SaaS Brief

Revolutionary Restaurant Serves Up Extreme Financial Automation

If you live in California, Boston, or New York, perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to eat at Tender Greens. This strategic, mission-focused restaurant chain believes in putting the purpose back into food, serving sustainable fresh meals in 30+ popular locations. Since the corporate office first adopted Sage Intacct as the foundation of its financial stack five years ago, Tender Greens has almost doubled its restaurant footprint, and is looks forward to exponential growth in the future.

We recently had a chance to sit down with Sean Skuro, the organization’s controller, to find out how his finance team is shifting their time to more strategic work, their eventual growth plans and how his own perception of Sage Intacct has evolved over the years.

Learning to Love New Financial Software

Tender Greens deployed Sage Intacct just before hiring Skuro, and he noted some issues with how it was set up. “When I joined the company and was figuring things out, I was frustrated with the system,” Skuro acknowledged. “But once we made some modifications, and started using the open architecture to connect it to the rest of our stack, we really saw the beauty of Sage Intacct. Its reporting, dashboarding, and customizability are unparalleled in the industry, and If I could go back and do it all over, I would definitely have our company select Sage Intacct again.”

Skuro’s philosophy is that there are always better ways to do things. That’s why he has his team track their time to identify repetitive tasks, figure out where they might be able to improve efficiencies, and then leverage automation wherever possible. During this process, one of his staff accountants once said, "With all this automation we’re doing, we're not going to learn anything." Skuro replied, "How much were you learning when you were inputting invoices all day?" She thought for a second, then said, "Good point."

By supporting this approach to continuous improvement, Sage Intacct helped the Tender Greens finance team achieve several impressive productivity benefits, including:

  • Reduced accounting overhead by 21% in 2019, amid 80% business growth
  • Increased accuracy and sped period-end close cycle by 20%
  • Freed months of report preparation time for more strategic work

Building Around a Core Financial Nucleus

After establishing Sage Intacct as the foundation of Tender Green’s financial technology stack, and then connecting additional tools for key processes, the team become dramatically more efficient. “To be effective as a controller or CFO, you have to be focused on your technological infrastructure or you'll fall behind,” shared Skuro. “We used to have three people doing full-time A/P processing for 18 restaurants. Nowadays, we have one person doing A/P for 30 restaurants, and believe we can grow to at least 50 or more without adding headcount. Not only that, we've been able to produce faster, more accurate, and more complete reports.”

Through natural attrition, Skuro reduced accounting headcount and absorbed that work by implementing and integrating several systems that took over low-value tasks. For example, the team replaced a clunky repairs and maintenance platform with Corrigo, which centrally tracks equipment maintenance and work orders for all the restaurants. Every day, all invoices (both capitalized and expense invoices) are approved through Corrigo, and seamlessly pushed into the Sage Intacct General Ledger and Fixed Assets module as appropriate.

Tender Greens now syncs data between Sage Intacct and the following best-in-class apps:

  • Plate IQ – A/P automation
  • CTUIT – restaurant management software
  • BlackLine – financial close automation
  • SAP Concur – expense management
  • UltiPro – payroll
  • Corrigo – repairs and maintenance

As a result, Skuro was able to redeploy team members to take on more value-added work, including one person who started out in the business as a cashier, then moved up to A/P clerk doing manual data entry, and now has transformed her role to support payroll, review GL accounts, and assist in reconciliations and other aspects of the business. Skuro notes, “I'm not looking to eliminate people, instead I want to enhance the knowledge of my team and help them think critically so they understand the process, the why, and what comes of it. Ultimately what it's all about is making our team more analytical.”

Statistical Accounts and Dashboards Bring Unprecedented Visibility to Restaurants

One of the biggest advantages of this integrated financial ecosystem has been the newfound transparency Tender Greens gained by tracking statistical accounts in Sage Intacct. “In the hospitality space, it’s important to know your typical labor costs, but we also want more granular data; like what the average check is, how many guests are coming through the door, and what those guests are ordering,” said Skuro. “Beyond these ‘four-wall’ metrics for each restaurant, Sage Intacct provides real-time visibility into how we're trending with our controllable costs like packaging, utilities, cleaning supplies, etcetera. We also view how we performed two periods ago, last period, and this period last year alongside how we're performing this period so far – all of which helps us run our business and prepare for the future.”

By leveraging all of these systems and centralizing its data, the organization reduced fluctuations from preliminary financials, which previously ranged between 1-5%, down to less than 0.1% off final numbers. The finance team used to send out dozens of ‘soft’ profit and loss reports to each restaurant manager to review every period, and received comments and corrections back from almost every single one about data input errors or missing items, which then took them an additional five days to fix before they could finalize P&Ls. Now, they only receive very minor questions from a handful of restaurant managers.

What’s more, Sage Intacct’s personalized dashboards have made a material impact on the company’s culture. Skuro explained, “We pride ourselves on increasing financial literacy for our restaurant managers, executive chefs, and other key stakeholders across the business. With Sage Intacct, they're able to check out their individualized dashboard, drill down, self-educate, and answer their own questions about invoices or other items in real time.” He concluded, “I'm in love with our financial reporting now. It's probably the achievement I’m most proud of in all of this. Sage Intacct allows us to work more collaboratively with every department and look at business results in new ways. The transformation we were able to achieve was revolutionary, and 90% of that was thanks to Sage Intacct’s capabilities. From here, I think the possibilities are endless.”

Watch our video interview with Sean Skuro or read the customer success story to learn more about how Sage Intacct helped Tender Greens’s finance team shift their mindset from being accountants who do reconciliations and make journal entries, towards becoming data-driven analysts who inform real-time business decisions.

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