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Options If You Want To Move Away From Paper Checks

Options If You Want To Move Away From Paper Checks

Researchers have noticed a shift in the last two or three years in the business check writing habits of managers and owners. While the number of people using other forms of payment besides checks has been increasing, the number of businesses relying on paper checks as payment has steadily declined.

There are many reasons why paper checks for business use are continuing to fall. First, paper checks take a long time to go through the banking system. While electronic payments can hit a business’ bank account in a day or two, paper checks can take up to 10 business days to process. That is a lifetime for many small businesses. Second, paper checks are easy to duplicate given today’s technology. This means businesses that are still using paper checks are leaving themselves open to fraud because the account number is clearly written on the check. No one wants to lose money from their business due to fraud.

If you are tired of worrying about paper checks as a business owner, there is software available to help you move paperless payment systems. This has become even more important because many companies have a brick-and-mortar business as well as an online business. You need a payment system that can handle both. Here is more information and ideas for moving away from paperless checks.

 

Things to Consider With a Payment Processing System

When you begin thinking about moving to a paperless payment processing system, there are some criteria you need to consider before making the switch. First, how much will the paperless system cost your business? If the cost is too high, it does not make sense to switch from the system you already have. 

Second, will you have to sign a contract? Many business owners prefer software that allows them to try the service for a few weeks or a month for free. That way, they can decide if they like the service before they purchase it. 

Third, what kind of equipment will you need to operate the service? The less equipment your business needs to move to paperless checks, the better for your business.

Fourth, is there a customer support feature? You will want a service that allows you to contact customer service quickly if a problem arises. Finally, you need to know what forms of payment the system accepts. It needs to match the forms of payment your customers are familiar with.

Protea Financial Move Away from Paper Checks

New Payment Systems

In the past, payment processing systems came in the form of software you could download onto computers. While some payment systems have software downloads, many others are available as an app or as a subscription that is available via cloud technology. Small businesses find apps on phones or tablets helpful because they are able to view their balance sheets and payments from anywhere.

Here are three of the most popular payment systems for businesses if you want to move away from paper check writing.

 

Braintree Payments

One of the popular payment systems for small businesses is Braintree Payments. Braintree Payments began as an independent company, but they have since been purchased by PayPal, which gives them immediate name recognition and PayPal’s good security features.

There are a lot of positives if you choose to go with Braintree Payments for paperless check payments. First, Braintree Payments allow small businesses to take many forms of payment, such as PayPal, ApplePay, AndroidPay, Venmo, and Bitcoin, which puts this service ahead of many paperless payment services. Another great benefit of Braintree Payments is that the system can accept a monthly subscription payment, direct sales, service calls, online sales, and brick and mortar sales. No matter what kind of business you have, Braintree can handle the payments.

The paperless payment plan doesn’t charge a monthly subscription fee, and there are no minimum transactions your company must make monthly. Braintree charges a flat 2.9% fee plus 30 cents per each transaction. Braintree has the same amount of fraud protection as PayPal has, which is great for small businesses. One of the only downsides to Braintree is that the service does not accept American Express as payment.

 

Melio

Another payment system that is popular with businesses is Melio. With Melio you can pay invoices, but you can also receive payments from customers. Melio accepts credit or debit card payments for your invoices or sales, as well as ACH payments available as bank transfers. There are no setup fees for businesses that use Melio, and the payment system can be integrated with the Quickbooks system. You can see both incoming and outgoing payments with your phone or tablet as well as your laptop.

Melio allows you to grow the number of people who have access to your payment system as your business grows. This is great when you have multiple people handling your accounts payable or receivable. Melio charges the standard $2.90 fee per transaction. One of the reasons Melio is so popular is the ease of use. If you cannot figure an aspect of Melio out, customer service is around 24/7 to help you out. One of the only negatives about Melio is that it is not integrated with Zapier, which is a popular workshare application.     

 

Protea Financial Move Away from Paper Checks

Bill.com 

Bill.com is also very popular with businesses. Bill.com works well for both small and medium-sized businesses. The software to use Bill.com works through the cloud, so it is available to download onto a laptop. Like Melio, Bill.com allows you to pay your bills and receive payments for products or services. Bill.com has a budgeting program that gives you the ability to get credit for your business and continue to grow it. Bill.com takes ACH payments as well as international payments for products or services and requires a monthly subscription based on the size of your business. The company is tailored for companies who charge for professional services, such as bookkeeping, counseling or therapy, nonprofit organizations, and other service-oriented businesses. Bill.com can integrate with Quickbooks, Xero, Oracle, Sage, and Microsoft, which gives business owners a lot of options for integration as their businesses grow.

One of the downsides to Bill.com is the amount of the monthly subscription plan. However, if you need specialized accounting software for a consulting or other service-oriented business, Bill.com may be perfect for your needs.

 

Let Protea Financial Help Guide You Away from Paper Checks

No matter which paperless option you choose, you need to get with the future. Because businesses are constantly growing and changing, adding paperless check writing options is a great way for your business to advance with the times. To find out more about how going paperless could help your business, reach out to us here at Protea Financial today!

What is Gross Margin and Why is it Important?

What is Gross Margin and Why is it Important?

As a business owner, you understand how important bookkeeping is. The information a professional bookkeeper can provide will allow you to make informed decisions about your business. One piece of information your bookkeeper can provide is your company’s current gross margin or gross profit margin. Gross profit margin is a good yardstick for measuring how efficiently your company makes money from your products and services because it measures profit as a percentage of sales revenue. You can use your gross margin to compare your company’s profits to others that have different sales revenues.

 

Gross Margin Defined

Gross margin is the profit you’ve made after you subtract the direct costs of your products and services. It’s typically calculated as a percentage. A positive gross margin indicates that you have made back your costs and then some. A negative gross margin, on the other hand, means that it cost more to make your products than you made from selling them.

Essentially, the percentage is how much of a dollar you make as profit. For example, if your profit margin is 42%, you are making 42 cents for every dollar spent as profit. In other words, you spend $1 to sell your products, then make $1.42 from each sale. This means you paid back what you spent and made 42 cents in profit.

 

Protea Financial Gross Margin Outsourced Bookkeeping

Calculating Your Gross Profits

To calculate your gross margin, you first need to determine your gross profit. To do that, first add up all of your sales income. Next, add up all of your costs that are associated with manufacturing, procuring, and selling your products. Now that you have your gross profit, you can divide it by your total revenue. The resulting percentage is your gross margin.

Here’s an example. Say that your company made $100 million dollars in income. After subtracting out all of your expenses, you get a gross profit of $32 million. Divide 32 million by 100 million, and the result is 32%. That’s your gross margin.

 

Gross vs Net Profits

One important fact to remember is that gross margin is not your total profit. There are some indirect costs it does not take into account, such as taxes, licensing fees, and other expenses. Net margin or net profit deducts all of your expenses and costs from your revenue. It represents your true profit. Net margin, like gross margin, is very useful to business owners. Both percentages are useful when making decisions about your company.

 

What Information Can a Business Owner Gain from their Gross Margin?

Gross margin can provide business owners with a number of key insights that can be applied to maximize profits and minimize loss. First, it can tell you if your prices are too low, your costs too high, or both. If you have a very, very small profit margin, then you may not be charging enough for your products to fully offset your costs. You may also be paying too much for raw materials or for the manufacturing process.

Some businessowners make the mistake of assuming that just because their sales are good, they are profitable. Others may believe that their high gross profit margin indicates that they have good sales. Both of these statements can be true, but that’s not always the case. You may have thousands of sale transactions within a quarter yet still not be making a profit because your prices are too low or costs are too high. On the other hand, you could have a good profit margin yet not be making as many sales as you could be.

Knowing your gross margin will help highlight these issues. You may discover that you are making a very small profit even though it seems like your sales are good.

 

Protea Financial Calculate Gross Margin

How Gross Margin Can Help in Calculating Prices

When calculating your gross margin, you’ll also calculate your overall product costs. By looking at these numbers, you will be able to determine if you are selling your product for too little or too much. High sales but low profit margins may indicate that you are under-valuing the product. Low sales but a high margin could also indicate that your prices are too high.

A good bookkeeper will remind you that you cannot look at gross profit margins in a vacuum. There are many factors that can affect pricing, and you need to take all of these factors into consideration. The market sets the prices. If the market dictates lower prices, you will need to adjust your costs in order to meet those prices.

 

Gross Margin Also Provides Insight into Labor and Material Costs

In addition to looking at price, you can also use your gross margin to see what you’re spending on your products and services. New business owners may be surprised at how much they spend. If your gross margin is low but you feel that your prices are fair, there are two factors to consider. One factor is marketing, but that is a separate area of discussion.

In relation to gross margin, the factor you will want to focus on is your overall costs. Are you spending too much? You may want to consider alternative materials, new partners, or renegotiating current contracts to lower these costs and grow your business.

 

Who Should Pay Attention to Gross Margin?

All business owners should consider their gross margins on a regular basis, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or annually. Small business owners can use gross margin to help them determine if they are pricing products correctly or if they could potentially save on costs. Marketing experts can look at gross margins to see if their marketing plans are meeting their goals. Even experienced business owners and bookkeepers can use gross margin to compare previous fiscal years and project their company’s growth over the next few periods.

If you have a bookkeeper, they can calculate your gross margin and help you understand what it means in terms of your profits, expenses, and sales. However, if you don’t have a bookkeeper, you run the risk of miscalculating your margin or not fully understanding how to use it to make financial decisions.

If you’re in need of a bookkeeper, Protea Financial is here to help. We provide bookkeeping, payroll, compliance, and inventory management services to wineries of various sizes. Contact us today with any questions or to discuss partnering with us

What Makes Wine Accounting Complicated?

What Makes Wine Accounting Complicated?

You may have only been drinking wine made in the United States for a few years, but people have been making wine in this country for nearly 500 years. American wine was an undervalued industry for decades, and it has only been in the last 50 years that people have really savored good wine made in America. If you are in the wine business, you already know that the winemaking industry is a different business, especially when it comes to accounting practices. Accounting for wineries and vineyards is difficult. To make things easier, you’ll need an accountant with experience in winery and vineyards, specifically. Anyone without that experience is more prone to making mistakes, which could lead to financial woes for you.

Two Types of Accounting in One Business

Most agricultural bookkeeping—whether with crops and crop rotation, produce, or livestock—is straightforward. Accountants in the agriculture business only have to keep one set of books. However, the wine making process is different in terms of accounting. In reality, there are two types of accounting going on at the same time in the wine business.

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Cash Accounting

First, in accounting terms, vineyards—the fields where the grapes are grown—operates as a traditional farm. This means that farmer built arbors or trellises to hold the grapevines, planted the grapes, waited for them to mature, and harvested them. The farmer handles pesticides, replanting, and other issues with a vineyard. The farmer selects specific grapes to grow depending on the type of wine desired, the soil conditions, and the planting or growing season. Because vineyards are an agricultural crop, accountants can keep the books as a cash accounting business.

If the grower has a vineyard without a winery, the cash accounting method of bookkeeping is still acceptable because the crop is planted, grown, and harvested in a cycle that typically spans one growing season. Payments for the growing season occur at one specific time.

 

Accrual Accounting

Many vineyards are attached to a winery business. If you own both a winery and a vineyard, the cash method of accounting isn’t enough. Wineries must be measured on an accrual accounting basis. In accrual accounting, revenue and expenses are recorded in the books at the time of the transaction. Many wineries use accrual accounting as part of the bookkeeping process, because not all wine sells at the time of bottling.  A bookkeeper would record expenditures for wine barrels at the time of the barrel purchase. The wine that goes into that barrel may not be sold for months or years, at which time the bookkeeper records the revenue. Cash accounting is easier than accrual accounting, because expenses and revenues happen in the same growing season. Accrual accounting takes someone with far more knowledge of accounting practices.

Because of the operations of a winery with a vineyard, a wine accountant must be able to balance two books—using cost and accrual accounting practices—rather than a single ledger.

Protea Financial Accrual Accounting

Wine Production Has a Long Expenditure Capitalization Process

Not only does a wine accountant need to manage two books, they must also understand the long period of vineyard growth. Beginning operations as a vineyard is an expensive initial investment. After you purchase the land, you must pay for arbors or trellises for the grapes and pick the type(s) of grape you want to plant for winemaking. Grapes used in winemaking take several years to grow and become good wine producers. People who plant vineyards must be in it for the long haul, and not mind excessive spending with a return on investment in years rather than months.

Wine accountants know that to operate a successful winery, expenditures must be capitalized throughout the growing process. When commercial production begins, the accountant can begin to account for both expenditures and income on the ledger. Capitalization is important during the wine production process to allow the business room to grow without all of the expenses taking the operating and production capital out of the business when production begins.

 

Cost Accounting Is Different For A Winery

When an accountant uses the cost accounting procedure for a winery, they must use a non-traditional method. Two of the processes during making wine, crushing grapes and bottling the wine, take a short amount of time. That means the expenses or income happen quickly. However, two other processes for winemaking are long term. Wine is aged in barrels for a period before it is poured into a bottle. After the wine is poured into a bottle, it is aged again. Any costs incurred here happen over a period of months or even years. In fact, the higher grade a wine is and the more expensive it is, the longer the aging process takes.

 

Activity-Based Cost Analysis

In activity-based cost analysis, costs are assigned by wine type. That way, an accountant can figure the cost to produce the wine by the gallon or by the bottle. However, activity based cost analysis can get complicated for an accountant. Each wine has a different storage time, and this impacts cost accounting. Wine accountants must take shrinkage into consideration, as the volume of wine in a bottle shrinks during the aging or bottling process. A winery may sell some of the wine in bulk in the barrel or in the bottle before it is aged. Also, wineries may value inventory in different ways, including last in—first out, or by the dollar value of each bottle.

One other factor that wine accountants must take into consideration is charitable donations of bottles and the effect on inventory. Wineries are often asked to contribute bottles to charity auctions, and it is good advertising for any winery or vineyard. Because each bottle must be accounted for, a wine accountant must check inventory against a list of charitable donations of wine bottles.

 

Let Protea Make Wine Accounting Less Complicated – We Are Here to Help

Wine accounting is understandably complex, especially if you own or manage both a winery and a vineyard. If you are the owner of a winery and a vineyard, you want to find an accountant who is familiar with the bookkeeping and inventory practices of wineries. Don’t trust your accounting to someone who isn’t familiar with keeping books for the wine industry. When you need a wine accountant, contact Protea Financial, and let us help you keep the best books in the wine business. 

Cut Your Winery’s Operating Costs with a Winery Bookkeeper

Cut Your Winery’s Operating Costs with a Winery Bookkeeper

Operating a winery is a challenging job. It requires an in-depth knowledge of many aspects of growing produce. You need to understand your plants, keep your soil healthy, watch for signs of infection or pests, and know when your plants are ready to harvest. Then you need to harvest your grapes and go through the entire winemaking process. Once the wine is bottled, aged, and ready to sell, you then need to take on the marketing of your product.

As the owner, it is your job to keep track of all aspects of this business. You need to know your details readily, including expenditures and income. Not having accurate finances can cut into your bottom line. It can even cost you money instead of making a profit. Some business owners struggle with this aspect of their winery as they do not properly keep up with the numbers of the business. That is when outsourcing to a winery bookkeeper may be the best option to prevent your winery from taking a loss.

By outsourcing your winery’s bookkeeping to a bookkeeper who understands the wine industry, you can reduce your operating costs. There are several benefits to using an expert bookkeeper that make it worth the cost. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running your business, you know where to reach out to experts. This is one of the easiest places to seek help.

 

What Does a Winery Bookkeeper Do?

A winery bookkeeper can assist you with virtually any task related to managing your finances. They will oversee your accounts payable and accounts receivable. Plus, they work with clients to ensure that invoices are paid in a timely manner and communicate with vendors to make payments. They will also reconcile your monthly bank statements with your internal financial documents and coordinate with the bank if there are any issues.

Tax preparation is another task that a winery bookkeeper can assist with. Your bookkeeper can work closely with your accountant on your annual tax returns. They can gather much of the information your CPA needs, reducing the amount of work your accountant must do. This, in turn, can reduce the cost of your professional accounting services.

Depending on your organization, a winery bookkeeper may even take on tasks related to inventory or order tracking. Some even manage all aspects of the winery’s inventory. Your bookkeeper will also be a sounding board for financial decisions you need to make. They can provide expert advice on potential projects or expansions.

Where a traditional bookkeeper would have to take time to look up regulations or requirements, a winery accountant knows these things from experience. What that means is you pay for fewer hours hiring a winery accountant, but get more accurate and detailed financials as a result.

 

Protea Winery Bookkeeping Saves You Money

How a Winery Bookkeeper Can Save You Money

Using a bookkeeper instead of handling your finances yourself will reduce your operating costs in several ways. To fully understand where these savings come from, you must look beyond the cost of using a bookkeeping service. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your overall costs of using a winery bookkeeping service.

 

Focus Your Efforts Where They Are Needed

As the owner of the winery, you likely handle many different aspects of running the business. This often includes many or all your financial tasks. If you had an expert to handle that work, you would be able to refocus your efforts on tasks that only you can do. By giving you back some time, you can focus on earning more income for your winery in that time. Bookkeeping is not something that requires your personal attention, but making major business decisions is.

You can also leave all the bill paying to your bookkeeper. It is often their responsibility to ensure that your bills get paid, accounts are billed, and payments are received on time. They then track these expenses and income, providing you with more accurate budgets and insight as to how financially healthy your winery is at all times.

 

Prevent Costly Mistakes

Bookkeeping mistakes, even those that may seem minor, can have a large impact on your business. These mistakes can result in lost income, missed opportunities to save money, or even fines. A professional bookkeeper can catch many of these mistakes and correct them before it is too late.

Your bookkeeper can prevent other mistakes as well. They will ensure that your bills and incoming invoices are paid promptly, which helps you avoid late fees and keeping your professional relationships intact. They will also carefully watch your budget, so you do not over-spend. A good bookkeeper will also make certain that all clients are invoiced correctly and keep on top of unpaid invoices.

 

Reduce Overhead

Finally, by hiring a bookkeeper, you may be able to reduce some of your overhead operating costs. These include costs such as:

  • Office supplies
  • Office furniture
  • Technology-related costs
  • Other expenses that are necessary to operate a business regardless of what industry that business is in.

According to Intuit, overhead costs should ideally make up less than 35% of your total costs. Bookkeepers typically have an understanding of what a reasonable cost is for these products and services. They may be able to identify areas where you are overspending and move you to a different vendor or renegotiate your contract. This is one area you may not have ever found the time to focus on, but a dedicated bookkeeper can.

 

Turn to Protea Financial to Get Help with Cutting Your Winery’s Expenses

Interested in learning more about how a winery bookkeeper can help you reduce your operating costs? Contact us here at Protea Financial today with your questions. We will gladly explain to you how we can help cut your costs and give you back time to focus on what you do best. 

Starting with a Budget Can Help New Wineries Succeed

Starting with a Budget Can Help New Wineries Succeed

Starting your own winery may be a dream, but you must understand, with that dream comes expenses. Many who enjoy a glass of wine have thought about what it would be like to start their own winery. Starting any business is a challenge, and this is especially true in the wine industry. Thankfully, you can use our experience and expertise to help make this process easier. Here are some important notes for creating a winery budget in general.

What Goes Into a Business Budget?

If you want to be able to apply a business budget to a winery, you need to step back and look at what it takes to create a business budget. There are many steps involved in this process, but overall, here are the basics:

  • An outline of expenses (both fixed and flexible) and returns on a monthly or annual basis
  • One-off costs, such as equipment or software purchases
  • Projected sources of revenue outside of the product you plan to create, if any
  • A list of areas where the expenses may vary and guidelines

Ideally, you do not want to spend more than you make, but when you apply this to a winery, that is rarely the case to start. That is because wineries take time to make a profit. They need to mature before a harvest becomes available, so you need to budget for that time.

How a Budget Changes for Wineries

Your budget for a winery starts with the purchase of land in most instances. Rarely are you going to go out and buy a fully functional winery to start. Your upfront costs are going to include the land, plants, and the actual planting process. Your one-off costs can include any equipment you need on top of these costs, just to get off the ground. The cost of land is as cheap as it is going to be, so buying now is the best option, even if you cannot start your winery right away. The cost of one acre of land in California’s wine region is expected to climb to approximately $1,000,000 by 2050.

Down the line, you will need to factor in other costs, such as

  • Fermentation equipment
  • Harvesting equipment and labor
  • Equipment to make the wine itself
  • Bottling equipment
  • Storage facility
  • Licensing
  • Trademark
  • Wages for any employees
  • Branding following a label approval
  • And more

Your winery should be able to begin making wine in three to five years from when the land is planted. However, there are some deterrents to that timeline. You may struggle with crops due to limited water resources, frost, diseases that can damage plants, or even pests, and all of this only if your plans to plant are approved by the local government. All of this may slow your return. 

Also you need to consider that wineries are seasonal. That means you need to budget costs that you must pay all year, even if you only harvest or produce wine part of the year.

Tools to Help You Stay Financially Focused

There are many tools you have at your disposal to remain focused on keeping your finances in order. One of those tools is your budget. It gives you a reminder of where your money is coming from or going to at all times. However, that is not the only tool you can use. 

Setting up a spreadsheet may be a simple, yet effective way for you to visualize your flow of money. Most accounting software titles have something like this you can use. However, if you do not have one of those already, this is an inexpensive alternative. Just understand that you must be dedicated to adding in all the information you want to track. If you forget, you will have to go back, track down the information, and put it all in. 

Another tool you may want to use should be software to manage your inventory. You need to track your plants, their age and location, how much produce they provided, and more. This is an essential part of the winemaking process, since it will factor into how much you charge per bottle. 

Payroll is another aspect of starting a winery you must keep in mind. Unless your winery is incredibly small, you will need help. This means paychecks for the employees you hire. Payroll is more than ensuring they get their hourly wage, as there are taxes at the federal level, most states have state taxes as well, unemployment, Social Security, and more. These are numbers you must track carefully, as being wrong can lead to IRS penalties and fines. 

Protea Financial Starting with a Budget Can Help New Wineries Succeed

Why is Winery Accounting Important?

The best tool you have at your disposal to remain focused on finances as you start a winery is going to be a winery accountant. They understand what goes into starting a winery, they have experience in setting up and following budgets, and they can help with things like payroll and managing your inventory. They become a tool that minimizes your time requirements while also saving you money. 

Great bookkeeping is the backbone of any successful business. Many businesses believe that they can track the books themselves. Unfortunately, this can lead to missed expenses, incorrect payments, and a budget that does not cover everything it should. The best thing any business can do to ensure that the financials are always in order and nothing is overlooked is to hire a bookkeeper. 

By putting a professional in charge of taking care of day-to-day activities like your finances, you can then pay attention to any part of your winery that would require your specific expertise. You get peace of mind knowing that your employees will always be paid when they should be. Plus, you also have the security of knowing your taxes are correctly filed and all your documentation is current. Those are simple assurances you get when you hire a bookkeeper for your winery.

Winery Accountants Keep You Focused

Understanding the costs of running a wine business can help you create the most appropriate budget for your winery. Do you have everything at your winery insured? This is an expense that is overlooked at times, and that could lead to major problems down the line. It is vital you have everything insured if you want to run and grow your winery into a solid business. The insurance should cover both your equipment and your property.

When you begin having a harvest, you also need a winery accountant as they can help you determine your cost of making wine. If you sell the wine for too little, you may lose money. However, if you price it too high, then no one is likely to buy. You need to know the right amount to sell it for, and that should be based on the exact costs you have per bottle you create.

Turn to Protea Financial for Help with Your Winery Expenses

Wine is the drink of choice for many of us after a long day at work or just to warm us up on a cold winter day. For those who have considered starting a winery, make sure you have the right approach in mind. Focus on your budget and expenses from the start.

Making wine is a challenge, but those challenges become easier when you have the right tools. A winery accountant is a tool that is necessary if you want to truly succeed in your endeavor. You want someone that can use their experience and knowledge to help you push forward. You need someone you can trust to go through this experience with you.

Turn to the experienced winery accountants of Protea Financial. We can answer any question you may have on financials, budgeting, or accounting for your winery. We are here to help. 

Don’t Let Accounting Problems Sour Your Wines: Avoiding Common Accounting Issues

Don’t Let Accounting Problems Sour Your Wines: Avoiding Common Accounting Issues

Wineries need to pay attention to every detail when it comes to accounting. You need to keep an accurate record of the total amount of wine made during the year. Even a simple mistake can cost money and time. There are two mechanisms that ultimately decide whether you will stay in business.

First, how much profit you make is determined by the market based on how much someone is willing to pay for your bottle of wine. The wine industry is growing rapidly in many parts of the country. Because of increased competition, wineries will need to be creative to differentiate their products to demand higher prices.

Second, the costs of making and selling wine determine how much profit is left. Since there is not much wiggle room to increase the revenue from one bottle, how you understand and control your costs has the greatest impact on how profitable your winery is.

In this article, we are going to discuss some of the difficulties wineries face when it comes to tracking the accounting of cost of goods in producing wine.

Protea Financial Blog Don't Let Accounting Problems Sour Your Wines

Winery Operations

A winery has four main operations. Well, five if you are vertically integrated and harvest your own grapes. 

  • First, after harvesting is the crush phase where grapes are pressed and squashed.
  • Second is the fermentation stage; this is the most vital part of producing wine. Fermentation continues until all the sugar is converted to alcohol and a dry wine is produced.
  • Third, clarification is where the juice is separated into tanks. This allows the sediment to drop out. Winemakers will rack or siphon their wines from one tank to another. Wine is separated from the solids, which is known as pomace.
  • Last, the wine is aged and bottled. There are many choices and techniques in this stage, which results in the many distinct types of wines.

Of these steps, the crushing and bottling phases are quite short, while the other stages can be exceptionally long.

Keeping Track of Costs

Because of the time it takes to create different types of wine, you will need to keep careful track of how long each type of wine takes to produce. For example, a red wine with low production values would take less time to process than a high-grade red wine. Consequently, the high-grade red wine should accumulate more indirect costs.  Indirect costs include depreciation on the production facilities, labor by the wine master, utilities, production supplies, testing expenses, etc.

Your record of costs will include taking into account any wine that was transferred from barrels or tanks, any wine that spoiled before you could sell it, as well as any wine that you gave away for free or dumped because it became unsellable.

These costs are what is called cost of goods produced (COGP) and includes all the costs that went into making the wine. They include the raw materials, labor, overhead, direct, and indirect costs, which were incurred from the crushing phase all the way through bottling and storing the wine.

When a bottle of wine is sold, the cost of producing that specific wine is recorded as cost of goods sold (COGS). The difference between the revenue generated and the cost of goods sold is the gross profit on that wine.

Allocating Costs

Activity based costing (ABC) assigns overhead costs and indirect costs to related products. Activity based costing enhances the reliability of assigning costs. This enables wineries to have a better understanding of the costs associated with producing wine.

Wineries use a variation of ABC where they assign expenses to each of the functional areas in the winery. The costs are then allocated to what is a gallon-month for each wine product. For example, 100 gallons of Pinot Noir aged for six months equals 600 gallon-months. If it costs $10,000 to store the wine, those costs are assigned to the Pinot Noir based on its share of gallon-months of wine stored.

Because of the unique aspects of making wine, tracking costs can easily become complicated. Wines are commonly held in storage for longer than one year. So, not only do you have to allocate costs to several types of wines, but you also have to allocate costs to vintages of each varietal. Due to the lengthy process to make wine, it is common to lose some to evaporation. Additionally, if the wine master engages in blending two or more types of wines, the calculations change because of how these separate costs are allocated between multiple wines.

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Accounting Helps Keep Track of All Channels to Make Your Life Easier

As complex as tracking costs is, you may be asking whether it is even worth it. As a winery you have various sales channels that have various profit margins. Many wine sales go through distributors who expect lower prices so they, too, can make a profit. You may only make 10-30 percent. Where performance is measured, performance improves. As you meticulously track your costs you can improve those margins.

Other than to improve profit margins, another compelling reason to keep track of costs is because it is required by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Federal regulations include tracking weight tickets when harvesting and how much wine is available after production.

In addition to the TTB, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to see the profit levels for each product sold, as well as proof for the calculations. When the production process takes greater than two years, the IRS wants wineries to allocate interest costs. Furthermore, they want to see separate calculations for the source of the grapes, the type of wine, how long it takes to age, and the size of the storage containers used. The IRS has even created a Wine Industry Audit Technique Guide.

Let Protea Financial Be There to Help You with Cost of Goods Accounting for Your Winery

All this can seem overwhelming. It can be, but it does not have to be. Our expert team has worked with the wine industry for years. We can help you navigate the difficult terrain of tracking costs and staying in compliance with Federal regulations. Reach out to us here at Protea Financial. We would love to help!