Customer Story | QSR Franchisee

BG Food Ottimate customer story graphic

How B&G Food Manages Invoices for 150 Restaurants with Ottimate

The other companies’ automation wasn’t as detailed as we wanted it to be, because we have so much detail with the invoices that we process and so many GL codes to assign them towards. Ottimate did what we wanted.

Danielle Sauce
AP Team Member
46 hours per month
saved compared to manual processing







When you think of a family business, you may not picture a sprawling empire that stretches across three states. But that’s exactly what B&G Food Enterprises is: a quick service restaurant (or QSR) group with over 150 locations and 3,000 employees. 


Founded by high school sweethearts Brenda and Gregory J. Hamer, Sr., B&G received its first license to open a Taco Bell in Morgan City, LA in 1982. More than forty years later, B&G is the largest Taco Bell franchisee in Louisiana, with additional stores in Texas and Mississippi. The group has also expanded its offerings, launching a KFC franchise in 1997 and a Long John Silver’s franchise in 2011. 


To this day, B&G remains a family-run operation. Greg maintains his role as the company’s CEO, while Brenda continues to serve as its Corporate Secretary. Brenda is also the heartbeat of the Hamer family, which now includes three children and their spouses — who all work at B&G full-time — and nine grandchildren. The business still calls Morgan City home, and the Hamers have been celebrated with numerous civic honors in recognition of their many contributions to the community.


Greg and Brenda Hamer

The Challenge


Running a successful franchise takes a lot of hard work and dedication from both a company’s leadership and its staff — especially when it comes to managing the organization’s finances. For a large management company, like B&G, the accounts payable (AP) process, in particular, often presents an obstacle in streamlining financial workflows. 


From a high volume of invoices and the level of detail needed to code every line item, to coordinating with over 150 different locations and seemingly countless vendors, the AP workflow can be long and complex. Maintaining consistency and accuracy in reporting requires a streamlined process — and the technology to manage it.  


For over a decade, AP team member Danielle Sauce has been part of a three-person team that processes over 700 invoices every week. This mountain of invoices flowed in from every vendor used by B&G’s 150+ franchise locations and covered everything from food to marketing costs — all of which had to be correctly coded and accurately allocated across the properties.   


The workload was often so large that Danielle and her team rarely got to the bottom of it. “We used to have a cut-off, where we would say, ‘We’re not going to open any more mail on Tuesday morning,’” Danielle says. “We didn’t have time. We had our plates full with what we’d opened already.”


A key challenge was in having a manual workflow that required not one, not two, but five human touches to process each invoice.


“We did not have any type of automation system. We manually coded everything ourselves and keyed everything into our accounting system. Between opening the invoices, sorting them, coding them, keying them, checking them, and scanning them, we probably looked at each invoice five or six times before we were finished with it.”


And if errors were found after an invoice was processed, a post-adjustment would need to be made in the accounting system — adding another step to an already tedious process. 


Every invoice across the B&G Food Group is processed at their corporate office.


Danielle estimates each invoice took an average of 60 seconds to enter. While some invoices took less time to process, others were long or had a lot of detail — and had to be double-checked by more than one person.


Location splits were particularly cumbersome. With franchises in three states, any invoice that had to be allocated to multiple locations needed to take into account differences in local taxes.


“Say we get an invoice for a marketing item that shipped to a number of stores. It’s one invoice with all the stores listed on it. Well, one location’s tax might be 8%. The next one might be 8.25%. We would have to key these numbers into an Excel sheet that had the right formulas, print it out, and then key those numbers into our accounting system.”


While Danielle and the AP team worked as fast as they could, they were too often held up by a manual and inefficient process. They knew they needed a better system — and they found it with Ottimate. 


Getting Started with Ottimate


Ellen Pennison, B&G’s Vice President and CFO, had previously researched several invoice automation solutions. “Ellen had been looking into it for a couple years, talking to a few different people,” Danielle says. “The company’s always looking for ways to be more efficient.”


Ottimate’s invoice automation stood out for its ability to not only extract header information, but also capture line-item detail and automatically assign the correct GL code to each one — a critical need when managing multiple franchises across multiple states! 

The other companies’ automation wasn’t as detailed as we wanted it to be, because we have so much detail with the invoices that we process and so many GL codes to assign them towards. Ottimate did what we wanted.

Ottimate was also able to replicate and enhance the B&G team’s approvals workflow. “There are some invoices I need to look at because I keep spreadsheets to make sure they’re charging us right. There are some that have to be approved by Ellen,” explains Danielle. 

We use approval rules to implement those policies in Ottimate. Instead of walking paper invoices over to the right person’s pile, we just load everything in [Ottimate], and the system routes the invoices to the right approvers.

Digitizing invoices also became easier, since Ottimate offers several ways to upload invoices into the platform, including Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), email forwarding, scanning, and taking a photo with the mobile app. B&G takes advantage of each of these, based on what works best for each franchise location’s needs. 


“We’re about 50/50 paper vs. electronic invoices at this point,” Danielle estimates. “We’re slowly transitioning our utility bills to EDI. In my email, I personally get about 200 PDF invoices a week. As for the paper invoices, we scan those for the most part — except for those water bills that look like little postcards. We usually take pictures of those.”


The Results


Saving 46 Hours Per Month on Invoice Processing


Ottimate’s automated invoice transcription, GL coding, and approval routing has taken a huge amount of manual work off the AP team’s plates. These days, they’re doing more with two people than they used to do with three.


“The invoices that already have items automatically mapped and everything take, probably, five seconds,” Danielle reports. “We just make sure the store number’s right, check the date, and then we move on. So it’s cut down on our time drastically.”


What used to take 60 seconds per invoice now only takes five — cutting Danielle and her team’s processing time by nearly 92 percent! And at 3,000 invoices per month, that’s a savings of roughly 46 hours each month that they can spend on other tasks.


Seamless Location Splits


Ottimate also helped resolve the issues Danielle and her team faced when it came to invoices split between multiple franchises. 


Instead of having to type invoice data into a spreadsheet that broke down location-specific split information (such as local taxes), Ottimate worked with B&G to build a custom feature that allows them to simply upload the spreadsheet and let Ottimate handle the rest.

We have some invoices that are split between 20 locations. Before, we were just sitting there, keying in all those lines ourselves. Now, all we do is select that file and tell it where to go, and then it just populates all that coding for us right there in the software.

In-App Vendor Communication


Before Ottimate, Danielle and the team not only had to manually track missing invoices, but also reach out to vendors via phone or email to have the invoices sent. But with Ottimate’s Vendor Statements feature, they can handle everything directly in the platform.


“There have been a few times when Ottimate showed that a certain invoice was missing. We can just click on it, email the vendor, and say, ‘Can you please email this invoice to this email address?’


Easy Digital Storage


The final step of the old workflow was scanning invoices and saving them in an image storage software. With Ottimate, that system is being phased out.


“Instead of putting invoices in filing cabinets or something, we would scan them and upload them to a storage system manually,” says Danielle. “If anybody said, ‘I want to see this invoice,’ we would type that invoice number into the system. So everything we typed already, we had to type again.


“But it was just imaging and filing. It wasn’t automated like Ottimate. We’re about 90 percent of the way to replacing that system on the accounts payable side.”


Tying Together the B&G Family


With an automated AP process securely in place, Danielle and the AP team are able to stay in control of their invoices better than ever before. 

It’s significantly cut down the time we spend keying in data.

They now get the same level of detail they did from their manual process, but in far less time — and with more efficient digital file storage, faster processing, and better visibility. With Ottimate, B&G has built a stronger financial workflow that impacts every aspect of the company, from the main office to the individual properties — unifying all franchise locations across this family-run enterprise.

Spending too much time on a manual AP process? Learn how Ottimate can streamline your AP workflow by scheduling a demo today