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Loomis Turns to BlackLine AR Automation to Streamline Account Receivables Across the Business

Loomis is best known for its iconic armored pickup trucks that securely and reliably move cash between businesses and banks, but that‘s only one aspect of their business. This global enterprise has 24,000 employees in 400 offices around the world. Loomis is a best-in-class cash management specialist and helps manage the public flow of cash in society.

They do this through the provision of cash management solutions that save organizations money, protecting them from fraud and attack, while offering bespoke logistics division specialist services which round off a complete end-to-end cash management offering.

Loomis operates in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dubai, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. While their international presence provides the benefits of a global network of secure cash handling facilities with a substantial fleet of armored vehicles and highly trained staff, they also have a strong local presence in every community they serve.

The Challenge

While Loomis excelled at physically moving cash, their electronic cash application process was lengthy, cumbersome, and time-consuming. Manual application of remits took all day, which delayed productivity throughout the organization, from sales through to collections. Because Loomis is a strategic supplier of cash, late payments indicate a high risk of non-recoverable debt, which makes it especially important for them to immediately follow up on past due accounts. Their previous collections system only produced a basic spreadsheet. It didn’t factor in external debtor risk factors.

The organization also lacked real-time visibility of customer payments. Because credit controllers did not trust the aging reports, they repeatedly called the cash team to verify non-payment before making collections calls. The mistrust of system data slowed the collections process, created tension between the cash and collections teams, and added overhead.

To help the finance team streamline their operations, Loomis began searching for a unified AR platform approach to help consolidate processes, simplify typical month-end cycles, and collect cash faster.

Why BlackLine

BlackLine was the vendor of choice for Loomis. “We chose BlackLine because of their innovative use of emerging technologies, such as machine learning to solve real day-to-day problems within transactional finance in a cost- effective way. We were also impressed with their desire to listen and understand our needs and deliver genuine customer satisfaction”.

The original business case for AR automation was focused on reducing unallocated cash in the most efficient way possible and implementing a collections tool, which enabled teams to collect in an accurate and streamlined way.

At the time of implementation, Loomis was looking to overcome specific accounts receivable challenges. Despite having dedicated resources, the value of unallocated cash and the timeliness of the applications was having an impact on how effectively and efficiently the credit control team could operate.

They wanted their credit control team to be able to take advantage of the benefits that the much more efficient cash application solution would provide, allowing them to work in a much smarter way. Having tight real-time integration between the allocation and collection modules in the AR automation platform was a key driver to implement BlackLine, enabling Loomis to achieve their goals in a unified platform.

The Results

Today, automation of their entire invoice-to-cash process is no longer a burden on the finance team. The entire operation takes less than 20 minutes for one individual to complete. The company virtually eliminates all unapplied cash by 10:00 am each day. The AR automation platform provided immediate value to the organization.

Mark Beddoe, Head of Financial Systems and Transactional Services at Loomis says: “Within six months of going live with Collect, we reduced our average DSO by 10%, reduced our average overdue debt by 29%, and were able to reduce our average bad debt provision by 23%. In the following two years, prior to 2020 and the pandemic, the DSO has remained roughly at the same level of reduction with our overdue debt reducing by an average of 35% and bad debt provision remaining roughly the same.”

The adoption of the collections solution in BlackLine’s AR Automation platform introduced a much smarter way of working, whereby past payment history enabled a forecast of future behavior. If customers varied from the forecast behavior, or there wasn’t enough data for the system to make a forecast, the system presented the customer to the attention of the credit controller for further action.

For the first time, they had visibility and control over all events, and harnessed the data to efficiently drive credit control activity. As a result, resources are being accurately allocated to the areas that require attention, reducing the guesswork.

The platform also allowed them to manage absence among the credit control team more effectively by allowing customers to be reallocated to controllers very quickly and efficiently. All events are logged so anyone can pick up an account and know what had taken place and what action was required.

“The newly introduced management information suite provides a wealth of dashboards and reports to really get under the skin of what is happening with your debt, your sales ledger, how your controllers are performing, and how effective your collection strategies are.”

 Risk & Processes

Up until the point Loomis adopted BlackLine’s AR Automation Platform, their risk data had always sat separately.

"This made it difficult to get a well-rounded view of customers, as it required manual effort to bring the sales ledger and risk data together for analysis. BlackLine enables us to import monthly risk data and daily alerts to get a holistic view of all our customers. We use all of this data to analyze our customers, allowing us to further refine resourcing efforts and develop collection strategies.”

 People & Processes

Loomis saw an immediate impact on the team. “The new approach to dealing with debt just made sense and answered so many questions…… Why isn’t the ledger up

to date? Why do we have so much unallocated cash? Why do I have to wade through hundreds of remittances every month? Why is customer xxx contacted every month even though they pay us every month albeit a few days late? Why don’t I know that customer yyy has had a significant worsening of its DBT according to our credit reference agency”.

Loomis now has the answers to all these questions in real time, providing consistent and continual feedback to the finance teams.

 Additional Benefits

Mark says, “Cash application is now completed much more efficiently and is now a part time, 15–20-minute task every morning. This means that the sales ledger in our ERP and the collections module is updated on more timely basis, with increased accuracy and lower levels of unallocated cash. “This in turn has helped our credit control team and in conjunction with the smarter approach to working, driven by the AR automation platform, delivers pre-pandemic improvements in DSO and bad debt. Our finance teams are happier and more fulfilled working this way. The solution allows for greater management visibility and insight, allowing differing strategies to be implemented and evaluated.”

 The  Future
At present, Loomis’ finance team is reviewing internal processes to enable the company to maximize BlackLine’s full functionality by implementing the AR intelligence

module. This will allow them to harness patterns and trends from data previously unavailable to the team.

Having their cash application and collections solutions in the cloud meant that they were able to transition to a working- from-home environment during the pandemic lockdown very easily.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and adopt a hybrid working policy, this benefit will continue to be enjoyed as we return to the office for only a couple of days per week. The sophistication of the AR automation platform means that we haven’t had to rely on physical remittances for a number of years. Even though the collection of cash from our customers, who were suffering their own lockdown challenges, became more challenging, our ability to match the cash that came in wasn’t impacted at all.

“As we look to the future and new ways of working, we will continue to mine the data from BlackLine’s AR automation platform to help guide us on making smarter, faster, more accurate decisions".