Hello South Shore Yacht Club! As our activities begin to change with the leaves, I wanted to take the opportunity to update everyone on the past year – and what a year of change it has been.
In the late summer of 2013 following our 2012 Audit completion, we began to transition the club from our old “hybrid” accounting system of part accrual and part (well, mostly) cash-based to a full accrual system in compliance with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). We are now matching revenues with expenses, recognizing revenues when they are earned (not when cash comes in the door), and accounting for non-cash expenses such as depreciation. What is that you may ask? Depreciation is a representation of the estimated useful life of a major asset that is expected to be longer than one year and these estimates are defined by the IRS. There are prescribed categories and timeframes for all types of equipment. For instance if we purchased a large crane that cost $10K, it would have a defined useful life of 5 years. Under our old hybrid accounting system we would have written a check for $10K and recognized the entire amount immediately in the current year. In the new system we would still write a check for $10K, but would only recognized $2K of expense on our income statement. If it sounds more complicated, that’s because it is – and it also makes doing accurate year over year comparisons quite a challenge now. Going forward, we will need to look at our club’s financial performance both through the lens of our Cash Flow (what we have to write checks for), and through the lens of the Income Statement (earnings smoothed over time).
That was change number one. Change two in Fall of 2013 was related to our budgeting process. Now that we are accounting appropriately, we also changed how we budgeted to our income statement. We removed the $49K in principal payments for our loan from our budget as that item is not included on an income statement (however, it does affect cash flow). We included the full $65K of depreciation in our budget which, if you recall, is a non-cash item, meaning we don’t have to write a check to anyone to cover depreciation. Think of this as budgeting to have extra cash as the end of the year in order to save up to replace existing assets based on the IRS’s estimate of how long they are likely to last. Finally we changed how we budgeted for Food & Beverage (F&B) fairly substantially. Typically we expect our F&B to make a small profit between Income, Expense, and Unspent Minimums... but we always held aside about $45K in extra expense that was intended to support Committee activities and other similar events. This year we eliminated that $45K line item, effectively tasking our F&B to become that much more efficient in their operations. While our revenues have been growing just as anticipated, our costs have been growing at an even faster rate. Assuming we had left the $45K of Committee support expense in the budget, we should typically be between $10K and 15K on the bottom line at this point in the year and we are actually at minus $13K… very similar to what happened last year. Given the trends, this is an area we’ll need to pay attention to and make some changes as we plan for next year.
On to change number three, which has happened over spring and summer of this year - the major upgrade of our club financial system. We are still with our same provider, Club Systems Group, but have updated from their old Club Connect package to the new Club Select version. While this has improved features in a number of areas, it has also generated tremendous work related to improving our processes, upgrading and remapping our related systems (such as new Point-Of-Sale credit card readers that automatically feed the system) and rebuilding our reports to take advantage of those capabilities as well as accurately reflecting our new-to-us full accrual accounting method. On top of that, change number four has been to completely restructure our Chart of Accounts – this is the general ledger hierarchy in our Club Select system that helps categorize and track our financial happenings. The old version was not set up to efficiently work with our systems and was far from best practices in this area. These changes have required significant time investment from our office staff in order to design and implement the new versions and to adjust our systems in order to take advantage of the new structure and report out accurately.
Clearly this has not been a year of “business as usual” in the financial department. Our board, our management and staff, indeed our entire club is still adjusting to all these changes that are happening over a fairly short timeframe.
So financially, where do we stand at this point in the year? According to our budget plan put together last fall, as of the end of August we are about $30K behind where we would like to be. From an operating cash-in-the-bank perspective, we have $123K which is right in line with where we have been the past 4 years. Overall, the club appears to be operating very similarly to recent years. We have had some good news surprises: dues and initiation fees are up thanks to new members, insurance costs will be far less than planned for thanks to good bidding management by that committee, and a dredging study we thought we would have to do has been postponed thanks to rising water levels. We have also had some bad news surprises: F&B I already covered earlier, but another storm cloud on the horizon is Bad Debt Expense – we have some members that have not been paying their bills on time (many of whom are repeat offenders) and if we end up having to write all those debts off then that could have a large unplanned negative effect on our financials… meaning all of us may end up having to cover their tab for them. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?