holding the light

Client Interview: Stars And Strikes Survives The Challenge Of Change And Saves Time And Money!

When we sat down to talk with Debby Ritnour, the second employee at 14-year-old Stars and Strikes, and Controller of thirteen locations, she didn’t hesitate to tell us how monumental a task it was for she and her team to make the switch from Quickbooks to Sage Intacct for nine of their stores.

“It was frustrating in the beginning. I think it was because the Trusted CFO Solutions team understood the process so well and we did not at all. So, I was upset and frustrated with my lack of understanding and my team also started getting frustrated to the point we were crying. However, once Trusted CFO understood our need for help, they provided it, and now we would not go back to Quickbooks.”

The Stars and Strikes team was (at the time of this interview) eighteen months into their transition from Quickbooks to Sage Intacct. The migration of about ten years of data for nine locations did not come without difficulties. Their team powered through the challenges and within a few months, they began to see the fruit of their time and financial investment. In this article, we will give you an accurate picture of Stars and Strikes experience, their challenges and pain points, and ultimately how pressing into those difficulties brought a way for them to scale and save time and money.

Debby, What Were Some Of The Pain Points You Experienced Before You Engaged With Trusted CFO Solutions?

  • Manual Data Transfers
  • Accessibility – Real-Time versus waiting for a month
  • Time / Best Practices

Producing multiple company reports was difficult. We currently have thirteen locations, but at the time we made the transition we had nine. We were using QuickBooks, which was extremely time-consuming. I used Excel for all my reporting. Once reports were complete, I had to export them from Excel.

We currently have thirteen locations, but at the time we made the transition we had nine. For each, I had to go in and out of each company in QuickBooks, export the report, add it to the Excel spreadsheet, go out of it, go into the next one, do the export, and then add it to the spreadsheet. Next, everything had to be precisely perfect in each company for the spreadsheet to work. Moreover, it was almost impossible for the owners or those who had permission to compare companies side-by-side to see the numbers.

Once we completed a month, it took most of the day to run a report. A report is only as good as the last time I did an export. So, if there were any changes or updates, I’d have to rerun the report, send it back out, and many times owners or their assigned person lost track of which report was the most current. We were past due for transitioning into a multiple-entity accounting system. We experienced these types of problems before our portfolio reached nine locations. The tipping point that made us leap was when we allocated and invested the financial resources needed to make the change. Sage Intacct isn’t a pay-and-use tool like Quickbooks. The cost is considerable, and in the beginning, it wasn’t economically feasible. Now that we have multiple locations we can absorb the fee.

Debby, What Is The Contrast Between QuickBooks and Sage Intacct?

I no longer run the same reports I did with Quickbooks. With Sage Intacct, our data is available in real-time. Also, with Sage Intacct, we have dashboards that mirror 90% of the reports that I am responsible for producing. While I do still run a few reports, Sage Intacct has proven beneficial in utilizing and saving me time.

Our dashboards are set up with permissions by locations and roles. We have several customized dashboards for each item that may be necessary. I have a dashboard that I use strictly for auditing purposes that has each location side-by-side. This dashboard gives me the capacity to quickly see if something has been miscoded. If it has, I can quickly enter an adjustment.

Since each location has a company-specific dashboard, each manager can regularly monitor their stores. Also, Trusted CFO Solutions is currently working to set up Sage Intacct to tie into our POS system so the two systems can talk directly to each other. That connection will prevent further need for us to manually import all that information.

How Was The Transition from QuickBooks to Sage Intacct?

It was like going through labor to deliver a child, and like many first time moms, I said I don’t ever want to go through that again. In the beginning, we didn’t fully understand how it worked. After a year and a half since implementation, we now understand. From my perspective, the training modules were too minimal. I would not say I liked talking about the transition because it was so rough; it was that bad. I was so afraid my team would quit. However, we powered through it without stopping because we love what we do.

While none of us are brilliant, we’re not stupid either. We are learning things today that are beneficial that we didn’t have a clue about before. We have such a small crew of people that work in our finance department that we don’t have play-around time. We spend all of our time working to keep our head above water.

After six to nine months, at the completion of the transition, the change began to free up time. I think it took that long because it was time-consuming to learn the system. Now I can see there are many benefits, especially on my end.

We have inter-companies, and with the way I previously booked everything in QuickBooks, it was easily over 100 entries. In Sage Intacct, the number of entries is 20 or 30.

There are many beneficial outcomes from making the transition. I’ve learned how to build up loads for my daily task or monthly tasks, so I don’t have to input it line by line. I have some memorized import templates that I use, but once we get them integrated, I may not even need those.

Outside of our POS systems, we integrated with MineralTree®. This integration is advantageous for my payable ladies because they no longer spend time stuffing checks and stamping envelopes. Also, we started utilizing Yellow-Dog as our inventory module. That implementation is still young, and we are warming up to it. Since our owners can access the data, they don’t bother me anymore about when I will produce a report! A couple of months ago, one of my owners came in and told me he was having the best time watching his dashboard change as I updated numbers during the course of the day. He could see that it’s real-time; they like how it updates. Whenever there are changes and transformation, it is always hard even if it’s not hard.

Whenever there are changes and transformation, it is always hard even if it’s not hard.

Debby, What’s It Been Like To Work With Dixie And The Team At Trusted CFO Solutions?

I love Dixie and the team. I especially appreciate how they are unusually accommodating. Our Director of Operations had an established relationship with Deborah Schwartz. Deborah introduced us to Trusted CFO, and they provided us with the solution we needed. There was no need for us to look elsewhere.

Like I said it was frustrating in the beginning and I think it was because Trusted CFO Solutions understood the process so well and we did not understand it at all. So, there were many frustrations on my part because I would be fine with everything, but then I would get upset when my team started getting frustrated to the point where we were crying over how it was so painful. However, once Trusted CFO Solutions understood that we needed help it was much better. For them, it’s a day-to-day thing; they are Sage Intacct pros. We didn’t know anything, so we needed more help, and they provided it.

Earlier I mentioned the training modules were not helpful enough. That is one area I believe can be improved. My recommendations are to have an on-site person trained in the system, so they are available for training. From my perspective, the budgeted training time was minimal. As in many things, we did much self-training, and when we had problems Trusted CFO Solutions helped.

We are now at the point that we don’t need them so much. We still have an ongoing relationship, and we are working closely with TCFOS on some upgrades. I’m thrilled with Dixie and the team. Our transition was rough because of the numerous years of transactions. However, they did it and were available anytime we needed them.

I’m not sure Trusted CFO Solutions could have done better on the front end to better prepare us for the transition.

We didn’t have access to the system to explore until it was turned over to us. So one day we were in QuickBooks, and the next we were working in Sage Intacct. We were reluctant to do anything in the beginning for fear that we could mess it up bad. In QuickBooks, there’s not too much you can’t fix. It was just a very tough learning experience. I don’t believe that is a Trusted CFO Solution or Sage Intacct issue.

I’m happy with the Sage Intacct system and Trusted CFO Solutions. We have a list on the docket of things we want to do to improve our business strategies that will involve Sage Intacct. We have some projects with Trusted CFO that are ongoing, and I can believe we will have plans with them for years to come.

Our investment in this process, both in cost and time, has been beneficial and has added significant value to our operation. I believe our owners and managers know the transition was a wise move. For one thing, they don’t have to add more and more people to do the work, and they get outstanding reporting. When the decision was made to move from Quickbooks, great reporting was our primary goal.

There is no way I could go back to Quickbooks.

What Does The Future Hold for Stars and Strikes?

Stars and Strikes ownership has plans to open two additional locations per year. We were experiencing a growth factor because we moved outside the state of Georgia. With that distance, it was difficult. Now that we have Sage Intacct, I can work from anywhere. It’s great; I’m no longer married to my desk and QuickBooks.

We have to deal with different types of taxes and a variety of things when having stores in different states. If there is a solution with Sage Intacct to manage this well, we are interested in learning more. Right now we are opening a location in South Carolina. We are going online calling people and asking questions to know the answers. It would be a lovely thing to have.

One other thing we’d like to have that isn’t already on our roadmap for transitions is to integrate with American Express to break down our charges. Our monthly statements run in the $300K to $400K range and trying to determine which cost goes to which company or which cost gets split between all companies or some companies is very time-consuming. If there is a better way to transfer that information from American Express into Sage Intacct, that will save me hours monthly.

Our team is getting better and more comfortable working within Sage Intacct. There are still things I would love to learn, like reporting, building reports, and customizing them to fit what my people are requesting. For now, there is a time factor of when I can do it. We are in the process of hiring a CFO, and once we fill that role, more time will be available for me to spend learning.

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