Location: Sonoma County, CA
Employees: Under 50
GL System: QuickBooks
“Now more of my time is spent focusing on analyzing the data rather than spending the time entering the data. Once the reports were set up as I wanted them, it just became a matter of connecting them and refreshing, and I get accurate numbers to share with the team, and we can all feel confident about them.”
Price Family Vineyards
Managing Budgets Across 4 Entities
Price Family Vineyards & Estates is a family of vineyards and wineries owned by Bill and Eva Price. It includes 370 planted acres planted across several vineyards as well as two wineries in and around Sonoma County California. Each has its own LLC – falling under the Price Family Vineyards & Estates – with an individual budget, P&L, revenue and expenses for each. As the business grew, Shelly Golly, Controller for Price Family, found it extremely challenging to consolidate the financial statements of each of the entities and prepare individual budgets for each LLC in a timely manner, all of which was even more complex because she was using Excel.
“I created and managed the budget manually in Excel, and it started to get really labor intensive as the businesses grew, ‘’ said Shelly. She explained that each of the LLCs managers would submit their budgets to her in Excel, each with their own formatting – which was cumbersome and time consuming when consolidating them into one budget for each LLC. “All budgeting, forecasting, and reporting data would be manually entered from our accounting software reports to see how we were tracking to plan. I’d look at the bottom line and if it was off; I’d have to then find that dollar amount within the hundreds of GL accounts in the budget,” Shelly explained. “Then you multiply that by multiple LLCs – I was spending days upon days to get the reports out and I thought there has to be a better way.”
At the same time, Price Family was looking for a new accounting software to replace the winery-specific system it had been using, one that its sales teams would find more intuitive and user friendly. Shelly looked at several options and ultimately opted to move to QuickBooks Premier because of its ability to integrate with multiple third-party software platforms the sales teams were actively using. Once Price Family switched accounting systems, Shelly felt it was a prime opportunity to find an alternative to Excel for her budgeting, forecasting, and reporting needs.
An online search led her to Centage, a cloud-based modern FP&A platform that offers a better way to plan, budget, forecast and report financial performance by enabling finance teams to see into the future, test the impact of different scenarios and make faster decisions with confidence. Impressed with the solutions’ sophisticated planning, budgeting, forecasting, and advanced reporting and analytics capabilities, Shelly requested a demo.
“During the demo with the Centage team, it was very apparent that this software would eliminate manual entry of data into our budgets and reduce the time spent. The efficiencies of this program would allow managers access to data in real time. I really did a lot of due diligence with this program, even speaking with several other current clients. The Centage team met with me as I had questions, maybe half a dozen times, to assure me how it would translate to our particular set up.”
After a smooth and quick implementation, Shelly was able to have the two vineyard budgets and two winery budgets fully operational within 4 months.
“Our winery budgets are quite extensive. Prior to Planning Maestro I’d have a spreadsheet with 20 tabs, all of which were linked to a GAAP-based P&L on the first tab. I’d spend hours pulling all the information to it, and once I did, I’d spend more hours ensuring it proofed out.” Now, when she enters the data into QuickBooks, it flows into Planning Maestro and updates all of her financial statements automatically, following the business logic of each entity. What used to take days to create reports to present to management now takes a few hours, from the time she updates the data, reviews it, and distributes among the managers.
“Now more of my time is spent focusing on analyzing the data rather than spending time entering the data,” Shelly said. “Once the reports were set up as I wanted them, it just became a matter of connecting and refreshing, and I get accurate numbers to share with the team, and we can all feel confident about them.”
Shelly finds the pre-built business drivers and allocation methods within Planning Maestro particularly helpful, as her company uses those same drivers to track expenses and revenue. For instance, the wineries have a lot of revenue-generating expenses, which is where the drivers come in. “If we’re using a credit card company and paying 3.5% merchant fees, then using a pre-built driver on that 3.5% makes sense. We have other drivers set up based on tasting room visitors, club members, sales volume, and even gallons processed in our production facility.”
They also have employees who work for multiple departments and LLCs, but Planning Maestro now allocates them seamlessly to the correct departments. “This was tedious in Excel,” Shelly said. “With Centage, I can set up the allocations in the personnel budget, and it translates these allocations directly into reports.”
Working with the Sales Teams
Shelly finds Planning Maestro has also made it easier to analyze data with the sales teams. “We run a lot of metrics to analyze our tasting room and club. By using Planning Maestro, I can add data points specifically related to these sales channels for our management to review. We have budget line items for our events, and this allows us to see the ROI on each event category.”
“We just finished our current year budget, so we are now starting year two of using Centage. Creating the budgets this year was a dream. Each budget manager received a copy of their prior year operating expenses and updated them. In turn, I was able to upload those expenses into Centage. I copied last year’s budgets, updated revenue, and expense drivers, edited the operating expenses as needed, updated the personnel module and allocations and had a working draft in short order. As I met with executives and budget managers, I would make the adjustments in Centage. The process has been very smooth.”
At present, Shelly is looking forward to digging into the capabilities of the analytics functions and letting Centage do the heavy lifting of the report translation from the accounting software.