12/17/2007 — After switching to the MasterCard Commercial Card Program, Sivyer Steel has increased control of employee expenses while drastically reducing the amount of time its accountants devote to reconciling invoices.
Sivyer Steel has 350 employees and a rich history of producing quality castings for an array of industries. Since 1909, the Bettendorf, Iowa,-based Sivyer has positioned itself as a well-respected brand in the global marketplace. To increase its share of business at home and abroad, Sivyer has made a concerted effort to expand upon its strengths while weeding out limiting components.
Sivyer needed more detailed reporting on employee expenses so it could better evaluate how money was being spent. In addition, the company was looking to streamline its financial statements in order to reduce the time spent reconciling invoices.
A Catalyst for Change
While checking into a hotel hundreds of miles from home, another business card company randomly selected the card used by Sivyer President Arthur Gibeaut for review. He was not allowed to make any charges, and the clerk returned his card with instructions to call the card company. When he placed the call, it took 45 minutes to reach an actual person and 15 minutes to find resolution. "I had no idea they were doing random checking," he says. "While I suppose it’s okay from a security standpoint, it sure is embarrassing for a guy standing in a hotel in San Antonio, Texas, to find out his card is no good."
Soon after, Gibeaut decided to explore the alternatives. He first turned to the company's bank, which suggested looking into MasterCard's offerings. Gibeaut closely examined the MasterCard Commercial Card Program along with several other brands of business credit cards. Ultimately, Gibeaut chose MasterCard.
Down to Details
While the hotel debacle served as a catalyst, the primary desire was to select a provider that could help gain control over expenses through an in-depth monitoring system. Gibeaut says this is exactly what MasterCard's detailed reporting provides Sivyer Steel. All of the expenses are pre-coded, which makes the monthly invoices easy to understand, facilitating control over business and nonbusiness expenses and providing a log for end-of-the-year auditors.
The program also reduces the amount of time it takes for Sivyer's accounting department to reconcile the invoices. With the company’s previous card program it would take about half a day to reconcile each of the seven cards compared to two hours total with the MasterCard solution. Plus, salespeople no longer need to make notations on every receipt. "What we do now is submit our online calendars to the accounting department, and they simply match up the calendar with the expense on the credit card invoice," he says. "There is no more guessing because the monthly invoice breaks things out into entertainment, travel, etc."
Understandably, the accounting department appreciates the detail, as well. "The detailed data on the individual MasterCard reports makes it easy for our limited users to match receipts and present data to accounting for expense reporting," says Sivyer Steel CFO Frank W. Johnson.
With multiple cards in the mix, it is understandable why some business leaders have reservations about assigning cards to employees. However, Gibeaut takes comfort knowing everyone is using the commercial credit card for company-approved expenses. Like most firms, Sivyer Steel has placed some restrictions on card usage — identifying acceptable and unacceptable charges.
"When we first received our cards, we were presented with a listing of the type of stores [where] the card could be used," he says. “We were able to identify types of businesses where we did not want cardholders to make charges, for instance, in high-end department stores. But it's easier to talk about what it can be used for such as travel expense, meals and entertainment."
Gibeaut has seen a handful of additional benefits with the MasterCard Commercial Card Program. For example, marketplace acceptance is a major benefit of the program. "We use it for everything, from gasoline to buying flowers for customers, and when traveling through China, India and Europe," he says. "It's always well-recognized."
He has also appreciated the level of customer service, a true upgrade from his past experiences. When he had to call with a question on the invoice, the response was immediate. "I got my answer very quickly. I had forgotten I had charged something on the MasterCard, but it was very pleasant to be able to get through quickly," he says. "When you call [our previous card provider], you may as well set aside an hour to an hour–and-a-half."
MasterCard Rewards have also been a pleasant surprise for our work force. The company policy allows nominal perks available to the general public to serve as personal rewards for our salespeople. "While we want the airline miles applied to business travel, other perks including personal service discounts serve as little rewards for our people being on the road all the time," he says.Visit Manufacturing Resources & Tools