Creative Dining Services is a Sage Intacct customer that provides food service for colleges and universities, businesses, senior living facilities, and conference centers to over 70 locations in 12 states. The company has been in business since 1990 and has grown 7% each year; now with almost 2,000 employees and over $100M in revenue.
When Jeff Banaszak was hired at their CFO, the company was using QuickBooks. “Every year it got more and more unmanageable for the back-office, the accounting team, and the IT infrastructure,” said Banaszak. “Stress levels were quickly rising amongst the team. QuickBooks could not give us what we really needed for the company, and people started losing confidence in it. We were worried the system was going to crash and never come back up again.”
Banaszak had a vision to move away from QuickBooks, find a cloud-based accounting system, and modernize the back office, the accounting system, and the IT infrastructure. The first order of business for Jeff was to determine which software to use.
The organization completed a comprehensive search and relied on two things: the G2 Crowd surveys of all the existing accounting software, and the market. Creative Dining Services evaluated FinancialForce, NetSuite, and Sage Intacct.
“Sage Intacct was the clear winner,” Banaszak said. “We felt for a mid-sized company like us we could do most of the work within Sage Intacct, yet the other companies required outside programmers and consultants if we wanted to change something; we had to keep paying more money. With Sage Intacct we could do most of the work in house, and the price point was very reasonable. We had a vision to use Sage Intacct beyond just the accounting team to process invoices at our 70 locations. Since we've launched Sage Intacct little over two years ago, it has far exceeded our expectation for cost saving efficiencies within our company. The close went from taking 10 days down to five days, and it’s really helped the morale of our finance team.”
Like most accounting departments around the country, Creative Dining Services found themselves always slightly short staffed. They needed somebody to assist and share some of the work load and decided to find an organization to partner with while undergoing their Sage Intacct implementation. Creative Dining Services interviewed three different potential partners and thought that Maner Costerisan, another Michigan-based organization, was one of the best. “They have made it so easy, and have done many implementations themselves in the past, so it was a seamless process,” Banaszak remarked. “We had a great partner to implement with, and Maner Costerisan is one of our key partners to this day. And thanks to Sage Intacct, we made the transition to a very smooth-running finance department.”
With Maner Costerisan’s help in getting Sage Intacct up and running, Creative Dining Services was able create dashboards at each of their locations from day one of using the solution. Each dashboard has a profit loss statement on a daily basis so the local managers can pull up the report on their laptop or their PC, drill into any number, call up any invoice, and can manage their business. With Sage Intacct, everyone across the company is looking at the same numbers all the time. Banaszak commented, “Moving to a profit loss statement on a dashboard is saving the local units five hours a week, every week. Now the staff feels they are at a place where they have the most modern financial tools, they have a chance to be creative, come up with new efficiencies, and new ideas. I think that's really reduced our turnover for our finance team.”
Creative Dining Services is also using Sage Intacct Performance Cards for dashboard-ready visualizations that present trends into their key financial and business metrics. The organization is able to highlight key metrics that they’re tracking on a daily and weekly basis.
Creative Dining Services also utilizes Sage Intacct to identify any outstanding client invoices. Now the local manager can notice something is overdue, click, print off the actual invoice, walk it down the hallway to the business office of the university or the business, and request payment.
“It was quite unexpected how much our capital improved; we completely cleaned up all of our outstanding account receivables, and our cashflow has improved by $760,000 on an annual basis,” Banaszak commented. “Because everybody is looking at the numbers at the same time, there's no misunderstanding when month end comes around and we produce the official profit loss statement for each unit. Everybody is on the same page, and we save a lot of time.”
Creative Dining Services recently set up a new account in Detroit called Innovations and is providing food service for the organization. Some of the clients are General Motors, Hewlett Packard, and other businesses involved in the auto industry. “When we launched, we all were watching the dashboard to see how sales and expenses were coming in,” Banaszak recalled. “Fairly early on in the process, we discovered that the results weren't quite in line with our expectations. We were all able to quickly make some adjustments since we were armed with this data. The new location got back on track and we continue to monitor it. That was really a great benefit, because if we waited until the end of the month to see the results, or even two months later, it could have been much worse.”
On a personal level, implementing Sage Intacct has allowed Banaszak to have a bit more down-time to pursue his passion of helping local nonprofit organizations get up and running on their accounting systems and help them better understand their business. “Last year I was able to help a church start-up in Lansing, Michigan. I assisted them in setting up their accounting system, their processes, and expense improvements. It was a joy to have the time to help them. I have time again in my life to pursue interests that are important to me outside of my work.”