How AP Automation Modernized a Family Construction Business
Becky Sorrells of Sorrells & Co. shares how AvidXchange helped solve her invoice and payment challenges in the construction industry
Sorrells & Co., a design + build construction company in Waco, Texas, is a family business started in 1998. The company created Waco’s first master planned community on the 120-acre Sorrells family farm and has since developed multiple residential and commercial neighborhoods. Its work includes the renovation of a historic building in Waco’s downtown to create a coworking community space.
The challenges: Missing invoices, daunting approval cycles and Friday pay days
Reliant on scores of contractors, subcontractors and suppliers, Sorrells & Co. was drowning in invoices.
Sorrells was also frustrated with being stuck in the office to distribute paychecks every other Friday, the customary pay day for construction trades. Following the pandemic, a pressing labor shortage made it difficult to hire an AP professional to help with this process.
“I used to hire interns, but now there are too many flexible job options available and it’s nearly impossible to get anyone to come in on Friday afternoons,” said Sorrells. “When I do find someone, turnover is high, so I waste endless time training people to do the job only to lose them and have to turn my attention to finding replacements.”
Intrigued with the idea of a paperless office, Sorrells began researching automated accounts payable (AP) solutions. She needed a solution that seamlessly integrated with Sage 100 Contractor, a cloud-based construction management and accounting software she relies on and especially appreciates for its ability to handle job costing, a critical aspect of the construction industry.
Products used: Timberscan Titanium & AvidPay
Year joined: 2019
Accounting system: Sage 100 Contractor
Becky Sorrells, a certified public accountant, has been an important component of the family business since its inception. Her role has evolved from handling Sorrells & Co.’s bookkeeping from home while she cared for her then small children to serving as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of a burgeoning residential and commercial design + build construction company.
The solution: End-to-end automation eliminates the paper chase
In 2019, Sorrells implemented TimberScan Titanium, an AvidXchange invoice automation solution specifically designed for the construction industry. It eliminates data entry and approval hassles and enables Sorrells to view invoices and documents and to cut checks in Sage 100 Contractor.
“Timberscan is a good fit for being able to have everything attached to invoices for automated approval processes,” said Sorrells. “It worked so well that I started to think about how I could also automate the payments side of our business.”
In 2021, Sorrells implemented AvidPay, AvidXchange’s full-service payment automation solution that offers electronic payments. Integrated with Timberscan on one platform, the AvidXchange construction suite offers a fully automated purchase to pay solution, accessible from one location.
“It didn’t take long until AvidPay became second nature to the way we work,” said Sorrells. “When I need to know how to do something new or something I haven’t done in awhile, I rely on my AvidXchange team and their online training for quick refreshers.”
The company is in the process of helping its contractors move to electronic payments through AvidPay for faster payment and reduced ACH costs.
AvidXchange helped Sorrells & Co. transition change-resistant contractors to a modernized, faster approach by offering a customized solution — assisted ACH payments. The process allows Sorrells to cover the cost of ACH for select suppliers.
“It used to be that we had to take pay checks directly to job sites as an incentive to get contractors to commit to work,” said Sorrells. “Now we can make their lives even easier — and jobs more enticing — by offering them direct payments.”
The results: Freedom from paper
Sorrells has experienced multiple benefits since automating AP last year, from stress-free invoice processing to better visibility, faster payments and fewer hiring needs.
She estimates that she used to spend two weeks per month solely processing invoices and paying bills. She now no longer has to do that.
Cloud-based automation and electronic payments also save Sorrells & Co. significant costs, including paper and mailing expenses. It also saves the company the cost (and aggravation) of hiring someone to tend to the office and hand out checks on Friday afternoons. Sorrells handed over AP duties to an employee from Dallas who remotely manages invoice processing an hour or so per day, and the company continues to transition contractors over to electronic payments, eliminating the hassle of paper checks.
“Automation has made life easier on everyone,” said Sorrells. “Contractors love having money just appear in their bank account and they can easily pay their people as easily as we can pay ours.”
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