Get Financial Control of your Company with TFG Out-Sourced Accounting

Do you get what you need from your accounting?

Do you have turnover and retention issues in accounting forcing you to constantly retrain?

Does your bookkeeper also have clerical duties and regular interruptions?

Did you know that a leading cause of business failure is a result of lack of financial control?

Are you paying over $2,000 per month for bad information?

What if we told you that there is a better way?

The Fremont Group, a non-profit small business management firm provides their clients with their required bookkeeping for less than the cost of an employee and coordinates the reporting with the needs of the owner.

Do you know how much you will have in the bank on Friday—next Friday—for the next six Fridays?  If not, you don’t have financial control of your company–You could and you should—Are you happy taking that risk?

Do you have AR and AP reports weekly and P&L and Balance Sheets provided monthly? 

Do you know what bills you can pay now and what you should put off so you can make promises that you can keep?

Here is what we do:  Your Accounting Specialist assess your needs and the current state of your accounting.  With you we develop your accounting program.  Each day you scan and email your bills, payments and financial transaction to us daily.  We make the daily entries in you QuickBooks, provide you with a six-week proprietary cash flow forecast, reconcile your bank and credit card statements, and continuously up-date your AR and AP reports.  We also customize other reporting so you are actually in financial control of your company.  We coordinate our work with your payroll company or provide our own so that your payroll checks are ready each payday.

Minding My Own Business Workshop now available on video!

The Minding My Own Business Workshop attended by hundreds is now available to small to mid-sized business owners in a Power Point presentation!  Based upon the book, Minding My Own Business by the TFG Executive Director, Dirk Dieters, the narrated presentation lasts approximately one hour and allows you to learn and compare your business to the six responsibilities of the small business owner!

It is available FREE for the remainder of 2018!  Call the office 303 338 9300 or email your request to admin@tfginfo.org!

Managing Working Capital

The Fremont Group would like to share a NYT article about non-bank sources of working capital – the cash needed to run your business while wating for invoices to be paid. New online lenders are proliferating, often extending credit based on invoiced revenue. One online lender we support is The Finance Store. Bank loans cause you to lose time and waste effort filling out miles of paperwork and then they leave you hanging on for a decision. Online lenders are much more flexible, leaving you to use your time most effectively – running your business.

The Cost of Not Seeking Help

On TFG’s Linkedin page, we recently commented on a kickstarter campaign which crashed and burned violently. Worst of all, the project could easily have been a success if only a few key actions had been taken.
Summary: The project was an affordable espresso machine for the home market. Founders just wanted to crowd fund a small production run of 50 units to be made by hand. In pricing the product, the founders discounted their labor to zero. When posting their project, they did not restrict the number of units which could be ordered. In the end, they found themselves on the hook for producing 2000 units. The project collapsed because the cost of creating and perfecting a factory production process was too high. No units were ever shipped.
Their key failing was not seeking advice on their plan from trusted advisors. At the outset, it would be easy to see the project could easily spiral out of control if demand exceeded the 50 units which could be produced. Thus exposing the project’s weaknesses before anything negative happened.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, there’s no excuse for this type of oversight. If you want an honest assessment of your business or strategy, schedule a free webinar with TFG. We’d love the opportunity to earn your trust.

CASE STUDY: MANAGEMENT BY COMMITTEE

Consulting firms who want to post a case study must complete on of our two standardized forms dependent upon whether or not the client has waived confidentiality.  Contact us at 303 338 9300 or by email at admin@tfginfo.org to post your case study.  Use the same format to contact this consulting firm about similar issues.

The Fremont Group works extensively with franchise owners.  In a recent engagement they encountered a franchisee who, despite being in the franchise’s top quarter of producers, had been losing money for the past year.  The initial assessment showed that morale among employees was very low; theft had occurred but not acted upon; their volume had significantly fallen off after their purchase one year prior; and three of the four owners had very little confidence in the fourth who handled the daily operations.

The Fremont Group immediately implemented actions to improve morale and terminate the employee who had been stealing.  Communications were significantly improved and employees were given a daily “focus point” for their work.  A monthly meeting was implemented to reward good performance and to obtain their “buy in” to improvement.  The managing partner was evaluated and found to be competent but not a strong “leader” in part because of his age and also due to the family situation that he faced on his board.  The company had no real concept of how their financial statements worked so sessions were done to teach them what they mean and to create key profit variables that they would track in a flash report.  This was implemented but two larger problems emerged: (1) the four owners were all family members and had a very difficult time putting aside their “baggage”; and (2) the accounting upon which the flash reports were based was extremely inaccurate.

Counseling the owners improved their ability to function.  They communicated better and were able to put aside some of the family issues.  Unfortunately, the partner responsible for accounting (also the daughter of one owner, sister of another, and sister-in-law of the managing partner), simply was not capable of producing accurate statements.  Both the managing partner and the accounting partner were being paid in excess of what the company could pay to have their services performed by third-parties—but this was in part why the four of them bought the business to begin with!

Recommendation:  Significantly cut the hours of the managing partner, pay him hourly, and have him complete the essential functions that the current employees could not perform.  Terminate the services of the accounting partner and contract for them at market.  These actions will reduce the overhead of the company to a level where profitability can be achieved.  All four partners must then cooperate to implement a marketing plan.

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Editorial Policy

We urge everyone—business owners, consultants, employees, investors—everyone to toss in their two cents on topics and we encourage all of the amateur and professional consultants to submit they suggestions as to possible solutions to their issues.

Disclaimer—the posts and comments do not represent the endorsement of The Fremont Group nor will the opinions expressed represent the opinions of The Fremont Group.  The Fremont Group will monitor posts and comments to block those that are offensive, malicious, or are personal attacks upon individuals or companies.  Any person who sees such a post and feels that it meets this criteria should contact us immediately.

5 Ways to Reward Your All-Star Employees

Article from Inc Magazine–Full article found at http://www.inc.com/jay-love/5-ways-to-boost-employee-recognition.html?utm_source=money-and-finance&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=incid40486week07

There’s no such thing as too much employee recognition. Learn five ways to reward your team.

By Jay Love

I hope you’ll agree with me after reading this post that there is no such thing as too much employee recognition. In fact, I would imagine that the average employee at most companies is starving for recognition of any type. Heck, most of them rarely see any feedback at all except for the “dreaded annual review,” but that’s a subject deserving of its own blog post.

Over the course of leading numerous organizations I’ve had the privilege of being a part of, our teams used personality testing to supplement our training of staff. For every type of role, 85 percent or more of the people tested replied that they would be much happier and would work harder if they were recognized for their efforts. This seemed like a no-brainer to me since most of my teachers—at every level of my education—used this strategy wisely.

If you’re familiar with The Carrot Principle, you probably remember reading about how beneficial employee recognition can be to a company’s bottom line. The authors described a study of 200,000 employees that revealed that employee recognition not only increased efficiency, but paid off significantly for the companies that effectively implemented them.  In some cases, these companies’ return on equity and assets were as much as three times as higher than that of other companies.

So, why are so many leaders still neglecting this invaluable practice? I believe many do for various reasons. Here are a few that immediately come to mind:

  1. That is precisely how they have seen it done time and time again in previous organizations.
  2. Most leaders received so little recognition on a regular basis themselves that they have no idea how powerful it can be in growing and retaining staff.
  3. It takes extra effort.

If you’re among the leaders within your organization, you may be able to initiate some change at your workplace. Start by sharing this list of five ways to boost employee recognition. I hope you and your co-workers will like them as much as our staff here at Slingshot SEO does! Here goes…

5 ways to provide recognition for your team:

  1. Quarterly reviews. Mandate one-on-one feedback sessions between each supervisor and team member on a quarterly basis. To ensure these are effective, have each manager carve out one hour for each employee. (At Slingshot SEO, we review the status of each quarterly goal and career objective, as well as take the time to chat to know each other better. The goals and any progress are summarized in a simple feedback form.)
  2. Peer recognition. Each month, I solicit open nominations for Slingshot SEO’s Outstanding Team Member of the Month. Each employee with at least 60 seconds to spare can e-mail me with their recommendations. Although just two are publicly honored at each monthly meeting, many others are encouraged by this program: I always forward the e-mails of the remarkable kudos to all the nominees along with a few comments of my own.
  3. Team highlights. Insist on your department heads sharing stories from their departments and highlighting the achievements of team members at the monthly All-Company Meeting. Lively presentations that include photographs, videos and client comments make this one even better!
  4. Yearly awards ceremony. Hold an Annual Award Event for your organization. (We award a Rookie of the Year, Most Improved, Innovator of the Year and Employee of the Year, plus we invite our Customer of the Year and Partner of the Year to make the event memorable.)
  5. Spontaneous kudos. Insist that every supervisor works hard to catch a team member doing something right or special as they wander around or peruse communications. When they do, have them point it out in front of the person’s peers or via departmental e-mail. (The more often the better, but beware… large smiles might take over your office.)

Be bold and give one or all of these a try, then please let me know if any of these suggestions are making a difference at your organization.

4 Rewards That Are More Powerful Than Money

This post is from Inc. Magazine.  For the entire article go to: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/4-employee-rewards-that-are-more-powerful-than-money.html?utm_source=innovation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=incid40449week06&nav=su

They reinforce positive behaviors, boost motivation, and build employees’ self-esteem. Bonus: They won’t cost you anything.

By Jeff Haden

Formal employee recognition programs can be effective, but many formal programs only pay lip service to recognizing employee performance.

Real praise should reward effort and accomplishment, reinforce positive behaviors, build self-esteem and confidence, and boost motivation and enthusiasm.

Do your formal recognition programs accomplish all that?

I’m guessing no.

Here are four informal and powerful ways to praise your employees:

Ask for ideas. Don’t just ask, “Do you have any ideas for how we can help you do your job better?” (Certainly ask that, but sometimes go farther.) Build off skills or insights they possess to use them in other ways.

Say a warehouse employee is incredibly organized. Say, “I am always impressed by how organized you are. I wish there was a way to clone you.” Then ask if she has thoughts about how to streamline order processing, or ways to reduce the flow of paperwork, or how another department could more efficiently collect data.

Not only will you get great ideas, but you also recognize skill and ability in powerful way.

Ask for help. Asking another person for help is one of the sincerest ways to recognize their abilities and value. Ask employees for help and you show you respect their skills and you extend a measure of trust.

The key is to ask for help partly or totally unrelated to their function, and to make the assistance relatively personal to you. I once went to a meeting to talk about layoffs; by the time I got back to the plant word had already spread that cuts were coming. One of my employees said, “So, layoffs, huh?” I didn’t have to confirm it; he knew. I said, “I have no idea what to tell our employees. What would you say?”

He thought and said, “Just tell everyone you tried. Then talk about where we go from here.”

Simple? Sure, but powerful too. He later told me how much it meant to him that I had asked for his opinion and taken his advice.

Create informal leadership roles. Putting an employee in a short-term informal leadership role can make a major impact. Think how you would feel if you had a boss and she said, “We have a huge problem with a customer. If we don’t take care of it we may lose them. Can you grab a few people and handle it for me?”

Informal leadership roles show you trust an employee’s skills and judgment. The more important the task, the higher the implied praise and the greater the boost to their self esteem.

Team up. You and your employees are on unequal footing since you’re the boss. A great way to recognize an employee’s value—especially to you—is to take on a task together.

What you choose to do together doesn’t have to be outside work, of course. The key is to do something as relative equals, not as boss and employee. Unequal separates, while equal elevates.

Years ago my boss said, “I’m thinking of joining Toastmasters to improve my presentation skills. Would you be interested in joining with me? It might be good for both of us, since someday you’ll be making lots of presentations.” I was flattered he asked and flattered he saw me as someone who would someday be in a position to speak to groups of people.

Verbal praise is great, but at times implied praise can be even more powerful. Ask for help or ideas, put an employee in charge, drop hierarchical roles, and work together. Each is a powerful way to recognize the true value of your employees—and to show you trust them, which is the highest praise of all.

The Fremont Group provides Success Partners–former small business owners dedicated to the achievement of your goals.  Become a member and take advantage of your Annual Business Physical!

Business Boot Camp—Are You Ready?

Are you ready for 2012? Has the last year gone as you planned? Measure twice; cut once is an expression that applies just as aptly to your business as it does to construction. You may not have achieved all you thought you would in 2011 but don’t let a lack of preparation be the cause of a repeat in 2011. You can decide to do everything possible to change in 2012 or choose to just see what happens. Start off right

The Fremont Group offers their “Business Boot Camp” to all members. You will be assigned a Success Partner who, in one week, will tear your business apart and lay out a plan for SUCCESS IN 2012. They are not “yes men” so be prepared. The Fremont Business Boot Camp is not a seminar—it is an intensive implementation package designed to implement change; not talk about it. If you are not committed to change you should not enlist.

Who is eligible:

Your company must have more than 5 employees and have been in business more than two years. (Call for separate camps for start-up and small firms.)

You must be a “working owner” who is open to change.

You may not have more than 100 employees.

What you will get:

  • Your entire company will become focused and “on the same page.”
  • Obstacles to achieving your results will be aired, addressed and the entire organization will be utilized to eliminate those obstacles.
  • Employee productivity will increase through “buy in” and proper use of accountability and incentives.
  • You will have a clear game plan that is designed to “win the game.” You will no longer be the football coach with a game plan that says, “if everything goes right we will only lose by a touchdown.”
  • What the bank wants to know and how to present it.
  • You will have a foundation for long-term success.
  • Your organization will have a new appreciation of your role as owner of the company.

How you will get it (Sample Agenda):[1]

Monday

Morning: Introduction to staff and tour facility. Meet with owners and key employees and distribute Minding My Own Business questionnaires. Gather financial information.

Afternoon: Identify your goals for 2012 and become familiar with your operations. Gather questionnaires and any additional information needed to complete a SWOT analysis of the company.

Evening: Success Partner completes financial analysis and analysis of the company and analysis of company morale and organizational issues.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Success Partner and Head of Accounting

Morning: Meet with owners to review their analysis of current financial position. Present Accounting 101 to owners and financial staff (if required). Establish company budget and KPI’s. Assign Head of Sales to prepare a summary of the company’s “Sales System” for presentation on Wednesday.

Afternoon: Review the findings from the Employee questionnaires and interviews with owners. Contrast those findings with the owner’s perceptions. Identify current methods of employee accountability and incentives and develop the framework for desired methods of employee accountability and incentives.

Evening: Owners take Success Partner and key personnel to dinner—informal discussion.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Success Partner and Head of Sales

Morning: Review with owners the presentation of the current “Sales System”

Review company goals and re-write them as required. Present SWOT analysis for discussion (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities and Threats). Determine how these should be presented to the staff.

Afternoon: Company meeting. Present SWOT analysis. Review findings of the first two days. Solicit input from the organization. Conclude with the establishment of a management committee (companies with more than 10 employees) and their first meeting.

Evening: Success Partner completes first draft of Action Plan.

Thursday

Breakfast; Success Partner and Head of Operations.

Morning: Meet with Management Committee (or owner in companies with fewer than 10 employees) to identify the five greatest issues facing the company and potential solutions. Review with owner and head of sales critique of the “Sales System.”

Afternoon: Meet with owners to develop a plan to address those issues. Develop a complete Action Plan for 2010. Establish benchmarks for progress.

Evening: Success Partner prepares formal Action Plan for presentation.

Friday

Breakfast and Morning: Meeting with owners to review presentation of Action Plan to the company. Presentation of the Action Plan in full company meeting. Wrap up.

How to enlist:

Call The Fremont Group at (303) 338 9300 and tell them you are ready for Boot Camp. Registration Fee is $9995 plus $500 for non-local travel; $100 for local travel. The travel and $4,000 non-refundable deposit is required to hold a date; balance due at the first meeting. Preferred method of payment is PayPal on this site. Companies who are members receive their discount.


[1] The agenda assumes that you business has a person who is the head of accounting; head of sales; and head of operations. In smaller companies the owner may double as this person. Other “tweeks” in the agenda normally have to be made to accommodate the unique situations in each company.

Taking your construction business to the next level

This article is from Business Owner Magazine published by the management consulting firm, Global Resources.

From Entrepreneur To CEO

By Joe Polizzotti on Oct 25, 2011

It takes a certain type of mindset to lead a construction company to success.

Most construction company owners started out working for someone else, became experts at a technical skill and then decided to go into business for themselves. Their desire for independence is rarely motivated by money. Rather they are entrepreneurs who want to steer their own ship and control their own destiny. But while an entrepreneurial mindset is necessary to get a company off the ground, it’s not enough to run a successful construction business.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one of “Yes, I can.” Entrepreneurs don’t believe they can fail and see every problem as an opportunity to be conquered. They have a vision and a powerful drive to achieve it. That’s why entrepreneurs are good at conceiving and starting businesses.

But once the business gets off the ground and starts to grow, the owner has to evolve from entrepreneur to CEO. Vision and drive are still important, but operating a successful business requires a whole new skill set. In fact, entrepreneurs don’t usually make good business managers because they would rather look for new opportunities and develop new ideas. They are bored by dayto- day management chores and don’t have the patience to develop and study operational reports.

Entrepreneurs who fail to evolve into CEOs as their companies grow tend to become “worker bees,” so stressed by putting out the day-to-day fires of the business that they forget why they went into business for themselves. They wanted to be their own boss, work less and spend more time with their family. Instead, they end up as captive slaves, working in the bowels of the ship, six or seven days per week.

Another contributing factor to this trap is that entrepreneurially minded, highly skilled business owners tend to be perfectionists. Believing they are the only ones who can do anything right, they see no need to hire a good leadership team that can share the management burden. Furthermore, with a “superman” or a “superwoman” taskmaster at the helm, employees never learn to make their own decisions because they expect to be overruled if they try. They defer to the owner for every little matter, which robs him or her of the time that should be spent focusing on the big picture.

As a result, employees don’t grow professionally and cannot contribute to make the business profitable.

To avoid this vicious cycle, here are four key steps entrepreneurs need to take to become CEOs:

  1. Change the mindset from worker-bee to CEO. Owners are, by nature, “doers” who feel worthy when they are “doing something.” The problem is they may be simply spinning their wheels.
  2. Create a business plan and stick to it. Focus on executing strategies with the big picture in mind.
  3. Hire or develop an effective leadership team. This includes defining the leadership team’s roles (including the owner’s own roles) and holding everyone accountable for results.
  4. Develop minimum standards for employees. Require key people to hold employees accountable for results, not for just putting in time. Without minimum standards, employees will set their own, which are probably not going to be in line with the owner’s standards.

With these components in place, the business will become profitable; the owner can focus on leading, rather then working and will have time to spend with family. Employees also will be more productive and engaged because they know they are part of the solution, not the problem.

Tools for Profit
Let’s look at some of these factors in more detail at an actual business: Onslow Stoneworks Inc. in Swansboro, N.C., which imports, fabricates and installs marbles and granites. For owners and President Mike Schott, working with stone and granite is a family tradition, going back to ancestors who came from Italy and owned granite quarries in northern New Jersey. Last year, revenues were just $1.5 million, down from $3 million a few years ago. “We were suffering terribly last year from lack of business,” Schott explains. “In addition to the sharp downturn in the construction industry, a number of other stone companies had branched out and opened up, and competition was fierce.”

Schott’s greatest worry was that a large percentage of the business came from a national chain and produced very low margins. He felt very uneasy about this unprofitable work and doubted whether his business skills were sufficient to sustain the company under these conditions. With the help of an outside consultant, he took the steps necessary to turn the business around.

One measure was to adopt a format to control inventory. “We set up a square footage matrix, which, for the first time, gave us a clear understanding of what waste meant to our bottom line,” Schott says. “In the past, we used to purchase raw material and use it as needed, and although we were careful to avoid waste, we never really saw the full picture.”

Another success strategy was to reformat Quickbooks to accommodate waste, cost and job tracking. “We’ve always been good at what we do professionally, but we were not as proficient when it came to finances and tracking our true costs,” Schott says. “Now we finally have the financial reporting tools a successful business needs to have.”

Using these new tools, Schott established how much square footage the company needed to produce per day, per week and per month.

“In the past, we did not price based on square footage,” he says. “Now, our financial tools help us understand where our line in the sand is as far as profitability is concerned. We know how aggressive we need to be to obtain jobs in a very competitive market and how much we need to produce to meet our projections. Knowing what our costs and margins are makes it much easier to price, track and stay on course.”

These new insights, in turn, allowed Schott to make the low-margin work for the national chain more profitable. “Knowing how much square footage we have to install per day to make a profit led us to change how we schedule jobs,” he says. “We consolidated trips—delaying some jobs and moving others up—to achieve significant reductions in travel time. We now make money even with low margins.”

Now, Schott has peace of mind knowing that the business is profitable. “A business owner gets up in the morning for the thrill and the excitement of making money,” he says. “As a side benefit, we love what we do. The idea is to combine both to make a living.”

“In order to do that, you must be 100 percent certain what the hard costs are, and you have to have the tools to evaluate how efficient you are so you’re not relying on gut reaction, but on black and white reports,” Schott continues. “If you don’t know what your true costs are to produce your product, how could you expect to stay alive when margins are so tight these days?”

Although entrepreneurs don’t usually start a business with the sole objective of making money, the only reason for being in business is to make money. Doing so requires more than an entrepreneurial mindset. It requires an organizational structure headed by a leadership team whose roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are clearly defined, and a system that allows the company to run without the hands-on, worker-bee involvement of an owner who has to make all the decisions and is the only one who can do anything right. The owner’s job description is to ensure enough business is being generated and then manage people to perform quality, on-time work so the company can make a profit.

The four principles of running a business are: Get the job done on time or sooner, within budget or less, without rework or overtime AND with control over material costs. Those four factors guarantee success. When one or more are absent, there cannot be a consistent profit, and the firm will wither away and eventually go out of business.