Customer Story | Franchise Management

IRMG Ottimte Customer Story graphic

How IRMG Achieves AP Efficiency At Scale

I can’t quantify the time savings, but Ottimate transformed everything. We don’t have to wait for an invoice to physically get into our office, and then for somebody to open it up. And we avoid a lot of mistakes by not having someone physically [process each invoice].” 

Matt Lau
Finance and Operations
Locations in the U.S. and Internationally






Sage 300

Operating as both a franchisor and a franchisee, International Restaurant Management Group (IRMG) is one of those rare quick service restaurant (QSR) companies that knows what it takes to successfully manage multiple brands. IRMG not only owns its own concepts, like Suki Hana, Wok A Holic, and Kelly’s Cajun Grill, it also operates Burger King and Popeyes franchises, with a total of more than 140 restaurant locations across the U.S., South America, and Canada.


With such a large portfolio, IRMG understands the many challenges companies like theirs face when it comes to managing finances — especially when operating locations both stateside and internationally. Diverse financial systems, variations in tax regulations, different invoicing formats, and currency exchange rates all contribute to the high level of detail needed to keep books balanced and invoices paid accurately and on time. 


When Matt Lau joined IRMG’s Finance and Operations team in 2015, he knew a better approach was needed — especially when it came to managing the company’s invoices. He set out to transform the team’s old, manual workflows into a streamlined, centralized process that would both save time and reduce overhead. 


Challenges Before Ottimate


In the past, the accounting team relied heavily on paper. 

Having stores all over the country, they would actually mail in their invoices. And invoices would get lost. Or, they would be totally wrong. Some invoices would be handwritten. Or they’d be covered in oil.

Just getting an invoice to the office was a challenge for the IRMG team. Some locations had no room to put in a computer, printer, or scanner, due to space restrictions. “Because our restaurants were not dependent on technology, we did look for something that was very mobile friendly,” said Matt.


When he discovered Ottimate, Matt found everything he was looking for — and more. 


Matt and his team quickly learned that Ottimate had much more to offer than just invoice automation. From advanced approval routing and actionable data insights to payment automation and spend management, Ottimate was a game-changer for IRMG’s accounting and operations.


Making Things Easier with Mobile


With an internationally distributed team, Matt and IRMG wanted to make it easy for staff at each location to upload and send invoices. They knew that having a mobile app would be better than “logging in into their email, checking this or that, scanning, uploading, [and] making sure everything was cropped properly.”


Before Ottimate, IRMG tried a different automation software that included a mobile app. However, it didn’t offer the flexibility the team wanted to meet each location’s needs. Some locations preferred to submit invoices from mobile, other stores preferred scanning and batching invoices, and certain vendors wanted to send things using electronic data interchange (EDI).


Ottimate’s flexibility allowed IRMG to “use different methods to get the invoices from California to our office in Florida, digitally. We were no longer having a one week wait where that data’s just sitting there doing nothing,” shares Matt.


Onboarding with Ottimate


Training the team and getting staff up to speed with Ottimate was a simple process.  “There’s not much to it when it’s just snapping a picture, making sure it’s for the right location, and making sure that managers have the right store access,” Matt says. “They can’t really mess up too much.”

Having an easy-to-use interface makes it so much easier.

The onboarding process relied on close collaboration between IRMG’s accounting department and Ottimate’s customer success team to get each franchised location quickly and efficiently set up. Within three days, IRMG’s entire company was fully up and running with their Ottimate system. 


AP Solutions that Meet IRMG’s Needs

Unlimited Users


With franchise locations across the globe, it’s no surprise that IRMG has over a hundred users on the platform — which isn’t an issue with Ottimate’s ability to support unlimited users. 


“At any given time, there are probably at least 50 people who are uploading through the different methods,” explains Matt. “And it’s pretty easy to see how they’re doing it, whether they’re emailing, using the app, or EDI.” 


The visibility and data transparency Ottimate provides helps the central accounting team trace which store a document comes from and who uploaded it. This allows the AP team to quickly contact store-level teams if any corrections or changes need to be made. 


Approval Flow and Time Savings


In the past the AP team used a time-consuming, manual process: They’d use a ruler to “scan” through an invoice, type everything into a spreadsheet by GL code, and then track down the right people to approve each invoice — all before having to manually enter this information in their business management software, Sage 300. 


Ottimate has significantly improved this process. Now, the accounting team reviews food invoices and ensures GL codes match and are set to the right locations. From there, they tackle any issues or exceptions before clearing, approving, and paying the invoice. The new system helps them easily work together, while saving time and minimizing errors along the way. 


“I can’t quantify the time savings, but Ottimate transformed everything,” shares Matt. “We don’t have to wait for an invoice to physically get into our office, and then for somebody to open it up. And we avoid a lot of mistakes by not having someone physically [process each invoice].” 


Efficient Payments


By adopting Ottimate’s VendorPay payment automation solution, IRMG has solved many of its past payment issues — especially the hassle of paper checks. 

We still do [paper checks] in some cases, but we’re able to drastically reduce the check process itself, save a lot of time, and also [offer] ACH and vCard usage.

Electronic payment processing has been a welcome alternative to someone on the accounting team spending hours matching checks, line by line, with the payment register. Plus, reducing paper checks means there’s less chance of payments getting lost in the mail. 


VendorPay has also been instrumental in helping IRMG navigate changing net terms set by different vendors. “We used to have net 30 in a lot of places, and now everybody wants payment immediately,” says Matt. “Without Ottimate, it would probably be a nightmare to try to get that payment done.”  


Growth and Results for IRMG


Better Payments and Accountability


The switch to invoice automation and VendorPay has greatly benefited IRMG’s many franchise locations — and led to happier vendors. “Our vendors love it,” expresses Matt.


Greater payment transparency has also allowed IRMG to resolve issues proactively and quickly. “Sometimes vendors will be like, ‘Hey, what happened to our payment?’” describes Matt. But with Ottimate, the information is always at their fingertips, and they can tell vendors the exact day a check was cut or ACH was received. “Ottimate helped us have all that information right there, and it prevents any hold up of food deliveries to our restaurants.” 


Earning Cash Back for the Business


IRMG is also earning cashback with virtual card (vCard) payments through VendorPay. “We’ve probably been using the vCard for about three years now, and we probably make at least a thousand payments a month, between check, ACH, and vCard.” 


That often equals significant rebates every month. ‍

Not doing anything [extra] and getting money back is definitely a plus!

Efficiency at Scale with 2,000+ Invoices a Month


Matt estimates that IRMG processes over 2,000 invoices a month through Ottimate, on top of the few invoices the accounting team handles outside the platform. 


Even though the team is processing invoices at scale, the system offers the flexibility they need to streamline operations. “We can immediately see which invoices have been paid without actually having to go back to our accounting team and find out,” says Matt. This ease of use is transforming the way the AP department and wider company is able to work together.


Insights and Future Strategies


Ottimate data has also allowed for more in-depth insights across the company — which is vital as new franchise locations are added. It also helped streamline operations for locations who’ve adopted third-party delivery models. 


“Ottimate has been helpful, because we’re able to kind of see what the third party spend was by analyzing an uptick in food costs for stores that did have delivery, versus the ones that didn’t,” explains Matt. 


Driving Future Franchise Success


Matt and his team are looking forward to the future. “We’re excited to see where Ottimate is going. Happily, we’ve been able to refer to other groups to use Ottimate as well!”


As IRMG continues to scale, things ahead look bright. For this growing restaurant management company, adopting new franchisees and adding additional franchises to their portfolio will be a breeze thanks to Ottimate.  


Want to see what Ottimate’s AP automation solutions can do for your franchise? Learn more by scheduling a demo today!