I recently sat down with Brian Bullerman and Hank Barnard, co-owners of HB3 Group, a subsidiary of Penn Station to discuss the pivotal moment they learned it was time to grow their business, working with Sage Intacct partner WVC RubixCloud, and the success metrics that they’ve seen since going live with Sage Intacct.
Check out our Q&A blog below to learn more.
Brittany Benson: Brian, can you share a little bit of the background of your organization to get our readers familiar with your space?
Brian Bullerman: Sure. We sought out Penn Station about six years ago or so. Hank and I run a consulting business together, and we were looking for another investment opportunity.
We're both here in the Dayton, Ohio area which is the epicenter of the Penn Station brand. Hank's grown up with it and I came here with the Air Force about 20 years ago.
Penn Station sells the best grilled sandwiches you'll ever have – the food is phenomenal, and they have a huge following here in the Dayton area.
Hank Barnard: We reached out to corporate saying that we were interested in developing more stores, and they directed us towards the northern Ohio area. We opened our first store in 2013. Our first goal was to just open one and kind of see how it did and then we were like, "Wow. This is pretty fun, let's do more!” We got the bug. Between 2013 and 2016 we opened four stores.
Brittany: Wow! That’s incredible! What was your accounting system like in the early days?
Brian: We started with our own manual QuickBooks entry and we then migrated to paying an accountant to do all that for us just because it was too much to keep up with. We both work 60-70 hours a week in our primary business. Managing all that accounting information was a chore; as well as all of the other the things that go along with operating a retail business.
About a year ago, we went to a multi-unit franchise conference in Las Vegas and it was very eye-opening. The key takeaway was that if you want to grow your business, you need to have the right people, infrastructure, and tools to help you grow.
Hank: We made the decision at that time that it was going to be difficult for us to grow if we didn’t invest in good tools.
We learned there was another Penn Station investor group in Columbus, Ohio and one of the owners of that group is also a principal in WVC Rubix Cloud, a Sage Intacct partner. They had basically gone through the same exact challenges we had, and they put us in touch with Sage Intacct.
Brian: Before we started using Sage Intact, probably 95% of our energy went into handling the finances, paying the bills, doing the accounting, and so on, while only 5% of our time was spent analyzing the data. We rarely got a chance to actually analyze the data, we mostly just generated it.
When we wanted to analyze trends or compare stores' performance against each other and against our company standards, it was all very manual. We had to take something out of QuickBooks, put it into Excel, and then spend three hours creating the spreadsheet and migrating the data.
With Sage Intact, we’ve been able to flip the ratio. We now spend about 5% of our time paying bills and generating the data - all that has been automated. With the built-in reports and analysis capability, we can spend the majority of our time analyzing the data and taking action on things.
Hank: It’s been a great tool. In addition to analyzing store performance, we’ve been able to identify other issues, such as, "Why is one store’s utility bills $100 a month higher than all of the others?" We’ve also identified vendor billing issues and a variety of other problems that were costing us money but we never realized it.
With the help with WVC RubixCloud as well as Sage Intacct, we're able to drill right into these issues and say, "Well, that's because your other three stores are on this plan, and your fourth store is on some different plan, and you're getting overcharged.”
This insight has already saved us around five to 10 thousand dollars a year, just by having the time and tools to look at the information and figure out where we're having irregularities or deficiencies. Sage Intacct has provided a great opportunity for us to put infrastructure in place so we can grow efficiently.
Brittany: That's really fantastic. It sounds like you guys are seeing a lot more efficiency, drill-down capabilities, visibility. Are there any other areas you’ve seen efficiencies in?
Brian: Yes, before we'd have a stack of 60-80 bills that would come in every month that we’d put into QuickBooks, get to the accountant, and then he would compare it against our bank records.
My wife was inputting the bills into QuickBooks and then doing a comparison against our bank statement and then Hank and I were doing all the bills. Once that would get sent over to our accountant, he would have to charge us for the labor costs.
We don’t have to do any of that now. Using Sage Intacct has easily saved us 30 hours a month.
My guess is if we were to have grown to eight to 10 stores, without Sage Intacct, we would have had to hire a full-time person to just handle billing and accounting.
Hank: Yes, easily. To do nothing but just administrative and financial work.
Brittany: Wow! Those are some fantastic metrics. How long have you worked with WVC RubixCloud and what was that implementation like?
Hank: We’ve worked with them since December of 2017. They have been very helpful, and very proactive in identifying and resolving issues with billing or accounting irregularities. And not just identifying problems, but taking the lead to fix them as well.
They’ve come to us and asked, “Why are you still paying a credit card terminal company that hasn't been used in over six to eight months with Penn Station?"
We couldn't answer it because we had no idea that that was going on. We found out that we had terminals that needed to be returned and we were getting billed for those until they received them back. Previously, we didn't have time to look through all the accounting information each month.
The implementation only took about two months by the time they had all our financials migrated to Sage Intact, and all the bills set up with Bill.com. They took care of all of that for us.
WVC RubixCloud are very proactive, they're not reactive. They're driving us, we're not driving them, which is great. That's what we wanted.
Brian: Yes, I would heartily echo that. They have a top-notch team. On the Sage Intact side, they've created a few custom reports that has been very insightful for us. Now I can go in, and ask, "Why is that bill so high? Why is that entry for maintenance so high?" I click on it, and it brings up the three individual journal entries that make that up. Having quick access to that level of detail is huge.
Hank: Yes, prior to Sage Intacct it took a lot of time to get billing information. We were billed for asking for information from our accountant. With Sage Intacct, it's all right there. Our management team can drill down to find the answers to specific questions on their own, which empowers them.
Brian: Sage Intacct has shown us the possibility of creating customized reports that we can use to analyze historical sales and profitability trends, or compare store performance against peer averages or company goals.
Before, we'd have to take all that data and manually import it into a spreadsheet; now it's automatic. We’re always on top of and in the loop on the critical drivers of our business. That's very powerful.
With Sage Intacct, everyone in our business – from our store managers to our regional managers – now have all the data at their fingertips, so they’re enabled and empowered to make better decisions and help improve the organization.