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Property Insurance in the Wine Industry

Property Insurance in the Wine Industry

As things begin to open back up with COVID-19 getting more under control, we find that it is “fire season” in Wine Country.  With fire season front and center, we find ourselves saying that “it’s not if there is another fire in our area, it’s when will the fire occur and where?”  How do wineries of all shapes and sizes navigate the turbulent property insurance marketplace?  The entirety of 2020 posed significant challenges in the property insurance marketplace due to our previous fires, and 2021 will have similar challenges. Insurers have either scaled back the offering of property insurance in the wine industry, reduced limits of insurance being offered or have ceased writing business altogether.  Many wineries have received a Notice of Non-Renewal from insurers while others have seen rate / price increases in their property premiums in excess of 100%-200% or more.  Is there any relief in sight and what steps can wineries take to position themselves in the best light to receive a favorable property insurance renewal?  While we are not going to be able to eliminate wildfires and fire activity in our region, there are several things that we can do to be prepared in advance of a fire.  These begin with advance preparation and evolve into an on-going dialogue and changed behaviors in terms of policies, procedures and routines.  Here are a few important thoughts about preparedness:

 

Be Prepared.

One valuable resource is Ready for Wildfire  www.readyforwildfire.org   which includes planning tools, home and business hardening information, defensible space, evacuation preparation, toolkit list, etc. both in English and Spanish.  This site also includes an ap for planning purposes for providing a defensible space checklist as home and business owners conduct their own walkaround.  The ap also includes a statewide fire map linked directly to CAL FIRE along with current updates on fires.  CAL FIRE’s website is www.fire.ca.gov and on the front page is a link to Wildfire Incidents.  This is very current and is where many other websites get their information from.  If local incident phone number is available, it would be published here as well.  This should be a first step in a fire prevention and mitigation process. 

 

Have a Plan. 

This includes the development, refreshing or increased focus and emphasis on a Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan.  Disaster planning focuses primarily on wildfire issues and will be a document that once completed, will be always subject to changes with modifications as the organization learns and embraces the plan.  The plan will outline key personnel with their roles and responsibilities throughout the stages of a wildfire alert, potential evacuation warning, voluntary evacuation warning, mandatory evacuation warning, and post disaster recovery.  The plan will address the separation, segregation and movement of stock and inventory to remove it from the path of a wildfire and secure it safely out of harm’s way.  If you have the ability, segregate your stock / inventory into multiple locations.  This will reduce the likelihood of a fire loss to all of your stock / inventory.

 

Communicate Often. 

As wineries work to navigate the property insurance marketplace, communication with their insurance broker / risk management consultant is critical.  The property insurance marketplace is ever changing and what was true last month may not necessarily be true today.  Communication about the ever-changing marketplace is a crucial component to being aware of what an upcoming renewal might look like in terms of rate and limits being offered.  The earlier in the process and the more often a winery can communicate with their insurance broker / risk management consultant, the less likelihood of a big surprise at renewal.  It is no longer acceptable for an insurance broker to take a client to lunch and deliver renewal terms the day before renewal.  In order to properly budget and be prepared for an insurance policy renewal communication early and often is necessary.  By utilizing an insurance broker / risk management consultant that is familiar with the wine industry, the back and forth questions will be greatly reduced as there is familiarity with exactly what is required by the particular insurer(s) that are involved.

 

Know Your Limits. 

This is not to know your boundaries and capabilities, rather to know what the true value of your winery assets are.  A property policy will pay Replacement Cost in the event of a fire.  The Replacement Cost of a winery’s brick and mortar assets for the building, tanks, furniture and fixtures are relatively easily established via a contractor, valuation models or other avenues.  Stock / Inventory may not be so easily established.  The Cost of Goods Sold to produce a bottle of wine is known.  The cost to produce / purchase the juice is known.  These are relatively easily established.  Once a bottle of wine is ready for sale, the mark-up / profit margin must be established.  Some insurance contracts will pay Selling Price on Stock / Inventory in the event of a fire loss or damage.  Your property insurance limits of liability on your insurance policy must adequately reflect the values that, in the event of a fire loss or damage, you expect to receive.  This is a critical step that must be documented before an insurance policy is in force.  In essence the winery is “settling a fire loss with the insurance company before the fire occurs.”  Through a well-documented Statement of Values, all parties have the full picture of what is at risk.  Expectations of insurance policy limits of liability and anticipated pay-out must be set prior to the policy issuance, not afterwards.  Also, check with your bank to see what your loan covenants require in terms of limits required to purchased. 

 

Conclusion

The property insurance marketplace for wineries continues to change.  For the balance of 2021 it is likely to continue to be an extremely hard marketplace with limited insurers willing to offer insurance to wineries.  As new capacity begins to enter the marketplace for wineries, it is possible in 2022 to see some relive in terms of rate and availability of additional limits of insurance. Vigilance in the heightened awareness and thoughtfulness about a potential fire is important.  A keen eye towards knowing what is happening in the local region and maintaining a safe and protected winery are critical. 

For additional information please contact Chet Laws at InterWest Insurance. Chet and his team have an extensive background in the wine industry.  He can be reached at claws@iwins.com / 707-657-4505

How to understand your balance sheet: A beginner’s guide

How to understand your balance sheet: A beginner’s guide

A balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. It is important to know what each one means in order to understand how well you’re doing. It can be difficult to understand all the information on this document, but there are ways to break it down into more manageable pieces.

 

What is a balance sheet?

The balance sheet is a financial statement that provides information about the assets, liabilities, and equity of a company.

The first section of the balance sheet lists the assets on hand. Assets are anything that can be turned into cash. Assets include cash, accounts receivable (money owed to you), inventory (goods waiting to be sold), and prepaid expenses (e.g., insurance that is paid annually in advance). Assets are usually broken up into short-term (less than one year) and long-term (one year and longer)

The second part lists liabilities, which are things you owe money for. Liabilities include loans payable or due for goods purchased on credit. Like assets, liabilities are usually broken up into short-term and long-term.

Finally, equity is calculated by subtracting what you owe from what you own. This is also referred to as net worth or the net value of the business.

 

The importance of the balance sheet

Balance sheets are a snapshot of what a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity look like at any given point in time. A balance sheet is a tool that can be used to find out if a company has enough money to cover its obligations and stay afloat or enough assets to cover its long term obligations.

The balance sheet can also be used to determine how a company is financing its operations. A company that is generating enough net income will have higher retained earnings from one year to the next. A company that is financed through debt will have an increase in long-term liabilities year-over-year.

 

How to read a balance sheet

Below is an example of a balance sheet.

balance sheet

We already explained assets, liabilities, and stockholder’s equity. The balance sheet must always “balance” because assets equal liabilities plus equity (known as the accounting equation). Understanding this equation helps you understand a company’s position. If the company has more liabilities than assets, then it will have negative equity, which is a potential major red flag especially with mature businesses.

Investors and creditors like to determine a company’s financial health using something called ratio analysis. To determine how liquid a company is, divide current assets by current liabilities. In the example above, 67,500 / 34,200 = 1.92. Whether that is good or bad depends on the industry. In general, anything near or over 2.00 is acceptable.

Other performance indicators include solvency ratios (also called financial leverage ratios), profitability ratios, efficiency ratios, and coverage ratios. Corporations also have market prospect ratios which are used to predict performance, which is imperative when valuing a company’s stock price.

 

How to use information from the balance sheet to improve your finances

Did you know the information found on a balance sheet can also be used to measure your company’s vulnerability to risk? A complete balance sheet includes key pieces of information like cash on hand, accounts receivable and inventory. By analyzing these numbers, you will be able to see where your business is strong or weak in relation to other companies in similar industries. If there are any areas for improvement (i.e., too much debt), it will allow you time to prepare so that when the unexpected happens.

If you want to take control of your finances and improve them, the balance sheet is a good place to start. Understanding what it includes and how to read one will provide insight into where you can make changes in order to get more money for yourself or avoid unnecessary expenses that are taking too much from your paycheck.

The best way to use this information is by comparing two different months side-by-side on paper so that you have everything at hand. Once you have done this, focus on adjusting only those areas which seem most important – like lowering debt payments or reducing inventory on hand – and see if there is an impact in your bottom line!

The balance sheet is a powerful financial tool that can be used to improve your finances. It’s important for you to understand how the information on the balance sheet works and what it means in order to make informed decisions about improving your money management skills. Let us know if we can help! Contact our team of experts today and let them show you how they have helped others grow their wealth with remarkably simple math.

QuickBooks Beginner Mistakes You Must Avoid

QuickBooks Beginner Mistakes You Must Avoid

If you’re familiar with QuickBooks Online, you know how spectacular it is in maintaining financial records for small and medium businesses. Whether you’re a business owner or an individual looking for reliable bookmaking software, QuickBooks is a great option.

However, there are some common mistakes beginners tend to make in QuickBooks Online. In this post, we are going to look at the most common mistakes in QuickBooks and how to avoid them.

If you’ve already made these mistakes, it’s your time to correct them. And if it’s your first time using QuickBooks, you’re in luck because you rectify can your mistakes without even making them!

 

Forgetting to Update the Records

This is by far the most common mistake QuickBooks users make. If you’re guilty of the same crime, it’s a good thing you’re not alone. With the fast-paced nature of today’s business world and the stress of managing everything, it’s fairly normal to miss a few transactions here and there.

However, these mistakes might become costly if not fixed immediately. When your QuickBooks records don’t match up with your bank statements, it means you are not on top of your organization’s finances.

To avoid such a rookie mistake, build up the habit of recording transactions when they happen. If it’s too much to ask, at least update the records at the end of the day.

 

Double Charge

Believe it or not, double entries are also very common among beginners. If you’re the conscious kind, you are more prone to making this mistake. Let’s look at an example.

Suppose, you went on a business trip at the beginning of the month and you spent from

quickbooks transaction

 your credit cards only due to a short in company accounts. Being a good businessman, you logged everything in your expenses tab as a business trip.

However, at the end of the month, when you are paying the credit card bills, you are also considering the ‘business trip’ from before. So, there are effectively two entries for the same expense.

It can cause you a lot of headaches. So, it’s always better to be careful when making entries. Label them clearly so they don’t create confusion for yourself.

 

Write Checks for Payrolls

If you’ve been using QuickBooks as a business owner, there is a good chance you use it for employee payroll as well. So, how do you pay the payroll taxes? If you’ve been using the Write Checks window, you’ve been doing it wrong!

When you use the Payroll function in QuickBooks, the payroll taxes are automatically filed in the Payroll Liabilities window. When you pay them through the Write Checks, the tracking gets all messed up.

So, only use the Payroll Liabilities to pay off those taxes!

 

Deleting Transactions

It’s another huge mistake made by rookie QuickBooks users. As QuickBooks does the job of central bookkeeping for your business, all of the transactions are interconnected across different accounts.

So, when you delete a transaction from one account, it affects the whole ledger. And at the end of the month when you finally sit down to make sense of things, the deleted transaction will cause you a lot of headaches!

So, if you absolutely have to delete any transactions, look for other entries that it might affect. For example, if you delete a transaction in one account, it will effect another account. So keep this in mind before deleting transactions.

 

Making Too Many Accounts

The sub-accounts feature is quite handy in QuickBooks to further organize the books. However, some users take the concept too far and open up accounts and sub-accounts for each of their expenses. If you can keep track, it’s all good.

The problem arises when you can’t. Introducing too many variables is a surefire way to confuse things. For example, do you really need sub-accounts like electricity, gas, etc. under the bills account?

It brings extra stress on your organizing skills. So, what you can do is chalk out a plan for your accounts before you make them. Make a list of the information that you actually need to know and start accounts from there.

So, delete any unnecessary accounts you may have now to tidy up your QuickBooks account.

Tax Preparation Enablement

We provide your organization a true end to end solution to all of your tax needs. Tax season is year round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s too easy to get behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your businesses tax management.

Financial Forecasting 101

Financial Forecasting 101

If you’re a business owner or been thinking about opening up a new venture, the thought of improving its performance must have crossed your mind. And that’s where financial forecasting comes into play. 

It’s simply the process of looking into the future of your business based on historical data and trends. In this post, you’re going to learn the basics of financial forecasting and how it can help you.  

What is Financial Forecasting?

The definition is literally in the name. Financial forecasting is forecasting a business’s financial status. 

More specifically, this is the processing, predicting, and estimating the future performance of a business based on current data at hand. Company revenue is used as the benchmark in most basic cases. 

The sales figure can say a lot more than how much profit your business made. Those data sheets are effectively a portal to your business’s future. But it takes a different set of capable eyes to capture the essence. 

Apart from the current sales figures, historical data is also used in financial forecasting. It helps analyze the performance with regards to the past, present, and hopefully a better future. This method is widely used by successful CEOs and entrepreneurs around the world for its accuracy. 

Why is Financial Forecasting Important?

Any business with long-term objectives can definitely benefit from this process. It also helps to set new standards for the business as well as guide the decision-making process. 

Another very important reason why entrepreneurs use this process is to convince investors. 

Suppose, you own a winery and you wish to expand across different states. You know it will be a successful venture. But how do you attract more investors? 

That’s where financial forecasting comes to play. You can accurately determine the future of your winery by considering all the variables in your current model and projecting them into a future scenario. 

CEOs love this model because it can bring important insights such as how to spend business resources, what the industry holds for the future, how long the debts will hover over the business, how to pay the shareholders, etc. to light. 

And when you have at least an idea of what you’re diving into, making the right decisions at the right time becomes a lot less burdening to your shoulders. 

Types of Financial Forecasting

When venturing into the dynamic world of forecasting, you should know about the types as well. There are two major branches of forecasts. One is Qualitative while the other one is Quantitative. 

Qualitative Forecasts 

Qualitative financial forecasting does not rely on computers to analyze large data sets. It’s quite an unorthodox way of finding out the connection between events. Rather than following the sales figures, Qualitative Forecasts focus on decisions taken from experience and intuition. 

It starts with gathering opinions from major positions in each department. Analyzing their insights might be crucial for forecasting.

The next step might be taking a similar scenario from a different environment and projecting it onto the subject scenario. 

The Delphi Method is another important aspect of financial forecasting. It indicates that company professionals fill out a questionnaire. Based on it, another questionnaire is created and filled. Now, these are combined and presented to the participants to re-evaluate their answers. 

Scenario forecasting is another great method. The person tasked with the forecasting will project different results based on the consequence of scenarios. Your management team has the freedom to select any result you want. 

Quantitative Forecasts 

Unlike qualitative forecasts, quantitative financial forecasts solely depend on large historical data sets. These are used to find patterns and trends in the business space. These forecasts are more accurate in sectors where numbers speak louder than legacy. 

Pro-Forma Financial Statements is a great method used in this forecast where the sales data from the previous years are used to make the prediction. 

Another method is Time Series Analysis. For short-term goals and objectives, this the perfect method to use. It involves collecting data for a certain period and analyze it to find trends. 

Lastly, the Cause-Effect method dictates that every effect on the business is related to the cause. The consumer’s income, their confidence in the business, unemployment rate, etc. directly influences the sales figures. The goal of this method is to find the connection.

Tax Preparation Enablement

We provide your organization a true end to end solution to all of your tax needs. Tax season is year round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s too easy to get behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your businesses tax management.

Tax Preparation Enablement

We provide your organization a true end to end solution to all of your tax needs. Tax season is year round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s too easy to get behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your businesses tax management.

Tax Preparation Enablement

We provide your organization a true end to end solution to all of your tax needs. Tax season is year round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s too easy to get behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your businesses tax management.

Tax Preparation Enablement

We provide your organization a true end to end solution to all of your tax needs. Tax season is year round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s too easy to get behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your businesses tax management.