Country Clubs
February 4, 2022

How to Improve Your Country Club’s Invoice Approval Process

by Jacob Statler

You’re proud of your country club. 

The excellent guest service, state-of-the-art amenities, and mouth-watering cuisine — your country club runs like a well-oiled machine. 

How does your operation run behind the scenes? Say, for instance, your club’s invoice approval process? 

Seriously, let’s talk about it.

You’ve got multiple departments with a boo coo of monthly invoices to be approved before they can be paid. Would you say it runs like a well-oiled machine? 

Or more like a rusty jalopy that gets the job done, but it ain’t pretty or fast, and it breaks down regularly. 

That’s ok. 

Ready to seriously improve your country club’s invoice approval process so you don’t get stranded on the side of the road? 

This article shows you how to trade in your jalopy of an approval process for the Ferrari-like speed and sleekness of automation by covering:

  • To improve your club’s invoice approval process, you’ve got to understand your AP cycle
  • Improve your country club’s invoice approval process through automation
  • 4 Major benefits of automating your club’s invoice approval process
  • How to find the right country club AP software

“Managers can approve invoices from their phones, wherever they are, and have vendors send bills directly to the platform….”

Stephanie Liby, Accounting Manager, The Club at Ravenna.

To improve your club’s invoice approval process, you’ve got to understand your AP cycle

Before you can improve your country club’s invoice approval process, you’ve got to grasp the accounts payable cycle fully, so let’s chat all things AP for a minute.

First of all, accounts payables are your club’s current liabilities (your debt) or obligations (your promise to pay) expected to be paid to vendors for taxes, purchased goods, services, and labor used by your country club. 

They’re paid from the club’s cash flow, and you’re responsible for strategic, ninja-like managing of your AP cycle because it dictates the success (or failure) of your country club.

What does cash flow have to do with accounts payable and your club’s S-U-C-C-E-S-S? 

  • If your club doesn’t have sufficient cash flow, you can’t pay your vendors on time. 
  • If you can’t pay your vendors on time, you won’t be able to service your members. 
  • If you can’t service your members, they’ll bounce. 

Don’t let your members bounce — manage your AP cycle like a smooth operator.

Here’s the order of most country clubs’ AP cycle:

  1. Budget approval — Every country club has policies and procedures for managing this cycle, and it all starts with a solid budget approved by your club’s board and managed by department heads and the controller.
  2. Goods or services are received with receiving orders or agreements/contracts — These receiving orders or agreements/contracts aren’t the invoices. They’re more like packing slips and contracts that serve as promissory notes.
  1. Invoices are received after the receiving orders and agreements — The clock starts ticking on an invoice due date once the invoice is received. Getting vendors paid promptly is critical to your operation and why an efficient invoice approval process is a top priority.
  1. Approval matrix gets going — Most country clubs have roughly 8 department heads. With so many people receiving multiple invoices that need approval, the workflow can get mighty convoluted. 


A country club’s approval matrix generally goes like this: 

First, the department head receives the invoice (let’s say the invoice is for taking care of the green, so it landed on the head of the maintenance department’s desk). The maintenance department codes the invoice to the right GL and sends it to the proper approver. 

The approver also codes the invoice and enters it into the correct accounting system — usually, the controller double-checks the coding before entering the invoice into the accounting system. 

Once the invoice is reviewed, confirmed, and in the accounting system, it’s then approved. Finally, the controller, GM, or CFO will sign a check to pay the invoice.

**The invoice approval process seems slow and tedious with plenty of room for error, doesn’t it? 

With Plate IQ’s automated invoice approval process, maintenance scans or snaps a picture of the invoice. Then, Plate IQ will automatically code it before sending it to the GM or controller. Once the GM/Controller gets it, they review the coding and hit “Approve.” 

No more MANUAL GL coding or data entry for every invoice. Just soak that in for a sec…     

Your country club’s invoice approval process

The invoice approval process refers to each step involved in receiving a vendor invoice through getting it approved and paid.

The purpose of an invoice approval process is to enhance profitability through expense control. Your country club’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) may require an in-depth invoice approval process, which has its benefits when it comes to managing and controlling expenses. 

However, an in-depth invoice approval process requiring multiple approvals from department heads to controller and GM can be slow, drawn-out, and muddled.

Particularly in a country club with approximately 8 different departments with their own budget and department head. Each department invoice requires department head approval upon receipt of the invoice before that invoice makes its way to other approvers.

Your country club’s invoice approval process can be intricate and complex — just stop and think for a hot minute about all the approvals needed when you have the following departments:

  • Food and beverage
  • Sales and marketing
  • Facilities engineer
  • Director of human resources
  • Golf course superintendent
  • Athletic director
  • Golf pro 
  • Maintenance

The best way to enhance and boost profitability is to switch to an automated invoice approval process. Automated invoicing saves time and money, your workflow will be more efficient, and invoice posting errors will be significantly reduced.  

Improve your country club’s invoice approval process through automation

Automation is the #1 way to improve your club’s invoice approval process as well as the entire AP workflow. 

Improving your country club’s invoice approval process means taking a new approach to your entire invoice management process by utilizing technology and all the perks that come along with it.

By implementing automated invoice approval, you can scrap the hassles and risks of manual invoice approval that cost your club massive amounts of time, money, and accuracy due to human error.

Plate IQ offers custom approval workflows that can be programmed to automate much of your invoice approval matrix. For example, let’s say your SOP states that all green maintenance invoices above a set $ amount should go to the controller or CFO. Those conditional approval policies can be created based on $ amounts, certain vendors, etc. 

Once a custom approval workflow is created, any invoice scanned into Plate IQ will be routed automatically to the correct approver. Plate IQ is a robust system that can handle any conditions for approval routing and escalation. 

Automatic becomes AutoMagic.

After implementing AP automation with Plate IQ, Northstone Country Club now has 90% of their invoices GL-coded automatically, saving each department head a massive amount of time. 

4 Major benefits of automating your club’s invoice approval process

Your country club’s invoice approval process is vital in maintaining its financial health and long-term sustainability. Automating this process keeps all the good intended for your club, gets rid of the unnecessary, outdated processes, and brings incredible new benefits to your operation’s workflow. 

Check out the top 4 benefits below:

  1. Reclaim time

Reclaim vast amounts of time by automating your invoice approval process. Automation can save up to 2 hours per workday! No more manually entering invoice data / GL coding or walking invoices to each approver (if you can even find them).

Automatic advanced approval through top-notch AP automation software like Plate IQ frees up extraordinary amounts of time by allowing you to program in approval policies and let the software route all invoices for you. 

Another time-saver is not having to split invoices between departments manually. When you choose an AP software that allows you to set splitting rules in advance, you’ll shave valuable time off your workweek.

  1. Save storage space

Your country club can free up storage space by chunking all those overflowing file cabinets in favor of a digital filing cabinet that holds every scanned invoice and all correlating documents. 

Those documents are easily accessible whenever you need one without having to roll up your sleeves and go on a dusty scavenger hunt through stacks of invoices. 

**Plate IQ allows you to scan in 200+ paper invoices as 1 SINGLE pdf (that’s a lot of paper you don’t have to find a home for). Once you drop that pdf full of invoices into Plate IQ, it’ll analyze, sort, and organize them — that’s a huge paper and time saver rolled into 1.**  

  1. Save money

Automated invoice processing dramatically reduces costs. If your country club is still paying most invoices by check, you could save up to $1000 per month by switching to automated invoice management, which includes paying vendors electronically. 

Most country clubs process between 150 — 250 checks per month at the cost of anywhere from $2 — $5 per single check payment!

Manual invoice processing hinders your ability to nab early-payment discounts. However, once your invoice approval workflow takes less time, you’ll be able to ask your vendors for an early-payment discount. Bonus points if you go with an AP solution like Plate IQ, which offers vendor pay with the option of receiving cash back.


  1. Boost efficiency 

An automated approval workflow speeds up your country club’s invoice processing by light-years creating a faster and more efficient process. 

The thing is — efficiency’s the name of the game. 

When you implement procedures and systems within your country club that impact your bottom line, give you back time for your guests, and free up physical space, you improve overall efficiency. And that sets your club up for future success.  

How to find the right country club AP software 

You can do a lot for your entire AP life cycle when you find the right AP software for your country club’s needs. But, because we’re covering ways to improve your country club’s invoice approval process, we’re going to hone in on 1 “granddaddy of ‘em all” feature: 

Advanced invoice approval — This is the Big Kahuna when it comes to seriously leveling up your country club’s invoice approval process. The option to set rules on who approves what (Does your GM & CFO want to approve all invoices over $10,000?) and have invoices automatically routed to the right person every time will revolutionize your club’s invoice approval process. 

This feature alone is why many country clubs choose Plate IQ because the difference is day & night. They come for the advanced invoice approval process and stay for everything else. 😉 

Additional key features to look for

A quality AP software should make your club’s operation run smoother and enhance your workflow. When comparing software, look for these features:

  • Invoice automation — Paperless invoicing and automatic invoice approval will revolutionize your country club’s invoice process. A country club’s AP software should offer seamless automation for your invoice management. 
  • Bill pay — The ability to set up vendors and pay them within your AP software is the only way to go. Earning cash back while getting your vendors paid faster with a virtual card like the Plate IQ card is a forward-thinking move on your part.   
  • Expense control — A cutting-edge AP solution should offer virtual cards. Virtual cards are the bee’s knees in expense control, providing efficiency, control, and security when dealing with corporate travel, electronic accounts payable, and mobile payments.
  • Automatic line mapping to GL code — “Automatic” should mean just that. Your country club’s AP software should allow you to enter the correct GL coding once, then do it automatically for you forever and ever amen. 
  • Digital filing cabinet — This is a no-brainer. Any AP software worth their salt offers secure digital storage. Storing your documents digitally gets rid of all that crazy paper while making past invoices readily available at the click of a button. 

An automated invoice approval process is the only way to go

Your country club needs to run smoothly. Guest services need to be seamless, and so do back-of-house operations, like your invoice approval process. 

With so many different departments and a mountain of monthly invoices, it’s essential to keep your approval process as simple and streamlined as possible — the best way to seriously improve this process is through automation. 

Plate IQ has unparalleled, cutting-edge technology to advance program your club’s invoice approval process so that Plate IQ automatically does the leg work for you.  

You’ll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Jacob Statler writes about the unique challenges of hospitality AP automation for Plate IQ.

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