Family-owned and run agriculture business, Summer Snow grows and sells apples to wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in Victoria and produces 100,000 litres of apple juice weekly. The company’s premium Summer Snow pressed juice range is sold to green grocers and independent supermarkets along Australia’s East Coast. Bulk juice is also distributed to a number of cider makers nationally. The business operates two main sites in Gippsland, the juicing factory and an apple packing and cold storage facility with a capacity for 4,000 x 400kg bins.
Since Summer Snow launched its juice in 1998, the company has concentrated on meeting demand for its premium product and expanding the business. Recently, with a new generation of the Russo family contributing to the running of business, the team began exploring ways to modernise aspects of the business administration. The management knew they could significantly improve the clarity and visibility provided by critical numbers within the business.
“We were frustrated by an inability to see what was happening with sales, customers and costs. We couldn’t generate reports, our accounts were not making sense, and we generally lacked confidence in the numbers we saw. Our finance team weren’t able to extract the numbers we were asking for from the system they were using” said Nick Russo, business development manager, Summer Snow.
“Our old way of doing things was inefficient. The invoices used to be hand typed and when the bookkeeper was away we didn’t have a fallback person in the team. None of us come from a bookkeeping or accounting background and we found the software cumbersome and inaccessible,” Nick said.
Being Summer Snow’s resident tech head Nick set out to improve some systems himself, even designing a computer program to make sales dockets electronic and allowing the business to see exactly what each customer was buying. He also implemented an improved timekeeping system but needed to bring in a team of professionals to take improvements to the next level.
“The Slate team stay way ahead of the curve on best-practises in software and systems to support businesses of different types.”
Nick Russo, Business Development Manager, Summer Snow
Slate Accounts came onboard to help think through Summer Snow’s accounting processes and recommend an improvement path. Summer Snow moved from MYOB to Xero because of its user-friendliness and cloud-based features which suited a distributed business. Xero also offered a number of “add-ons” that could streamline time consuming processes and improve access to information.
“The Slate team stay way ahead of the curve on best-practises in software and systems to support businesses of different types. I could picture exactly what Summer Snow needed to achieve but running core business leaves little time to carefully study options and choose, let alone integrate everything and get systems talking to each other. That’s what Slate did for us. We got the best suite of applications for our unique purposes,” Nick said.
In addition to Xero, Summer Snow adopted an electronic rostering and time and attendance system that integrates with Xero’s payroll called Deputy. Staff sign-in and sign-out on iPads (which they’re all comfortable using) at the two factories and this information is transferred automatically to payroll.
Summer Snow also implemented Receipt Bank to set up a paperless system for receipt handling and tax invoice management. Scanned copies of invoices are sent directly to Xero so there’s is no duplication or data entry.
The services Slate provides to Summer Snow include bookkeeping, advice on accounts’ issues and processes, end-of-period accounts quality reviews, training and reporting.
“Slate Accounts has exceeded our expectations and we’re really satisfied with the process improvements. We now have confidence in our accounts and reporting and systems are streamlined and simpler.”
Nick Russo, Business Development Manager, Summer Snow
“Slate Accounts has exceeded our expectations and we’re really satisfied with the process improvements. We now have confidence in our accounts and reporting and systems are streamlined and simpler.
“The Slate team nicely supplements our in-house team, covering leave or changes in personnel. Staff turnover is inevitable, but with Slate Accounts, we know our systems, processes and accounts are understood and documented and they can assist and support our team when needed.
“On more complex and strategic issues, we like that there is always someone to go for help. Slate is a team of experts who stay abreast of technology, regulations, accounting changes and advancements.
“We knew we needed to change but without partnering in this way it would’ve taken us much longer trying to work out where to go to source solutions and the right way to configure and integrate everything.
“We like that Slate has helped us develop a system that works, is efficient and that we’re dealing with a firm with different skill levels not an individual. This gives us lots options to allocate workload effectively. For example, management wants to pay bills and reconcile the bank and we can do it anywhere easily in Xero. We are looking at hiring a less skilled bookkeeping staff for scanning receipts, data entry and email and we leave the fiddly stuff like payroll and BAS to Slate.
“Working with Slate has given us definitive confidence in our accounts and the direction we’re taking. Engaging Slate has been a big step forward for a business that thought it just needed a bookkeeper in house,” said Nick.