From EY to Starbucks to Startups with Keeley Favoino, CPA, Controller at Foxtrot

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Keeley Favoino: [00:00:02] Some of the things that I really value are just like being curious, asking questions. You know, I love accounting, which is like such a geeky thing to say, but I don't need I don't want to be, you know, a stuffy accountant that sits in a cube all day. So finding those, like being proactive, finding those opportunities that work for you. Every company needs an accountant.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:30] If you'd like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit Earmark Cpcomm. Download the app, take a short quiz and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now on to the episode. Hey, everyone, and welcome back to the show. I am Blake Oliver, joined today by Keeley Favoino, controller at Foxtrot. Keely, welcome to the show.

Keeley Favoino: [00:01:01] Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be here.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:03] We got to know each other a little bit because you are an earmark subscriber and you generously dedicated some of your time to give feedback on the app. I really appreciate that. Yeah.

Keeley Favoino: [00:01:13] Huge fan of earmark, so.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:15] Oh, thank you. Well, you know, and we started talking about what you do for a living and your role as a controller at Foxtrot. And I thought, oh my gosh, this would be a great earmark episode. So we're here today to talk about, I guess, the last two and a half years of your life in many ways, which is quite a lot. I mean, you know, they always say in startups that a year in a startup can be like 5 to 10 years.

Keeley Favoino: [00:01:40] Yeah, I used to say when I hit my two year anniversary, I was like, It feels like 12, So.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:45] Well, let's talk about that then. Yeah. What is Foxtrot?

Keeley Favoino: [00:01:49] So Foxtrot, what is the we call ourselves the modern modern day corner store. So it's all rooted in convenience. We started in Chicago in really popular, dense, walkable neighborhoods in the Chicago area, and really everything was geared around that convenience, but a unique offering somewhere that you actually want to go. So we have these beautiful storefronts and you can come in, get a cup of coffee and a breakfast taco. We have grab and go coolers of salads and sandwiches, a huge wine offering. We have a sommelier on staff. He definitely has the best job at Foxtrot. Wow. And then tons of snacks, more sweets than you even know what to do with. We have a whole private label program where we make our own gummy mixes and candy mixes. So it's really a fun experience to come shop in a foxtrot. And I think the two the two really unique offerings that we have are one is just partnerships with small local vendors. So we work really closely with different vendors in our communities. So Foxtrot is now in Chicago, Dallas DC and recently launched in Austin. So in each of those markets you're going to find local craft beer from a small local brewery that's based there. There's different pastries that are offered in each store based on in each market, based on from a local bakery there. And then we partner with a lot of small brands that have maybe never been able to be in a retailer before. We might be the first one or the only retailer that they shop through. So if you're a customer and you come in, it's kind of a surprise and delight experience. You never know what you're going to find in a foxtrot. And the other thing that's really unique, too, is we have our own app and we deliver in each of those markets. So we have our own courier delivery fleet. So anything, anything that you can find in the store, you can also get delivered to your house.

Blake Oliver: [00:03:49] So this is like I'm picturing, you know, my corner store is a 7-Eleven. This is like you've taken the 7-Eleven and maxed it out in terms of what it can be from a luxury standpoint.

Keeley Favoino: [00:04:03] So the line that I always say that we're not supposed to say, but we're like, we're a bougie 7-Eleven. So and, and it helps paint a really nice picture for everybody. So yeah. Wow.

Blake Oliver: [00:04:14] So like sommelier, you do delivery, you've got it sounds like deli kind of stuff going on in the stores. I mean.

Keeley Favoino: [00:04:23] There's a there's a lot going on inside.

Blake Oliver: [00:04:25] Yeah. I mean, because you're like part restaurant, part grocery store, part convenience store delivery service part mean bar.

Keeley Favoino: [00:04:34] We'll have we usually have like 2 to 3 kegs in each store. So you can get draft beer, you can get wine by the glass. We started offering pizza in some of our options. So fun, you know, happy hour spot. If you want to come grab a glass of wine with a friend after work. So we kind of one of the expressions that we like to use is like a m, 2 p.m. Like you can find something that maybe you don't need, but you definitely want at a foxtrot, you know, in the morning all the way through into the evening.

Blake Oliver: [00:05:05] Well, that sounds great to me as a customer. Yeah, but now I'm putting my accountant hat on. I'm thinking that's a lot to keep track of.

Keeley Favoino: [00:05:13] It Is it? Is. Was it?

Blake Oliver: [00:05:15] So two and a half years ago when you started? Was it always like that from the beginning?

Keeley Favoino: [00:05:20] Yeah. So it was, you know, Foxtrot actually started as a delivery only business, which is kind of interesting because our retail stores are now such like a part of the brand and a part of the identity, but you know, opened our first retail store and I want to say maybe 2015 or so. And it's always it's always been complicated because when you think about, you know, what I always like to say is like, none of these are complicated concepts in and of themselves. Like we didn't invent. We didn't invent inventory, but we just have like a lot of those big, bigger concepts. So a ton of leases, a ton of fixed assets with our store build outs. Inventory is huge for us because when you think about, you know, I always say like it's really cute and fun for the brand that we work with all these small local vendors and carry like one kitschy skew from somebody, but like that's another skew that we have to track. So we have thousands of SKUs in each of our stores. So just huge inventory, supply chain challenges. All of our grab and go sandwiches. We have commissaries in each of our local markets where we produce those and then distribute them into the stores. So that's like a business in and of itself. Oh, that's another.

Blake Oliver: [00:06:38] One we got to add to the list, I think up to six.

Keeley Favoino: [00:06:40] Now. Yes. All of these different like micro concepts that when you're, you know, a younger company, you don't have infrastructure for. You know, we were on QuickBooks Online at the time. You know, a lot of things we just didn't have systems for, you know, certainly nothing for fixed assets, nothing for leases. So a lot of Excel. And where you did have systems, they didn't necessarily talk to each other. So, you know, no communication from inventory system to app system. So definitely had had a lot of its challenges that I walked into when I started.

Blake Oliver: [00:07:16] Well, what was the scale of Foxtrot when you got there?

Keeley Favoino: [00:07:20] So we were at ten stores. Ten stores in two markets. We had eight in Chicago and two in Dallas. And as of right now, we're at 26. We've opened up in the D.C. area as well. I always say I can tell when we're starting to get kind of big, when I can't remember exactly how many stores we have in each market or, you know, I used to know like the address and how much we paid in rent at every single store. And now I'm losing my touch, which is how you know that you need a system to track some of this stuff. But we're also in the D.C. area. And then Austin so recently just launched in Austin as well with plans to open, I would say like 5 to 8 stores this year.

Blake Oliver: [00:08:00] Okay. So around ten stores when you started and two markets, what did the accounting team look like when you joined?

Keeley Favoino: [00:08:08] So there were two of us. We had you know, it was myself as a controller, and then we had a staff accountant who was technically a staff accountant, but in practice was full time payables. You know, at this point we were processing, I would say, about 1000 invoices a month. And it was really just her entire responsibility was trying to take all those invoices and just get them into the system. And so AP was definitely one of one of the first things I had joked that I was like, I worked here for like two hours and I was like, I think we have a giant AP problem on our hands that we need to address. So there was just the two of us one full time AP, and then I kind of was everything else.

Blake Oliver: [00:08:51] So And what did you inherit? I mean, so this AP person, where was was that the first hire in accounting? And then you came in to to organize it.

Keeley Favoino: [00:09:01] There had been somebody that was kind of managing things, trying to manage things beforehand and then AP as well. So I kind of took over, took over that role. So there was some handoff, but definitely it was not. I would like to say we were we were kind of bookkeeping at best. I used to say that we were trying to like literally keep the lights on in the store was kind of the benchmark, like just pay the electric bill. Like make sure the electric bill is getting paid is kind of like the expectations and the level of service that the department was providing. But at the time, we were really starting to accelerate our growth. Covid was actually really good for Foxtrot with their their e-commerce business took off and it's really what put Foxtrot on the map of, you know, allowing us to start to scale the way that we have been was getting was getting this explosion of COVID e-commerce business and really turning us into a true omnichannel business. And it attracted a new type of investor that maybe wasn't as interested in just a retail store before. So we were able to raise money to help fuel that growth. But with additional funds and investors comes people want financial information.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:25] So that was the impetus to get.

Keeley Favoino: [00:10:28] We need we need to level up and turn ourselves into a real accounting department and not just bare minimum bookkeeping services. Okay.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:38] So you came into what you must have seen as a real challenge.

Keeley Favoino: [00:10:44] It was I mean, it was I did for the most part, know what I was getting myself into. You know, you never you never truly know until you're until you're in the weeds. But I knew I knew what the situation was when I was joining. And that was really part of why they even brought why they brought me in and why they reached out to me was because I had experience in kind of startup accounting, creating something out of nothing, know what things are supposed to look like. And so kind of knew that I would be the right person for the job to take us to where we needed to get to.

Blake Oliver: [00:11:22] Okay, So this wasn't your first startup gig? Not okay.

Keeley Favoino: [00:11:26] I don't think I would have made it if it was.

Blake Oliver: [00:11:28] Let's talk about how you got into the world of startups, because I know there's a lot of folks listening that, you know, maybe they're in public accounting, maybe they're working in, you know, at a big corporation and they they're excited to like, you know, go to a startup or go to a growing business. How did you get there? Tell us your.

Keeley Favoino: [00:11:46] Journey. So I started in public like many, many people. I did, you know, got my master's, got my CPA and started at Ey in audit, super traditional background in Chicago. I actually was not in Chicago at the time, so I went to college in Saint Louis and I started in the Saint Louis office, and then I transferred out to the Seattle office when I was like a staff to which I got to work on some cool clients in Seattle. My main client was Zillow, and then I worked on Amazon as well. Which was a mind that's. It was incredible. Yeah. And so.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:24] I mean, I imagine at the time, like, I mean, that was Amazon's like huge growth period.

Keeley Favoino: [00:12:31] It was a few years ago. It was crazy.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:34] And they're still growing like crazy. But back then I remember the headlines were all Amazon all the time.

Keeley Favoino: [00:12:39] Oh, right. And just seeing, you know, something like their internal controls, it was like they had like, you know, 400 controls for inventory alone. And you were just like, oh my gosh, the audit team was huge. There were international audit teams. So it was a really cool and unique experience for sure. Yeah. But I, like many others, you know, public accounting just didn't I didn't see it as my future. I something that I really was lacking was that tangibility of your work. I used to say, you know, you grind so many hours and at the end of the day, it's the company's financial statements that you're producing. And I'm definitely somebody that needs needs to like, see the fruits of my labor, which, you know, as we get to kind of how I get to startups like that is the ultimate tangibility of your work. So I moved. I jumped into financial reporting from out of audit, which I think is a kind of natural transition. And I really loved my role in FR. I was at Starbucks, I was out in Seattle at the time, and I really attribute that role to shaping like how I think about accounting. I take a really reporting lens to everything that I create and it really helped teach you how to like craft a story. You know, we we basically wrote the earnings release and the Mdna that was all rooted from our team. So it it really helped kind of help connect those dots in that you maybe wouldn't get that experience otherwise. But I got the opportunity, you know, I was there for about two years, moved into a manager role and had gotten connected to some folks over at this company called Offer Up. It's an app where you buy and sell things online. And at the time I didn't I didn't really know anything about startups. I hadn't heard of that. You know, it had never occurred to me to to work at one and that they would need an accountant. And what.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:34] Did you what did you think that you were going to end up doing when you know, before that, before you made the switch into startups, where did you.

Keeley Favoino: [00:14:42] See yourself? I, I thought I was going to be a partner at Ey for sure. When I first started, you know, in my start class, we ranked like who we thought was going to last the longest. And I was like pretty at the top of the list. So I definitely, you know, I just I didn't know any better at the time. And Starbucks also was really great at internal movement within the org. You know, the the Starbucks accounting and finance org is like 300 people and people like Cupid shuffle around jobs there all the time. So I kind of thought like, I can have like a really great career at Starbucks and I definitely think I. What have I loved working at Starbucks? I really liked all the people that I worked with there and I could have easily like slotted over into corporate accounting or maybe moved over into the finance team. That was kind of just where I thought I was going to go and stay. So, you know, I knew new people over at Offer Up and and you just got.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:43] Connected to them through being in Seattle.

Keeley Favoino: [00:15:45] So my husband was actually working there at the time. So he had gotten a job there and this was our first experience with startups. And so we were like, Oh my God, they have free lunch on Fridays. You can wear like shorts in the summer. Like, what is this magical place? And, you know, hearing stories from him about. So, yeah, the way that they would do things and how they would operate, I was just like mind blowing of like, this is so different from Starbucks. Like we don't even we get free coffee and that's it. Like there is no free lunch. We don't do a holiday party. You know, it was just it was such a different cultural environment. So they had a director of finance at the time and he was looking to bring on their first accounting, full time accounting person. And he was like, I'd like to like, just, you know, talk to your wife, meet your wife. And I he and I had coffee. And I remember I read the job description and I was like, there are 100 people at Starbucks that do all of the different things that this job is talking about. So I was super intimidated. I was like, I've never booked a journal entry before because working in financial reporting, you fly so high. So I was like, I didn't think I could do it.

Keeley Favoino: [00:16:59] And but I think what he saw in me was like, you know, I'm smart. I can figure stuff out. And just like an aptitude to learn, like super interested. I love accounting. He's like, You'll be fine. I think you'll be great at this. And I talked to my brother who was working at like a legal SaaS startup at the time. He was a lawyer that went into legal software and it was a startup and I remember kind of asking him for advice and he was like, You're always going to wonder what if if you don't, if you don't do it? So just try. And if you don't like it, they'll hire me back at Starbucks tomorrow. So I was like, Might as well go for it. We'll see. We'll see how it goes. So I took took the leap and, you know, it was a team of one. So I went from like. This massive org where people are like super siloed and you have, you know, I would say like you have like 83 prior quarter work papers to look through if something you don't know what happened. Like there's all this stuff to like brand new and we've got our first audit coming up in six months. We picked UI as our auditor for our first year audit. Like here you go.

Blake Oliver: [00:18:21] And you're the first accounting hire.

Keeley Favoino: [00:18:23] First accounting hire. So like, we had never booked a prepaid expense before. We had never booked an accrual before, certainly nothing related to equity accounting at all. We were like pretty bare bones. And it was funny. My my boss, I reported to the director of finance, he and I had a great relationship and he's like, They should have hired your role before they hired mine because like, I can only do so much with no accounting, right? So he kind of made it clear that it's like we need we need an accountant in here to come in and clean everything up. So, yeah, that was my first that was my first step. And I've kind of been hooked into the space ever since.

Blake Oliver: [00:19:05] Well, obviously you liked it. You know, you stepped up and figured things out. What do you credit? What do you credit like? Do you credit your public accounting experience with helping you survive that?

Keeley Favoino: [00:19:16] That's an yeah, I, I definitely think there's an element of public accounting is you're drinking out of a fire hose when you're when you're in it. And you do have to you have to figure it out. You know, everybody's busy. There's only you can you can ask questions, but you can only ask so many questions. And you really have to use, you know, you have to understand what you're doing and and figure out how to step through and, and project manage to because that's, you know, looking at looking at the whole scope of things that we needed to do to get ready for an audit is super overwhelming. But you know being able to break things down into like digestible bites and create a plan of like, this is what we need to do and keep marching forward, which is how an audit works as well.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:11] Yeah, a little bit of progress every day getting towards that big goal.

Keeley Favoino: [00:20:15] Yep, exactly.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:17] Yeah. So. So you obviously got through the audit.

Keeley Favoino: [00:20:21] Succeeded did.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:24] And how long did that how long did that process take? You know, going from basically nothing to getting getting you to sign off?

Keeley Favoino: [00:20:31] Honestly, probably like a year or so from when I started to once they had signed off, it was probably like a year long venture. But while you're you're not working on the audit full time and you're able to take, you know, like I said, we had never booked a prepaid before. Well, you know, we screwed things up from an opening balance sheet standpoint, but then you're able to build that schedule, so then you're doing it each month moving forward. So like the second time you go through an audit, it's way easier than the first time that you did definitely like drafting. Our first financial statements ever was a big challenge that my background definitely helped there. Being able to kind of piece together what footnotes you needed, what different disclosure requirements you had. So it was a great experience going through that. And I think as traumatizing it was to do a Big Four audit your first time. It it helped a lot because it definitely like really set me up for, for success in these future roles that I've been able to have.

Blake Oliver: [00:21:37] So you did that, Got that under your belt. Then? Then what?

Keeley Favoino: [00:21:42] Then I moved to Chicago. And, you know, we're from the Midwest originally and kind of we're looking to move closer to home. So moved to Chicago pretty quickly, got plugged into the startup scene here as well. I kind of, you know, stumbled upon a finance and accounting networking group here just based on the companies that I was applying to work at kind of found myself inserted into the community. And that's one thing that I really love about the startup space as well, is it is a super tight knit community, very small world, for better or for worse. So I ended up, you know, from kind of some different folks that I had met, got connected to a role over at a company called Farmer's Fridge. So they make salads that get sold in vending machines. You might see them in an airport near you at some point. They've seen a lot of really good expansion over the last couple of years, specifically airports, but then hospitals, office buildings. So it's a really cool concept, you know, creating healthy food, making it more accessible to people. So took the controller role. There was this was my most recent role prior to Foxtrot. Definitely a less dire situation from an accounting standpoint when I joined, which was nice, but definitely was in that phase of needing to level up the amount of reporting that we offered. We desperately needed a chart of accounts rebuild and really reframing how we were thinking about the business in general.

Keeley Favoino: [00:23:13] So I was able to play a heavy role in that. Learned a lot about inventory and manufacturing and cost accounting. I don't consider myself a cost accountant, but I'm pretty good because, you know, farmers at the time nothing was co packed. They manufactured everything themselves. So we ran the facility. So I feel like that's the role where where I felt like I became a real controller. I think my, I had more, more authority to, to make decisions and my scope was, was pretty large at the time over was able to oversee a lot of different things was a little was able to rise out of the weeds a little bit and kind of provide oversight and strategic direction. So it was that role that I think really kind of set me up for success. And so, you know, knew the Who was the current VP of Finance over at Foxtrot, knew him kind of through the same startup networking group I had. I had reached a point at Farmer's Fridge where I felt like we were kind of set up for success on a really good path. You know, we had a good team in place, so it was kind of my time to to move on and do that and do that elsewhere. And so that was how how I got plugged into Foxtrot.

Blake Oliver: [00:24:27] So this is now you've done basically two build outs, if you will, of the accounting systems and processes for two different companies and you decide, I want to do it a third time.

Keeley Favoino: [00:24:38] I said, Let's do it again.

Blake Oliver: [00:24:41] Let's do it again, but let's take it up a notch. Right now it's even more complicated.

Keeley Favoino: [00:24:45] It sounds like we're not just bigger, more complicated, like, yeah, let's do it. And e-commerce.

Blake Oliver: [00:24:51] E-commerce and retail at the same time, Right.

Keeley Favoino: [00:24:54] And food manufacturing And food manufacturing.

Blake Oliver: [00:24:56] Yeah. And and alcohol, you know and all.

Keeley Favoino: [00:24:59] I know a lot more about liquor licensing than I ever thought I would.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:02] So in Chicago, it's no joke to get a liquor license. It is the same thing in LA too.

Keeley Favoino: [00:25:08] I you know, I've had to make some personal trips down to the Illinois Liquor board to do something or other with a cashier's check. You know, you never know. Never knew what you needed to do to. But when you're, you know, start up, it is very like all hands on deck. Yeah. We didn't have anybody in compliance at the time. And that's one of those things that, you know, if it doesn't have a supernatural home, it falls to accounting. So I was our I was our compliance department for a while. And, you know, I had mentioned before, it was just there were just two of us. We were at ten stores. And I really, you know, we were starting to grow. We were about to raise our Series B at the time. And there was.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:53] What was the accounting system?

Keeley Favoino: [00:25:55] Quickbooks Online. Got it. Um, so QuickBooks. And then we use for AP. And then we had a proprietary inventory system. We've always had that that inventory system that doesn't talk to any of our accounting systems.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:11] Something that the Foxtrot team built.

Keeley Favoino: [00:26:13] Yes. That there was definitely no accountants in the room when they built that. So that's usually.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:20] How it happens. We get brought in after the money is raised. Right. To clean up the mess.

Keeley Favoino: [00:26:25] Exactly. So there are definitely some some things that I was like, we should we should probably, you know, do they have or.

Blake Oliver: [00:26:32] Costing at any way to do that in the system.

Keeley Favoino: [00:26:35] Or it was I would call it a fluid costing system. I don't know if that's one of the official generally the the GAAP basis, you know, there was a cost that was able to be assigned to it. But if we went and changed that cost, if that price went up from $4 to $5, then it just restated history that, yes, this always cost us $5, right? So that one was fun. One of the other things that I learned pretty quickly was that if you went and like, let's say, you know, the system says you have five, you realize that you actually only have four. So you take that one out of your system. You just restated that number like there was no there was no double entry accounting that was happening. You just magically had four now. And I was like, We should probably fix that. So we instituted some processes around actually, you know, tracking movement of inventory and all that good stuff, but definitely no communication to, you know. So if we received, you know, eight but only got but got charged for ten, there was no like systematic communication that happened.

Blake Oliver: [00:27:47] Purchase orders.

Keeley Favoino: [00:27:48] No. No. Three way, No. Three way match. That was that was a I had a accounting 101 that I would walk everybody through. And that was a core concept of accounting. Keely's Accounting 101 was three way match, three way match. So yes, education time.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:06] You know, everybody should take accounting 101 and learn that but maybe that's yeah, yeah.

Keeley Favoino: [00:28:11] There were definitely you know, it takes I think but it was definitely helping put it into terms that people can understand. I think if you go straight into like the well, you debit this and you credit people. People don't speak accounting, but if you can put things into into terms and perspectives that they understand, people are like, Oh yeah. And I'm like, You're on your way to a CPA is what I would always tell everybody after we finish. So I bet.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:39] They love that.

Keeley Favoino: [00:28:40] They did.

Blake Oliver: [00:28:41] So okay, we've got the I just want to set the stage there with the system. So you had, you know, QuickBooks you're paying bills. You've got a totally separate, inadequate costing inventory system. Yep. All right. Yeah. What's your first move?

Keeley Favoino: [00:28:56] So first move, because I think when I think about accounting and corporate accounting, I say trying to explain to somebody that maybe doesn't understand. And I'm like, you have the the transactional side of things, the operational side. So, you know, pay the bills, pay the people. If we're doing this part of our job, well, then you shouldn't know that we're doing our job. You know, you should be able to just carry on as and just the expectation is that these things are getting taken care of. And then over here is taking all that information that we have used to say, like, I see every dollar that comes through this company taking that and making transforming all of that data into, you know, information that people can use to help run the business, telling that story, providing financial insights. And that's what I feel passionate and super strongly about. I say I don't I don't do this out of the goodness of my heart. I do it so that I can provide you insights and help you run the business. So we weren't doing either at Foxtrot, but you can't start to tell that story until you get your house in order on the transactional side. So I had mentioned, you know, we had a ton of AP issues. You know, I could tell just right when I started, the 75% of my inbox was either vendors or internal people forwarding an email from a vendor being like, Why haven't you paid us? Or, you know, we never get paid on time. So we brought in an outsource AP partner.

Keeley Favoino: [00:30:31] Like basically immediately somebody that I had worked with at past roles that can just plug in, knows how to use, knows how to scale things, and we built a process around AP of this is what happens when the invoice comes in, this is how you enter it, this is where you quote it. This is the expectation on response times of an email. We just didn't respond to emails out of our AP inbox. There were over a thousand emails and I was like, Oh my God. So we got the AP side of the house in order immediately because we had our one other staff member. She was only doing that. And so you couldn't you just couldn't make any headway on any of the other areas that needed because you're just constantly putting out fires. So get AP in order and then kind of start to chip away at some of the other noisy areas as well. So talking about like utilities, that seems like easy, but it's actually pretty complicated when you have like ten, 15 stores, there's 5 to 7 utilities that each store in different regions you have different power and gas. And, you know, we didn't have great internal communication at the time accounting because of where we had been as an organization. You know, our role within the org, we were super reactionary. We were never brought into the conversation. So somebody would like some random person would set up the power at a new store and not tell us. We didn't know to log in.

Keeley Favoino: [00:32:02] So we'd find out by getting like, we're going to shut your power off notice. And then it was like and then you got to figure out what email address the login is under. So we streamlined a lot of that stuff and like really started to establish relationship cross-functional relationships. Like can't emphasize enough how critical that was in the success of us as a department. You know, we are we are downstream. You know, I'm not out selling cups of coffee to customers, but being being a partner, having a seat at the table, know knowing what is going on helped make our lives easier. And it helped makes the helps make the organizations lives easier, too. You know, you don't want to create. Squirrel in the store when they get a notice that their power is going to get shut off. It just makes everybody's life easier If you just if you just keep me looped in on what's going on. So we started to have conversations. So, you know, when we're opening a new store, we have a checklist of the different accounts that need to be set up. And, you know, sometimes it's paid by the landlord. Okay, At least we're asking the question now, making sure just kind of walking through all of the different things that needed to happen. And just so some of that, some of that noise that distracted you was able to get cleared away and you were able to start to focus on the real accounting things that needed to get fixed.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:28] You're not putting out fires. Your inbox is clear, right?

Keeley Favoino: [00:33:31] Yes.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:32] 75% of it was bills or collections notices.

Keeley Favoino: [00:33:36] I used to say like I never knew what was going to pop into my inbox at any given time or like get a slack message that like, there's an inspector at the store and we don't have our liquor license displayed. Can you email us a copy immediately? So like we have a website now that has everybody's liquor licenses on it and their certificates of insurance and all of their permits. So you you should know that you should have it displayed in your store. But if you need to pull any of those documents down, you can just print it, go into this site. So, you know, really trying to address the root cause of what was going on versus just like, okay, we pay this bill and then we move on like, okay, what's what? What are the issues that are happening? What communication channels do we need to open up within the org and how do we address that so then we can move on and fix something else. So that's when we really started to collaborate. Cross-functionally, which was huge.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:30] So practically, how did you achieve that? Did you just you mentioned you had slack. Did you just introduce yourself on Slack and say, Hey, I'm Kelly, I'm the comptroller now we're going to get this under control?

Keeley Favoino: [00:34:41] Yeah, I definitely like you have to take a lot of initiative. And I think that that's an important part of being a comptroller is like, you need to be a leader within the org and you need to people need to know that they can rely on you. So definitely, you know, some of it was inbound to I always used to say like everybody finds me eventually because they need to pay for things. So it went both ways of how people eventually found me, but definitely emphasizing that like, I am a partner with you, I'm here to support you. How can I help you? I'm not, you know, just the rules enforcer, which I am. And everybody knew that if I came knocking, it was because you messed up. But it I had built up that trust with people that, like, I will follow through. I will pay your vendors, I will take care of things for you. So now you need to do this for me too. It was really building up that trust and yeah, just inserting yourself into into conversations, you know? I say like, I'm always listening, you know, monitoring the general slack channel. And people are, you know, stores are asking random questions about something. So it's like, okay, let's ask a question like, what is this issue that needs to be solved? And just kind of inserting my little tentacles into into everything. But people learned that, you know, things are better if I if I know what's going on. I don't come asking questions later. And then, you know, as translating then into financial performance. If we're both on the same page beforehand, we know what's going on. We're telling the same story as financial performance shakes out versus, you know, when the results come out at the end of the month, there's no swirl asking questions, Oh, we purchased this. Nobody told anybody. Like we're all on the same page as we as we move through that entire process.

Blake Oliver: [00:36:45] So how long would you say that took that cleaning up of the process or the inbox and some.

Keeley Favoino: [00:36:52] Of the noisy stuff? I would say it took like a solid nine months to a year. Honestly, it was tough. It was really tough. It doesn't happen overnight. You don't get through a thousand emails in a day. And it was it was it was hard for sure. But again, that that constant progress of, you know, putting these milestones in place of like, okay, we need to get this queue cleared out in two weeks or we need to, you know, just being like really lockstep on what everybody's working on and what those deadlines are to help address those issues. And that's where I think I had to step in and just take control and help steer and guide the team on what they needed to be doing. And that's where being kind of the experienced member of the team, Like, I know what this is. Also look like I know how this is supposed to work and kind of getting everybody marching in the same in the same direction. Yeah, it took us probably. It took us a decent amount of time, but we were able to then start to pivot to then to phase two. Phase two is like getting accounting in order. So things like fixed assets, you said like we had never booked a fixed asset before.

Keeley Favoino: [00:38:12] We rent expense was booked cash basis, so needed to build a deferred rent schedule. And a lot of this was driven as part of our series B, we had to get audited and so we had to do an opening balance sheet audit as of 2019 and then a full year audit for 2020. So I joined right at the end of 2020. So it can be tough going back to a store that opened in 2016 trying to figure out fixed assets for that store or something. So did a lot of work there as well. We did bring in some third party help to help us kind of navigate some of that stuff just because we couldn't we couldn't maintain putting out all of the fires and like trying to build a fixed asset schedule at the same time, but got got like solid annual workpapers that we could leverage that we worked with them. So then the next step was really like operationalizing those each month. So something like deferred rent, like we needed to start booking straight line rent expense on a monthly basis for internal reporting. So how do we take that file that we use on an annual basis and continue to to roll it forward and build out those schedules? So this is when we brought in the next hire of our team, because at this point it was still just the two of us with some external help.

Keeley Favoino: [00:39:34] So we brought in an accounting manager who was more of a seasoned accounting manager, kind of had to make had to make the decision of do I kind of maybe take a chance on somebody that hasn't ever done this before? And things were just we had such a need for speed that we needed somebody that had that experience of being an accounting manager and knew how this stuff was supposed to look. So we brought him in and he was really critical in taking. Taking those schedules, operationalizing them, creating formulas in our work papers that fed up to a journal entry template that then was in an uploadable format that then we could upload into QuickBooks. You know, our payroll export was like 2000 lines long and kind of creating those mapping goals in the system to creating those intersection points. Then when we imported it, it kind of visually showed how we needed it to show coming through the PNL. So he was really instrumental, instrumental in helping us get get to that point.

Blake Oliver: [00:40:40] What level of detail did you have in QuickBooks at this point? Were you tracking by location? Did you have classes? Yeah.

Keeley Favoino: [00:40:48] So we we had locations for each of our stores and then we kind of had a department concept for classes. We weren't super diligent about actually coding things into department. From a standpoint, it was super like we just weren't there yet. I used to I used to refer to it as Keely's hierarchy of needs. When it came to like focuses of, you know, those, those phases like we were saying. So like phase one is like pay people on time. But then when we think about the, the reporting that was critical to the business, it was store level was the focus for everything. So it was really, really digging in on the store level. The next phase was related to our commissaries. We definitely, you know, we didn't have systems there. They were kind of just living in their own world. So we needed to really iron out some of the noise that happened in the commissaries. And then the third level was getting into like corporate G&A department level. So I'm happy to say now, you know, all of my reporting needs have been have been met from a foundational standpoint. We're able to generate reporting packages on all of those areas. At the time, we couldn't when I started, we couldn't generate anything at the store level that was remotely timely and accuracy was hit or miss. And so it was kind of in this phase as we were starting to really operationalize stuff, we were really focused on looking at things at the store level. So making sure that everything that gets booked to a store GL has a location attached to it. So something like payroll, you know, knowing payroll by location, super important because it's one of our biggest levers that we have to pull if we're trying to find, you know, increase or, you know, what we're looking at from a profitability standpoint so.

Blake Oliver: [00:42:48] Well, and that's where you needed that big work paper to allocate all that payroll.

Keeley Favoino: [00:42:53] Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Blake Oliver: [00:42:55] So you got the accounting manager in, you're getting that those work papers operationalized. Let's keep let's keep going. Yeah. I mean, it sounds good like you're getting you're getting that location tracking.

Keeley Favoino: [00:43:06] We're getting our sea legs underneath us for sure. At this point, we've been able to I think we had added maybe one additional headcount to the team, another staff accountant. We had gotten into a pretty good close rhythm. You know, we've been we've been using Floqast this whole time. But it's a little funny when you have like two people and one of you prepares everything, it's not particularly useful. I remember our auditors asking us, like, Do you have any evidence or review of this? And I was like, No, it was just me. So we're like actually starting to, you know, follow checklist steps and sign off on things and reconcile balance sheet accounts, which was great, you know, huge, huge steps in the right direction. From an internal reporting standpoint, there had been been a big internal push. You know, we need we need financial information timely. So we were able to get to a produced what we called our flash reporting. It was all store level, but a store flash at Workday five, which was huge. I mean, I remember when when they first asked me if we could do that, I was like, No, but obviously that's not the real answer.

Keeley Favoino: [00:44:21] I was like, Yes, we'll make it happen. And so you could just feel like each month things getting like you just kind of continue to like you get faster, you get better as you continue to get those reps underneath you. And that's where, you know, the messaging that I would always tell to the team is like every month there needs to be like something that's better or something that's different because you can't you can't do this all at once. But as long as we're just continuing to to progress forward, that's how we're going to get to where we need to go to. So we had definitely hit a groove, I would say, by. End of 2021 into early 2022. We were in a good rhythm of getting that flash reporting out. Know, we had kind of started to dip our toes into that next layer of figuring out commissary stuff. We started coding some G&A by by department. So we were in a we were in a decent place at that point. But kind of, you know, we knew that we could only survive on QuickBooks for so long.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:25] So you had finally gotten everything to this plateau, and then you decide, okay, now we're going to do ERP.

Keeley Favoino: [00:45:32] Now we're going to do an ERP system.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:34] Yeah. Had you had you done one before or was this the first?

Keeley Favoino: [00:45:37] So it was my first time. I feel like I've it was an accountant badge that I needed to that I needed to earn. So it was my time.

Blake Oliver: [00:45:47] So the classic question I have to ask you is, how did you pick? Because there, you know, there's a few players, but like it's it's a lot to decide between.

Keeley Favoino: [00:45:58] Yeah. I think the biggest the biggest issue for us was reporting and that was ultimately where QuickBooks just wasn't going to be able to scale with us. You know, we had we were using locations, but you can only dimensionalize information in QuickBooks so much. We really needed to be looking at things compared to plan. And then the biggest the biggest issue for us was in in 2022, we migrated to a 445 retail calendar. So a fiscal calendar from a calendar calendar is how the entire rest of the business was looking at things. And, you know, it was kind of an example of where we're constantly trying to make sure that the accounting information is the source of truth. This is, you know, the real stuff. And then we're looking at different time periods. So people just weren't taking it as seriously. So we needed to we needed to move to a 445 calendar. And QuickBooks can't accommodate that.

Blake Oliver: [00:47:03] And explain for us what a 445 calendar is.

Keeley Favoino: [00:47:07] So it is so the term the term 445 comes from your you don't use really months anymore. They like loosely align with months but we called them periods and your first period will have four weeks in it. Your second period will have four weeks in it and then your third period will have five weeks in it. And you repeat that each quarter and your weeks start on Monday and they end on Sunday. So you're it's really common in retail businesses when you think about Foxtrot does a lot more business on a Saturday than it does on a Monday. So when you're thinking about comparability or scheduling, you know, you don't want to be having to do the mental gymnastics of like this period had lower revenue because it had more Mondays in it. So super common in retail environments. You know, we used a similar calendar when I was at Starbucks because it has that same number of days in each in each quarter that you operate in. So it it makes sense. It makes things challenging from an accounting standpoint for sure of kind of having to always play like, well, this period ends on 128. So we need to make sure that we're accruing for anything that the invoice hits on the first. But it goes back and then, you know, five week periods, usually you get the first first of the month on both sides. So you need to make sure that you're not doubling up your expenses. It's it's tricky. But from an organizational standpoint, it was it just it made sense to us. And so I was willing to accommodate the request.

Blake Oliver: [00:48:42] And QuickBooks, you know, just simply can't do that. Right?

Keeley Favoino: [00:48:47] It doesn't. I, you know, emailed I called, I talked to anybody. You know, I probably asked five different people to see if I could get somebody to tell me that it could work. And it doesn't. You know, you can toggle you can toggle your dates at the top so you can pull for those dates. But anything, there's no concept of like prior period or if you're pulling a PNL by month, it's just going to restate those prior months to calendar. So I had a ton of custom reports saved. I had probably within each period I had like my suite of like 5 or 6 custom reports that had things, you know, the certain GLS with these stores for this date range. And we lost our integration with Floqast because of that too. So we were still able to use Floqast from like a closed checklist standpoint and we were able to upload trial balances into Floqast. But that integration of just say, refresh the balance because QuickBooks doesn't know what our period end date is, it's going to pull calendar Floqast is too. So that was definitely I didn't realize how much I relied on. That that integration for notifying us about a reconciliation discrepancy until you don't have it. So that was that was big from from an accounting standpoint as well that we were like we need to we need to work with a system that can accommodate.

Blake Oliver: [00:50:15] This was something that you put in or was that already there? And like what what was the benefit as opposed to using just a spreadsheet to track your close tasks?

Keeley Favoino: [00:50:24] So my boss or VP of Finance, he had used Floqast at a previous job that he was at and loved it. So he was like the big proponent of implementing that, getting that in the system. I had never used it before. I joined Foxtrot and was a big advocate for. I called up my team at Farmers Bridge and I was like, You guys got to check this out. Like it's awesome. I honestly think like I've used spreadsheets everywhere else I've been before. It can be clumsy, it can, you know, so-and-so is in the file and my changes didn't say or I guess you can use Google sheets now and everything, but I know.

Blake Oliver: [00:51:05] That's like a bad word. Still don't say Google sheets.

Keeley Favoino: [00:51:09] Yeah, no Excel version issues. So, you know, it's definitely helpful from a checklist standpoint. Like I personally love the reconciliation element of it as well. Having both of those coupled together that real time integration into your system, that was that was really huge for me. So I was I was a big fan having making sure all your files are saved in the same place. I really liked it. And, you know, they've built out now different workflows of, you know, you can do compliance and finance and they've really done a lot to kind of continue to build out that offering over there. So I was a huge fan.

Blake Oliver: [00:51:43] So you lost the integration because you're now on a different period reporting system. So so would you say that's the number one reason why you had to switch off of QuickBooks?

Keeley Favoino: [00:51:53] I would say it was the 445 calendar and then that was huge. And then just the the the amount of time that it took us to generate a reporting package, The workbook that we used for that that flash report that went out on day five was like 160 tabs. So just like endless form, you know, certainly no formula errors in 160 Tab workbook. Anytime we opened a new store, which at this point in 2022, I think we opened like 10 or 12 new stores. It takes like an entire day of somebody's time to incorporate that store in, you know, just the ways that we're starting to look at the business. We're starting to cohort certain stores together of like, okay, these are our core stores, these are the 2022 and like, so we had these like summary tabs and it was just like crazy. And then we like added a line to the PNL and it was like, Oh my God, now I have to add this line on like 100 tabs.

Blake Oliver: [00:53:00] Yeah, that doesn't sound fun. No, your accounting manager was probably really looking forward to every new store opening at that point.

Keeley Favoino: [00:53:07] Yeah, well, and that's. Yeah, it was just like, oh no. And then when we opened like a new market, it's like, Oh for the love. Like this is going to add on an additional like 50 tabs because now we need to look at this entire market. So it was and at this point we had raised our series C, which was $100 million. Still can't believe somebody gave us $100 million. But we have more sophisticated investors now and we need to we need to be running the business through a financial lens. Foxtrot had always been so like brand driven and like, this is cool, so let's do it. And now we're starting to ask questions like, But does this make financial sense to do this? So we just needed more access to performance of stores. We needed more real time information. We needed to be able to pull those levers of like, okay, Labor's running a little hot in this store. We need to pull it back. We just needed more real time insights into things. And so that was we had realized before, before it got too bad and too painful that it was like we need to start going down the path of kind of leveling up our systems. So to get back to your original question of how did we decide, you know, it pretty quickly got narrowed down to NetSuite and intact for us. I think just based on our size, those were the two main players in the space that we work in both. We definitely needed a cloud offering and we ultimately decided on NetSuite, I think from a standpoint of we knew they'd be able to grow with us really well. They've proven.

Blake Oliver: [00:54:51] Track record.

Keeley Favoino: [00:54:52] Proven track record. They play a lot in both retail and e-commerce. They're really common in those. You. They have deep benches of people that have worked with in both of those industries and they they played really well with all of our existing kind of suite of tools. So. Partner Well, with Floqast, we had implemented Ramp as our corporate card and expense management platform, so they partner well with NetSuite. And then we were in the process of implementing Coupa as our procurement solution and Coupa and NetSuite like play super well together. So it just seemed like a really natural fit for us to go with NetSuite.

Blake Oliver: [00:55:35] Isn't that interesting that I mean, the, the features of the ERP system are important and it's got to be able to do the reporting you want and, you know, handle all that compliance. But almost just as important is the whether or not it integrates with your current set of solutions on the operational side because having to replace all those would be a huge hassle or having to somehow move it all into the ERP would be a huge hassle. Yep. That's why I've never hear of growth companies startups that switch from like a QuickBooks or a Xero into an ERP. Ever going to anything other than NetSuite or Intacct really. I mean, that's very rare.

Keeley Favoino: [00:56:14] It's I don't know if it's like chicken or the egg for us of but like, you know, we didn't want to be the first ones to try and definitely crowdsource different opinions in this, you know, networking group that I'm a part of. And there's always the conversation. I would say probably we have a Slack community and probably every six months the question pops up of like, when did you realize it was time? And then how, you know, how did you choose between intact or net suite? But those were, you know, with everybody in that community, those were the ones that kind of continued to rise to the top. And but it is the the considerations are then, you know, what other tools are you using and how to how do those play play with each other Because, you know, we had somewhat recently implemented ramp had a super successful implementation of that. People loved the platform. I can't rip it out and change to something else. So we needed to make sure that ramp integrated with what we were using.

Blake Oliver: [00:57:20] Yeah, with these big decisions like this, with the ERP, with the expense management, you really don't get a second chance. No. So it makes me think of like IBM's old slogan, which was maybe it was like an unofficial slogan, which was, you know, like nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM. Yeah, right. Yeah, that's.

Keeley Favoino: [00:57:39] And I get.

Blake Oliver: [00:57:40] That. Yeah, it makes sense. I mean, you know, you got enough to worry about already, right?

Keeley Favoino: [00:57:45] Right. I need. I need something that I know that's going to work for us. I know it's been successful. I know that I have tons of resources that I can go to. If I have a question about something. There's tons of tons of people that I can turn to. I know a ton of people that have implemented that suite. So it was it was worth, you know, just going with that somewhat safe option for us to kind of help us take that next step.

Blake Oliver: [00:58:09] Any thing you really love about NetSuite, now that you've been using it for a while.

Keeley Favoino: [00:58:13] So, I mean, again, going back to my reporting roots, we were able, you know, all of those custom reports that I had in QuickBooks, we were able to build one custom report in NetSuite that, you know, mapped from the GL level, from the channel level, from the location level, kind of had that whole, you know, paint by numbers, schematic and, you know, able to create the headers of what our actual face of the financials that we show to internal external have that with our retail channel stacked on top of our online PNL. Buy store with plan next to it, and then down at the bottom you just toggle like it already says, you know, P three 2023 It just it's, it has our period names. You don't even need to put the dates in and you know that whole maybe not the entire workbook because it wasn't that entire 160 tab workbook. It maybe didn't cover everything that was included in there because there were some aggregation by market and whatnot. But being able to like push print from one report in that suite for something that was probably 100 tabs and like days of work days of teams work was like so rewarding. The first time that we like really got it to work. It was, it was really like P one 2023 We had like plan loaded in for the first time. We had this report built and I like wanted to cry tears of joy. I was like, This is so cool. This is like everything. Everything we've been working towards is so that we can do this.

Blake Oliver: [00:59:58] So this was recent because we are recording in April of 2023. And you're saying you rolled this out for the first period of 2023?

Keeley Favoino: [01:00:06] We implemented report. We went live on October 31st, 2022. So we spent most of 2022 going through our implementation. We did our first close in net suite was p 11, basically November of 2022. It was a little traumatizing. You know, we had like 800 sync errors when we connected for the first time. So that was really cool. Um.

Blake Oliver: [01:00:34] Anyone who has used or really any of these providers will, I'm very well familiar with that feeling. Yeah.

Keeley Favoino: [01:00:43] Like we did it for the first time and I was like, Oh no. And even our implementation person from that was on the phone, she was like, okay, that's a lot of sync air. Like that's a lot of errors.

Blake Oliver: [01:00:53] And this is because you're matching up what's in with what's in Net Suite.

Keeley Favoino: [01:00:57] And yeah, we definitely had like some vendor naming issues with, you know, something as silly as it had the company name had like Inc period in Net Suite and it was Inc and or something. So they were very thematic and we were able to batch them and kind of triage them and move forward. But, but yeah, it's it's my biggest fear going through that first close was I was like, I don't want to be missing something. I can't like swoop in week two and be like, Actually, here's another half $1 million of expense that we forgot to record in the PNL because we had some sync errors and like that is not an acceptable answer. And so I was super diligent about making sure that all of those things were working and flowing correctly. But we had to remap all of our existing journal entry uploads to the new chart of accounts because we changed our numbering system, we changed our chart of accounts, we added different dimensions in.

Blake Oliver: [01:02:01] So now that's something that I stopped doing when I was doing like accounting system changes because I did a lot of those, not not ERPs, but you know, I'm talking like somebody switching from FreshBooks to QuickBooks or Xero to QuickBooks or whatever, and they'd always want to change their chart of accounts at the same time. Yeah. And I learned it was better to say, Let's just switch you over with your existing one and then we will change it. Change it?

Keeley Favoino: [01:02:26] Yeah. I definitely I can't say that I would recommend doing it. At the same time, we, I didn't love our chart of accounts, you know, the one that I had inherited. It was definitely a bit of a Frankenstein job of like things were geographically all over the place. We had weird numbers and so I was like, Yeah, let's just do it all in one swoop. Like clean, clean slate, you know? Foxtrot V two starts on October 31st when we start when we swoop up NetSuite. But it was uploading historical trial balances was that's what.

Blake Oliver: [01:03:01] Gets you right.

Keeley Favoino: [01:03:02] If you change if.

Blake Oliver: [01:03:04] You change this chart of accounts now your historical TBS don't tie it was you got to map them.

Keeley Favoino: [01:03:09] Yeah that those workbooks were a real like you know excel formulas pointing in 17 different directions because we had some weird stuff too with like. Maybe it wasn't mapped to a location, but it needed it was it was very tricky.

Blake Oliver: [01:03:31] There's no easy solution to this, right? Like it's a tough call as to what you do. I always think thinking back now, I wonder, like, is it best just to change over then modify or is it best to modify in the old system? Get all your historicals lined up, get.

Keeley Favoino: [01:03:45] Those configured how you want them to, and then you can just like drop and upload because then then the problem is.

Blake Oliver: [01:03:54] You almost never have the time to do that anyway. Of course.

Keeley Favoino: [01:03:56] No, of course not. But yeah, now we have this like, fun disconnect of like, you know, okay, like going through an audit is now going to be super fun for 2022 of it's like, okay, here's this, you know, journal entry. Like when did it get booked? What system has it been? What chart of accounts does this relate to? You kind of have to go through like a decision tree of how you even find what you're working on?

Blake Oliver: [01:04:22] Well, you know, worry about that in the future. Exactly. Let the auditors let those let those young staff, auditors, they can they.

Keeley Favoino: [01:04:30] Can figure it out for sure. You did.

Blake Oliver: [01:04:32] You did it. They can do it.

Keeley Favoino: [01:04:33] Exactly. But yeah, the the long term benefits, like I said, of just, you know, the the satisfaction of being able to get that all into one place and being able to see just in the short period of time these first couple of months of 2023 of the impact that it's been able to drive within the organization of just like how clean the information is, how easy it is to compare each store buy plan, take action where needed. It's it's made it all worth it for sure. All the all the harp.

Blake Oliver: [01:05:10] It's amazing how so much effort I mean we're talking years of effort ends up being realized in a.

Keeley Favoino: [01:05:17] One page report. Page. Yeah, one.

Blake Oliver: [01:05:19] Page.

Keeley Favoino: [01:05:20] But it is, you know, because back, you know, right when I started, we weren't even leveraging QuickBooks fully at the time. So things like we actually had, you know, a different type of reporting workbook that payroll by store wasn't even getting journaled back into the system. It was all just offline. So super ripe for error. All of these different, you know, all of these different sources. And and it is it's like it all all culminates in this one pager like that's that's it. Two and a half years worth of work for one page.

Blake Oliver: [01:05:55] But, you know, as Mark Twain wrote, if I'd had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. Getting it down to one page is really hard, Right?

Keeley Favoino: [01:06:06] But that's you know, when you think about what what are our what's our leadership team looking at? What does the CEO have time to look at? Like they don't have time for my like seven bullet points about, well, this has this adjustment that you need to do. It's like, where are we at from a margin standpoint? You know, what's it's like those super like high level banners that you need.

Blake Oliver: [01:06:32] So what's next for you, Kelly? I mean, you've you've made a lot of progress at Foxtrot. You've gotten through this ERP implementation. You've got your net Suite badge.

Keeley Favoino: [01:06:43] I've got my net suite badge. Yep.

Blake Oliver: [01:06:44] That's the hardest merit badge to get is the Net Suite badge. What are you going to what are you up to now? Are you going to coast a little bit or is it on to the next adventure?

Keeley Favoino: [01:06:53] So I think it is on to the next adventure for me. I you know, as you can kind of tell from my background, I seem to have I don't know if it's a knack or I like to torture myself, but really, I think where I found where I'm my skill set is most useful is is building. It's, you know, stepping in and taking pulse on the situation and then moving forward of how you can turn help level up an accounting department within an organization. I'm super proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish at Foxtrot, and I have hired a great team around me and I've set them up for success. I, you know, would joke that like, I don't do anything anymore. They do everything. I just opine on things, you know, really, really taught them how to do stuff. And so now it's time for me to go and move on and fix somewhere else. So I I'm taking a little bit of a sabbatical right now.

Blake Oliver: [01:07:59] Well deserved.

Keeley Favoino: [01:08:00] Hanging out with my dog and, you know, getting ready for summer in Chicago. So taking a little bit of a beat and just kind of figuring out what the what the right fit is for me next. So, yeah, I'm I'm excited for for what's next. And but it was definitely a good point in my journey to kind of to kind of push that pause button, you know, after, after getting getting us to where we needed to be at.

Blake Oliver: [01:08:28] Foxtrot Thinking back on your career thus far, is there any advice that you would give to yourself? Thinking back to Keeley at you know, was still thinking, I want to be a partner in the Big Four, you know, but maybe not feeling that anymore. Like, what advice would you give to a young accountant in public who really likes what they're hearing about this life and startups? You know, what would you tell them?

Keeley Favoino: [01:08:57] I would definitely say, I guess I don't know if it's maybe more maybe advice to myself, but like things that I like that I did to help get me here. Kind of twist, twist that question a little bit. But I think some of the things that I really value are just like being curious, asking questions. You know, I love accounting, which is like such a geeky thing to say, but I don't need I don't want to be, you know, a stuffy accountant that sits in a cube all day. So finding those, like being proactive, finding those opportunities that work for you. Every company needs an accountant, You know, I'm like, totally not cool enough to work at Foxtrot. Foxtrot is like, way too cool. But they needed an accountant. Um, so, you know, being always being curious, figuring out what you, you like and how you can make your skills relevant to that. And then I think just building a strong network, it sounds kind of cliche and it doesn't need to be like going to these stuffy networking events, but building relationships is so, so critical. I have gotten my last I haven't actually interviewed for a job in years at this point because I've been done A. Done a good job of maintaining connections with people that I've worked with. That's truly one of the best benefits of being in public is the connections you make and, you know, ending up you know, I had lunch with somebody that I used to work with that now has an audit client that's down the street from my office. You know, it's a small world. And, you know, maintaining those relationships, I think is is super important because when an opportunity comes up, you want them to to think of you.

Blake Oliver: [01:10:47] Don't neglect the relationships. Yeah. That the the CPA who bought my bookkeeping firm told me the number one thing in life, the most important thing is relationships. Yeah. You know, I mean, it helps to be smart, but it's more important to have good relationships. Yeah.

Keeley Favoino: [01:11:06] I mean, I joke, you know, Chicago's third largest city in America and the startup world is really small in finance and accounting. And so it's great if you're good, you know, like maybe it's not like if you don't have a good reputation that will also follow you. But, you know, the the relationships that you're able to build, the connections you're able to make is super important. And like I was saying, it helps you with career development. It helps you with, like I said, like, you know, super tactical stuff of like we were struggling with like the NetSuite bank feed. And I just like sent out a message and I got multiple people responded and was able to connect with some folks to help us troubleshoot stuff. It's just it's super critical to maintain those relationships within within the community that that you work in. And, you know, I certainly wouldn't be where I'm at today if people hadn't taken a chance on me, believed that I could do it. And so I try to kind of continue to pay that back into, you know, young talent in the future, you know, hire in smart people onto my team that I know I can hopefully learn stuff from me to then kind of continue to to build that forward.

Blake Oliver: [01:12:23] So I think that's a that's a wrap for this. Yeah. Kelly, it's been so great speaking with you. I'm sure our listeners have gotten a lot out of this. I know I have. If anyone wants to follow you online, connect with you, where's the best place for them to do that?

Keeley Favoino: [01:12:37] Would say LinkedIn is probably the best place to reach out to me. I do have a Twitter account, but it's mostly sports and cute videos of dogs, so I'd say LinkedIn is definitely the best place to get a hold of me. And you know, like I love, you know, talk geeking out about accounting, sharing information about startups and, you know, speaking with others. So please don't hesitate to reach out.

Blake Oliver: [01:13:01] Look up Keely Vivino, CPA Comptroller at Foxtrot as we record this soon. Maybe something else. Yeah. So, yeah, find her on LinkedIn and you can always follow me. I'm on twitter at @BlakeTOliver and do subscribe to earmark. You can get the app for free on the App store or on Google Play and earn CPE for listening to this episode. Keely, it's been great talking with you.

Keeley Favoino: [01:13:26] Thanks so much for having me.

From EY to Starbucks to Startups with Keeley Favoino, CPA, Controller at Foxtrot
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