planning—team planning, budgeting, looking for areas of cost savings, and just preparing to scale,” Sanders concludes. “The system has helped me grow as a professional, and it has helped Repurpose grow as well.”