- A community association was using accounting software that was designed for a different industry.
- Many management functions were not automated, resulting in operational inefficiencies.
- The association installed TOPS, which was specifically designed for property management.
- Management implemented the features of TOPS that allow for automation in a variety of areas.
Lance Stitcher, CMCA, AMS has never been shy about asking questions, and this propensity served him well when he was interested in upgrading his association’s software. “I would attend industry workshops and seminars and I would always ask what accounting software people were using,” Stitcher explains, “TOPS was always in the mix.”
Stitcher is general manager of Captain’s Cove Golf & Yacht Club, which is on Chincoteague Bay on the Delmarva Peninsula in Virginia. He has been with the association for 12 years, and had property management experience prior to coming on board. “I came in as the golf professional and over time migrated to the GM position, which I’ve held for three years,” he said.
After receiving good reviews of TOPS, Stitcher spent quite a bit of time researching TOPS and software from two other companies. “We were dinosaurs in terms of the accounting software we had been using,” he says. “It was a software package that was not specifically designed for property management. We’ve had TOPS in place for a year now, and it has made life so much easier here.”
With close to 5,000 member accounts plus vendor information, the data migration process was a fairly large scale project. Captain’s Cove exported all segments of its records in an Excel format to TOPS. “TOPS assigned a data migration person to our account who assisted with the transition,” Stitcher says. “We had some minor hiccups, but that is to be expected with a project of this scale. The key for me is that we didn’t lose a lot of time in the transition, which is good, because we couldn’t afford to lose any time.”
Stitcher said learning TOPS was pretty straightforward. “I’m not the kind of guy who is scared of software – I just rolled up my sleeves and got into it. We had some online training, and an instructor came and spent one week at our office.”
Captain’s Cove actively uses the General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable modules. Stitcher is particular fond of the latter because it automates the collections process. “That’s been a huge help,” he says. “We didn’t have a system in place before, and it made collection work very difficult. Now, we have a streamlined collections system integrated with our accounting software. In the first year of use, it has brought our delinquency rate down.”
Automation is critical when it comes to the billing process as well. “We have a couple of different classes of membership billing, and TOPS makes it very simple,” Stitcher says. “We just set it up in a table, and with a few clicks of the mouse it spits out 4,800 invoices.”
Stitcher also speaks highly of the AP module. “It has a very functional suite of reports. You can print your check register, view aged open items, vendor history, etc. All it takes is one click at the top of a page to view an account to make sure things are going well. Plus, you can customize virtually any report.”
The previous software Captain’s Cove had been using didn’t have a budget function, so Stitcher had to do his budgets in Excel – no small task considering his $3.4 million budget. “It’s that time of year, and I’ve been using TOPS’ budget feature 12 hours a day for three weeks now,” Stitcher says, “and the chart of accounts, journal entries and report writer have worked really well for us.”
In addition to the accounting functionality, Captain’s Cove has incorporated several other TOPS features into its operations. “About 100 properties change hands on an annual basis, and updating the owner database is significantly easier in TOPS than in our old software package,” Stitcher says.
The Owner’s Module also comes in handy for keeping track of board elections. “Our directors are set up on staggered three-year terms, and the module makes it easy for us to keep track of who is up for election and when,” Stitcher says.
Keeping track of members is easy with the pool passes that can be created in TOPS. “We use Avery selflaminating ID cards to allow our members to access all our amenities,” Stitcher says. “It’s a very streamlined process and is an integrated module in the software.”
Captain’s Cove staff is able to use the Fact Sheet module to keep track of all the amenities and the myriad details that are involved with running a large facility. “If staff needs to find out information, for example on legal or insurance matters, it can be found very easily.”
Stitcher said it would be easy for him to recommend TOPS to other communities. “Overall, it’s been a big help,” he says. “It’s much more intuitive than our old software was. We’re very happy with it.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. TOPS Software makes no warranties, express or implied, in this document.