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Make Changes Today that Affect Profitability Tomorrow.™

According to the Wall Street Journal, 60-80% of business owners don’t know what their financial statements are telling them. I know what you’re thinking. “That’s not me.”

Well, prove it to yourself. Take our 1-minute quiz.

CNC Machine Job Shop

Situation:

As a pre-requisite to a renewal on a critical line-of-credit, this Chicago CNC Machine Shop’s bank required an outside review and verification of the company’s questionable financial reports and financial stability.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Reviewed and verified financial report of costs, AR and AP.
  • Introduced, developed and implemented a business tool to help break-down the percentage of completion accounting method.
  • Introduced and created a spreadsheet tool for 13-week cash flow forecasting
  • Established a metric for comparing completed projects to original estimates
  • Created new financial statements based on a clear view of the business operations

Results:

Our changes allowed the company to improve the bottom line.  The bank renewed the company’s line for another year.

As a result of our success, the company hired us as their Part Time CFO on an ongoing basis so that we could provide continued counsel to the company as it was passed down to the third generation of the family.

  • Using the percentage of completion accounting method allows the company to report income as work is completed, vs. deferring reporting until a project is completed, allowing for more clarity on the company’s actual cash flow in/out.
  • A traditional 13 week cash flow provides more accurate planning on the availability and use of cash within business.
  • Using these new accounting methods/metrics allowed the company to recognize and minimize unnecessary expenses and maximize on even more

Equipment Rental & Sales

Situation:

Frustrated owner of a Chicago equipment rental company hired CFO Simplified to modernize and bring the company’s accounts payable department up-to-date. Prior to our intervention, financial reports were slow to produce and prepared manually, as the long-term AP clerk was working overtime, utilizing an antiquated accounting system to pay suppliers who were anxious for their payments.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Simply put, we automated the AP department and implemented new automated procedures with the AP clerk:
    • Payables were processed utilizing a triple match and then entering every invoice into the system after approval, allowing the computer to decide which invoices to pay.
    • A more efficient and accurate, detailed month-end process, with a complete schedule of accruals and prepaids.
    • Accurate monthly journal entries efficiently completed before month end
    • Bank reconciliation easily processed on the first day of the new month
    • Consistent, accurate financial reporting

Results:

Letting the computer decide which invoices to pay allowed us the time to provide better documentation to the owner prior to check signing. The time needed to complete the payables process went from more than 5 days a week to just 2, and payables checks were mailed out reliably every Friday.

After working through the approvals and processing with each department, we were reliably issuing monthly financial reports in less than 10 days.

By applying automation to the AP clerk’s repetitive, manual, and cumbersome processes, she was relieved of time consuming tasks that affected her ability to deliver accounting service delivery. With automation, more time and reliable information, the finance department and owner can make any adjustments necessary to meet the changing needs of today’s dynamic business.  As an added benefit, they can also catch any errors or other issues before they become material misstatements.

Fastener Manufacturer

Situation:

CFO Simplified was hired to help this Franklin Park company who was overdrawn more than $100,000 at the bank, and more than 4 months behind on critical obligations such as lease, mortgage, real estate taxes and other loans. When we intervened they were days away from foreclosure and short on payroll.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Negotiated with the bank to delay foreclosure, which gave us time to complete a cash flow forecast.
  • Negotiated with company’s major suppliers to change from “Cash-in-Advance” terms to COD, generating an additional 5 days of cash flow.
  • Arranged for some additional borrowing from the company’s factor
  • Instituted new deposit policy from some of the company’s major customers.
  • Negotiated with suppliers to waive break-in charges to enable on-time deliveries to customers, while we got caught up.

Results:

With more money to operate the business, morale and production quality improved.   Unfortunately though, the company was burning too much cash. The owners agreed to an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors, with the goal of keeping business operating so we could sell it as a going concern. In the end, a holding company located in Carol Stream agreed to purchase the assets of the company.

A Benefit of Creditors allows the company to avoid a Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy.  With our approach,  twenty three jobs were saved, and the owner was retained/hired by the holding company. The bank loans were paid in full, and the owner’s personal guarantee was released. The banks refinanced the building, now that there was a viable tenant. The company continues to operate successfully to this day.

High Precision Manufacturing
Company

Situation:

This 28 year old Wheeling, IL company had never created a budget. They had no idea of the expected profitability of any of their nine separate product lines, or the overall profitability of the company.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Assembled four years of financial data and reports, which included historical monthly income statements and supporting financial data on each of the nine product lines.
  • Developed a trend analysis on the sales and expenses of each of the product line, enabling us to predict sales for the next year.
  • Created a detailed mini-income statement, calculating the gross margin for each line, and tracking that over the upcoming 12 months.
  • Other calculations and projections for next year included:

-Sales and administrative expense.

-Bonuses and pay increases

  • Recommended a list of changes to the company’s financial operations to smooth out some unnecessary volatility in the monthly reporting.

Results:

A trend analysis is crucial in gauging the financial health of a company with multi-product lines.  In actuality, the owner didn’t know whether any line was becoming a cash cow or boat anchor to overall company profitability. With all of the financial information measured and analyzed, future trends, per product line, can be projected.  Our resulting report detailed the metrics that we used in our analysis, along with the historical sales and margin contribution of each product line to the company’s overall profitability.

After decades of operating without a budget, the company now had an actual budget with supporting detailed analysis (spreadsheets), providing an expected profitability for the company and each product line for the upcoming year.  With our intervention, the company could, for the first time, look into the future and confidently make plans based on the detailed analysis and projected profitability of company operations.

Marketing Agency

Situation:

A small Chicago advertising agency specializing in niche marketing was having difficulty producing consistent financial reports, further causing inaccurate invoicing and revenue reporting, leading to undo stress on the financial department with duplication and other tedious month-end processes.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Reviewed financial reporting methods
  • Provided user-friendly, business tools to better track day-to-day financial activities
  • Created and corrected method for posting deposits, so they would no long be inaccurately recognized as revenue on income statements.
  • Created customized spreadsheet business tools, allowing for more accurate cash flow forecasting, tracking of customer deposits by project, and detailing the processing of their month end close.
  • Provided user-friendly business tools for accurately tracking revenue and expenses per project

Results:

Having accurate business metrics leads to accurate cash inflow/outflow numbers and ultimately increases the ability to improve and maximize profitability.  We helped this client get on the right track for success by streamlining and improving accounting processes on a “per project basis”:

  • improved billing
  • improved invoicing
  • consistent accurate financial reporting/financial statements

Marketing Services Company

Situation:

Successful Schaumburg Marketing Services Company needed us to perform due diligence and assist with an acquisition. Through the course of our advisory services and relationship, we discovered that the business is a family business owned by two brothers in their mid-60’s, each having children working in the business with no succession plan in place, of which we strongly advised and also assisted with.

Succession Planning Services Provided:

  • With current trust and will documents being more than 8 years old, we assembled a team of advisors to help in the planning process. The team included a financial advisor, tax attorney, social worker and business valuation specialist.
  • A series of meetings were held with the Social Worker and the family members in the business to bring into the open any interpersonal issues that had been suppressed, but were affecting their business relationships.
  • Our Certified Financial Planner met with the family units to develop individualized retirement plans for each group, based on lifestyle expectations and earnings forecasts.
  • The Tax and Estate Planning Attorney taught the family members about the specifics of the current tax and inheritance law.
  • Based on the specific needs of the business owners and their families, as well and current laws, regulations, etc., we drafted new trusts, wills, and Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property issues as needed to adequately protect the business, the owners and their families.
  • After the business valuation was completed, a buy/sell agreement was negotiated between the two brothers to provide a tax beneficial method of transferring the ownership of the company in the event of one of the brothers’ untimely death.
  • Conversations concerning the planned retirement of the owners and their successors are now part of an ongoing process, as circumstances may change from time to time.

M&A Advisory Services Provided:

  • Met with owners to discuss proposed acquisitions, which included two other marketing services companies whose owners were retiring.
  • We developed a due diligence plan to provide a full understanding of the risks and rewards of each contemplated acquisition.
    • A valuation was performed to assess the value of each proposed business, in addition to the synergy (integration) of staff and the product lines.
    • The importance of various elements of the acquisitions were evaluated and discussed with the proposed buyers (our client).

Results:

Succession Planning Results:  According to surveys (PWC), as many as 8 out of every 10 boomer business owners are facing retirement without a succession plan, as most of their time is spent working in the business, vs. on the business.  Without a succession plan, unfortunately 70% of family businesses won’t make it to the second generation.  And, in the case of family businesses, the people and their issues are a majority of the bigger picture.  With the assistance of our experts, CFO Simplified put together a qualified team to evaluate the bigger picture of this family business.  As a result the new succession plan we drafted eliminates any uncertainty and discord that may occur later, and increases the likelihood of continued success of this family business into future generations.

M&A Advisory Results:  To mitigate risk, an acquisition requires than an enormous amount of data (financials, taxes, accounting, labor, etc) about the target be evaluated.  Our expert and unbiased evaluation determined that one of the companies was a good fit, both business-wise and culturally. It was also determined by the buyers that other company fell short of being the desirable target they had anticipated, and any plans regarding its acquisition were discarded.

Overall, our expertise helped these buyers avoid a large risk in one target, while also successfully negotiating mutually satisfactory contracts with the suitable target.  In this transaction, it was important for the seller to know that their employees would be taken care of, they were being paid a reasonable price for their business, and that they would be working for the next few years, assuring a successful and profitable transition, and acquisition result.  As for the buyers, they were delighted to have acquired a new business segment that enhanced, complemented and augmented their existing clientele and bottom line.

Printing Company

Situation:

A bank was losing confidence in this second generation Harvard, IL printing company, after a disastrous relationship with a new client caused it to lose money over the prior few years. The company was worried their operating line was going to evaporate if they were unable to return to profitability.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Reviewed company’s financial statements and month end close processes and quickly identified issues that needed addressing:
    • By tracking the adjustments that were being made at month end, we could see that the inventory account reconciliation was arbitrary, which affected profitability and resulted in dramatic swings in monthly net income.
    • Further tracking over the prior 18 month period also uncovered operational errors as a root cause of some of the issues. Further analysis of the company’s ERP system led us to institute a change in the transaction mapping that resolved some of the issues.
    • Other major variances were eliminated by moving finished goods into quarantine in the ERP system prior to final inspection.
  • We also completely rewrote the company’s financial statements to include the appropriate level of detail and additional subsidiary reports needed to provide an accurate overview of the company’s profitability.

Results:

An ERP system eliminates repetitive processes within an organization and increases efficiencies, especially profitability forecasting abilities.  As a result of our review and intervention, and a change at the operational level, the tracking and calculating of month end financial adjustments for prepaids and accruals tightened the financial postings, eliminated adjustments at year end for the annual insurance audit, and uncovered a miscalculated insurance accrual that returned $140,000 to the bottom line.

In addition, having accurate detailed financial statements gave the owner vital information needed to make further changes in the company’s operations and dramatically improve profitability.

Retail Liquor Store

Situation:

After purchasing a Chicago retail liquor store from his father, this young new business owner wanted to expand into other businesses. He hired CFO Simplified to teach him more about the store’s financial reports and how to utilize them and the store for his other business ventures.

Advisory Services Provided:

  • Met with client and reviewed his current financial reports and talked to his accounting clerk about the company’s accounting processes and procedures.
  • Developed a sales and profitability trend analysis of how the business was progressing:
    • First by making some process changes to the general ledger to provide more clarity in reporting
    • Then gathering and reviewing past 3 years of financial statements
  • Introduced types of financial ratios that might further assist the owner in gauging the financial success and growth of the company.
    • A series of analyses of the sales metrics of the company by product type gave further insight into the inventory turns and margin contribution of the various item groupings in the store.
  • Developed a structured month end close process, with a checklist and steps identified for the accounting clerk to follow at the close of each month.
    • Provided a format for the clerk to track accruals and prepaid expenses, which made the close easier.
    • New process provides a listing of the transaction detail that was helpful not only to the clerk, but the owner and outside accountant as well.

Results:

It’s difficult to measure the progress or strength of any retail outfit without tracking certain sales metrics. Having this information in hand allows the store owner to accurately gauge profitability, and even take steps to improve his ROI.

In addition, having a more accurate and structured month end close, with the appropriate journal entries, also provides the owner with vital and consistent financial information needed to understand how the store is doing on the whole, and to serve his purpose of using the store as collateral to expand into other business ventures.

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