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Dwayne Northrop's pizza chain has a problem — a good one, but still a problem. Many of the 26 Garlic Jim's Famous Gourmet Pizza units are located near businesses whose staffs place large pizza orders during lunch, and typically they want to pay by account. Getting the food to them isn't the challenge, Northrop said, but billing for it is a headache at every level.
 
"In our stores, we literally have a three-ring binder that contains these accounts," said Northrop, chief executive of the Everett, Wash.-based chain. "At the end of the night, the manager has to open the book, find the account for which businesses ordered, enter it in there and then put it in the computer. It's a lot of steps."
 
Northrop isn't the only operator plagued by pages of paperwork tied to accounts-receivable billing, said Steve Richardson, manger of domestic sales for Intura Solutions, maker of the Intura Vision POS. As pizza penetration into school lunch programs goes deeper and companies purchase more catered lunches to keep employees on site, operators want a way to adjust to the new demand, he said.
 
"It's a nightmare if you have to go through putting it on paper and transferring it to an Excel spreadsheet," Richardson said. "If the owner is in there and actually running the store and tracking all this with QuickBooks, then that's good. But if he's overseeing five stores with multiple accounts, it's hard to mange it."
 
A software solution
 
When Intura rolls out Intura Vision 3.20 in July, it will come with a fully integrated accounts receivable feature that will handle deferred sales seamlessly. To develop the new software, Intura researched multiple existing accounting systems in use by many pizza operators and then integrated similar functions into its system.
 
"Operators are looking for more ways to compete in the marketplace and eke out every last sales opportunity," he said. "And when it gets into things like managing accounts receivable, we're convinced sharper operators will want tools like these."
 
Northrop said his company is more than eager for the upgrade because of the potential time savings at every step of the process.
 
"Currently, deferred payment isn't available on our system, so we have to ring those sales as cash sales when we get the order and then figure it all out at the end of the night," he said. "But with the new upgrade, it could save the night manager 15 to 20 minutes every night. It also eliminates mistakes with handwritten orders; the guy during the day scribbles the order down, and then the guy at night has to figure out what he wrote without him being there."
 
Northrop said the time savings will increase even more at the corporate office, where Garlic Jim's staff spends an average of 20 minutes per store each day reconciling accounts receivables and preparing bills. The new system will crunch that data automatically. Franchisees will benefit, too, he said. "Since they don't send those bills to us, they'll be able to generate an invoice right from their POS."

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