SmartPractice has been providing products and services that make it easier for healthcare organizations to focus on patient care since 1969. A one-stop shop for everything from exam room supplies to patch testing panels, to custom patient communications, the Phoenix-based company helps thousands of dental, medical and veterinary practices worldwide to work smarter every day.
Still, when the leaders of SmartPractice were looking for ways to streamline the company’s own operations, they ran into a roadblock.
“We were interested in improving the efficiency of our accounts payable (AP) process,” recalls Terri Martin, SmartPractice’s AP Manager. “After automating a number of our internal processes, we were eager to reduce the amount of paper we were using.” At the time, the company’s five-person AP department was processing as many as 500 checks a week. Credit cards were reserved for online purchases.
“The problem was, we didn’t fit the criteria for many of the automated AP solutions available. With fewer than 300 employees, we were either too small or the provider wanted us to issue purchasing cards to employees and do other things we didn’t want to do,” says Martin.
Then Martin recalled a meeting she’d had with representatives of Commerce Bank years earlier and decided to give the bank a fresh look.
"Commerce wasn’t concerned about our size. They were concerned about finding a way to help us."Terri Martin, Accounts Payable Manager, SmartPractice
Following that meeting, Commerce developed a plan for converting as many of SmartPractice’s vendors to virtual card payments as possible. The remainder would be paid by ACH or check, depending on their preference.
Solutions created just for SmartPractice.
That meeting took place more than a decade ago. Since that time, CommercePayments® has helped sign up hundreds of SmartPractice suppliers to be paid through its automated AP Card program, a switch that has earned the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue share since then.
“Some suppliers have been more eager to sign up than others,” says Martin. “Commerce has helped us by offering different options to suppliers that are reluctant to accept cards. Half the time, they are successful in getting people who said they wouldn’t take a card on board.”
Commerce also developed a workaround for suppliers that accept autopay by allowing SmartPractice to upload and track up to 12 payments on a virtual card-on-file. “They created this solution just for us, and it works great,” says Martin. “I told them that I would be a guinea pig for other new ideas.”
SmartPractice thus was among the first CommercePayments® customers to implement its Payment Hub — a portal that integrates with SmartPractice’s accounting system, enabling suppliers to be paid by their preferred method from a single payment file.
Over the past decade, SmartPractice has undergone some changes of its own. Following a series of acquisitions and divestitures, it now operates 23 business units, including one that manufactures a specialized patch used worldwide for allergy testing and a promotions business that produces everything from custom-printed paper and plastic bags to holiday greeting cards in what is now Arizona’s largest print shop. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, the company serves customers in Japan, Australia, Italy, Germany and beyond.
These business changes, in combination with SmartPractice’s AP automation efforts, have dramatically reduced the number of checks it processes each month. In fact, the company’s AP department is now staffed by just two people. “As people left, we just didn’t fill the positions. And we’re still getting the job done,” says Martin.
"I think a lot of AP departments in companies our size run into issues similar to ours. If they are looking for an automated payments solution, the Payment Hub works well."Terri Martin, Accounts Payable Manager, SmartPractice
“Commerce is very easy to work with. They have been good to us,” Martin says.
CommercePayments® solutions are provided by Commerce Bank.