Creative Lodging Solutions - Female Executive of the Year
Company: Creative Lodging Solutions, Lexington, KY, USA
Company Description: Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) is an award-winning corporate lodging management company that specializes in providing customized lodging programs for business travelers nationwide. CLS assists clients with lodging expense control, travel policy adherence, and consolidated billing while offering negotiated rates on hotels and corporate housing. They’ve reserved over 11 million traveler nights.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Female Executive of the Year – Business Services –11 to 2,500 Employees
Nomination Title: Marsha Couch, CFO
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):
Marsha Couch, CFO and CPA, co-founded Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) in 2002. She helped develop the CLS concept and business model and assisted in building the company’s original client base. As part of the leadership team, she also helps develop strategic goals for the organization while mitigating risks.
CLS is an award-winning corporate lodging management company that specializes in providing customized lodging programs for business travelers. CLS assists clients with lodging expense control, travel policy adherence, and consolidated billing while offering negotiated rates for hotel reservations and corporate housing.
In 2016, revenue exceeded $144 million after CLS increased their client base by 21%. The ongoing increase in market share following several years of fast-paced growth had left the finance department struggling to keep up with the higher volume of hotel invoices and client billing despite hiring more staff. To better handle the additional workload, Marsha focused on process development and improvements and investing in technology solutions.
After restructuring the finance department into two smaller departments, Marsha invested in new software solutions for both. These technologies are streamlining the billing and collections processes and resulting in faster client payments. The collections software is semi-automating the follow-up process which allows for consistency in messaging while speeding up the process. It also provides faster payments to hotel partners.
CLS processes more than 300,000 hotel invoices annually. To continue providing the exceptional level of service clients demand while fulfilling our commitment to accurate and timely client invoicing with no unauthorized charges, Marsha must ensure her departments are continuously improving the quality and efficiency of processing hotel invoices. The organization needed a solution that is capable of continuously processing hotel invoices while reducing data entry errors.
Last fall, Marsha’s team began implementing a document management and workflow solution with optical character recognition to automate hotel invoice processing, provide a faster billing turnaround time for clients, and eliminate data entry errors. These process improvements will allow CLS to expand client services and contribute to the organization’s scalability during its ongoing growth.
To expand CLS’ Priority Pay service initiative for hotel partners, Marsha successfully negotiated multiple sources of increased financing and secured two commitments for a $12M line of credit. This will almost double the current funding for Priority Pay and allow for continued growth. This expansion will provide CLS with more than $2M in total net profit annually.
Marsha also drove an initiative that increased CLS’ credit rebate program approximately 50% or $1M annually by converting the company’s accounts payable payments to credit card. 95% of the increase in rebate falls straight to CLS’ bottom line net profit.
Marsha received recognition for her leadership as the Management Team of the Year Gold Winner at the 2017 American Business Awards and the Female Executive of the Year at the 2017 Golden Bridge Awards. She was also named the Finance Executive of the Year Gold Winner in the 2016 Best in Biz Awards and the Excellence in Business Woman of the Year Gold Winner at the 2016 Women in Business World Awards. CLS was recently named to the Inc. 5000 List of the most entrepreneurial and fastest-growing companies for the eighth year.
Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 125 words):
Marsha Couch, CFO and CPA, co-founded Creative Lodging Solutions (CLS) in 2002 and was integral in developing the CLS concept and business model. Marsha graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky and was the controller at Hughes Aircraft Company before joining CLS. In the start-up stages, Marsha acted as controller, became the VP of Finance in 2006, and CFO in 2010. She also ran operations for the hotel side of the company for two years. She’s been recognized with multiple awards including the Management Team of the Year Gold Stevie at the 2017 American Business Awards. After hours, Marsha enjoys volunteering with her son’s high school football team where she chairs multiple committees and is the 7 on 7 team mom.