Modernizing Accounting to Free Capacity and Keep Up with Rapid Growth

Sun Auto Tire & Service, Inc. is a premier provider of vehicle maintenance, repair, and tire replacement serving 18 states. Sun Auto Tire & Service continues to expand its presence throughout the United States and is entertaining acquisition discussions with operators who wish to preserve the companies' legacies while leveraging the benefits of shared resources and technology to grow the businesses.

The Challenge

Sun Auto Tire & Service (Sun Auto) grew exponentially through acquisitions over the past year and a half. However, both staffing and technology in Finance & Accounting hadn’t kept pace with continued expansion.

“Sun Auto had purchased 200+ stores in the 12 months before I came on board, but our staffing hadn’t ramped up accordingly,” says Sandra Cave, Senior Accounting Manager at Sun Auto. “We still had a manual reconciliation process, so there was no easy way to scale, and our reconciliations weren’t always done on time.”

For the 10-member sales audit team, the combination of a manual process and ongoing growth made transaction matching particularly challenging.

“Our team really focuses on getting our sales data from our point-of-sale system and putting that into our GL system as accurately as possible. We audit the cash that comes through,” says Jasmin Templin, sales audit manager at Sun Auto. “Our job is to make sure that what we invoice, we collect. Then we do the cash account reconciliations. But we were spending hours and hours manually matching transactions.”

The outdated reconciliation process also meant staff spent too many hours managing journals.

“We work with these consolidated, high-level journal entries that are automatically generated from our system,” says Templin. “We spent a lot of time trying to figure out why our totals didn’t match and what we thought they should be. We were constantly drilling in and trying to figure out the source of issues.”

Why BlackLine

Sun Auto’s CFO recommended the sales audit team look into BlackLine to automate the reconciliation process. In the interest of due diligence, Templin and her team reviewed BlackLine and several other solutions.

“From the start, we could see that BlackLine Transaction Matching would not only speed up the process but enable us to be super flexible with our existing rules,” says Templin. “We made the case for why BlackLine was a good fit. It was very easy to get executive buy-in, especially since our CFO had first recommended BlackLine.”

The team self-implemented the solution with the help of a BlackLine consultant. “Jerry [Brown] and I aren't people who normally work on software implementations but we had such great support from BlackLine that the implementation went very well. If all BlackLine consultants are like ours, we think anyone could do well on their implementation,” says Templin.

“We’ve also been surprised by how much support we still have after two years. It’s really made a difference because we were so nervous about going live. It’s easier to make that leap when you know you’re going to continue to be supported.”

The Results

Increased visibility. With BlackLine, Sun Auto’s accounting staff now have a single source of truth and real-time visibility into their accounting activities.

“Previously, the team had to pull trial balances manually and then compare them,” says Jerry Brown, assistant manager at Sun Auto. “Now, with BlackLine, it’s all in one place. The team can see all balances and accounts. It makes things so much easier.”

Adds Templin, “When someone asks for a trial balance or is locked out of Great Plains and wants a printout, I just say ‘Log in to BlackLine, it’s all right there for you.’ And no one has to ask ‘Are you done? Are you done?’ because everyone’s progress is visible in BlackLine.”

Saved time. Sun Auto’s team saved roughly 50 hours per month with BlackLine Transaction Matching, making it easier for staff to keep up with the company’s rapid growth.

“We used to spend hours on manually matching transactions. Watching BlackLine’s Transaction Matching product do it in two minutes is amazing,” says Brown. “Our old process was mostly manual, so being able to automate matching has been a game changer for the accounting team as a whole. BlackLine is really allowing us to focus on the bigger picture and address problem areas.”

The team also no longer wastes valuable hours on unnecessary activities.

“Having the automatic schedule in BlackLine is really making our users look at each activity and question its value,” says Templin. “That’s going to help us down the line, because we have so many reconciliations, and many of them are dated accounts. BlackLine is already helping find some of those, and we're going to continue to weed out all the unnecessary extra stuff.”

Freed capacity to focus on meaningful, value-added work. By reducing tedious manual work via automation, Sun Auto’s accounting staff has more time to spend on the activities that create value for the company.  

“Our department benefits immensely from BlackLine,” says Brown. “We have more time to take on new responsibilities. Team members can learn new things and decide how they want to grow in their roles. I’m very excited about that.”

The reduction in manual work has also led to increased confidence and job satisfaction, key to Sun Auto’s ability to retain top accounting talent in a competitive market.

 “I've always wanted to stay at places where I was growing as an accountant and learning new things,” says Cave.

Adds Brown, “Relieving the pressure on the team gives them more confidence in their job in general, which definitely helps us keep our talent.”

Reduced risk. By moving away from manual processing, Sun Auto’s team has reduced the risk of human error.

“With BlackLine, we have a system we trust,” says Templin. “There’s little chance of accidentally deleting something or putting it in the wrong folder.”

Adds Cave, “It's easier for me to sleep at night because now I know that our reconciliations are being done accurately and on time.”  

Industry

Retail

ERP

Microsoft Great Plains

Region

United States

Company Size

Midsize

Business Impact

Increased visibility.

Saved time.

Freed team capacity to focus on meaningful.

Value-added work.

Reduced risk.


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