30+ year-old Houston-based subscription company CEO tells the story of how he moved the business from a homegrown financial system to QuickBooks and then partnered with AcctTwo to graduate from QuickBooks to Sage Intacct
ApartmentData.com provides market research and marketing solutions on and for apartment communities. The SaaS-based company offers services designed for on-site property managers and staff, property management company supervisors and asset managers, brokers/investors/owners, vendors, and apartment locators. Their proprietary platform provides continuously updated property information necessary to accurately understand the competition and to properly position marketing programs to achieve optimal rent and occupancy levels. Along with the apartment data research tools, the company's on-site dashboard contains e-brochure templates for sending to prospects or posting to social media sites.
ApartmentData.com was founded by a software engineer in 1986. "Being a software engineer, our founder and CTO basically designed and built every system we had," says Rudy Mui, CEO of ApartmentData.com. "He developed the payroll system, the accounting system, among other systems." The company has grown to provide services to more than 2,000 customers in 12 major metropolitan areas across the U.S., while managing to keep its headcount to around just 50 employees. After Mui came on board in 2014, he and the company decided to decouple the business from these proprietary non-core systems, especially in accounting. They decided to migrate the company's financials to QuickBooks, but that turned out to be just one step in the right direction.
After moving to QuickBooks, "...we decided in 2016, that there were many features, if we were to grow as a company, that QuickBooks would not be able to support," remembers Mui. Chief among those limitations was an inability to do electronic invoicing and simple electronic payments that could properly support the nature of their business.
"It was all very manual," continues Mui. "At that point we were generating about 1,000 invoices per month, hand-folding 1,000 letters every month and mailing them out, and then collecting payments by check and then dropping checks off at the bank once a week." Mui desperately wanted to find modern tools that would help support automating that effort. That's where Sage Intacct and AcctTwo came in.
Mui points to a strong relationship with AcctTwo's implementation and support teams as part of the reason ApartmentData.com's move to Sage Intacct has been a success. "The two people we worked with [on the implementation] were fabulous," says Mui "They understood and learned our business very well. They were very communicative and also very structured in their approach." According to Mui, AcctTwo's support "is phenomenal in terms of responsiveness."
Sage Intacct has allowed ApartmentData.com to realize its goals of scaling without adding headcount on the finance team. "As we've grown, we've essentially kept the staff that we had," says Mui. "And we've doubled the number of invoices since we started." He has seen significant savings in the time needed to generate invoices. "The staff can't even imagine what it was like to print 1,000 invoices every month, and now we're twice that number and it takes a couple of hours to take care of all the invoices and get them out."
Moving from a homegrown system to QuickBooks meant Mui no longer had to rely on the CTO to generate financial reports, but moving to Sage Intacct has only improved the reporting available to stakeholders. The platform provides stronger controls, better audit review capabilities, and has allowed for increased fiduciary responsibility. "From a managerial accounting point of view, we now know what sales have come in on a daily basis by category. We can look at the report a couple times a day. We now have a real picture of what our financials are going to be for the month as the month progresses. It gives everyone comfort that we're doing what we say we're doing and we're at where we say we're at."
When we asked Mui about his vision of the future of finance and accounting, he pointed to something very near and dear to AcctTwo: outsourcing or Managed Accounting Services. "Regulations tend to increase, and as each new regulation is implemented, you need experts to manage these changes - from income tax to SOX compliance to multinational accounting regulations, etc.," says Mui. "You have to have domain experts and then they tend to be siloed - being an expert in one area doesn't give them the ability understand how that expertise could apply elsewhere in the business. For midsize companies like ours, it becomes unaffordable to hire this domain expertise as in-house resources. What I would pay for one person in-house, as an example, I can afford 3-4 people, specialists, from a service provider that can do a much better job. I see this as a trend that will gain more and more traction in finance and accounting as we move forward."
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