Customer Story | Restaurant Accounting Firm

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How J Ely Processes Invoices 83% Faster While Gaining More Visibility

“It used to take us 30 seconds to enter a single-item invoice. Longer ones took half an hour. With Ottimate, both invoices take 5 seconds.”

Joe Ely
530 Hours
saved annually in invoice processing






Thomson Reuters

J Ely Business Services is an accounting firm based in Destin, FL. Founded in 1998 by restaurant accounting veteran Jacqueline Ely, the company serves more than 50 businesses around the country, mostly restaurants and bars.

The Challenge

When Jacqueline’s son Joe Ely stepped into a managerial role two years ago, he inherited an invoice process in desperate need of streamlining. “We were old-fashioned. There were file cabinets and paper everywhere. Local restaurant operators were driving their invoices to our office.” Joe began using document management software Docuware to digitize the invoices, but it wasn’t providing enough visibility. “The software would read header information, but it couldn’t piece out the line items. To get the data we needed into the GL, we had to enter it all by hand.” With 72,000 invoices a year coming into the office, the team spent 38,000 minutes a year — over 630 hours — on manual entry. The problem was acute enough that Joe went looking for an AP solution that could gather line-level data.

Our Solution

With Ottimate, the team was not only able to gather granular data, but use it to control costs. “Now we track whether contracted items are being charged right, and whether different locations are paying different prices for the same thing.” Even the digitization process is easier. “The managers love being able to shoot an upside down, backwards, three-page invoice, mixed in with a bunch of other invoices, and have it process properly.” And the approval process has eliminated client trips into the office entirely. “Our aging is exact to what’s sitting in Ottimate under the Approvals tab. The manager just logs on, sees what we’ve set for payment, and approves it.”


Automatically coding each line item to the GL has saved over 530 hours a year. “A one-line invoice used to take us 30 seconds to key in. Now it takes us 5. But here’s the thing,” says Joe. “That 100-item Reinhart invoice used to take us about half an hour to process. Now, that also takes 5 seconds.” In addition to processing invoices over 80% faster, Ely can now hire remote workers. “Hiring accountants around here is not easy. But now we can open it up to anyone who has a computer. We can choose who does the work. Ottimate made it easy for us to do that. It saves us a ton of time and work.”