Facing Financial Management Challenges

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Laird Management Controller shares how the Burger King franchisee worked to replace manual, tedious practices with a scalable financial management system.

Facing Financial Management Challenges

By Pam Bakker, Controller and the Director of Human Resources, Laird Management - 06/13/2019

When you think about the key aspects of running a hospitality business, the heart and soul of the operation is your financial system. Without one, you run the risk of stifling growth due to tedious manual processes or making business decisions based on gut instinct instead of real-time data. Laird Management owns and operates 32 Burger King restaurants in Arizona with more than 650 employees. Our team celebrates growth and expansion, and we’re excited to take on a new business to franchise, but there was a time when this growth would have been more work than reward due to the financial technology systems we had in place.

Fun Facts

What was your first job? A deli clerk at a local grocery store in Evansville, Ind.

Who inspires you? My mom. She was a single parent and I never wanted for anything. She found a way to pay for me and my brothers to do extracurricular activities.

What are your hobbies? Reading, camping and watching my two kids play sports.

What technologies excite you? The thought of AI in the accounting space.

What is your favorite vacation spot? The beach. The sound of the waves is very relaxing.

It’s no secret that franchisee organizations face a unique set of financial management challenges. We need to consolidate financial data across locations for management and reporting purposes, while still measuring the individual business impact of each entity. Complications don’t stop there. The extensive process of adding new locations means configuring the software with an expanded chart of accounts, new bank accounts, rules for inter-entity transactions, and more.

At one time, our finance team was weighed down by manual processes. They spent hours each week on tasks like consolidating our “due to” and “due from” transactions across locations. Our monthly close was taking up to 20 days, and it required eight to 10 hours just to produce two basic monthly balance sheets and P&L reports for our investors and management team. In addition, we were constantly on-boarding new employees, which meant the need to input and document financial processes in a way that made it simple for new managers to see accurate, up-to-date numbers and growth data.

This wasn’t sustainable, so we began the search for a scalable financial management solution that would enable growth while delivering accurate reporting for the organization, as well as provide access to financial information for our individual restaurants. 

Ultimately, we chose a cloud-based system called Sage Intacct. We saw improvements almost immediately, not only in our existing operations and reporting, but also in the way our finance and executive team was able to function. It eliminated tedious, manual tasks. As a result, we’ve streamlined our approach, cutting reporting time from 10 hours to just two, while simultaneously expanding the amount of data we can share.

Monthly restaurant-specific (or company-wide) reports can be generated at the press of a button. The system delivers accurate, real-time reports that have improved our communications and status updates. 

Our financial management team has more time to analyze results to determine our best next steps for growth. Our team can analyze spending on trash removal and other contracts to identify potential cost-savings, and make analytic, data-driven decisions on where to focus our efforts. With a streamlined, simplified approach, we can push our team to make strategic decisions.

Pam Bakker has been at Laird Management for 13 years, where she serves as both the Controller and the Director of Human Resources. Pam has a BS in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, and an MBA in Human Resource Management from Walden University.  

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