Amwaste is a full-service waste and recycling company with operations in Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. It started in Birmingham with roll-off (demolition removal services) and landfill operations, and has since expanded its service offerings to include residential garbage collection, recycling, portable toilet and holding tank removal, and more.
Amwaste is composed of multiple entities, organized by state and landfill, each requiring its own budget and forecast. A consolidated budget and forecast is also required by its parent company.
Before Centage, Amwaste had three separate business entities, each with its own QuickBooks database and budget. To create an annual budget, they pulled data from the three QuickBooks databases and manually re-entered it into three separate Excel spreadsheets, which were later rolled up into a single budget for the parent company.
This process grew unsustainable as Amwaste expanded. They wanted a more streamlined and accurate way to manage the overall budgeting process, which led their CFO David Carlisle to Centage.
Flexible driver-based budgeting across business entities
“Centage does a great job in handling our drivers. We can put everybody on a regular, odd day, 40-hour week schedule, and then apply an overtime rule based on the type of job we have. It works really well.”
Each service that Amwaste offers has unique business drivers that shape its companies. For example, in the residential pickup business, revenue is driven by the number of homes under contract or serviced, while expenses are driven by number of days in the month (the longer the month, the more pickups required).
Roll-off customers are charged based on the number of services provided. Commercial front-load customers are charged a fixed monthly fee, but the longer the month, the higher the labor costs.
“Centage is very easy to use in that regard because we can download a set of drivers or set our operating costs, tweak them as necessary, then upload them back into the system. And in no time at all I have a working budget for the new contract in just an hour. It’s the same with operating costs. It just doesn’t take very long to forecast.”
Centage is purpose-built for driver-based budgeting and forecasting, which has been a huge benefit for the Amwaste team.
Rolling budgets provide visibility into the 18 months (and 3-5 years) ahead
“I’m not as concerned about years three, four, and five as I am with what the next 18 months look like for the business.”
Using QuickBooks and spreadsheets, Amwaste was able to cobble together a two-year rolling budget. But what they really wanted was a five-year rolling forecast with a particular focus on the 18-month horizon.
Eighteen months is the sweet spot for Amwaste because it’s far enough into the future to plan for critical drivers, such as labor costs, and fine tune each company plan based on new contracts as required.
That’s not to say that the forecasts beyond 18 months aren’t helpful — the Amwaste team considers them “a gift.” While forecasts are more or less educated guesses, they are reassured to know, based on current actuals and existing contracts, where the company is likely to be in the mid-term future.
Easily run monthly forecasts to stay agile in day-to-day operations
When they relied on spreadsheets for their reports, monthly forecasts were a luxury that required countless staff hours to compile. Now, once monthly actuals come in, the Amwaste team easily updates the forecasts for each entity, enabling them to individually monitor each company’s health and the overall financial picture of the parent company.
This process now takes about an hour and sharpens Amwaste’s vision of what the future holds.
Analytics reporting enables easy creation of quarterly investor reports
“I see great benefits, from both the planning and analytics side — the reporting functionality in particular is a huge time saver.”
Another benefit Amwaste utilizes is the ability to create quarterly reports for their banks and investors. Centage’s advanced reporting and analytics integrates directly with their GL, providing accurate and reliable graphical representations of Amwaste’s financial data.
Accurate proposals in an hour or less
“All I need to do is press refresh, and Centage pulls all the data from relevant sources and populates the report. Back when we used QuickBooks this took me days, but now I can produce them all in an hour. It’s a huge time saver.”
Amwaste still relies on spreadsheets to build sales proposals, but for complex proposals, such as responding to an RFP from a municipality, they’ll first build a budget in Centage using all of the correct drivers and actual costs.
The result is a more accurate proposal, critical for long-term contracts. Underestimating costs can result in long-term losses. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong for the next five years.
With all of the financial data that they have in Centage, Amwaste always has a snapshot of the business that they can use as a starting point for creating next year’s budget for each entity. What once was a long, arduous process is now just a matter of tweaking based on contract status.
Like many companies today, Amwaste’s financial team is short-staffed, leaving existing team members with more responsibilities. The automations and intelligence built into Centage means their team spends far less time creating proposals, delivering quarterly reports, and producing monthly forecasts — and now spends that time doing more important strategic work.
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