SaaS Brief

Creative Dining’s Creative Approach to the Accounting Talent Shortage

We hear plenty about how organizations struggle to attract and retain talented accountants. The chronic talent shortage is a top concern for CFOs, and it’s prompting organizations to brainstorm on how they can improve recruitment and retention of qualified finance pros.

An attractive salary, benefits package, and job location isn’t enough. Tech-savvy millennials in particular relish accounting roles in which they can flex their creativity and grow their skills. That’s not possible in a job that involves countless hours of Excel drudgery and an outdated or entry-level accounting system.

Instead, modern accountants want to work with a modern accounting system. Jeff Banaszak experienced that first-hand upon joining Creative Dining Services, a food service and hospitality provider, as its CFO in early 2016. Frustration was rising across the accounting team, and turnover was high.

A key reason: Accountants toiled with tedious, repetitive, and unrewarding manual work using QuickBooks and Google Sheets. That’s been completely reversed since Banaszak spearheaded an upgrade to Sage Intacct’s cloud-based financial management platform, as outlined in our new Creative Dining Services success story.

“Quite frankly, we saved the morale of our accounting department,” Banaszak said. “Rather than having 25% turnover each year, now everyone wants to stay due to the wonders of using Sage Intacct and the ideas we have for the future.”

At a time when it’s difficult to find good accountants, the Michigan-based Creative Dining, which serves over 70 customer locations such as universities, corporations, and senior living facilities, is luring top young talent eager to pursue innovations, tackle new challenges, and contribute with strategic insights.

“We’re attracting millennials to do our accounting and finance work now,” Banaszak said. “Young accounting professionals are expecting a modern system like Sage Intacct, and they love it. They feel like they’re on the cutting edge and can innovate with new ideas.”

Massive Time Savings and Better Customer Service

Liberating accounting staff for higher-value work is a dividend of the massive efficiency gains that Creative Dining has realized with Sage Intacct. Banaszak calculates each unit is saving five hours of manual data entry into Google Sheets per week, amounting to 350 hours a week across all 70 units. Now, staffers at client locations are putting that newfound time into front-of-house customer service and culinary support.

In addition, corporate accounting is saving 10 hours a week by no longer manually reconciling data from Google Sheets. Another 17.5 hours of weekly work is saved by automating cash management of credit card and cash transactions. Roughly $20,000 a year is saved with automated invoice approval workflows through Sage Intacct, avoiding the need for a third-party application.

Even more is saved as Creative Dining was able to avoid filling a vacated accounting position. Plus, Banaszak’s team has cut the monthly close in half, from 10 to five days.

“We’re seeing massive savings due to the automation we’ve accomplished with Sage Intacct,” Banaszak said. “And rather than crunching numbers all day, we are seen as strategic business advisors to our client location units.”

He’s referring to a new role taken on by members of the four-person corporate accounting team. They now work as “finance leads” with Creative Dining’s food service directors and administrative staff on site at client locations. That’s elevating the financial savvy of on-site personnel, who use Sage Intacct dashboards to transparently share key metrics and detailed transactional reports with clients, building satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Across the company, adopting Sage Intacct has meant new efficiencies, greater creativity and real-time insights for informed decision-making. Banaszak is confident that Creative Dining has the right platform as it continues its 30-year track record of business growth and exceptional service and quality to its customers.

“Before, accounting and finance was a hindrance to growth,” Banaszak said. “We’ve become a strategic partner to the business since adopting Sage Intacct. We now have a creative back-office system to match our creativity at the front of the house.”

To learn more, check out our Creative Dining Services success story.

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