By Michael Teplin
As we emerge from the doldrums of the last year and watch demand trend upward, there is a great opportunity to create competitive advantages for your hotel company. Cash flow from new Investors can make or break any company’s runway to a sustainable forward path, and a hospitality company that can opportunistically grow in today’s unprecedented environment can leapfrog its pre-pandemic growth strategy.
There are three specific areas to focus on as you shift gears from cash conservation to post-pandemic growth:
- Fully-operation, efficient Finance and Accounting team.
- Corporate and Social Governance.
- Timely and accurate Business Intelligence (BI) data.
If you’re like most in the hospitality industry, these three areas have taken a very necessary back seat for the past several months. Now is the time to put them back up front.
Finance and Accounting
Nearly 4 million leisure and hospitality jobs have been lost in the U.S. alone since February 2020, according to the Department of Labor, and millions more have been lost across the globe. As a result, your company may have whittled the Finance and Accounting team down to bare bones. In order to ramp back up as efficiently as possible and ensure organizational readiness, perform a Gap Analysis assessment. Items to measure against the needs of your organization, owners and lenders include:
- Processes, procedures, and people
- Controls, compliance, and systems
- Internal and external GAAP financial reporting
- Internal and external audit
- Treasury and tax
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Labor and expense management
- Cash flow
- Capital expense planning
Use your Gap Analysis to create a detailed, actionable, and timely Transformation Project Plan. The Plan scope should be tailored to your organization’s needs not just today, but also in the future. If implemented, the plan’s result will be a world class Finance and Accounting function.
Corporate and Social Governance
Now more than ever, a business’s economic effectiveness has to be balanced with environmental and social responsibility. Our evolving society demands it from businesses it will support and embrace. As such, you may want to audit your company’s Corporate and Social Governance to make sure it still aligns with your organization.
Evaluate whether your company’s rules, practices, and processes ensure accountability, responsibility and transparency in the rights and responsibilities of its leaders and stakeholders.
Solidify that your company’s structure is sound, including entity formation, definition of corporation objectives, controls, and performance compliance under the best possible legal, tax and accounting for owners, shareholders, lenders and potential investors.
And finally, make certain that your company can demonstrate a focus on the Seven Ps of Success:
In Corporate Governance, these are: People, Purpose, Process and Performance.
In Social Responsibility, these are: People, Planet and Profit.
Business Intelligence Data
Data to make timely and accurate business decisions is a key to success in the fast-paced, thin-margined hospitality industry. Unfortunately, the information you need to run your business is not always at your fingertips. All too often finding the one source of truth, the elusive accurate data, is not as easy as we would all like it to be.
A BI dashboard should be many things, but first and foremost, it should be easy to use. To optimize efficiency and accuracy, it should be fully integrated to your properties’ existing systems and databases. To ensure accessibility it should be configured both for handheld devices like phones or iPads and for desktops.
To maximize its usefulness, it should contain Financial and Operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in a balanced scorecard format. The most flexible tools should allow user-dictated time ranges; include actual, budget, forecast and historical information; and aggregate portfolios by property types, size and geography. Last, to be sustainable and able to grow with you it should be built on the very best available platform.
In conclusion, making your company attractive to investors requires that you ask these questions:
- Are you prepared to support your Company’s re-emergence from the pandemic with a fully operational, yet right sized, Finance and Accounting team?
- Do you have a robust and ready Corporate and Social Governance functions to attracts new investors?
- Lastly, is your Business Intelligence platform able to provide timely and accurate data to your operating, ownership and investor groups to base sound management decisions upon?
Given the pressures of our industry, outside resources are often highly effective in conducting the analyses and audits necessary to create these types of competitive advantages. Providing timely and accurate financial information for operations, revenue management, development, as well as its owners, potential owners, and lenders is essential to flourish in today’s environment, so using a financial hotel consultant to help you get there faster may be a wise move.