Customer story

How Nowsta Saves Acrobat Outsourcing Thousands of Hours per Year on Payroll

with Fletcher Cline, Vice President of Operations

Over 10,000
Acrobat staff
clocking in with Nowsta
reduction in
time theft
Over 600
fewer hours
spent on payroll each year per branch

A hospitality staffing juggernaut

Acrobat Outsourcing is a hospitality staffing firm with over 10,000 active workers and offices in 16 cities around the U.S.. Acrobat is known for the flexibility in assignments it can take on — no job is too big or too small. As Director of Operations Fletcher Cline describes it, “we’ll do anything from providing one bartender for a wedding to staffing a company’s entire cafeteria on a long-term contract.”

The latter type of engagement is where Nowsta comes into play. Acrobat works with several Fortune 500 companies — including some of Silicon Valley’s most well-known companies — and provides them with end-to-end food services staffing. But while Acrobat has no trouble impressing its biggest clients, its reliance on paper timesheets was slowing down its internal processes and causing payroll errors that were often difficult to correct. Read on to learn how Nowsta has helped Acrobat solve these problems and save hundreds of hours a year.

The challenge

Acrobat has what every staffing agency dreams of: thousands of workers, plenty of jobs to send them to, and a client list that includes some of the biggest names in tech. Known internally as STAMP Accounts, Acrobat provides its enterprise clients full cafeteria staff, along with an on-site manager to head up the engagement.

But not everything was perfect. Until early 2018, Acrobat was losing time and money to outdated time and attendance processes for the STAMP Account staff. Here’s what the system looked like:

  • Staff would sign in and out of work on a paper timesheet at the client office.
  • At the end of each day, Acrobat’s onsite manager would check the hours on the timesheet, have the client sign off on them, and send the sheet back to Acrobat HQ.
  • Acrobat’s accounting department would enter each employee’s time and attendance data into a proprietary, internal time tracking database.
  • Acrobat’s Database would automatically send the tracked hours to Acrobat’s payroll provider, Great Plains, who would then use that data to generate each employee’s paycheck.

The first problem the paper timesheet. Even with a manager on site, getting that timesheet back to Acrobat’s home office was a pain. Fletcher laughs thinking back on it. “It sounds so simple, but we tried everything — scanning, emailing, having one of our employees send it back. I even built an app that would take a picture and send it directly to our accounting department. It was time-consuming and frustrating.” Once the timesheet got back to HQ, Acrobat’s accounting team would have to manually enter everyone’s hours into Taborca, which added more time to the process.

The paper timesheet also created a possibility for staff to pad their shifts with extra, unearned time. Fletcher and the Acrobat team refer to these instances as “questions.” “A question is anything that makes you go, ‘Hmmm,’” Fletcher explains. “It’s really easy for staff to add a few minutes to their shift here and there when they’re signing in on a piece of paper. We’d eventually notice and take action if someone was doing it consistently, but we still had to pay them for that time.” Fletcher estimates that Acrobat would have 20-30 of these instances each week in the pen and paper days, which would then need to be rectified for their clients, another process that took additional time and energy.

Why didn’t Acrobat ditch the paper timesheets earlier? They did. Acrobat briefly used a time clock app called MyTimeStation to capture time and attendance data. “Compared to Nowsta, it was like MS-DOS versus a Mac operating system. Very archaic.” But the biggest issue with MyTimeStation was that it couldn’t integrate with Acrobat’s internal time tracking system. “We built our database ourselves because we needed staffing-specific features that don’t come with off the shelf software. It’s not flashy, but it does its job and everyone here knows how to use it. But not many software providers are willing to integrate with it.” Without that integration, all MyTimeStation could do was spit out a spreadsheet with everyone’s hours, which wasn’t much more useful than the paper timesheet — Acrobat still needed someone to manually enter that information into their system.

The solution

A mutual client introduced Fletcher to Nowsta in late 2017, and he decided to try out our platform soon after.  Nowsta’s developers worked alongside Fletcher to build out the database integration, while our customer support team trained Acrobat’s managers and accountants to ensure a smooth launch. “Acrobat needs specialized tools, and we can’t afford to work with people who won’t work to provide them. Nowsta is one of the few who has.”

After a successful onboarding, Acrobat had a more efficient time and attendance process up and running:

  • Acrobat staff now clock in and out using Nowsta’s tablet time clock app, which is installed on iPads placed on-site at all Stamp Account client offices.
  • Managers check and approve everyone’s hours in Nowsta, before sending them to the client for their sign-off. Our platform automatically flags differences between workers’ scheduled and tracked hours, so Acrobat’s managers are able to spot “questions” faster.
  • Nowsta automatically feeds all the time and attendance data into their database each day, which then sends it to Great Plains.

Fletcher estimates that Nowsta saves each Acrobat branch at least 12 hours a week by eliminating the manual data entry and communication processes necessitated by the paper timesheets.

Acrobat is also making fewer time and attendance mistakes. Unlike paper timesheets, there’s no way to fool the Nowsta time clock. Nowsta logs every clock in and clock out with pinpoint accuracy, so staff and management alike know that everyone’s hours are going to be accurate. Fletcher estimates he now sees 2-3 “questions” on timesheets each week, rather than the 20-30 he saw under the old system.

The increased accuracy isn’t just about preventing time theft. It helps ensure Acrobat follows labor laws, which can be especially stressful for a California-based company. “There are no free minutes in California. You need an exact record of when everyone’s working versus when they’re on break, or else you can get sued. I sleep a lot easier knowing that the Nowsta time clock is taking a picture and recording the exact time every employee clocks in and out.”

"I sleep a lot easier knowing that the Nowsta time clock is taking a picture and recording the exact time every employee clocks in and out.”
Fletcher Cline
Vice President of Operations

Staff are benefitting as well. At any time, they can log into the Nowsta worker app and see how many hours they’ve worked in the current pay period. This helps them catch mistakes in their own time and attendance data before Acrobat runs payroll.

Fletcher recalls, “With MyTimeStation, we’d get situations where the data would say someone took a 30-minute lunch break, but then they’d get their check and tell us, ‘Actually, I went to clock out but got called back immediately and didn’t end up taking the break.’ We’re happy to fix it, but it takes 2-3 hours if the check has already gone out.” That happens much less often now that staff can check their own hours.

The results

Nowsta saves Acrobat 12 hours per week in manual time and attendance processing time at each of its branches, which adds up to thousands of total man hours per year. There’s also been a 90% reduction in timesheet “questions” that would indicate time theft.

The results have been so good, Fletcher plans to expand Nowsta to a few more of Acrobat’s Stamp Account clients. Beyond that, he’s also working with us to develop a staffing-specific client invoicing feature, which would enable him to use Nowsta with clients who don’t have an Acrobat manager on-site. The future looks exciting. “It’s been really cool to work with a team as open and solution-oriented as we are.”