Caliber Collision has experienced tremendous change over the past five years. In 2014, there were fewer than 200 locations, and now there are over 1,100 in 37 states, making Caliber the largest collision repair company in the United States. Automation of administrative processes has made it possible to manage the Caliber’s growth effectively.
Accounts Receivable, especially cash application, was significantly impacted by automation. To simplify our processes, we first streamlined our banking structure and centralized our depository accounts at one bank. Additionally, we centralized the receipt posting process, which was formerly performed at each shop. We also set up EFT, or ACH payments, with our insurance customers. ACH payments are preferred for our centralized process because they are secure payments with immediately available funds that go directly to the bank. The challenge with ACH payments is that the remittance is often separate from the payment, retrieved either via portal or email. We partnered with High Radius, an AI-driven integrated receivables provider, to further automate processes.
The implementation of High Radius’s cash application solution required some IT support, but it was minimal. We transmitted a BAI file from the bank and our open A/R file to High Radius, as well as customer login criteria and email remittances. The High Radius solution performs a match of the receipt, payment and opens A/R. High Radius consultants gained a thorough understanding of our business and current process before blueprinting the automated method and rules. In 2017, we rolled out the High Radius solution for our ACH receipts. Caliber achieved a high hit rate (matched A/R) of 95% using the High Radius solution. Now the A/R teammate logs into the High Radius solution and 95% of the receipts are already applied, so they only work on the remaining 5% that were exceptions.
Benefits of the automation were realized immediately. The new process saved headcount, increased teammate satisfaction and added control — the time saved with the new process translated into two headcounts out of 5. From 2016 to 2019, we were able to keep our headcount steady, despite our double-digit growth. Automation changed the job description of the Caliber A/R teammates from a manual, repetitive, data entry-based processes to more analytical, and value-added work. Working in a system is more straightforward, enhances cross-training and adds control. It provides a consistent platform for all customers instead of a different process for each carrier. Not only is our team more satisfied as they are growing professionally, but we are also able to team to focus on our internal customer and better manage our A/R.
I am often asked if there were lessons learned from implementing an A/R Automation solution. Training is crucial to an effective transition. Provide training through webinars, test environment practice or on-site if necessary. Remove the old process tools. Change is difficult, and without proper training, people will want to continue the old process. Before signing off on a completed implementation, be sure that the system is working satisfactorily. Once sign off is complete, the implementation team will move to the next project, and it will be more difficult to make custom rule changes.
Additionally, assign a system superuser. The system takes maintenance to continue a high match rate. The superuser understands the details of the system, keeps up with system enhancements, submits and tracks tickets and can troubleshoot and train.