Ace Beverage Group Scaled Operations and Streamlined Accounting With Notch Financial

Ace Beverage Group (ABG) is a Toronto-based beverage alcohol company that specializes in better-for-you, ready-to-drink alcohol products and brands. Some of their most well-known brands include Cottage Springs, Ace Hill, Casa Del Rey, and Cabana Coast. Their products are distributed nationally across Canada.

While wholesale sales to provincial liquor boards make up a considerable amount of Ace Beverage Group’s business, working with smaller vendors like bars, restaurants, and special events to sell ABG’s products is of utmost importance. As consumers are more likely to experiment with drink choices outside of a retail environment, collaboration with smaller vendors creates an opportunity to drive product trials.

When pandemic lockdowns lifted across Canada, consumers flooded out to bars, restaurants, and events to make up for lost time, presenting an attractive opportunity for Ace Beverage Group to expand their reach to new consumers. With hopes of expanding the reach of its brand and building more awareness of its products.

The Challenge

Scaling quickly and efficiently was crucial to taking advantage of this increase in demand. To do this, Ace Beverage Group needed to take a hard look at all areas of its operations. One of the things that came under the microscope was payment processing, which was a very decentralized process in early 2022.

Manual Processes Limited Growth

“Processing many credit cards a day one after the other was laborious and time-consuming, and double-checking everything to avoid errors added even more time and effort to the process,” said Kerstin Langmuir, Financial Analyst at Ace Beverage Group. “It often took hours a week to manually process credit cards. This tied up the resources of our accounting team and made it difficult for us to scale up to meet demand.” 

The team also needed a way to directly integrate NetSuite with its accounts receivable process. As Ace Beverage Group’s primary accounting and financial management software, NetSuite contained all the company’s records and accounting information. But manually duplicating payments between the software the team used to charge credit cards and NetSuite was a slow and error-prone process, requiring monthly checks to ensure both were in sync. When they weren’t, that meant more time and effort had to be invested to find and fix errors.

Continual Catch-Up Mode

Relying on manual processes created even more challenges when someone in the accounting department was on vacation or sick. The team would have to continue processing the same volume of credit card payments and copying them into NetSuite, which sometimes created a backlog and placed everyone in a continuous catch-up mode. Without a centralized way to view the payment status of all invoices, whenever customer or internal inquiries came in, it required a significant investment of time and effort to track and reconcile them. 

“That can lead to problems down the road,” Kerstin explained. “You could get a call from a customer one day saying, ‘Why is this invoice outstanding when I already paid it.’ Then you have to track down which invoice it was, when they paid it, and reconcile your books. That didn’t happen often, but resolving it manually wasn’t the most efficient process when it did.”

Simplifying Payment Processing

“So, while the sales team wanted to onboard all these new customers, we needed to make sure that we could handle all those additional customers on the back end,” said Kerstin.

In addition to needing to make routine payment processing more efficient, it was also crucial for ABG to be easy to work with. Most of the company’s retail partners, such as restaurants, are often managed by a small team. So, working efficiently with a large variety of small partners is crucial to ABGs ability to effectively market its products to as wide an audience as possible. 

“At some point, it doesn’t matter if you have the best product. If you’re too difficult to work with, these small operations just won’t be able to support you,” Kerstin explained. “That’s why our payment process needed to be as clear and straightforward as possible for our on-premise partners.”

To run a lean and mean operation, Ace Beverage Group needed to find a more integrated approach to routine accounting so it could free up time for staff to focus on more valuable contributions. By the end of 2022, ABG was scouting for a more effective way to manage payments when CFO Alec Shepherd discovered Notch Financial’s accounts receivable solution.

The Solution

“The Notch Financial platform’s ability to automatically process credit cards was a game-changer for us,” explained Kerstin.

“By not only charging the cards automatically but providing the ability to schedule payments and send emailed receipts, most of the payment process could be left to the platform without risking inaccuracies in payments. This relieved pressure on the accounting team and gave us the tools we needed to handle many more customers.”

Superior Systems Integration

This ability to scale easily was further enhanced by the integration capabilities the Notch platform provides. By seamlessly linking payment processing to NetSuite, ABG eliminated the errors and effort involved in duplicating payment information and checking monthly that the accounting information was accurate. 

“We would always be careful and thorough when we were checking that information, but it definitely takes a lot of pressure off knowing we have a trusted system doing it for us,” Kerstin said. 

Comprehensive and Accurate Payment Tracking

The Notch platform’s clear, comprehensive, and intuitive interface also made it easier to effectively track payments and minimize errors.

“The Notch interface is very clean and organized. You can see all your invoices: their status, the date they were paid, and the amount,” explained Ace Beverage Group’s Accounting Coordinator Lauren Howling, “which makes it fast and simple to find invoice and payment details when customers have questions about them.”

Top-Notch Customer Service During Integration

Implementation of the Notch platform started early in 2023 and wrapped up in May. And quality customer service helped ensure that ABG’s integration of the platform went as smoothly as possible. 

“We had weekly meetings to go over any pain points and make sure everything was working. And when we had a question about what could be done with the tool, they were happy to either make the change when they could or let us know it was in progress. Information was always forthcoming and offered promptly, even if someone was on leave or away,” Lauren said.

And the Notch team’s willingness to go above and beyond was a crucial factor in ABGs decision to choose the Notch platform for its operation.

The Value

The automation provided by the Notch platform was crucial to helping ABG eliminate busy work.

Payment Management Up to Five Times Faster

“The platform let us cut down the time we used to spend managing credit card payments from five hours a week to one or two,” Kerstin explained. 

“And with the NetSuite integration, payments are automatically processed and synced with our accounting software, eliminating the time and effort involved in copying over information and double-checking it for accuracy. This has not only greatly reduced the time and effort spent processing credit cards individually but also ensures our accounts receivable and invoice records are always in sync.”

AR Collection Improved by 80%

Kerstin notes that because this automated process makes things easier for ABG and its customers, AR collections for credit card payments customers have increased by 80%. 

“It eliminates a lot of issues up front. That’s important because when there’s an issue or a question, it can take longer to collect on an account. And the longer it takes, the greater the chance you don’t get paid at all,” she added. 

With the ability to automate the timing of payments, ABGhas been able to accommodate the smaller operations that are so crucial to growing its brand recognition.

“Charging credit cards can be a sticky situation for some clients, and they might need some flexibility on timing. With the automation in the Notch platform, we can easily give them that, without having to exchange dozens of emails coordinating the process,” noted Kerstin.

Improved relationships with new or small-scale customers

“For new one-off or smaller customers, it’s vastly easier for them to do business with us via the Notch platform. The flexibility the platform provides has been crucial in helping us grow and take on new accounts without getting bogged down in the details,” Kerstin said. “And because the intuitive and clear interface reduces the time it takes for the accounting team to find a solution to any problems that come up, our existing and new customers find it easier to work with us.”

Easier Training and Greater Peace of Mind

Lauren added that the Notch platform’s intuitive interface also makes it easier to onboard new team members. When she joined the accounting team in late 2023, she only needed a simple introduction to the platform and she was ready to use it entirely independently. “That let both Kerstin and I focus on other aspects of the business, without having to worry that this very important but straightforward process was being handled correctly,” Lauren said.

“And even though, on paper, the business we do through our on-premises partners is much smaller than what we sell through the LCBO, they are such important partnerships and relationships to our business and brand,” said Kerstin. “Notch helped us make sure that our on-premise channel was functioning and flourishing, and gave us peace of mind that the underlying business essentials of getting paid accurately and on time were taken care of.”

Partner With a Proven Solution

Notch’s accounts receivable and accounts payable automation platform fully integrates with several AR and AP technologies, including QuickBooks, NetSuite, Fidelio, and Big Chip. 

Our proven solution brings together all your accounting and inventory management processes, ensuring information is synchronized seamlessly across your business. With Notch you can eliminate the manual work involved in processing payments, updating invoice spreadsheets, and synchronizing inventories with outgoing products and payments. 

Book a demo to learn more.