Founded in 1961, Elliotts Landscape Supplies grew out of the timber industry in Tumut, New South Wales. The company grew strongly and was soon known to provide quality landscape and building supplies throughout Australia.
Today, Elliotts is a diversified business offering transport, landscape retail and wholesale supplies, and manufacturing. The organisation includes a plant hire company and repair business, an automotive business offering tyres, mechanical services, motorcycle accessories, spare parts, and workshops in addition to its landscape-related offerings.
Unification, better reporting, and streamlined processes
Because Elliotts has a diversified revenue stream, it competes with businesses in various industries. To do this effectively, the business leaders must be able to make smart decisions in real-time, based on accurate information.
In 2015, Ray Barr joined the company as general manager, tasked with consolidating the business units and streamlining administration processes, including accounting.
“A key initial goal was to get the financial reports we needed so we could make good decisions. That meant moving the organisation’s financial management into the cloud so that all business entities could feed information into the same accounting system live. The system also needed to let the decision-makers access this information anytime, anywhere, which is critical since key personnel often work remotely”, Ray said.
Elliotts has grown rapidly in recent years, expanding and extending its operations. While this has meant revenue has increased, expenses have grown even faster than revenue due to soaring vehicle and labour costs. So, despite increased revenue, Elliotts has narrower margins across the board, creating challenges for the organisation.
“The question was how to find efficiencies and save costs. The organisation needed a business advisor rather than an accountant. We needed to look into the future and find ways to improve, rather than simply looking into the past and reporting what had already been done”, Ray said.
Extension to the team delivers real outcomes
Elliotts chose to partner with RSM's Wagga Wagga office to help it move accounting systems to the cloud, reducing waste and improving efficiencies.
“Following an initial meeting with RSM it was clear the team understood exactly what Elliotts needed to do. The relationship with RSM is crucial. We see the RSM team as an extension of our own, rather than as external advisers. We have a fluid relationship that is integral to Elliotts operations.
“RSM began to develop trust from the first meeting. The team thought carefully about what Elliotts needed to achieve within the desired timeline, rather than simply answering immediately. When they advised us that we could achieve our goals, we were confident that they had considered every aspect”, Ray said.
Elliotts began working with RSM to overhaul its business processes. It was essential to implement a business system that could provide accurate and timely data for decision-making, and help Elliotts unify its various business units.
RSM introduced new, cloud-based accounting systems that delivered the reporting capabilities the organisation needed for decision-making, as well as the anywhere/anytime access required. RSM then introduced an online payroll portal, which saves Elliotts on administration costs. The team also provided tax services and superannuation planning for the business owners.
“Since commencing work with RSM, things are getting done and we are seeing real outcomes. The team has helped to develop ideas from concept to reality and success. The experience of working with RSM has been excellent. The team is always available, delivers on promises, and has earned a high level of trust. There is also strong mutual respect between Elliotts and RSM”, Ray said.
The market is changing for Elliotts, with different customer demands. The company plans to leverage its strengths, such as service and reliability, and continue to grow in those directions.
“One of the benefits of working with RSM is that the team is not just about tax compliance or record-keeping. Instead, the team acts as an invaluable sounding board for our ideas, helping to drive the business forward”, Ray said.
Elliotts plans to increase its transport footprint and evolve the business model away from traditional landscape supplies to focus more on fertiliser, soil mixes, and automotive. In particular, it will emphasise new motorcycle sales and light vehicle repairs.
“Elliotts has an aggressive growth plan that includes expanding to more Australian locations. RSM’s national network means we can continue to rely on the team to help us on this journey.”