I suppose we are all (or at least can be) tempted to take shortcuts for many reasons. You may need to feel like you accomplished something that day; you have too much on your plate and just need to check something off your ever growing to-do list; you’re being bombarded with emails from “above” so you bulldoze your way through them all (without really reading them) just to clear your in-box. Face it…it happens to the best of us at one point or another.
Recently I was looking for something I wrote a few years ago at another company and while I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did find the below email. There are a few of you out there who should remember getting this. One of the hardest things to do is remember how much we all have on our plates and these days things are rolling down hill (and from every direction) faster than ever. So….in my humble opinion, emails that need to be remembered need to be delivered creatively.
While I am fair, treat everyone the same across the board consistently, easy to get along with, approachable, supportive, etc… You need to also know that I am tough, and I want what I want when I want it!!! I tell people this all the time. I’m not prone to yelling, but I can get a bit loud and very firm when warranted. However, every once in awhile to get my point across I lean on my creative side. I’ve found that in the never ending daily barrage of emails we all get, the one people will tend to remember is the one that makes them laugh or smile (and still gets the point across).
Fact or Fiction – The Story of the Bill Invoice Sorter File
I want to share a story.
Once there was a property manager on a beautiful property on a remote island. Everything was as it should be, running around, always busy, resident problems, maintenance problems, leasing and occupancy problems. But this property manager kept it all going … except when the evil bill fairy showed up.
Now, the property manager had to get a unit ready and needed carpet. While she’d been told the process a million times, the evil bill fairy whispered in her ear…just do it, you’ve got too much on your plate and your regional manager will fix it. The property manager knew this didn’t sound right, but the evil bill fairy had a point. What the evil bill fairy didn’t know what that the regional manager was sick and tired of doing the property manager’s job, so the regional manager would just send bills back to the property manager that were not completed correctly.
So the property manager took short cuts just to get the job done. The evil bill fairy had won! The bill didn’t get paid on time because company policy was not followed. The regional manager sent the bill back to the property, but the busy property manager never got the correct paperwork together and resubmitted, and now the property manager can’t turn units because vendors have cut the property off for non-payment of bills.
In her despair, the property manager was walking the property trying to figure out how to fix the very large mess she had made. When out of nowhere, actually from under a loose gutter that needed to be repaired, appeared the sparkling accounts payable fairy with some advice. The accounts payable fairy said, if you will read your emails, do as your regional manager has told you a million times, and not take short cuts you wouldn’t be in this mess. So, feeling sorry for the property manager, but not that sorry because she had been told a million times how to process bills, she told her one last time.
- You need carpet – fill out a purchase request and send to your regional manager for approval and processing.
- Put this in the bill sorter file under the alphabet letter for that particular vendor. Keep it there until you get the final approved one.
- DO NOT JUST LEAVE BILLS LYING AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE – USE THE BILL SORTER FILE!
- DO NOT LET MAINTENANCE ORDER ANYTHING WITHOUT YOUR APPROVAL.
- Your regional manager will sign off on the purchase request and send to Sue for final approval and logging into the replacement logs.
- Sue will return – via email – the final approved purchase request.
- Your regional manager will get a copy too and she will forward to you. It’s not the regional manager’s job to dig through emails or files because you didn’t print that email and put in the bill sorter file.
- Put the final approved purchase request in the bill sorter file under the alphabet letter for that particular vendor.
- Throw the original purchase request you sent without your regional’s or Sue’s signature away.
- When the bill comes in, enter the bill into One Site and print the One Site invoice cover sheet.
- Attach the One Site invoice cover sheet (on top), to the vendor invoice, then the final approved purchase request, then an additional copy of the invoice.
- Send to your regional manager for approval, who will then turn into accounts payable for payment.
- Bills are to be sent in weekly.
- Just because you entered a bill in One Site DOES NOT MEAN you sent it to your regional manager.
- If your regional manager sends bills back to you – DEFINITELY DOES NOT MEAN it was given to AP.
- What it does mean is you didn’t follow policy and process the bill correctly.
- Regular bills have a One Site invoice cover sheet or manual check request (security deposit refunds, petty cash, eviction checks), followed by the vendor invoice.
- New vendors have the above and a W9, Independent Contractors Agreement, Insurance Certificate.
- Vendors without workers comp insurance are not allowed to perform work on the property.
The sparkling accounts payable fairy reminded the property manager that if bills continue to not be processed correctly there will be consequences. Repeated problems with vendors not getting paid because bills not being turned in could result in a spot on the unemployment line.
The moral of the story – don’t listen to the evil bill fairy – she’ll get you in hot water every single time.
My team paid attention and if I remember right, I never had to tell them again about how to process bills for prompt payment. Sometimes, I guess, if you really need to get the point across it’s better to be creative (and get their attention and retention) instead of being a pit-bull.
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