Avanto Partnership Generates Major Productivity Gains, Cost Savings for BKM Total Office of Texas
Ask Steve Burak, chief financial officer at Dallas-based BKM Total Office of Texas just why he brought in the process improvement experts at Avanto to support his dealership and he’s got 80,000 really good reasons to explain the move. They’re green and folding, and each one comes with a portrait of our nation’s first president!
But if the $80,000 in hard savings that Burak estimates Avanto generated in its first year as process improvement partner for BKM by themselves provide a compelling argument for using their services, those savings represent just one aspect of the way working with Avanto has benefited the dealership. And with a pandemic-driven economic meltdown of historic proportions to contend with, timing on the BKM-Avanto partnership couldn’t be any better!
Burak first learned about Avanto when he heard Avanto partner Matt Danyliw speak at a 2017 Solomon Coyle meeting. Coincidentally, BKM owner and CEO Carol Roehrig had just attended a conference at a local university in Dallas on how businesses can use artificial intelligence and bots to automate everyday processes and the services Avanto was offering seemed tailor-made to help BKM do just that.
“There weren’t any specific pain points we were trying to address, but even pre-pandemic, we felt it was really important to explore better ways of doing things for all aspects of the dealership,” Burak recalls. “You didn’t need a crystal ball to recognize margins were going to becoming even tighter than they were already and we simply couldn’t afford not to respond and anticipate that in some way.”
All too often, introducing new technology and processes to a business can be a high-stress undertaking that ends up creating as many problems as it solves. Fortunately for Burak and the rest of the BKM team, that was never a problem with Avanto.
“Matt Danyliw has such an extensive industry background and understands dealer operations so well that there was never any question of him having to go through some kind of learning curve to figure out our processes and procedures,” Burak reports.
“He was a terrific listener and was able to process what we told him and come up with very creative solutions to take what we were doing and find better ways to do it.”
Step One in that process, the low-hanging fruit as Steve Burak terms it, focused on automating BKM’s accounts payable processing. That was followed in short order by the introduction of an automated check request process and at the same time, BKM outsourced its vendor acknowledgements to the Avanto team.
The impact was almost immediate. “Avanto allowed us to streamline our accounting and replace three-people in the department with what basically translated into 1.75 FTEs,” Burak explains.
Avanto also helped BKM address one of just about every dealer’s pet peeves: handling customer returns. It’s not an issue that typically gets a lot of attention in most dealerships, but over time it can build up to become a problem. Burak knew some kind of action was needed when he went looking in the warehouse one day for some customer inventory and found it in six different places!
“Customer returns are just random parts but those random parts eventually add up to a big chunk of storage that we don’t get revenue from,” Burak
explains. “Avanto gave us much greater visibility into what exactly was happening with all those returns and allowed us to go back to the customers who had sent in those parts and either start charging for them or sending them back.” The result: better customer service and the elimination of unnecessary warehouse overhead.
The new efficiencies in the accounting department and the warehouse paid for BKM’s investment in the Avanto partnership many times over, but those efficiencies were just the beginning, Burak reports.
Like just about every business, BKM goes through an annual accounting audit. In the past, it was a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that saw a team of outside auditors spend as much as three weeks camped out in a conference room at the dealership, pouring through boxes of financial records and sending BKM’s accounting team hunting through the files for old invoices, orders and similar paperwork.
The Avanto bot made all that a thing of the past.
“Thanks to Avanto, our last auditors spent less than three days in our offices,” Burak reports. “Instead, we gave them access to our system remotely in view-only mode through the Avanto bot and they could pull down whatever they needed without having to be onsite and without having to take our people away from their regular work to find old files. In fifteen-plus years of going through audits, this latest one was by far the easiest and Avanto played a significant role in making that happen!”
Steve Burak and his team have been working with Avanto for just over a year now and in that time, the company has become a key business partner for the dealership.
“Working with Avanto has made my life a lot easier and given me access to the information I need a lot quicker,” says Burak. “And while there were some initial concerns among our team when we first started working with Avanto, they soon realized the primary objectives were process improvement and productivity gains and now they’re the ones who are coming up with the ideas that are making all of us more efficient and productive!”
Adds Burak, “BKM’s partnership with Avanto is important today but it’s only going to become more important tomorrow, as we continue to work with them to find opportunities to boost productivity and generate additional cost savings.”
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