Retail Accounting

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CounterBooks launches Billing Control System at 2014 NACS Insight Convenience Summit – Europe

CounterBooks' retail accounting management suiteCounterBooks, a leading retail accounting management suite for oil companies and convenience retailers, launched the Billing Control System as a new module of the CounterBooks suite at the 2014 NACS Insight Convenience Summit – Europe in London, UK.

The Billing Control System has been developed after working closely with leading brand owners such as major oil companies and convenience retailers, which operate distribution channels such as franchises, dealers and other partnership variations.

John Roberts, managing director, said: “Many brand owners operate complicated and highly multifaceted financial models with their channel partners, which involve thousands of transactions throughout the year. It is business critical for both the brand owners and the channel partners to ensure that all necessary transactions have been executed, on time, to the correct party, for the correct amount, for the correct items under the correct terms. One small error can become highly material if replicated over a large retail network.

“Due to the nature of the deployment of CounterBooks, the database holds both sides of the transaction, which allows CounterBooks to reconcile and match each transaction so that exceptions can be reported for further investigation. We have been working with several brand owners and already identified numerous areas which require enhanced controls within their billing processes and procedures – these initial trials already demonstrate scope for substantial cost savings which would deliver a high return on investment.”

The Billing Control System is an extension of the powerful CounterBooks’ Retail Management Information System, which provides in-depth and accurate management reporting for brand owners across their channel partners to improve performance and manage risk.

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Retail multi-site compliance & control

d&t and CounterBooks provide retail networks with a complete accounting and online system service.

Multi-site retailers are set to benefit from a recent affiliation between two established market leaders, CounterBooks and d&t Chartered Accountants. Providing a tailored retail accounting service and online system for each site within a network allows the head office to benchmark to better assign support to those who are underperforming against the network averages.

By putting all sites in a network on the same system ensures compliance whilst reduces the costs associated with the system, training and support. Examples of brands who have already benefited from CounterBooks include; the Post Office, Esso, BP, Shell, Esquires Coffee Houses and Scottish & Newcastle. d&t have been appointed as the network accountants by over 75 UK franchisors, with brands including; Café2U, MacTools, Snack in the Box and Dyno (Dyno-Rod).

Carl Reader, director at d&t commented, “We have created a modular approach that allows each network to have the right package of accounting and bookkeeping services for their franchisees or outlets. The services are bundled into a fixed monthly fee with a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee.”

The transition of a retail multi-site or franchise network to a shared system for both their accounting and bookkeeping can take a mix of time and careful presentation. Because the business models are already templated it makes perfect sense for all the systems to be shared by the network as well. Integrating new sites is the most simple as they can be setup with the network approved system. Established sites with a mix of providers and systems often need more convincing of the benefits, although this is an area the teams are used to dealing with and they find education and demonstration to the be the best solution.

“Both organisations have worked informally together for years so it made complete sense to work more closely and provide a joined up accounting and systems solution for multi-site retailers and franchise networks,” commented Alex King CounterBooks Commercial Director.


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Budgeting for Retail Franchises

budgetingIn the current economic climate, it is important to focus on business planning and financial budgeting to help ensure that retailers have the net worth and liquidity to survive. John Roberts, CounterBooks MD, explains why it’s important to stay ahead of the game.

For a retail franchise, where the day to day financial decisions are taken by the franchisee, it is vital for the franchisor and franchisee to agree on a business plan annually and to draw up a budget arising out of the plan. As an independent businessman the franchisee can subsequently decide to run the business along different lines but with a plan agreed up front. The franchisor can measure the impact of those decisions and the risks they might have for the brand.

The plan will outline:
•    changes that you want to happen in the year
•    changes to your market, customers and competition
•    people issues
•    objectives and goals for the year
•    financial outcome from the plan – the budget.

Any retail franchise that doesn’t have a business plan is planning to fail. So why is it so important? Business plans help franchisees to concentrate their resources on improving revenue, minimising costs, and increasing ROI whilst at the same time ensuring a satisfactory level of liquidity to allow the business to pay its bills on time.

For most franchise retailers the key elements of the budget include:

Operating Profit

•    Category sales volumes
•    Category gross margins
•    Labour costs
•    Franchise costs
•    Other fixed costs / overheads
•    Seasonality

Cash flow projection

•    Stock levels
•    Card reimbursements
•    Vat and other tax payments
•    Other creditor terms
•    Capital expenditure
•    Retailer drawings
•    Finance facilities
•    Seasonality.

Actual results in both profit and cash terms should be compared to budget throughout the year. By these means the franchisee and franchisor should be able to capitalise on favourable trends and take action to address problem areas.

Budgeting Do’s

–    Look at historical sales trends. POS systems should provide the seasonal data. Remember, high levels of stock do not necessarily result in higher profits and may result in a cash shortage.

–     Use the budget to incorporate incentives i.e. sales promotions. For example Spar launched a ‘Fresh for Less’ promotional offer in November to help boost sales in fresh foods. Factor in the increased sales but also the impact on margin.

–    Review your budget and plan regularly. The key is being flexible, checking actual expenditure and income in comparison to budget and analyse any trends. If a major competitor opens an outlet next door it could have severe implications.

Why it’s important for franchisors:

–    Insight and predictability throughout franchise chain.
An MIS system that collects financial information in a standard format from all franchisees  will be invaluable to the franchisor in determining whether actual results are coming out in accordance with plan or whether remedial action needs to be taken.

–    Benchmarking
Compare actual performance to budget of franchisees within the network to identify good / poor performance. Obtain a consolidated view of the entire network profitability and benchmark against the competition.

–    Improved risk management
Reports for the franchisor that show the net worth and liquidity of each franchisee are vital to assess the stores at risk.

CounterBooks, a leading online retail accounting management suite, integrates with many point of sale and back office systems, reports on actual against budget and gives  retail franchisors an up to date overview of the financial status of their whole network thereby improving performance and managing risk.

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CounterBooks Announces Richard Kingston as IT Director

CounterBooksCounterBooks expands its leadership team as it establishes itself within convenience, hospitality and general retail markets.

From an idea in 2000 that the internet would transform the way businesses accessed their accounting systems, CounterBooks has developed from an MS DOS system used by single site petrol stations into an online accounting and management information system used by retail operations with thousands of outlets.  CounterBooks was historically focussed on the petrol station forecourt industry and clients today include many major oil companies across Europe. However over the past 12 months, CounterBooks has been selected as the online retail accounting management system for a range of retail businesses, including a large hair salon franchise and a convenience retailer, off-licence and post office group, which clearly demonstrates the value of CounterBooks to other retail businesses in the convenience, hospitality, and general retail markets.

Richard Kingston

Richard Kingston, IT Director, CounterBooks

This exciting expansion requires further system developments, which fall under the responsibility of recently appointed IT Director, Richard Kingston. Richard joined the team in 2003 and has seen CounterBooks grow and develop in functionality including retail systems integrations, data import processes and working with partners which include Wincor Nixdorf, The Retail Data Partnership, EPOS Freedom, IBM, VMware, Northdoor and Hansecom Informations Technologie amongst others.

“From my first role of helping overcome the technical obstacles that we faced on a daily basis as CounterBooks was rolled out to its first customers, to my current role of overseeing the ongoing development and expansion of our systems, working for CounterBooks has often been a challenge, but has always been hugely rewarding.  It is a pleasure to work with such a great team of people and I am really looking forward to the exciting opportunities that we expect the future to bring.”

“Over his 10 years with us Richard has made an enormous contribution to the development of CounterBooks and surrounding infrastructure and I am delighted to welcome him onto the Board. The next few years are going to be equally exciting and I am sure Richard will rise to whatever challenges are presented to him. ” John Roberts  Managing Director, CounterBooks.

CounterBooks delivers real benefits including, reduced costs, improved performance, and greater risk management. Congratulations to Richard for becoming director and developing CounterBooks for the 21st Century.

About CounterBooks

CounterBooks was developed in 2001 – 2 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first on-line full ledger accounting system designed specifically for retailers. CounterBooks was originally developed as a Pro-Retail MS DOS system by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting.

CounterBooks is the trading name for CV Retail Ltd.

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Accounting News: FRC opens consultation

AuditingThe Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has opened a consultation on new rules that would compel auditors to write a “commentary” flagging problems, risks, or disagreements with management at audited companies. Chairman of the FRC’s audit and assurance council, Nick Land, said: “It has been a waste of time to read 99 out of 100 audit reports. Although shareholders got a set of accounts that were true and fair there was no point in reading any of it.” Mr Land admitted that the new rules could make life more difficult for management teams, but suggested he had little sympathy for them, pointing out that an auditor’s primary responsibility was to a company’s shareholders. “It will also act as a hook for investors to ask questions if they want to. Without this, shareholders don’t have an idea where to start,” he said. The consultation will be open until the end of April.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1