Activus Transport is a leading community transport provider that operates in the Sutherland Shire. When a long-term employee retired, the organisation was on the lookout for an accounting firm that could replace the role of an internal bookkeeper with an outsourced accounting service.
Five years on, Hopscotch Accounting plays an integral role in ensuring that Activus Transport meets all financial compliance requirements, manages the organisation efficiently, and accesses real-time information that the management team needs to support the organisation’s growth and resilience.
Activus Transport was first established in the Sutherland Shire in 1979. Since that time, the organisation has grown and developed to service more than 3000 clients. With a fleet of 22 vehicles, 30 staff and more than 80 volunteers, on any weekday you will find the distinctive Activus Transport vehicles crisscrossing the local area and beyond, carrying transport disadvantaged people to medical appointments, shopping trips, social outings and more.
CHOOSING OUTSOURCED ACCOUNTING SERVICES
Following the resignation of their long-time bookkeeper, Assistant General Manager Stephanie McCamley was on the lookout for an accounting company to provide services to the organisation. A presentation from Hopscotch Accounting’s Brendan Lucas and Matthew Knight detailed their expertise and ideas to assist Activus Transport, but also highlighted the value of harnessing technology and engaging outsourced accounting services. “After speaking with Hopscotch, we decided we had to go this way,” Stephanie says.
MAKING A REAL DIFFERENCE FROM THE START
One of the first actions taken by Hopscotch Accounting was to replace the organisation’s outdated accounting software with Xero software. The adoption of Xero transformed the way that volunteer reimbursement, payroll and reporting occurred.
Volunteer reimbursements had been handled manually, resulting in a significant input of time and coordination. Hopscotch Accounting automated this process, so the volunteer reimbursements occurred every fortnight by electronic funds transfer. This development improved outcomes for both volunteers and Activus Transport by providing consistency and freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.
Stephanie also highlights the transformative role of Hopscotch Accounting’s expertise, commenting, “Payroll was very clunky before, also in terms of invoicing there were challenges with all the different ways we had to invoice including CHSP, NDIS and full fee-paying. Hopscotch refined our systems so we could get the information from Routematch into Xero. Hopscotch wrote code into an Excel spreadsheet so the information would be automatically fed through. Hopscotch showed real expertise in developing this solution.”
Brendan Lucas notes that “From our perspective, we saw our role as streamlining and simplifying the accounts function, freeing up key staff to run their organisation effectively.”
ABILITY TO MEASURE DATA KEY TO SUCCESS
In 2017, Greg Stanger joined Activus Transport as their Operations Manager, and took over the reins as General Manager in 2019.
When reflecting on that period, Greg highlights that the organisation was challenged by a lack of accurate data on which to base strategic decisions. However, when Hopscotch Accounting came on board, it transformed the organisation’s ability to analyse and measure. Greg comments, “The systems that Brendan set up have allowed me to access the data I need to make informed decisions, and that analysis has been behind every major decision we have made.
“Whether that is changes to fee pricing and to the types and mix of vehicles, or changes from volunteers to paid drivers, this analysis brought a higher understanding of our costs and what we could and couldn’t do. It has allowed us to understand the unit per costing within our organisation.”
Greg also highlights that the organisation’s success, where trip numbers have grown from 45,000 to over 65,000 per year, has occurred because of the support provided by Hopscotch Accounting, noting “I don’t think we could have done that without the backup that Hopscotch Accounting provides.”
Hopscotch Accounting also helped the organisation with budgeting, the recent ATO stimulus opportunities, forecasting and re-forecasting throughout COVID, as well as assessment of the optimum motor vehicle ownership timeframes.
GETTING TO KNOW THE COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SECTOR
Activus Transport has also benefited from the approach that Hopscotch Accounting takes when servicing their clients. The Activus team were very impressed by Brendan’s willingness to truly understand the sector and what the organisation was going through at a higher level.
Greg comments, “That means Brendan did not just look at our operations; he also took the time to understand our contract terms that contained complex funding arrangements. He really goes that bit further, understanding outside factors that are impacting us.”
“He has the right personal approach, and he drills down further than I would expect any accountant to do in an organisation.”
BOARD REPORTING THE RIGHT WAY
Hopscotch has worked with the Activus Transport management team and Board to improve outcomes and timeframes for board reporting.
As well as developing informative, streamlined financial reports for the board, Brendan has also been instrumental in working with Activus Transport to bring forward the date of board meetings to improve the reporting relevance.
MAKING THE AUDIT PROCESS STRAIGHT FORWARD
As a not-for-profit organisation, the systems and processes that Hopscotch Accounting has put in place have taken any stress out of the annual audit process. Greg believes that “Their systems are so good that it has simplified the audit process and the information that we pass on to the auditor is all correct and available. If there are any queries, Hopscotch Accounting can answer them straight away.”
A SUPPORTIVE TEAM THAT IS AVAILABLE WHEN IT MATTERS
Assistant General Manager Stephanie feels empowered to take action backed by the support of the Hopscotch team, commenting, “I call, and my query is answered immediately. Hopscotch Accounting has professional, skilled staff who can help me through any situation, which means that my job is easier knowing I have the backup from them all the time. It is very important.”
A COMPANY THAT IS SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SECTOR
Word has spread about the benefits of engaging the Hopscotch Accounting team, led by recommendations from Activus Transport, and Hopscotch Accounting now supplies outsourced accounting services to seven community transport organisations across New South Wales and Queensland.
In summing up his thoughts about Hopscotch Accounting, Greg Stanger believes “We could not have made the inroads that we have over the past few years without Brendan and his team’s expertise and advice. Hopscotch Accounting is a very valuable asset to our organisation.”