Tag Archives: food business

What’s the difference…?

Recently I was at a networking lunch where I was asked why a business would use my services instead of relying on their usual accountant.

It’s clear from the number of accountants who have introduced me to their clients that I’m not their competition. I don’t replace the services that a traditional accountant offers; I work alongside them to improve the information they have to work with and help their clients understand the figures.

The first thing to recognise is that a large number of businesses don’t need my help.

A lot of businesses follow quite a simple model; they buy in goods, add a set margin and sell on. (Simple doesn’t mean easy; it’s just not difficult to understand) There’s a few accounting jobs there that have to be got right but so long as the margin is right, and costs are kept under control the business will run successfully using the standard accounting reports.

The same applies to established businesses who understand what makes them profits. If doing what they’ve always done works for them, then they don’t need my help. (I’m happy to work with them, but they probably don’t feel the need.)

So which businesses does that leave?

I specialise in helping food manufacturing businesses where working out the cost of the product is more complicated and where making one key product creates a number of other products which are often less profitable or harder to sell.

In these sorts of cases the answers that business owners need doesn’t come from analysing the year end accounts differently, or from producing the accounts more often. The figures required come from changing what you measure in order to get information that shines a light on what’s happening inside the business.

– Does it matter how much the total gross margin is if you make a huge profit on one product, but lose most of it on the others? Questions that management accountants answer

– Would you be able to sell more units at a slightly lower price and actually increase your bottom line?

– What will happen to profit if you increase sales by gaining a new customer but need to employ more people and change your delivery method?

It’s all too easy to allow customer demand to dictate how a business grows, but if you have the right information you can make sure that the business is developing in the way that the owners and management want it to.

It’s when they want that kind of information, plus my experience of working in business, managing finance teams and understanding the accounting information that businesses come to me.

Food & Drink Business Finance Workshop

I’ve not been writing much recently, but that’s not to say that I’ve not been busy!

I am hard at work in the background putting together a workshop to help ambitious food producers understand their finances and make sure that they are looking at the right information to make good decisions and grow their businesses.

Every business has some way of tracking their income and their spending. When you start out it’s easy to have a simple system that you understand, but as your business grows – especially if you’re ambitious and your idea finds hungry customers – it can be difficult to keep track of the finances.

Is there time for business growth? The accounts that are prepared at the end of the year show how much profit has been made during the year, but often that is only useful to HMRC so that you know how much tax to pay!

When it comes to growing your business you need to know how you make profit, in order to make sure any new sales add more profit! So you need to be able to compare different products, different customers or compare the profit that you’ve made with the effort you’ve put in to the business. Year end accounts usually don’t help much with this.

Add to that the fact that you probably don’t get these accounts until at least 3 months after the end of the year. If you spot an opportunity or a problem during the year you want to have information to react to it immediately, not wait 9 months and hope you did the right thing.

So you need good data, and in order for it to mean something you need to have a some history as well. In order to get the information you need to manage your business successfully you need to know what it is you’re trying to measure and develop a system (maybe just notes on paper, maybe more complicated) to record it.

The challenge is that the information required varies from business to business, it even varies at different stages of a business’ life and often isn’t immediately available from your accounting system.

Information is key to growing your businessIn the forthcoming workshop I have partnered with Mary Quicke of Quicke’s Traditional, an award winning cheese maker who has established a successful and trusted brand making traditional high quality cheese.

Mary has a wealth of experience gained from growing her business and will share the KPIs, financial information and some of the strategies that she used to grow her business.

The workshop will be held on 10th September from 9.30 until 13.30 at The Cedars Inn in Barnstaple. It is open to all ambitious food producers.

For the moment please contact me for more information: the registration page is under construction!