Ahh autumn, things are slowing down for our green industry friends (or revving up for snow removal). Financial planning for next year has probably kicked off and there may be more than just the smell of the changing leaves in the air.
If you’re smelling the dusty piles of contracts, stacks of invoices, and clipboards of receipts, you’re probably feeling the bookkeeping blues.
With well over a half a million businesses in the landscaping industry in the United States, you can rest assured that balancing books and preparing budgets is a common stress for most landscapers. Luckily, there are companies, like Cycle CPA, that are more than happy to take the paperwork off your hands and do the heavy lifting where finances are concerned.
Working with green industry companies to provide bookkeeping, controller, and CFO services since 2019, Cycle CPA’s mission is to help businesses know their numbers to make better financial decisions for their company.
I spoke with Joe Policastro, Co-Owner of Cycle CPA. Joe was kind enough to help answer some of the most common (and pressing) questions landscaping companies have when it comes to the financial aspects of their business.
Follow along below for the inside scoop.
How Do I Know If I Need Financial Services?
According to Joe, one of the biggest things when it comes to a company’s finances is “looking at the bigger picture.” It may have been a profitable year, a lot of jobs completed, busy day in and day out, which equates to a bursting bank account and a booming business, right?
“If you’re really taking into account the things that’ll affect your cash flow, those are the things you want to have in the back of your mind,” says Joe. “You could be making high profits but you’re not collecting from the customer and other items (i.e. purchasing an asset at the wrong time),” the numbers won’t lie and your financial reports will reflect that.
If there isn’t a dedicated Chief Financial Officer, Accountant, or Bookkeeper at your company, it may be time to start looking for some help.
It’s All About Perspective
Whether you’re a company of 1 or 100, taking into account all of the roles and responsibilities keeping your company up and running (and in the $$$) is critical.
“It all starts with looking at a company’s finances through a managerial accounting perspective and a tax perspective,” says Joe. Your managerial account is “looking at things like bookkeeping, transaction categorization, data entry work, account reconciliation” whereas from a tax perspective, you’re looking for the “best way to limit your tax liability.”
Being an expert at technical know-how can be easy, but knowing what you need help with finance-wise can be tough. Depending on the stage of your company, there are several different routes you can take, including bookkeeping, controller, and CFO options.
You may be wondering why these 3 services are so important when it comes to a company’s finances. Here’s what Joe had to say:
Getting Different Perspectives — You may have “a tax perspective [which] look at the best way to limit your tax liability AND a managerial accounting perspective [looking] at ways to optimize profits from bookkeeping, transaction categorization, data entry work, and reconciling accounts.” It’s good to have variety.
Operational Focus — How all aspects of accounting (i.e. accounts payable, accounts receivable, all subtypes) tie together.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO) — “It’s a service where you’re able to provide more of the advisory perspective. [We] look at the future, try to make forecasts, budgets, different things like that to position a company and then also do things like manage risk.”
Show Me The Data!
It’s easy to compare your company to others that look to be making it big in the industry, but if you ask an expert, there’s more to it than meets the eye.
“Using historical data is a huge ‘best business practice’,” says Joe. “Knowing what you’re [company] is best at and [using it to] make the important decisions based on your financials,” is where the true impact happens.
What is this “historical data” you ask? Well, if you have a clipboard full of receipts from gas stations, store runs, and the works, you’ve got your historical data right in your hands. The potential problem with this data though? It can be easily lost or bog down the system when getting monthly or quarterly financial reports together.
“We always challenge our clients to find ways that are more streamlined, a lot of it can involve software, to cut out things like sending paper receipts to accountants.”
With faster and more thorough financial reporting and streamlined systems, businesses can identify areas for improvement for the next fiscal period while also tuning into patterns arising in the industry.
Ditching The Clipboard
Old habits die hard, so the saying goes. But when you have a simple and effective replacement, you’ll say goodbye to the old and hello to a better way of tracking income and expenses.
When asked what documentation goals Cycle CPA has for the companies they work with, Joe was quick to point out photo and video documentation.
“Being able to take a picture, use it for future purposes and other ways is one of the biggest things when it comes to documentation goals. Similar to the mission of CompanyCam, [documentation] helps improve communication as everyone’s on the same page, which goes a long way to help prevent some potential legal conflict in the future.”
Since Joe mentioned it first, I had to ask if he’d recommend CompanyCam to his clients. His response: Definitely.
From his perspective, “The biggest thing is making sure that you’re documenting if there is damage already [especially] if there are multiple projects going on at once, which is huge.”
With CompanyCam, the easy visual documentation and automatic organization is a no-brainer. Crew documentation improves crew communication! But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Joe said:
We have hundreds of clients and each one is going through their unique challenge and a lot of the time it comes down to a pricing problem or an efficiency problem. The market can only bear as much of a price increase as what your competitors are doing, so that’s why efficiencies are so important. Looking at CompanyCam, you’re able to have everyone on the same page within your team where they can look at the same photos. It’s all synced! You can even tag team members and then use those same pictures for your marketing — the before and after pictures. For the legal aspect, the fact that it’s all cloud-based so there’s no storage issues there, [CompanyCam] solves multiple problems
Final Advice From the Expert
It’s never too early to start thinking about or digging deeper into your company’s finances. Looking for ways to improve efficiency and increase transparency while reducing communication issues is a great place to start.
And if you’re not sure about giving up the clipboard lifestyle just yet, here are some parting words from Joe: “Go for it. It’s not only affordable, it’s something that you can use as a smaller company and continue to use as you scale. So if you’re looking for [a] streamlined way to improve the systems within your company, definitely go for it.”
If it sounds like the services Joe and Cycle CPA offer could help benefit your company, check out their website at cyclecpa.com and get your CompanyCam trial started today (with a sweet 50% of your first two months of CompanyCam on the Cycle CPA team)!