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Turnover & Labor Shortages in Credit Departments

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Experts in this webinar

Allan Francis
Allan Francis

Today’s current labor-shortage crisis, or the “Great Resignation,” as folks like to call it, is ripping through multiple (okay, probably all of) the industries out there, and credit departments are no exception.

An overwhelming number of tasks and processes are being put on overworked credit teams, causing stress, burnout, and natural human error that comes with manual, repetitive tasks.

For businesses operating in today’s unpredictable business environment, automated technology that was once a “nice-to-have” has quickly evolved into a “must-have.” However, technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to know which path to choose!

Join Nick Ezzo, VP Product Marketing at Auditoria.AI, and Allan Francis, Credit Operations Manager at Levelset, to hear the impacts of turnover and labor shortages on credit departments, and how software helps.

You’ll hear about:

  • The impacts of turnover and labor shortages in credit departments
  • How roles in the back office will evolve due to implementing automation and advanced technologies
  • Some of the great software options out there that help streamline your processes and optimize your team’s talent

 

Speaker 1 (00:04):
Good afternoon everybody. And thank you for joining us today. As we talk about how software helps with labor shortages in your credit department, why happens and how you’re gonna stop it today? We are joined by Nick Zo is the VPM product marketing with auditoria. Thanks for joining us today, Nick.

Speaker 2 (00:21):
Thanks. Glad to be here.

Speaker 1 (00:23):
And Alan Francis, of course, with level set, handles our manager of credit operations. Thank you for joining us, Allen.

Speaker 3 (00:30):
Thank you very much. It’s good to be here. Okay. Once again, I’ll just start. My name is Allen Francis. I’m manager of credit operations. I’ve been in credit management for about 30 years and level set has been probably one of not probably has been the best career move I’ve ever made. We, we are out there working in several areas to help people get paid, what they’re supposed to be paid. You know, it it’s, it’s there for the subcontractor, the general contractor, people that are supposed to be paid in construction. That’s to have such a hard time getting paid. This helps them get paid. And that’s basically, that’s what I bring to the table. As far as this is concerned to give you an idea of what, what a credit, a credit manager’s perspective might be. And then Nick has a complete just his company has been amazing, learning more about what they do, bringing technology to the, you know, because technology will change everything. And I think we all notice that. And basically just, we’re gonna take some time today just going back and forth. And we all know that as, as the labor markets restrict is becoming more restrictive in everything that we have to do. We have to be smarter with the way we work. And so I’m gonna turn it over to Nick, have him give a little introduction about him.

Speaker 2 (01:43):
Great. Thanks Alan. My name’s Nick Azo. I head up marketing here at auditoria. We’re a about a two year old company, two, two years and some change. And I’ve been with the firm for about that long two years in one month. We’re our, our, our purpose at auditoria is to help finance and accounting people kind of get their lives back, you know, finance and accounting, people work nights, weekends, and holidays. They do a lot of routine mundane stuff. We’ve developed kind of an army of bots. If you will, software bots that help you do accounting software tasks faster. So whether it’s posting journal entries or responding to customer and vendor requests, we, we do all that kind of stuff prior to joining auditoria. I was with an E R P vendor called agent tech for a number of years. And then prior to that, I was with a planning and budgeting company called host analytics or planful for a number of years before that. So I’ve really been in the, in this FinTech space, helping finance and accounting people try to get their lives back for the last eight years or so. So happy to be here. Thanks Alan.

Speaker 3 (02:38):
So as you can tell from the title, what we’re looking for is what’s causing all the increased turnover and how come labor is. We become such a problem to find, we know that’s happening all over the place. A lot of people are jumping out of the labor market or they’re, you know, they’ve decided, you know what, I’m gonna try to do something else. And a lot of times, especially in the accounting area, that the duties in the task have become so mundane that maybe they’re losing the joy of employment and they just don’t wanna be there anymore. You’ve got a lot of people vying for the same labor pool and it’s making it more expensive. And a lot of times when you hear technology come along with labor, everybody has the same fear. I’m gonna be replaced by a computer. I’m gonna be replaced by software.

Speaker 3 (03:23):
And from what I’ve already seen in the way this is working and where, you know, if you’ve been a credit manager, if you work with accounts receivable for any time at all, every time a new piece of software comes out, everybody’s always afraid it’s gonna replace somebody. And actually it, you usually just, it steps it up a level and everything becomes more impactful. And there’s still plenty of plenty of room for many more employees. So I’m just gonna tell you that what we find it’s harder finding good people to, to man your phones, and to talk to your customers, your first point of contact that is so important. And so we’ve gotta to find a way that the customer cannot call and we cannot communicate with the customer by email all the time. There has to be some personal input in input, and there has to be some contact made. And I think Nick’s group is head and shoulders above what you see coming in the industry. And he’s going to make from what I can tell, he’s going to make every call that we make much more impactful. So I don’t want to step outta my lane and Nick, if you wanna speak to that as well,

Speaker 2 (04:27):
That sounds good. Sounds good. Are we, are we on this agenda slide or should we move forward into the into the actual presentation can go forward? All right. So you know, as Allen said, you know, we, we’ve got lots and lots of things that are causing in the back office, you know it’s not just the routine mundane tasks, but if, if you’ve switched the next slide, there’s a whole list of things that, that we’ve seen. And I know Allen’s seen it. We do a survey here. Third year in a row, we do a survey of struggles in the back office, if you will, or, you know, the, the state of automation in the back office. And, and we’ve, we surveyed 200 people the first year, 500 people the second year. And this year we’re doing about a thousand survey respondents.

Speaker 2 (05:03):
We hear the same things over and over again. It’s things like lack of visibility. You know, if your job is to guide the organization and you can’t see what’s out ahead of you, you know, you, you’re trying to fly the plane and you can’t see, you know, the mountain in front of you. So that’s, that’s a big problem. It’s also a source of friction in the back office, lack of standard and things like processes, the skills I’ll touch on that for a moment. I I talk to CFOs every day. In fact, I, I do a, a CFO video corner called it’s called the CFO corner. And I, I interviewed a guy a couple weeks ago and I, I asked him, Hey, what, what are the biggest challenges that you find when you’re hiring people? And he said, Nick, these kids come outta college.

Speaker 2 (05:42):
It’s they, they, they don’t wanna do the work that, that we did coming up. You know, when we were young in our careers, number one, they don’t wanna do data entry. Number two, they don’t wanna make sure column a matches column B and number three, most importantly, they sure as heck don’t wanna call people on the phone and ask ’em for money. And so we found that this it’s a big issue exacerbated by the fact that a lot of older folks, people who have been in the industry for a while are retiring. So, you know, the person who’s been doing that account’s receivable job or credit manager job for 26 years, she’s decided she’s, she’s gonna go, you know, live in Hawaii and they try to hire somebody outta college. Nobody wants to do that work. A touched on the fear of being replaced. I think we should talk more about that. I agree wholehearted with you, Alan. Sometimes there is a fear that, right, this, this, this robot’s gonna replace me. But I, I agree with you that,

Speaker 3 (06:31):
Can I jump back to the lack of required skills? I have a great anecdote. If you’ll, if you will give me a minute, please, right? Right. At anybody that’s from the new Orleans areas or knows anything about new Orleans, right after Katrina, there was a labor drain, incredible labor drain. And a lot of it has to do with the ski. It’s not necessarily, it’s not just the lack of skill, but the labor force wanting to shortcut and take shortcuts all the way across the board. So I was trying to find a file clerk, a simple file clerk, an average pay right then was eight to $9 an hour. But I ran into something after Katrina that Wendy’s next door was paying $16 an hour. No. So I’m gonna pay my file clerk $9 an hour. When she, when she, or he could go down the street and get 15 or $16 an hour.

Speaker 3 (07:19):
So after reviewing several, several applicants, I finally came up with who I thought was gonna be the best candidate, set her off on a task. And you could tell she was not all about de she was not detail oriented. So her task was to take all these files. There were lots of them and refile them after the storm and get them all done, give her a week to get it done and everything else. And I noticed after a day of working the next day, she said she was finished. And I, it kind of surprised me, cuz I had given her an entire week to do that. But you could always tell she was looking for something new and something. She, she wanted to be the one that did a different all the time. Well, when I went to check and see how the files were being filed, there was maybe one or two and a and one or two and B and one or two files all the way up to Z. But I got to the Ts and the Ts were loaded file cabinet director file cabinet. She put the word, she put the word the in front of every company’s name. And I ended up in that. That’s where she stopped with the alphabet, alphabetizing, everything. And so I ended up with seven cabinets full of buzz. So that’s what you, that’s what you run into when you have competition for labor. So I agree with you wholeheartedly hope the anecdote wasn’t too ridiculous, but it’s real. I swear to, oh,

Speaker 2 (08:39):
I, I love that anecdote. Let me, let me tell you a quick story on the fear of being replaced. This is one where I, I I’ve run into this over and over and over again. When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, my mom used to drive a Buick station wagon, you know, ugly, big brown Buick station wagon. You guys probably remember them and she’d pull into the gas station. And the gas station attendant would come out a little, a little hut and he’d, you know, she’d roll on the window and she’d say, fill it up with regular or unleaded. He’d pump the gas, check the oil, wash the wind windshields. He’d do those little credit card swipe thing. And we’d be off on our Merry way. When I was in high school in the 1980s, it was introduced something called pay at the pump and pay at the pump meant you could just pull up in, well, unless you live in Oregon or some parts of New Jersey you could pull up and pump your own gas, swipe your debit or credit card and off you go.

Speaker 2 (09:26):
And I always wondered what happened to that guy in the hut that would come out and wash the windows, check the oil and, and pump the gas. And I thought, well maybe, maybe he became a pay at the pump installer. Maybe he became a pay at the pump maintainer or a designer. What I found out recently is he’s none of those things. He’s still inside the hut, but he doesn’t have to come out and do anything anymore. He sits behind the counter and he makes more money than ever. He’s ever seen selling $5, candy bars and $8 bottles of Gatorade and $20 things of windshield washer fluid. So my point is Alan and the rest of the team, you know, technology is actually a way to elevate people and to lift up their skills and give them the work that they wanna do, not the work that they were doing before. That’s the end of my story.

Speaker 3 (10:08):
That’s great.

Speaker 2 (10:10):
So what do you, what do you want, say a few words about compliance and auditing Al I mean, how, how does that affect you know, people’s stress level in the back office. They’re constantly being bombarded with requests from the auditors.

Speaker 3 (10:22):
Yeah. BA a few times in a given year. I’m sure we’ve all experienced it. There’s this little organization that either it is a tax group from the state or local tax professionals that they will wanna come and do a tax audit, or you also have the bank that two or three times a year, want to pull financials. And they’re looking, they’re looking for the holes in your finances. They’re looking for places where the due diligence has not been done. But what do you do with that? You’re trying to service your customer. You’re trying to get that information into the customer. You’re trying to service them, get their, their product out the door. Then you start chasing dollar from day one. And you know, you on your net 30 terms, if you wait two weeks into that, you’ve gotta make sure that the invoices have gone out. You’ve gotta make sure. And then if you, if you give your customer time up until the 30th day, then you’re already behind the eight ball and you’re not getting it done. Then you have this horrible thing. If you know, cross aging at all, which is a fancy way for you to hear from the bank, most credit lines for most companies. I think some here will probably be aware of this.

Speaker 3 (11:31):
They determine how much of a credit line you get based on your aging. And if one of your larger customers has an invoice that goes over day 90, you cannot count any of their AR towards your credit line. Yeah. So if you can imagine $2 million of a credit line and invoice for $35 is disputed and it goes over 90 days, suddenly you are less that 2 million in your credit line. So compliance and auditing is crucial and you’ve gotta have, you’ve gotta free up your people to be able to do that piece of business. And I think that’s another thing Nick, that your group helps with. Yeah. It makes it easier and, and more time sensitive.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
Yeah. It, it occurs to me that a lot of times finance and accounting people they keep their heads down. They don’t wanna be noticed. And typically whenever you notice, ’em, it’s when they’ve screwed up dramatically. And so, yeah, that’s, that is a huge source of stress. Like, am I gonna pass the audit? Are they gonna find some glaring material error in my books? And then if you’re a publicly traded company that that’s, that’s a kiss of death that could be, you know, the CFO or the controller has to go find a new job because you may have to restate earning. So it’s it, it, it is a big source of stress and that, that stress then flows downward to everyone else in the organization in terms of the constant deadlines. I mean, we all know that finance and accounting people in, in the construction industry and all industries, they work nights, weekends, and holidays away from their family. They, they tend to throw by of the problem versus using technology. And, you know, personally, I think Alan and I would like to see that change. Let’s, let’s take a, a smarter approach to using technology. So you, you don’t have to work nights, weekends, and holidays. You can spend that time with your family thoughts on that, Alan.

Speaker 3 (13:07):
That’s exactly it because if you’re working in any type of accounting background at all, you know that there’s multiple whole closing dates in a given construction month, you have your soft clothes on the 25th, you have your hard clothes on the 30th. Then you have the beginning of the following month when all the reports are due, your aging is running at any given point in time. Some people work in 15 day buckets, some work in seven day buckets, but you’re constantly having to show someone that you’re meeting your deadlines. You’re providing the reports when they’re necessary. And then out of the blue, four of your customers may be under a tax audit, and they’re gonna come to you and say, Hey, we didn’t keep track of our records. And very well, please give us how much we bought from you and how much we’ve paid in taxes. Well, I mean, what you’d like to say is we’re not your bookkeeper, but you know, you’re sense to that. If you want to help give them the information they need. So the only way around that in this type of labor market is you’ve got to find technology to solve your problem.

Speaker 2 (14:04):
Yeah. Yeah. I completely agree. And I

Speaker 1 (14:07):
Have a little antidote for you guys. If you want me to share it, please,

Speaker 2 (14:11):
We do. We’ve been ignoring you here. Go on.

Speaker 1 (14:13):
So I am definitely one of those people that did not want to use software, Texas lean log, right? 15Th of every month, I would not. U let, I wouldn’t let level set show me their product. I wouldn’t let anybody show me their product. It was manual for eight years. I just didn’t trust it. Then my boss made me try it. And what took me maybe four or five days each month to do now took two hours. So all that time I wasted because I didn’t wanna try it out. It definitely does help. And gives you, like you said, free time to do something else.

Speaker 2 (14:48):
Yeah. A friend of mine. Who’s a she’s a, she is a controller in a, a, a company in, in Arizona, one of the largest franchisees of burger king there. She implemented some technology and it actually freed up enough of her time that she was able to go back to school, earn another degree. And now she’s also the head of HR. So in addition to being the head of accounting, she’s also the head of HR.

Speaker 1 (15:08):
Congrats.

Speaker 3 (15:10):
I think, think most of us know how much credit managers make. We’re not the most well paid people in the group, but you know, you do pay some money for them. So I want you to think about that. I’ve been sent to college. I have had 30 years experience and up until I got the level set, every one of my employers was paying me what they were paying me for me to spend two days a month out of all the collection days to lick envelopes. Oh God. And, and, and go to the post office and talk to the little old lady or little old man behind the counter. That was stamping all my certified letter notices. How ridiculous is that?

Speaker 1 (15:45):
Oh, it took so much time.

Speaker 3 (15:47):
It’s so much time. And, and if you talk about the value of a dollar talking about time, just wasted. Yeah. But I could be servicing a customer. So there’s that anecdote for, for our segment,

Speaker 2 (15:58):
For sure. Well, somebody, somebody told me recently that the CPA does not stand for copy paste and attach

Speaker 3 (16:06):
Love

Speaker 2 (16:10):
How we doing on time here? Should we move to the next, the, the slide?

Speaker 1 (16:13):
I think you’re doing good.

Speaker 2 (16:14):
All right. Sounds great. So these are a couple of the other things Alan, you don’t wanna wanna pick one or two off here that you wanna highlight or shall I

Speaker 3 (16:24):
I think what happens in when you come to especially construction in Laurie, I think you’ll agree with me on this. We have a lot of, of cycles that happen during the course of a year. So, you know, sometimes it’s very busy in one area and then it switches over and becomes very busy in another area. Right. And I think that causes things to get overly complicated for no reason. It’s hard to, you’re constantly reassigning resources. So Betty or Dan that was work on you, helping you with your aging report is now over here, helping with you, get your, make sure your lean rights are protected and everything else. It’s just the constant struggle and moving around. Plus in it given time, how much turnover do you have? People are naturally retiring. People are naturally moving on or going away back to school or anything like that. So when you have new people come in, like it says culture shifts especially with level set. I was the, you know, I was the old guy coming in when, when they hired me, I think Lori, I still think I held the record until we got bought. I think I was the oldest guy to come on to the group at age 55 year or 54 years old.

Speaker 1 (17:30):
I was the oldest until you came along.

Speaker 3 (17:32):
That’s right. And, and with that becomes a change in culture. So you’ve gotta protect your labor. You’ve gotta figure out how you’re going to move with the process. Quarter. One has different activities than quarter three, quarter two has different activities in quarter four and then quarter four by itself takes an entire group of everybody’s hands on deck, just trying to finish out your December. So, and then, you know, obviously when we have other things that you’re not prepared for, like COVID, or if you’re in a natural disaster area, we, we spend a lot of time at levels set when, when a hurricane would come in you’ve you’ve got to continue keeping the, the trains running on time while your staff is moving to all four points of, of, of the globe and, and trying to get that handled. And there’s sometimes just too much for too few people. And so, yeah, I hope what answer that question.

Speaker 2 (18:28):
Yeah. You know what, I think that it’s, it’s a, it’s a kind of a downward spiral. It it’s a, it’s a problem that feeds on itself because when you when you lose somebody, does any given person in the organization, well, not only have you let that talent walk out the door, but now everybody else who remains has to pick up the slack for that person. And now, now already a demotivated team becomes even less motivated cuz now, okay, you’re, you’re not paying me anymore. And I gotta do Bob’s work over here too. And then, you know, your boss is yelling at you, you got deadlines, all of a sudden, a recruiter calls, and we’ve all had that happen. A recruiter calls you on one of your bad days. You may not wanna pick up that phone, but okay. Just had a bad day and they call you, you take the interview and now you’ve got another employee that’s walking out the door, taking all that experience with them, all that money time, you spent training them. It’s a huge hassle for the company, makes the company less competitive. And then again, those people that are left behind have to pick up the slack for those people that are leaving. We have to find a way to solve this problem without just,

Speaker 3 (19:23):
You’re not, you’re gonna either have to pay them more or you’re gonna have to do something to make them feel like. I mean, because they’re gonna feel de de mode motivated when things like that happen. And one thing that I have found just another short anecdote, when things like that happen, when suddenly you’re short staffed in a department, it says, disorganization, suddenly something’s going to be missed and something’s going to be dropped. Oh yeah. If you are a boss or any type, you, you wanna find out how disorganized your team is as opposed what they appear to be go in on a Friday and start checking waste baskets when you have a deadline coming up. Hmm. Because when filing needs to be done, suddenly the files aren’t really done, they’re showing up in the bottom of file cabinets or you, or, or all these mysterious papers or showing up next to the copy copy machine. They, you, you go into the, I’ve

Speaker 1 (20:13):
Seen that

Speaker 3 (20:14):
Go to the lunchroom and you see Manila folders in the lunchroom. What’s that all about? And I’m not saying you have a dishonest team, but you know, they’ve got to prioritize themselves and something’s gonna be missed. You’ve just, and a lot of us are afraid to have that open, honest conversation with our cause they’re afraid they’re gonna be fired or they’re afraid some there’s gonna be something negative. I mean, how often do you ever wanna go to your boss and say, you know what? I just can’t keep up.

Speaker 1 (20:42):
Oh, never.

Speaker 3 (20:43):
I mean, never gonna, you’re never gonna do that. It’s never gonna happen. Your employees are never gonna do that. It’s almost like you’re asking them to come and be beaten. So that’s just one more thing. And so disorganization, when you start seeing disorganization, it’s not because your employees became lazy. It’s because they’re overworked usually.

Speaker 2 (21:00):
Yeah. Yeah. And COVID 19 did like kind of uncover a lot of that. That was already going on, you know? Oh yeah. It’s not that it caused it to happen. Some it did, but in many ways COVID 19 just underscored issues that were already there structurally that we did not wanna address up until now. One, one thing I would tell you about one quick story on that, and you can stay on this slide. I was talking to a young lady a little while ago couple weeks back. And she she worked for a company that made a aviation parts where they, they were distributor of aviation parts. And during the, the COVID, you know, planes weren’t flying. So they didn’t, they didn’t have a lot of servicing, so they didn’t need a lot of parts. And so, you know, their accounts receivable department went from 12 people to four people and they made every single one of those four people that were remained, the survivors became collections agents and she, it was brutal. It was hard. They didn’t wanna do it. So it’s literally one of those stories is where COVID underscored a problem that we already had. So, so what are the impacts, Alan? You wanna talk about this one?

Speaker 3 (22:02):
Basically it, it completely, and I used the word basically a lot. It absolutely threw things into unexpected. Chaos is what I call COVID. It was unexpected suddenly the government or powers the B step in and you have to allow for your people to take, you know, you gotta allow for them to be well. But also you’re having to, you’re looking at the fact that the government has said people get two weeks off, regardless. If, if they, if they’ve been diagnosed with COVID, you’re not supposed to have them work. I mean, it, it was, it was a total freeze of labor or anything getting done for a period of about three months and that labor shortage that was credit. I mean, I, I don’t know about you, but my AR where I was working at the time, it was frozen, there was calls were not being made. When I came and actually came during the middle of COVID to a particular company, I was helping do an audit for, they had not build their customer in 120 days. Wow. At 27 million of outstanding receivables, that’s a lot

Speaker 2 (23:12):
Of,

Speaker 3 (23:13):
No one that no one sent a bill on. Wow. I mean, so I mean, that’s a huge impact when you have unexplained or UN, you know, unexpected changes in your, your labor and your labor availability.

Speaker 2 (23:28):
Yeah. I agree. I it occurs to me that, you know, we’re all living in a capitalistic society. We’re all trying to compete. Right. I, I, I want my company to be stronger than my competitor and my competitor trying to put me out of business. And because of that system, we’re, you know, being we’re, we’re getting stronger and we’re, we’re learning to compete better, but if you are not adopting technology, it seems to me, you may be left behind, you know, your company increased financial risk. We just talked about that. Those are the errors that Alan brought just a minute ago, those errors that are lurking in your financial data, when you don’t have enough people to check the books the stress intention of, of the employees leads to on a happiness people deciding, Hey, you know what, after COVID, I don’t wanna go back to work.

Speaker 2 (24:08):
I don’t need that hassle anymore. I’m I’m gonna go, you know, move to Hawaii and, you know, open up a glass blowing shop or something who knows. And then ultimately, because those people are gone, this is that perpetual cycle that goes around and around the, the company has become less efficient and less competitive, and that leads to financial risk. So if we, as a, as an economy, as a society, want to be competitive in the world, we need to address these things and, and stop doing things the way we did in the past. And start to think about new ways of, of adopting technology to solve that age old problem.

Speaker 1 (24:39):
I’ll say also when you have the labor shortage, people are cutting corners. One of our partners that does credit at reports said that when COVID hit, I mean, everybody just stopped pulling the reports. They’re just processing credit applications, you know, with the good old handshake kind of thing. They’re not checking because they don’t wanna spend that extra money or take that extra time. They just wanna keep things moving as well as they can. So, I mean, all three of those categories would fall under that.

Speaker 2 (25:04):
Yeah. So I think we’ve beat a horse to death. Should we talk about how do we, how do we solve those issues?

Speaker 1 (25:10):
Absolutely.

Speaker 3 (25:12):
Well, on my side of it hire the right person. That’s easier said than done. Lori, I think you could probably help give your opinion of that. It, what used to take us probably two weeks to hire a good person now takes three and four months to hire the right right person to get them to succeed. You’ve gotta be willing to invest. You’ve gotta invest in the software. You’ve gotta invest in the, the hardware to give them what they need. And now you’ve gotta make sure your, your data is safe and comfortable with them possibly working like me, 1800 miles from corporate office, or, you know, you’ve got, gotta have those safeguards in place to solve those issues and to make use whatever people you do have get the most out of them and then find something else that takes the more mundane and tedious tasks and, and find a way to make those things work.

Speaker 2 (26:03):
Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I don’t think I could have said that any better, not much to add from my perspective, I’m, I’m completely in alignment with you take those routine mundane tasks, give ’em to technology, give ’em to bots, give ’em to some sort of software, let the, the, let the machine do what the machine does best and let people do what they do best because there are certain tasks which we’ll talk about in a little while that machines will never take away. So Lori, anything else to add on this point?

Speaker 1 (26:28):
I, I mean, working with the community and the employers and people that I deal with, there are a lot of companies that are having turnover. They just don’t have any staff anymore to do the positions. Obviously we manage the credit community, but finding the people to replace those positions, like you said, you have to have that right person. Everybody wants to work from home. Now it’s become the staple. So you have to be able to find a way to train and make sure they’re doing their jobs. It it’s been a big issue. I mean, for the last year that I’ve heard about it.

Speaker 2 (26:58):
Yeah. Here’s an interesting step for you. The number to keep in mind is 48.5 48.5. That is the number of minutes every day that the average employee works now working from home than they did before the pandemic. So that, that amount of time, cause I, I know you guys, aren’t spending time, commuting back and forth to the office in the car. You know, my commute is from that bedroom to this office. And I, I can guarantee nobody on this phone call, nobody on this webinar taking one hour lunches. I can guarantee it so that where does that time go? It goes back to the employer. They get, they get an extra 48 and a half minutes of productivity out of us every day.

Speaker 1 (27:32):
And I’ve heard that they are admitting that things that they thought had to be done in the office and watching over people. They just really didn’t have to, as long as you got the right people hired it, it’s amazing. The difference that of amount of work that they’re getting done.

Speaker 2 (27:45):
Yeah. And people are happier because of it, you know? Right.

Speaker 3 (27:47):
And I think if we can solve any problem as far as giving more information, I don’t think, and myself included, I don’t think people truly know what the cost of technology versus individuals. I mean, individuals are very expensive. I mean, the things you have to do to get an invi individual to, to do what they need to do to do their job is, is horrifically expensive and heaven forbidden. You have to train them and train a new person. And especially even for the most mundane task, plus you’re dealing with internal issues. What if they have a bad day? What if their child gets sick? You know, technology doesn’t take a day off and it makes it more impactful for the rest. It sounds like I’m doing a commercial for you. It

Speaker 2 (28:33):
I appreciate that, but

Speaker 3 (28:33):
Not, not you, but it really is. As we got to doing this webinar together, I started thinking about how this has impacted me over the past 30 years. And it, it really is. It makes an impact. So I’ll shut up.

Speaker 2 (28:47):
You keep going, man. I, I love it. I, how are you in marketing?

Speaker 3 (28:50):
Right. Earning your handbooks too. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (28:54):
So how, how do we think about automation? How does it change the game? I think we could probably jump to the next slide. And I, I I’ll give you some kind of thinking about we’ve, we’ve talked about technology, we’ve talked about how software and bots can actually take some of the routine mundane drudgery outta the accounting and finance world. But you know, let, let’s talk about a couple of the ways that we can think about adopting new technology, because honestly, I I’ve, I’ve learned this, that finance people don’t buy software that often, in fact, you know an average CFO might change out their accounting software package once or twice in her career. So, you know, so people are not used to, to, to buying software and technology. They don’t know how to buy it. Also, there’ve been, you know, technologies that have come and gone and not all of it has lived up to its promise.

Speaker 2 (29:38):
I’ll be the first to admit that. So I’ll, I’ll give you a couple of key pointers or steps to, to think about as you, as you wanna roll out and evaluate new technology. Number one, embrace software as a service. So I, I use the word SaaS people on the phone, or the webinar may not know what that means, but it means that instead of having this disc, that you stick into your computer and load it up on there, the software lives in the cloud. It’s like, you know, Amazon, salesforce.com, you, you name it Dropbox. There’s a lot of SaaS applications where you can just sign up as a subscription and, you know, pay your vendor a monthly or annual fee. And if you don’t like it anymore, after a year, you don’t, you don’t have to renew. But it, it gives the, the customer the opportunity to walk away every, every, every week, every month, every year, it also makes the vendor puts the vendor on the hook, the supplier like me, or like, like Alan, to make sure that we earn your business every single day.

Speaker 2 (30:29):
So that’s embracing the cloud and, and software as a service is important. Also thinking about traditional versus innovative architecture, you know, old kind of client server architecture or mainframe, you know, dumb terminal that was around when I was coming up in, in it. That that’s the thing of the past. Now everybody’s, everything’s browser based and it’s, everything’s in the cloud. It should be accessible every everywhere, any time of the day or night so that you can do your job if you wanna be sitting on a beach. A friend of mine is a he’s a, a controller at a company in Georgia and he’s my age, he’s you is early fifties. And he he decided a few years ago, he wanted to to, to be a triathlete he wanted to do to do triathlons. And after implementing technology, he told me, he said, Nick, every, my, my team doesn’t know this, but every Friday, I’m literally at the pool swimming laps. And in between swimming laps, I’m out there, you know, I’m on logged into the EER P system approving journal entries. And so literally like SAS and, and innovative architecture allows people to do the things that they always wanted to do. And by the way, his name’s Brahm and he’s run three triathletes already. Oh, wow. I’ll pause there. Cause I’m kind of, monologing here.

Speaker 3 (31:40):
I’m still training for mine. I’m working on the nutritional part of mine. So

Speaker 2 (31:46):
Yeah, I, I think I I’m, I’m probably an Xbox tri athlete more than anything,

Speaker 2 (31:52):
But lift and shift versus transformation. So lift and shift means, do you want to completely like throw out your old systems and put new ones in which nobody wants to do? There’s danger there versus transformation, you know, how do we apply technology to make our existing systems smarter, better, faster, more efficient more timely develop ups, upskilling strategies. This is what I talked about earlier. You know, the, the, the guy who used to pump gas is not pumping gas anymore. And now he’s, he’s telling you which, which Gatorade to buy and which candy bars to buy, you know, and that’s a very basic example, but in, in our world in finance and accounting, nobody goes to accounting school because they wanna be a data entry clerk or a collection agent. They, they have this dream that they want to help guide the business and provide insights and provide recommendations and be the best business partner they can to the CEO and to the, the other business lines of business.

Speaker 2 (32:40):
So those upscaling strategies mean we’re, we’re gonna take the routine mundane stuff and give that to the computers, the bots, and allow you to do the work that you went to academy school to do. And then don’t forget to capitalize in the opportunity cuz right now I’m not saying you should adopt every new technology that comes out there, but for a moment in time, you have a competitive advantage over your competitor by being an early adopter, because pretty soon, you know, technology that was at the cutting edge once upon a time now becomes mainstream. And that, that opportunity that you had to to get out ahead of your competitors is, is, is gone. So I would say capitalize on the opportunity while you have it thoughts from Lori or, or Allen on that.

Speaker 1 (33:19):
I mean, I, I absolutely agree with that. My only question to this, I know a lot of people, I mean, obviously it software is being embraced because of the remote workers and all that, but a lot of people are still worried about the protection of their data that gets, you know, uploaded into the cloud.

Speaker 2 (33:34):
It’s a scary place. It can be you know, so for us at, at auditoria, we’re at asking finance people and accountants to, to take their most sensitive financial data and trust us with it in the cloud. And a few years ago, that was a scary proposition. It’s like, no, no, no, no. I’d rather have this stuff, this, this data on, on a, on a hard drive, a server in my computer room. But you know, I, I, I have a story it’s not a good one, but you know, sometimes a dental office that I know of, they kept all their patient records on a computer underneath the front desk, by the receptionist. And literally someone could and did walk in, unplug it and walk out with the company’s entire financial data underneath their arm. So it, once upon a time, it used to be the, the cloud was the scary alternative. Now I, I think that having, trying to protect your data as a CFO or controller, you know, a finance person, it’s not your job. It’s not what you’re good at. Nobody went to school to be like a data scientist or a, a security expert. You know, I would say, let the people in the cloud, the, the security experts handle that and, and, and stop trying to keep the, the, the finance underneath the desk of the receptionist

Speaker 1 (34:43):
Kind of reminds me of when people don’t wanna use a bank. So they put all the money under their mattress and then a fire or robbery happens,

Speaker 3 (34:51):
Or, or they want hard copies of everything and hard copies degrade. I mean, I don’t know how long you expect paper to last, but any, anything that has any thermal properties at all are around. Great. And then, you know, the other thing is I hear this all the time. Do not take your financial recommendations from TikTok videos or you, because I guarantee you what’s out there is, oh, well, we don’t wanna get too automated cuz our customers, they get the robo call and then they’re gonna get SU you know, no, it’s really not about that. It’s not about, it’s not about what us trying to sell, you know, hand lotion or something at a discount. What we’re doing is providing a service and staying in, in touch with the customer. And most customers that you’re dealing with. This is these are commercial businesses. For the most part, they have signed documents that say, Hey, it’s okay to talk to me.

Speaker 3 (35:45):
You know, you’re not, you’re not going to get sued because you’re contacting a customer to pay a bill. They write fully owe that. You know, that is, that is the, probably the biggest misconception that’s out on the internet right now is the consumer is out to get you. We need to tear those walls down and say, Hey, technology is the best way for me to serve you as a customer. You want, you want somebody, you don’t wanna get on the phone and it say there’s a 30 minute wait for you to be, to talk to a live person. It shouldn’t be about live or not live. It should be 30 minutes should be 30 seconds to get your problem solved, to get your questions answered. And the more you, the more we give to that, the better off and, and quit being so resistant. The better off our customers are going to be because everybody’s from the show me state, when it comes to this, you gotta show ’em. So show them the money. That’s what, you know, that’s what we all do. We wanna show them the money, get paid faster and, and move forward and, and step into technology and get away from things because honestly not moving forward, it’s gonna hurt you and cost you every time.

Speaker 2 (36:50):
Yeah. So couldn’t agree more. I’m preaching. I’m preaching by the way, the the the number one the weakest link in, in any security system is, is human beings, right? Social engineering. And they’ve proven that time and time again, somebody sends a phishing email and an employee who’s been through security training, you know, every year clicks on a link and all of a sudden now something gets downloaded on their computer and it takes it over. And so it’s, it’s really yeah, I, I think you’re right, Alan and I, I appreciate your point on, on customer service, having the ability to reach somebody and talk to somebody to, to, to have your problem solved. Cuz when we talk about technology, robots will never be in customer service. I mean, yeah, people have tried it, but when you are having a problem with your bank account or your, your credit or, you know, an invoice you want, you want a person to explain it to you and a bot will never have that empathy. And a bot will never have, you know, the, the ability to, to really connect with somebody and solve their problem.

Speaker 1 (37:44):
And with technology, I’m gonna say I’ve used it before even technology was a big thing, but the online chats, you know, if you’re in your software and it’s got a little online chat box, it’s a real person and you can talk to it. You don’t have to call, you don’t have to wait in line. It it’s awesome.

Speaker 2 (37:59):
Yeah. That’s good. So cool. Let, let me can I just finish just a minute talking about you know, what we do at auditor? I think we have a slide coming up. That’s whoever’s Manning this one. If you could just build out the left hand side that we don’t have to go through this. So this is my 32nd pitch for what auditoria does. And there’s lots of other great companies that have great technology, but here’s what we do every back office, whether it’s, you know, AP AR or, or all of accounting has a, has a shared email box. And normally that email box is, is full of garbage. It’s full of spam that people are, you know, sending things in and, and some person on your team, probably the lowest person on the totem pole as the, in glorious task of going through this, this mailbox and trying to decipher hundreds of messages and trying to find what people want.

Speaker 2 (38:46):
We use something called cognitive automation to read the emails that are in your AP AR or general finance inbox, figure out what they want and fulfill that wish we connect to your accounting software, your E R P system. And we use all this technology on the left hand side. I won’t go into this word salad of like all these acronyms, what, what it is, but essentially, you know, the same, the same technology that you have on your phone here that allows you to talk to Siri or, or Google. We use that same technology to understand through email what somebody’s asking for, or give me a copy of the invoice we give ’em a copy of the invoice. Give me a copy of the copy of the purchase order. We give ’em a copy of the purchase order, you know, set this new vendor up in the system, our bots do all that kind of stuff.

Speaker 2 (39:26):
So suffice it to say, we sit on top of the email box. We take 90% of that stuff and handle it day or night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So that your team doesn’t have to, we use what’s called cognitive automation. We take those pieces on the left, we assemble them on the right. And that, that is what auditory smart bots do. We have a collections application. We have an accounts payable application. We have you know, other applications that are coming out. We do something called vendor invoice, data extraction. When a vendor sends you, it’s a fancy you word, but when a vendor sends you an invoice, our bots read it of the PDF, they scan it, they figure all the line items and they create that journal entry in your accounting system for a person to then approve for payment or not versus having somebody sit there and hand code and copy paste. Because when that happens, you know, errors are made, mistakes are made, things get omitted. And so that in a nutshell is, is what we do at auditoria. I’ll leave it at that. Cause I don’t wanna turn this into a sales pitch. I’ll, I’ll turn it over here to a, to talk about level set and what you guys and Lori, what, what you guys do at level set and how that might be able to help the, the folks on the webinar.

Speaker 3 (40:30):
Boy, Nick. That’s great. I, I, I had no idea. I mean, I’ve even been with you for the past couple of days and that that’s amazing stuff. I mean, I could, I could see the application of that right off the top.

Speaker 1 (40:41):
Anything that recognizes your position, gets you in touch with your peers and the new generation coming up. Like Nick was saying earlier, people are retiring. People are moving on to different things. A lot of credit managers have been with their companies for a long time. So it’s new of people that are coming in that don’t have the experience. So they wanna reach out to people that can kind of guide them along the way. And that’s what I do with level set. I know a kind of has a different section on his

Speaker 3 (41:09):
Right. And we’re, I’m sure we’re getting to close to where we’re gonna open it up for questions, but basically I’m with level set. I am over the material finance section, but level set is so much more than that. Like I said, our, our, our goal and our mission statement is start with love and help people get paid, the money that they’re owed. So we have several sections of things that we do as level set. We have a document control section. We have a, the ability for our people to, to do the lean filing. I think we tipped our hat to that before. Our software helps you get your leans file to make sure your documents are done timely and effectively gives you control. Get it. Makes sure you do things on a timely basis. So your lean rights are protected. So your ability to get paid is protected.

Speaker 3 (41:55):
We have another side of our business. That’s legal guard, always great to have an attorney on your side when you need to have an attorney on your side. So you have the, the job radar here. It’s pretty self explanatory. You get your lean alerts, you get payment delay tracking. You have, if you find out, if we find out that a customer’s having issues paying or getting paid from a GC, you’re gonna find those things out. You’re gonna find out when bankruptcies are being filed. You’re gonna make sure that whatever state you’re doing business in the preliminary notices are sent, if they need to be sent, your notice of intent to lean is gonna be sent exactly when it needs to be sent. And that whole lean mark management system is something that level set can help you do. We have nothing that level set does, Lori. I think you’ll agree with this is one size fits all.

Speaker 1 (42:40):
Oh, definitely not.

Speaker 3 (42:41):
We, we cater everything to work with the individual customer and whatever, whatever you’re doing and whatever your volume is, we will cater to that. Maybe you don’t need a huge subscription service to do that. Maybe you just need pay as you go type situation. We offer all that. And then moving forward, if you’ve got a project that you really want to get done and you need the, you know, you wanna build your cash or expand your cash flow, come to us for material financing, we’re completely transparent. You know, you may have a $50,000 line of credit with your supplier. Well, why not double that by having your projects all financed by level set will pay your supplier up front and guess what? You still have a $50,000 line of credit you haven’t even touched. So there’s a lot of information out there of a lot of things you do. I think Lori and I, or anybody would be available to help you answer any of those questions. All our, our websites are there. You can go to level set.com. Matter of fact, if, if you’re one of those, it’s like, well, do the lean rights in California. I guarantee if you put lean rights in California level set will probably be the first Google popup almost every time, if not second, but usually it’s the first

Speaker 1 (43:47):
We work hard on that.

Speaker 3 (43:48):
I I’ve talked to everybody’s ear off too, but I think Nick and I are ready to take any questions or Lori. I know we don’t have a lot of people out there, whatever. We’re, we’re ready to take any questions you might have.

Speaker 1 (43:59):
Yeah, we don’t have any currently. If anybody’s got a question, just put it in the chat or raise your hand and we’ll get it going for

Speaker 2 (44:05):
You. I, I do have a question about level set, you know, that was very interesting. Just kind of how you guys have learned a little bit about, auditoria learning a little about level set. How often are you updating the, you know, your application to keep up with the different, you mentioned like liens in California versus there’s all kinds of laws that are changing. What does that look like?

Speaker 3 (44:24):
Everything is real. I didn’t mean to cut you off there. Everything we do is real time. We, we are constantly monitoring any like Texas just had the huge change in their lean laws. And as soon as we got that information, we got it out to all of our customers, letting them know. And then actually Lori was great set. She’ll set up a conference and bring in the experts and say, Hey, if you wanna know a one on one or she’ll have webinars about it. And then as far as real time, if a customer were to file bankruptcy, anything, that information, as soon as we get it from the courthouse, you will find it available to you and, and we, and you’ll get an alert. So that, that is crucial.

Speaker 2 (45:02):
What’s the alternative then? Like how would people do it manually? They have to go out and they have to log into 50 different websites for 50 different states and try to figure out the laws and what’s going on. Money

Speaker 3 (45:10):
Has funny. You do that. Yes, because when I was, when I was working at Crawford, we’d literally, I would have to go to individual secretary of state’s websites. Or if I’m looking for a tax assessor’s office, some of them have now all started charging a dollar 50 per search, or, and then, or some of them require you to have a credit card and you put it on file. Well, who wants to have a credit card on file? Every municipality that you do business. I mean, talk about, not that the government’s bad with taking care, Offor private information, but

Speaker 2 (45:42):
That just proliferation you don’t want, no matter who it is, you don’t want your credit card. There, that many sites to begin with, it’s just asking for trouble. That, that seems like there’s a pretty obvious, like use case there and a, a, a time saving. So like you just log into the level set application, you type in something, and then it provides the information that you need.

Speaker 3 (45:59):
It provides the information. And if it’s more detailed where you need us to do we have a scout research team that you can give us a piece of property or a, a prop, an actual project that you want to ask a question about, we will do the research for you. And, and some of this is, you know, subscription as a service. So some of this you’re gonna pay, you know, a subscription service for some of these. It’s gonna be you know, if you just want one lean file that that’s something you can do, or just one notice done, you can just pay for it by notice. But if you need real research done, that’s what our team is there for. And we’ve got a team of sales, people and professionals that can help you through that. Just go through our website.

Speaker 1 (46:37):
It’s one thing keep in mind is tons. I mean, the majority of our content is free. And when you log into the community and everything in there is free, you can look up contractor credit files, you can take classes, you can get certified. I mean, whatever, you’re looking up, the majority of it is free. There’s nothing that I do with level set that costs anything for anybody. And so anytime you come to our website, I mean, just, or even just shoot us an email and ask the majority of it’s gonna be free, unless you wanna sign up and have your dashboard and you know, all your accounts watched and that sort of thing. But there is a lot of content that, you know, unfortunately you’d have to Google otherwise. And like we say, go to 20 different websites to find it

Speaker 2 (47:18):
Would

Speaker 3 (47:18):
Somebody there’s nobody. Hopefully there’s nobody here from the Minnesota St. Paul St. Paul, Minneapolis. What is it? The assessor’s office is there because to tell you how good our, our scout team is, we found an error in the property records for the city of Minneapolis, where they had wrong names on everybody’s property, in this one neighborhood, and had our guys not found it, our, our team guys, just being saying, guys that have our team not found it, the actual city had it wrong. They were billing taxes to the wrong people and we’ve found it. Wow. So, and, and these are transfers of, of, of properties that had happened six months prior. So

Speaker 2 (48:01):
I hope your PR and marketing team took full advantage of that, cuz that that is pure goal. To get that story out there, like literally we solved this problem for the city of Minneapolis. St. Paul,

Speaker 3 (48:12):
How would you like to be in the middle of a closing on your dream piece of property and suddenly find out the closing stopped? Because it said you didn’t own your property.

Speaker 2 (48:20):
Oh my gosh.

Speaker 3 (48:21):
I mean, you imagine as if a closing is not already painful enough. No. So

Speaker 2 (48:26):
That’s crazy. That is crazy. So if, if I were to sign level set, like what, what does it take to get onboarded? And how long does that take and what does that look like?

Speaker 3 (48:34):
Honestly, everything is right there you go to our website, it’ll say request a demo. If somebody will be back to you shortly, they’ll, they’ll send you an email and they’ll walk you through all the steps. It’s not, it’s not a huge sales pitch up front. They know time is valued. They they’re gonna answer what you’re looking for. They may suggest a few things, but they’re not gonna suggest anything. That’s gonna cost you a huge amount of money. Matter of fact, they’re gonna show you free contact before they show you anything that costs. I see. And, and, and that’s pretty much the way it is. So Nick, I, I appreciate all the great information you gave us on, on your company. And, and I that’s a value right there that, I mean, that’s, that’s a lot of value that you’ve, you’ve shown us. And we appreciate your time on that.