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Substance in Bend, Oregon. was dealing with the same problems many cannabis retailers and dispensaries face everyday. They found their solution with Arca, whose cash automation systems have been a staple in banks and credit unions for decades.

With Arca Cannabis Cash Control, Substance was able to:

  • Reduce their cash management and handling time by 75%
  • Increase security and reduce risk
  • Monitor their cash inventory across all stores
  • Reallocate time and activities to customer service and business development


The Challenge:

Significantly reduce the time staff and management spent managing cash while increasing accuracy and security around cash controls.

I knew that cash handling, tracking and documentation needed to change.

Melissa Johnson, Human Resources Manager, Substance

The staff at Substance knew they were spending too much time and money managing cash in their operations. The three location cannabis dispensary was more than ready to stop wasting valuable resources on manual cash processes and start using them to achieve their growth and expansion goals.

“Part of my job is to research ways to make our organization better,” says Melissa Johnson, Human Resources Manager at Substance. “When I first started thinking about our cash operations, and knowing that we want to grow and scale our operations, I knew that cash handling, tracking and  documentation needed to change.”

Time spent on cash – 67.5 hours every week

Substance was spending at least 67.5 hours each week managing cash. Every morning a Retail Associate and a Shift Supervisor would open and prepare the tills for the day. The Supervisor would also verify the cash from 14 deposit bags from the previous day’s sales. These processes took 30 minutes of the Retail Associate’s time and an hour of the Shift Supervisor’s time, a total of an hour and a half of labor each morning. Every evening, a Retail Associate and a Shift Supervisor would spend 30 minutes each to close, an hour total.

It was taking two and a half hours for two employees to process cash at the store opening and closing, a total of 17.5 hours every week. Multiply that by the three stores and the total was an incredible 52.5 hours per week processing cash.

Add to that the 15 hours (almost two days every week) that Human Resource Manager Melissa Johnson would spend verifying and documenting the entire cash amount. 67.5 hours each week managing cash, not including any time spent reconciling balancing errors and preparing cash for transit.

Cash inventory – Risk and stress

Like many cannabis dispensaries that manually manage their cash inventory, Substance was storing large amounts of cash in a vault in their back office. The vault was opened several times each day while accessing and storing their cash. This created security and safety risks for the business, employees and customers.

The staff also had to carefully track and manage the cash in the vault. Johnson explains, “Often getting a house fund or change fund was an operation in itself. We had to travel to our bank, which is about a hundred miles away, one way, to ensure our funds. And often it’s a stressful time to make sure that we have what we need for our customers.”

The Arca Solution:

Substance success

“Our cash processes have streamlined incredibly.”

Melissa Johnson, Human Resources Manager, Substance

An innovative plan centered around cash automation solution to increase operational efficiency across several retail locations.

Cash controls at Substance were time intensive and consumed operational resources. So Johnson turned to Arca after researching her options.

Arca’s Cannabis Cash Control was installed in each store. The solution consisted of the CM18b Cash Recycler and the Arca Cash Control operating software.

Arca configured the solution to optimize Substance’s daily operations. The stores recycle smaller denominations for daily use with customers. Larger notes are sent into the recycler’s deposit bag, securely stored inside the safe. When the deposit is ready for transit, the tamper evident bag is sealed within the safe and then removed for transport.

Big wins:

Bold and strategic thinking has allowed Substance to streamline their cash operations and redirect valuable resources to drive their growth and expansion goals.

75% time savings – 50.75 labor hours saved every week – Fast ROI

Arca Cannabis Cash Control transformed cash operations for Substance. “Our cash processes have streamlined incredibly,” says Johnson. The solution has allowed staff to focus on other compliance matters.

Shift Supervisors now arrive in the morning and the recycler automatically dispenses a programmed amount of starting funds. “Our opening times have shortened to only 15 minutes and our closing times have shortened to ten to 15 minutes,” according to Johnson.

When cash is deposited in the evening, the system counts, sorts, and reports the day’s money. The former processes of counting by a cashier, and a supervisor and then being verified by Johnson has been eliminated. “I went from 15 hours of my time per week in cash operations to one hour per week,” says Johnson.

More time spent on higher value activities

The extra time savings created by the Arca solution have given employees time to focus on higher value activities for the business. “That time saved in the back of the house puts our staff in front of the house, doing the jobs that we need them to do, which is to connect with our customers and sell cannabis in a safe, secure, compliant, legal environment. The Arca cash system has improved customer relationships by ensuring my staff has more time to spend with them.”

Increased cash visibility and more time for business development

The Arca Cannabis Cash Control system has given management better visibility of their cash across the enterprise and has freed them to spend time developing their business. “Knowing that we have a cash recycler that we can install in a town 150 miles away, and then also be able to maintain it from a remote office, gives us that opportunity to grow, create jobs and develop new professionals.”

Accurate balancing and increased accountability

As cash is deposited into the recycler it is secure and accurately recorded, ensuring accountability and essentially eliminating balancing errors. “The Arca cash recycler counts each employee’s daily sales and documents it for them to ensure that their sales match our point of sales system,” says Johnson.

Increased security

When it’s time to make a deposit to their bank, funds are sealed in a tamper evident bag within the safe. “Our Arca deposit bag is a great feature,” says Johnson.  “We love to be able to prepare a compliant weekly transit bag for our bank. The bag is sealed within the machine, and so our employees are unable to tamper with it.

We’re able to fill out our deposit slip and include that to our bank in the way that they want to receive the bag. And we have had zero problems with our bag preparation and our bank acceptance. They are thrilled with our Arca cash recycler process.”

Less risk and stress

“The system has reduced everyone’s stress level, from accounting to the CEO,” says Johnson. “Because of the secure cassettes, all of the money is in there and it can’t be accessed by just anyone. And for reporting, the accountant can use our Arca reporting from her remote office and can find out any discrepancies right away.”

The Arca Cannabis Cash Control system has relieved pressure within the store and in the back office. “Knowing our cash is stored away means that our employees feel secure when they’re at work,” adds Johnson. “Everybody feels more secure with Arca.”

Goals reached and ready for growth

Substance was able to achieve their goals of improving productivity and having more control of their time. The Arca Cannabis Cash Control system streamlined their cash processes, enabled them to focus on growing their business and more. “And now we are growing and expanding outside of Bend into other towns in Oregon,” Johnsons adds.

“I would recommend Arca to any cannabis industry or cash intensive business. There are other reasons too, like happier employees, happier customers, less time spent going to the bank. It’s a win for everybody, especially in a cash heavy industry like cannabis.”

The Arca Cannabis Cash Control Solution ROI

  • 75% savings in cash management time – 50.75 labor hours each week
  • Cash process time for Johnson plummeted from 15 hours per week down to one hour
  • Opening and closing times have been cut in half for cashiers and supervisors
  • Balancing issues and recounts caused by human error have been eliminated
  • Bank deposits are easy, automatically bagged and securely sealed inside the safe
  • Security has increased as cash is securely protected inside the safe
  • Stress has been reduced with cash locked inside the safe
  • Reclaimed time now spent on increasing customer service and developing employees
  • Managers are able to see cash levels across all stores on a daily basis

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