How Gill’s Onions increased compliance, drove efficiency, and reduced tears with Ramp

3 hours/month
per salesperson saved on expenses
Reduced time to close
from 2-3 weeks to 1-2 days
out-of-policy spend
When I'm on a trip, I can keep up with my receipts in real-time. It saves me, at minimum, 3 hours per month.
Jessica Ortega, Director of Sales, Gill's Onions
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The problem
An archaic expense management system resulted in non-compliance with company policies
For years, Gill’s Onions had relied on its bigger banking partner for corporate credit cards and expense management. Its legacy provider, however, had no way to enforce company policies regarding spend easily, which led to years of frustrating, uncontrollable out-of-policy spend.

“You would imagine that the bigger banks would invest in better tech, better ways to improve their portals, better systems,” reflects Gill’s Onions Financial Manager, Mitchell Alatorre. “But that was a challenge with our legacy provider.”

It was easy for the Gill’s team to get credit and use credit cards, but its legacy provider’s system was difficult to navigate. “It was challenging to create new users, issue new credit cards, etc.” says Mitchell.
Company name
Gill’s Onions
About the company
Gill’s Onions, a Rio Farms sister company, is one of the world’s largest family-owned onion processors. Since 1983, the Gill’s team has strived to provide the highest-quality onion products to customers through sustainable growing practices. Gill’s is part of the Rio Farms network: a specialty crop farming operation based in King City, California.
Food products

Plus, there was no real way for Mitchell and his team to control how employees spent money. “It was really hard to make people abide by our internal policies, because there was no way to code the policy into the credit cards,” he says. “People would spend out of policy, and that went on for a good 10-15 years.”

Complying with policy was difficult, even for well-intended employees. Jessica Ortega, Director of Sales, notes that the company’s highly manual receipt tracking and reimbursement process was particularly challenging for roles like hers, which undertook frequent business travel. “I had to keep receipts shoved in my backpack and cross my fingers that I wouldn’t lose any of them on a 5-6 day trip across three states,” she says. “Our team would have more than 75 receipts each month, and every one had to be individually coded.” Jessica dreaded the hours she would spend tracking and coding these receipts each month. “It was overwhelming,” she says. “It was my most hated task of the month.” 

A new CFO at Gill’s led the charge to find an expense management system that could give the finance team better control over corporate spend, and which could apply restrictions to spend to automate policy compliance.

The solution
A user-friendly automated platform with built-in controls and visibility

The team considered a few other expense management solutions they found to be unintuitive before partnering with Ramp for its ability to implement granular controls on spend and ease of use for employees. Mitchell notes that he also appreciated the friendliness and responsiveness of the Ramp team, which was always willing to offer assistance.

Gill’s Onions served as a guinea pig of sorts for the greater Rio Farms operation, and it was the first division to utilize Ramp. The company quickly saw how easy it was to use the platform. “Our first user is over 80 years old,” says Mitchell. “If he can do it, the rest of the employees don’t really have an excuse not to.” That first user took advantage of Ramp’s system for three months and found it incredibly user-friendly. 

Mitchell’s team, too, appreciated the control Ramp offered. With Ramp, the finance team was able to code its policies directly into credit card usage. In general, the team found that setting up automations with Ramp resulted in greater efficiency and time-savings. 

“All we had to do was copy/paste to the Ramp portal and boom -- we had all our general ledger accounts,” says Mitchell. “We also took advantage of Ramp’s coding system, which automatically coded merchants as airlines, restaurants, etc. 

And not only that, but Ramp also provides the workflow that allows us to go into the accounting module and recode things if the automation isn’t right.”

That automation eliminates 2-3 hours of work per month, according to Mitchell. “Ramp just made it easier for us to automate where it made sense to automate,” he says.

The result
Better control, more efficient systems, and better use of employees’ time

Implementing Ramp has streamlined Gill’s Onions’ previously fragmented, highly manual expense management process, resulting in a more efficient system and time saved for salespeople and accountants alike. 

Director of Sales, Jessica Ortega no longer dreads the reimbursement process. “When I’m on a trip now, I can keep up with my receipts in real-time, or I can lay my receipts out at night if I didn’t get to them during the day,” she says. “It saves me, at minimum, 3 hours per month.”

When asked what she can do with that regained time, Jessica doesn’t hesitate. “Sell more onions,” she says.

Armed with Ramp’s automated tools, the team has significantly reduced fraudulent and out-of-policy charges. “Before Ramp, the only real control we had was reviewing receipts and purchases. The only thing we could do was to go to HR and tell them to stop spending money in a certain way,” says Mitchell. Inevitably, he admits, the spender would revert to his or her previous practices within a month or two. 

“With Ramp, we can just enforce the policy as intended,” says Mitchell. “Because it’s all automated, there’s no bias.”

It’s easier for employees, too, to spend within policy, because Ramp makes accounting department policies visible. “If I go to Ramp, I can reread the policy,” says Jessica. “If I ever forget, it’s right there.”

For the finance team Ramp’s automations have resulted in time-savings, which has enabled the company’s accountants to uplevel their work.

“It’s not so much the manual work, but more the follow-up communication and gathering of receipts that takes time,” says Mitchell. “To close a credit card statement -- to email, to gather receipts, to put everything together -- used to take about two weeks,” he says. With Ramp, the team has been able to cut that 2-week process down to 1-2 days.

“It’s huge, because then you can utilize the same person who used to spend two weeks doing one thing on something else,” says Mitchell. Rather than chase receipts and code expenses, Gill’s accountants have now become more involved in expense management and policy enforcement. 

“Our role has moved from a data entry, data gathering one into expense management and policy enforcement,” says Mitchell. “At the end of the day, it’s also really good from a promotion perspective, because you can get your employees to a higher level more quickly. Before, a lot of our processes were so manual that we didn’t see our employees going out of their way to think outside the box, because they were trying to get things done right, and it took so long. That’s been the biggest change we’ve seen. They’re thinking more strategically, which ultimately is better for our business.”

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