Co-operation between We Are Group and Staria provides efficient financial management model which frees up restaurateur’s time to focus on their mission: “building a more enjoyable city and the best moments of the day.”
We Are Group, founded by Anders Westerholm and Matti Sarkkinen, runs 12 restaurants in Finland with couple hundred employees. Anders reveals the secret to success: “We have always anticipated what we are doing and we’re constantly retargeting where we are headed. As part of our internationalization and growth project, we transferred our accounting to Staria because the old accounting solutions were not suited to support our growth.
At the same time, the company decided to focus on product development for its existing restaurants. A growth partner was needed. “At the moment the greatest growth potential is with Story, Sushibar + Wine and Bar Cón restaurants. We realized that we needed better knowledge and partnership in developing the bigger picture”, Westerholm describes.
Active financial monitoring
Staria’s services and systems enable better visibility to up-to-date financial figures, wherever you are. Westerholm states that restaurant operations, business, meetings and development take place on the field. You need to be where the customers are.
– We have an office, but to be honest we hardly ever go there. For example, we no longer have a process for paper invoices, they do not exist in our world. Each of our restaurants set their own sales and profit targets, and we monitor in real time whether targets have been met. Active financial monitoring is essential on this field. Technological restrictions must not become a barrier for the business – work needs to be done wherever you are.
The advantage of partnership with Staria as an international financial service provider becomes beneficial as Sushibar + Wine expands to Norway in spring. Matti Sarkkinen, who is in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations, moves to Oslo to oversee the opening of two new restaurants and flies to Finland on a weekly basis. Westerholm, on the other hand, stays in Helsinki, but travels between Helsinki and Oslo weekly as well, when needed.
Partner model with Staria
Staria is a modern accounting and financial management company specialized in supporting internationalizing customers. That was one reason why We Are Group chose Staria as a partner. “Another reason was that we wanted an outsourced CFO service. Instead of hiring a financial manager, we got a whole team from Staria. They oversee the daily routines and take care of our big guidelines such as funding and cash flow monitoring,” Westerholm describes.
He is very pleased with Staria’s expertise. “The key was to find a senior specialist from Staria as our interim CFO. His experience has been very valuable to us.”
Westerholm reveals another success factor of We Are Group: the ability to recognize your own skills and where you need help. Sarkkinen and Westerholm bring together a team that ensures that entrepreneurs can play with their own strengths.
– Matti (Sarkkinen) runs the daily business, I am building the future, and we felt that we needed a CFO to support the business. It is better if we all focus on our own area of exceptional know-how.
Internal reporting is time-consuming, but crucial. “This is the reality of our ambitious growth goals. The people, operating methods, and technology that generate growth are now adapted to new needs”, explains Westerholm.
We Are Group founders Anders Westerholm and Matti Sarkkinen
The best moment of the day
We Are Group’s vision is to make urban environment more enjoyable and provide customers the best moment of the day. Everything that supports this vision is beneficial. That’s why Westerholm gladly talks about the co-operation with Staria as it helps entrepreneurs focus on what matters the most.
– If we do not target all our energy on the main goal our path will not be long. When company’s infrastructure is in order, the focus of our work remains on the customer interface.
We Are Group has a customized reporting package that generates financial reporting in real-time. The company has made choices about systems, implementation and development in collaboration with Staria. “We have five concepts, each with its own manager. We have tremendously improved our financial management with Staria. I would encourage the entire restaurant industry to improve their know-how on managing financial figures”, says Westerholm.
As an entrepreneur, Westerholm is responsible for the work force of more than 200 people. “Businesses also have a social responsibility to maintain workplaces. If you can’t optimize and develop your restaurant business outside of the world of flavors, that’s a risk. We feel that we have a lot to offer and believe that we can make the city more enjoyable and bring joy to people’s lives”, Westerholm clarifies.
Everything is enabled by the fact that the business is profitable. Westerholm describes the company’s concepts as evergreen: they remain viable through endless product development – both in taste and in other fields of the business. The company has also made other choices regarding their values: environmental responsibility today is an absolute prerequisite for a long-term business.
– Staria is a partner that can scale up with us. Our experience of the partnership model has been great because they make sure that they have the required knowhow to do their part of the job. There are also new opportunities in accounting, for example the development of robotics. It is good to work with a partner that considers development as vital for their business. Digital opportunities are rapidly transforming into digital principals, which you should be alert to.
However, digital support functions are just support functions, it’s the people that make a difference. Westerholm notes that Staria’s accounting team feels like part of their own staff. They are in key position in running our everyday and enabling the future.
Westerholm particularly thanks the support network made up of Staria’s professionals. The parties keep each other on map of where they are headed and what needs attention. “It is very important to us that we have found a partner who understands our field of business but also understands us as entrepreneurs. Our guiding star is to always maintain focus – make decisions that keep the magic running in the restaurant”, concludes Westerholm.