or "How the Florida Everglades National Parks manage their stores instead than their paperwork"
When every dollar earned supports the important programs of four cash-strapped national parks, it's critical to be on top of the details. In 2010, Cal Singletary (then Executive Director) and Jim Sutton (current Executive Director) of the Everglades Association found it hard to keep up. They had eight stores to manage across a wide geographic area and had to rely on old-fashioned cash register tapes andsporadic inventory counts to stay afloat.
The Everglades Association staff had to manually reconcile register receipts from each store, track voids and returns, and determine how much sales tax to pay. "We had two people working on this 40-60 hours each month, not including all the time spent traveling to each store -- and one of the locations can only be reached by boat," explains Sutton. "An 8-hour boat ride, each way!"
With only cash registers, the Everglades Association relied on sporadic manual inventory counts to figure out what to order. "We had frequent stock outs, which means we lost sales," said Nikki Gomez, Business Manager. "And then sometimes we ordered way too much and tied up our cash flow with excess inventory." Without a system to track it, the Everglades Association could not see what was selling or what inventory was at each store, meaning inventory planning was complete guesswork.
With so much time and effort spent reporting on what had happened versus proactively managing the stores, Sutton decided a change in course was overdue. Enter Mendelson Consulting: With critical dollars at stake, Sutton received a recommendation from a board member to check out our firm. We spent time listening to the Everglades Association's staff and discussing their unique business needs.
"Every other group I spoke with left me with an iffy feeling and when I'm investing association money, I need certainty," said Sutton. "The Mendelson team knew exactly what they were talking about and I felt completely confident choosing them. Plus, the bid they put together was by far the most affordable."
We installed and networked QuickBooks Point of Sale for all eight locations to form one seamless system that rings up sales and manages inventory in each store.
"It's been amazing. I can instantly see what is and is not selling and how much inventory I have in each store with just a few clicks," said Gomez. "Instead of trying to decipher what happened, I can now plan for the business and be ahead of the curve." Stock-outs are a thing of the past. With each sale, inventory counts are automatically adjusted and QuickBooks POS monitors re-order points so Gomez knows when to reorder and how much. She can even transfer inventory from one store to another quickly and easily. Sales tax reporting used to involve staff spending days weeding through paper receipts and reports and now it's instant.
The solution our firm designed included converting from a legacy Cougar Mountain system to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, to add full accounting capabilities. "We use QuickBooks POS to manage the stores and inventory, and Enterprise Solutions to pay bills and create financial statements and reports," adds Sutton. "The Mendelson team set the whole thing up for us and it's perfectly integrated and easy to use."
"This was one of the best decisions we've ever made. I recommend this system and Mendelson Consulting to any organization," said Sutton. "We had three ladies with no computer experience and one didn't know what a mouse was -- they all picked it up very quickly," added Gomez. "This system is amazing."
Everglades Association is the official private, non-profit partner for four Florida National Parks -- Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve.
This article was published by Intuit as a Case Study. Mendelson Consulting is the only firm in the nation with four separate Case Studies made about its clients by Intuit.