Small business owners are used to wearing many hats. Depending on the size of their team, an owner could be responsible for everything from operations to marketing to IT. On top of that, they still need to manage business finances and make sure bills are paid on time.
This was one of the problems a company called FoodDays faced: They wanted to expand their business, and to do that, they needed to simplify their bill payments. How could they manage and pay their bills faster to free up time for vendor relationships and business growth?
Empowering schools and local caterers
In the business of school lunch programs, saving time means everything. We recently caught up with Michael Thwaite, Co-Founder and ‘Chief Technology Human’ of FoodDays, a business he started with his wife Pamela nearly 20 years ago. FoodDays provides online solutions that help school lunch programs operate efficiently.
Back in 2003, Pamela was running lunch programs as part of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in their local school district. When she recognized how inefficient it was to coordinate meals on paper, she had the idea to move it online—and it just so happened that her husband Michael was an experienced software developer.
“I foolishly said, ‘Sure, I can do that.’ And so it began…” Michael remembers. This was the start of their small business journey, building software that helps schools without cafeterias successfully run lunch programs.
Fast-forward almost 20 years, and the couple has quit their day jobs to focus on expansion. Michael and Pamela work primarily with local vendors to provide meals, directly supporting small businesses that may not have the time to focus on their finances.
“On our platform, we can see who bought what, so we’re creating invoices for these small businesses, processing them, and sending them a payment ourselves. We tell vendors, ‘Let us handle the finances and invoices.’ And that allows them to do what they do best: prepare quality food.”
By simplifying and digitizing the order process, FoodDays helps PTAs, PTOs, and schools make the most of their budgets.
Simplifying bill pay processes to support growth
Efficiency has always been at the heart of FoodDays’ focus. In the process of building their business, Michael began looking for an online bank to increase their company’s efficiency so they could better serve their customers.
“In my past experience using traditional banks, I had to move through multiple platforms to make a simple ACH payment,” Michael says. “I wanted an online-only bank because they’re quick and easy.”
During his research, Michael came across Bluevine, which he calls “the polar opposite of a traditional bank.” He was looking for an easy-to-use banking dashboard that allowed him to send ACH and check payments, connect to payment processors, and sync with QuickBooks® Online.BVSUP-00056
“Bluevine’s dashboard is clean and simple, with all the features I need. And I can manage my checking accounts and bills from one place.” Being able to seamlessly manage bill payments and his Bluevine Business Checking account from a single dashboard has saved Michael plenty of time and frustration. “It’s so user-friendly, especially the way my checking account and bill pay work together.”
Since opening his first account with Bluevine, Michael has spoken very highly of the Bluevine Customer Support team. “In the early days, I had a couple of questions. I clicked on the chat feature, and my questions were answered within minutes.”
Michael adds, “With how much time I save now, I don’t know if I could ever go back to a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank.”
Opening a second business checking account with Bluevine
Many businesses have primary and secondary checking accounts, sometimes with different institutions. Ultimately, Michael and FoodDays chose to stick with Bluevine for both accounts because of how easy it was to open an account, and how much they loved the simplicity.
When Michael and Pamela decided to expand FoodDays and hire additional team members, they also opened another Bluevine checking account under a new business entity. Having a second account allows them to keep finances separate for strategic budgeting.
Another way to budget with Bluevine Business Checking is by adding up to five sub-accounts. With designated account numbers, sub-accounts keep budgets separate while allowing small businesses to control exactly which accounts their vendors can bill.BVSUP-00053
Sharing bill pay responsibilities
Before finding Bluevine, Michael handled all the bill pay responsibilities for FoodDays.
“Vendors often provide the wrong ACH information, so I was sending payments very carefully.” Michael says he’d send test payments of about seven cents to new payees, so he could verify their account before sending the full payment. He’d also update the payment description to ‘pending verification’ to help keep track of statuses.
Now, Michael and Pamela have added their team as additional users, giving them access to FoodDays’ second Bluevine account with limited permissions—including submitting bill payments for Michael’s review.
This bill approval workflow allows the FoodDays team to set up payments, so all Michael needs to do is double check them and click ‘approve.’ Michael saves time because he doesn’t need to set up the payments himself, plus he gets a convenient email notification when a bill is waiting for his review. And, of course, his payments always have two sets of eyes on them before getting sent out.
Growing with confidence
With a simplified bill pay platform that works seamlessly with Bluevine Business Checking, FoodDays was able to streamline its bill pay processes and expand with confidence.
To save time paying their bills, Michael and Pamela set up payment approvals to share bill pay responsibilities with their team, and they connected their checking account with QuickBooks® Online and payment processing tools to stay in sync.BVSUP-00056
Michael says, “The best platforms are the ones I don’t even need to know much about to get started, because they’re quick, simple, and get the job done.”
Michael, Pamela, and the FoodDays team are excited to continue growing their presence and build an end-to-end solution that keeps school lunch programs running efficiently. Customer feedback like theirs is important to us, and we’re continuously working to add more features that make bill pay even easier for small businesses.