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Real-Time Reports, Weekly Recommendations, & The Power of Partnership —Succulent Hospitality Narrative Case Study

Trusted CFO Solutions specializes in working with restaurant groups. One of our wonderful clients, Succulent Hospitality, shares below about their experience working with us and how that’s helped them strengthen and grow their business.

Succulent Hospitality houses three restaurants in the Atlanta area: Hammocks Trading Company, Under the Cork Tree, and Prime 120.

From their own words below, you’ll discover how we’ve helped the owners save time through real-time visibility reporting that shifts the burden from top-down leadership to a state where all leaders and managers know the same numbers and can act accordingly. We also discuss how Trusted CFO Solutions leverages the power of Sage Intacct to deliver the data with relevant recommendations on a weekly basis. It’s a favored engagement that has evolved into a powerful business partnership.

We’ll explore Succulent Hospitality’s story and our collaborative work through the following sections.

  • About Succulent Hospitality, their business model, & what differentiates their restaurants
  • Exploring the challenges Succulent Hospitality faced before they began working with TCFOS.
  • Discovering how Succulent Hospitality and TCFOS were connected and why they started working together
  • First impressions of TCFOS and the Sage Intacct software and how this engagement saves time for the owners to focus on what matters most
  • Learning about how the partnership has been of value during times of uncertainty including the pandemic and what services have been provided during the engagement

Let’s begin by learning about their business as we talk with co-owner, Jason Sheetz.

About Succulent Hospitality From Co-Owner, Jason Sheetz

We have three restaurants.

The first one we opened was Hammocks Trading Company about eight years ago. It’s very casual seafood, oysters, margaritas, grouper sandwiches, all sorts of seafood. It’s nestled in north Sandy Springs in the North Springs High School community right off Roswell Road.

In January 2016, we opened Under the Cork Tree, which is also in Sandy Springs, just inside the Perimeter.

In November 2019, we opened Prime 120, a steak house located in downtown Woodstock.

Was It Your Intention To Start Multiple & Different Types Of Restaurants From The Beginning?

Yes, that’s our background. William Sigley, my business partner, is the chef, and I run the front of the house and the business. The companies we grew up with had that type of variety within a restaurant group. So, as opposed to sticking with one and building one concept and going to different neighborhoods, we initially decided to have multiple concepts in the area so we could have our hand in the business at all times.

When designing a concept, we typically study the community, the different types of restaurants, how they are doing, and fill in where a hole might be as far as concepts. We aren’t trying to force a model into a neighborhood. We are working to fill a void anytime we develop an idea.

Is There Anything You Would Say That Differentiates Your Hospitality Group From The Others Out There?

That’s a hard question because I don’t know a lot about other operators. I might know them personally, but I don’t know a lot about what drives them to make their decisions.

I would assume we are pretty similar when it comes to broad line things, and then we come in and tweak things here and there.

It’s a challenging business with lots of moving pieces. We have spoilage, and not every business experiences that type of loss, and staffing is hard. So, I think in a broad line, as other restauranteurs go, we probably share a lot of the same pluses and minuses in operations.

What Types Of Challenges Did You Face Before You Started Working With Trusted CFO Solutions?

We were making decisions on January’s performance in the third week of February; we were already three to seven weeks late. At that point, we are looking at old data. It was a situation where we were reactive up to seven weeks late. That didn’t do us any good. If there was a problem or issue, it grew more extensive than if we had addressed it quickly.

The most significant benefit of working with Trusted CFO Solutions is that we are now reviewing real numbers every week (which we were not doing before). Thursday of the week following, we see our labor numbers, our cost of good numbers, our sales numbers, etc. Being dialed into our financial performance, we can make informed decisions much quicker and have more impact.

How Did You Connect With Trusted CFO Solutions & Why Did You Start Working Together?

My partner, William, and I were consulting with an Atlanta-based restaurant concept called FLIP Burger Boutique. When we started working with them, they were using Trusted CFO Solutions. We started communicating with Trusted and began working with them, too. FLIP Burger hired us as consultants, and during that season we learned the Trusted CFO Solutions systems.

We had a method, but we were studying TCFOS, uncertain if their approach was a good or bad way to operate for us because it was different. We got to know them personally, learning their practices, and questioning their methods.

What Was Your Initial Impression of Sage Intacct & How Does The Software Equip TCFOS To Support You?

We were using Quickbooks when Trusted introduced us to Sage Intacct. It certainly seemed a lot more complicated than Quickbooks. Before, we had more of a bookkeeper who was a QuickBooks specialist. That bookkeeper entered the information so we could review the reports and have our meetings on our schedule.

Trusted CFO Solutions using Sage Intacct is much different because they are looking at the live data and checking it more than we are, as the owners. When we have our monthly meetings, it’s meetings with particulars picked out by TCFOS. They aren’t just giving us a report to look at; they have reviewed it and suggest areas we should closely examine.

Before Working With TCFOS Using Sage Intacct, How Were You Collecting Information & Recommendations?

Before working with Trusted CFO Solutions, suggestions came from William’s and my QuickBooks report review.

With Sage Intacct, we have access to login, but 90% of the time that we log on, it’s easier to go to TCFOS and say, I’m looking for this report, and they know how to get there a lot quicker than us trying to log in and go through all the options and filters to find what we need.

Having the software is useful, but Trusted CFO Solutions helps to fill a gap where and when we don’t know the system, how to get to a specific report, or if we don’t want to waste time figuring it out.

Are You Saving Time? Where In The Business Are You Using This Newfound Time?

Yes. It depends on the day, the week, the weather, the circumstances.

There are hundreds of opportunities for things to do on any given day to grow the business, and just removing ten of those is very helpful. Over the year of our relationship, we have evolved into each manager and chef getting communication updates weekly from Trusted CFO Solutions.

We send our information to our contact at TCFOS, and we get a Sage Intacct performance card in return. There are six categories on those performance cards: sales, food costs, labor costs, liquor costs, beer costs, and wine costs. Depending on where they fall compared to the prior week, a green arrow is going up or a red arrow pointing down, conveying a visual message that your performance is better or worse than the preceding week.

Because people interpret things differently, just seeing the green arrow is a boost of confidence, and the red arrow is a signal to look into that area. That communication with the managers and the chefs gets the ball moving before William and I meet to review those numbers with them. That’s extremely helpful. Their brain starts working on problem-solving for the solution before we meet. If we don’t have time to get involved, they know we see the numbers, and we know they are working to resolve any problems.

They are now well trained and already know the numbers that will come back. When I see the numbers, I can rest assured the team is already taking active steps to improve.

Has Your Working Partnership With TCFOS Provided Value During Times of Uncertainty? How?

Yes, we don’t get into too many particulars about what another restaurant is doing that we aren’t doing, but trends come up. TCFOS can bring up and speak into those trends.

A perfect example would be using the PPP funds that became available because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the idea that we might get some financial assistance came up, we weren’t on our own.

Trusted CFO Solutions was representing a larger group of clients as they deliver relevant information. So each client might get information on different levels of which we could compare notes. That was remarkably valuable.

How Has Your TCFOS Engagement Evolved From When You First Started To Now?

It feels more like a partnership than just a vendor relationship. As we work with people over time, we learn how to communicate and work better together. As time has passed, we have become more comfortable with each other, from simple report requests to things we might do to make their job easier.

If You Were Talking To The Owner Of Another Restaurant, “We Recommend Trusted, Here’s Why…” What Would You Say?

The most significant selling point to me is getting weekly numbers from Trusted CFO Solutions and the insights they package with them. Trusted commentates on them in ways that are useful to me, the team, and our company’s overall performance.

What About Sage Intacct? If Someone Is On QuickBook’s, How Would You Persuade Them To Switch To Sage Intacct?

That would be hard for me to do without also recommending they also partner with Trusted CFO Solutions. I could not say, you’ve got to check out this new software because I’m not hands-on with it. I don’t know how Trusted CFO gets the information into Sage Intacct. But that’s not my problem; I don’t have to do that. Trusted CFO Solutions provides what we need.

With QuickBooks, I looked on YouTube about how to do this or that, and I could then get in there to run P & L’s without having formal training. Sage Intacct is different from that. It’s more involved. But I’ve never asked because I don’t need to. That’s what Trusted CFO Solutions does.

Without the team at TCFOS, I would not know how to use that software or experience its direct and indirect benefits.

Do You See That Difference In Terms Of How You Interface With Sage Intacct Compared to Quickbooks?

Does it make my job any more manageable at the end of the day? It probably makes it easier in many ways I don’t see in terms of what Trusted CFO Solutions can do with Sage Intacct. TCFOS would not be able to do what they do that I value for our business without it, so it’s more of an indirect benefit experience for us.

What Services Does TCFOS Provide?

Trusted CFO Solutions is our virtual CFO. We are very hands-on when it comes to making sure all the invoices entered are very accurate. We still do all approvals for payments, taxes, and we occasionally write checks.

We started using Bill.com to save time and make payments of vendors easier. We experienced a short transition period with many of our vendors when we switched. The switch extended terms by a week or two instead of writing a check from Quickbooks and mailing it, but they are familiar with it now.

How Has Your Partnership With Trusted CFO Solutions Helped During The Pandemic Year, 2020?

It’s been beneficial to lean on the data, know it is correct, and know that any time of day within business hours, the answer to our questions related to financials is within a five to ten-minute text or phone call.

It was nice to have our review meetings with the team at Trusted CFO Solutions and their recognition of trends with their other clients and then share how things are moving in our industry. That was reassuring in a time where there is no certainty whatsoever.

What Else?

When we first got started, we enjoyed getting out of our physical location. We were doing on-site meetings at the Trusted CFO office. That was especially good for us because it forced us to leave the building.

When we are in the building, people will come to us to help with questions because they know they can give the most direct answer.

In time, we will get back to that. That was a big thing for us to get into a room with two, three, four people in a room. It was good in that we had a strong team of people working with us. And that was a sales pitch for us. That conference room style meeting helped us made our decision to transfer to Trusted CFO Solutions.

It was a tremendous point of value of getting together in an uninterrupted format with an hour to do our business, to talk about this and that, and then get back to real life. The Zoom meeting is undoubtedly filling the gap right now, but we look forward to when we can meet again in-person.

How Could Trusted CFO Solutions Serve Succulent Hospitality Better?

I can’t think of anything.

The team at Trusted is a pleasure to work with, and I feel like we are all growing together. I don’t know what we bring to their table, but we have 20 years of restaurant experience. Not that it’s our job to bring anything to their table, but it’s a two way street in communication. It’s not just them telling us what to do; it’s a collective project for our businesses to succeed.

They have our best interest at heart. And that doesn’t always happen in partnerships. Unfortunately, you don’t know if some are in it for you or themselves. We are confident that Trusted CFO Solutions is in it for our long-term success.


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