Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest, Inc. Case Analysis Page 1 INDEX 1. Key success factors & company performance………………………………………………….. 3 2. Bank perspective regarding the performance………………………………………………….. 7 3. Bank financing perspective at the end of 1998………………………………………………. 10 4. Management perspective regarding the bank financing…………………………………. 13 5. Exhibit 1 – Annual Income Statements (1994-1997)………………………………………17 6. Exhibit 2 – Annual Balance Sheets (1994-1997)…………………………………………….. 18 7. Exhibit 3 – Quarterly Income Statements 1997………………………………………………. 19 8. Exhibit 4 – Quarterly Balance Sheets 1997………………………………………………………20 9.

Exhibit 5 – Forecasting………………………………………………………………………………………21 10. Exhibit 6 – Annual Ratios…………………………………………………………………………………. 22 11. Exhibit 7 – Quarterly Ratios…………………………………………………………………………….. 23 Tudor Team Five Page 2 1. What are the key success factors in this equipment rental business? How has the company performed the past few years? Key Success Factors Five of the key success factors are as follows: First, the location of the business is ideal for handling several projects at once. This is due to their central Boston location. The ability to handle everal projects at once gives the company a competitive edge and allows them to attain a performance as close to the full potential of the company as possible. Second, the company’s leaders have been successful in networking to primary and secondary clients. This has aided in growing a business that is based on a foundation of good company/client relationships. These strong relationships have led to significant repeat customers as a strong basis of the company’s revenue. Fostering these relationships throughout the years of the company’s existence has also led to sustained revenue growth year after year.

This revenue growth is shown in the financials and, using the Compound Annual Growth Rate, it can be seen that this growth in revenue has been 14. 26% from 1994 to 1997. Third, the executive management is well experienced in the hospitality industry as well as other industries that relate to the successful operation of a business. Stephen Lizio was involved in the food and wine business prior to founding Be Our Guest in 1983. Al Lovata was previously a banker and began his relationship with Be Our Guest as a financial consultant, later joining the organization full-time as the Chief Executive Officer.

Lizio and Lovata together form a foundation of strong knowledge of the hospitality Tudor Team Five Page 3 business and the vital knowledge of finance, thus giving the business a core of understanding both its industry and how to manage the money coming into the company. Simone Williamson was brought on to the team and comes from years of experience in the food service business. She also came to the company with strong networking connections in the catering industry in Boston, which further reinforces the second success factor described above. This management team is made up of members that complement ach other’s strengths, as well as provide the necessary skill sets for running a successful business. The fourth key success factor is that the company identified its business plan early on and held its course throughout the years without deviation to business expansions that would have resulted in higher profits but fewer turnovers. This can be seen in the company’s analysis of the potential of The executive team determined that this entering the tent rental market. market, though highly profitable, would result in time delays and longer turnovers and would split their core business.

The team recognised that this split could result in lower profitability and splintering of the core business structure. Rather than expand into a low profit margin business “tents”, in which the management lacks market expertise, they chose to stick to their initial business plan and focus on their key strengths rather than deviate from the company’s set fundamentals. This example illustrates that the company followed its original business plan and complied with its mission and vision from the beginning without deviation. In doing so, the company built a strong foundation and upheld the strength of that foundation.

The fifth key success factor identified here is the high quality of service as well as the high quality of the rental equipment provided to clients. The executive team recognised early that they could compete in either price or Tudor Team Five Page 4 quality, and the team chose to compete in quality. Part of this high quality service is seen in the company’s dedication to its clients through its willingness to deliver only one table on short notice if a client is in need. Through high quality service, the company has upheld its networking connections to clients by building strong relationships.

This high quality service combined with high quality rental equipment products has allowed the company to obtain a competitive edge over its competition, keep that competitive advantage, and foster strong company/client relationships throughout the years. How has the company performed the past few years? Viewpoint – Independent perspective Be Our Guest, Inc. originated in 1983 and is still thriving in a very competitive and volatile industry 14 years later. Over the past few years the company has shown significant growth.

We see that Annual sales revenues have consistently risen from 1994 to 1997 with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14. 26%. 1997 was an impressive year for the company with a 22. 7% increase in revenues. Gross Margins were very consistent year over year for 1994 through 1997. Gross margins for 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 were 53. 9%, 49%, 52. 63% and 55. 5%, respectively. Be Our Guest, Inc. is doing a solid job of keeping the Costs of Revenue in line with the Sales Revenue. It is a positive sign to see this growth, because we can be assured that the company is staying competitive, while not completely giving in to the pricing crunch.

Annual Sales Revenue has a strong CAGR, but it is important and concerning to note that the CAGR of total Operating Expenses is higher. It is about 5% higher and this is very important, because Be Our Guest needs to stay in control of its expenses. Tudor Team Five Page 5 The high and increasing Operating expenses are cutting into the Operating margins, which also cuts into the bottom line. Be Our Guest’s balance sheet shows good signs of liquidity. Current Ratios for the past four years have remained above 1 proving that the company can handle its current liabilities. The current ratios are not extremely high (19941. 7, 1995- 2. 17, 1996- 1. 15 and 1997- 1. 16), but they can cover the current liabilities. It is important to note that the company is operating on a thin line because the current assets are barely covering the current liabilities. This is particularly unpleasant because we are dealing with a company operating in a seasonal business. It is a concern that the current ratio slightly eroded after 1995, and this is primarily due to Be Our Guest converting the bank line into long term debt in 1995. The current ratio in 1995 is an outlier, because 2. 17 do not accurately represent the company.

The quick ratio is the same as the current ratio for Be Our Guest because they do not have inventory for all of the rental equipment is under property and equipment. They display a good working capital position as well, which is another measure of liquidity. Cash position is a concern for we can see in 1994 and 1997 that they actually had an Overdraft, and for 1995 and 1996 cash is not very high. However, this company is in an industry that is more of a receivables business, so the cash position is not a high concern, especially given that it is covering the current liabilities.

Since this is a receivables business it is important to look at the Receivables Turnover ratio, and we find that this is quite consistent, however when comparing to the Payables Turnover ratio we see that they are paying out more quickly than they are receiving, which is a problem. In 1995 they are paying out twice on average before collecting. Be Our Guest needs to focus on getting its receivables in a more timely manner. Tudor Team Five Page 6 2. As the bank loan officer, Anne Granger, how would you view this company? What concerns might you have about the business and the lending elationship? What factors provide a source of comfort when considering the credit risk? Anne will look at Be Our Guest, Inc. with both an annual and quarterly perspective really focusing in on the company’s liquidity, leverage and how they will match up to the covenant ratios established. The company is liquid, but it is not extremely liquid. Be Our Guest, Inc. is barely covering the current liabilities, and from a banks perspective we would want to see that there are not any concerns in this area. If the company is to become insolvent, we want to be able to get our outstanding balance back.

We know that Q1 is the worst quarter for the company, and you can see that for Q1 1997 the company displays a current ratio of . 88, which is simply not good, and means that during that quarter they did not have the ability to pay all current liabilities, therefore having to access the line of credit during this quarter. Q1 is also the hardest month for this company to retain its receivables, which can sometimes be the cause for liquidity problems. The top line growth is great to see, especially in the competitive space that the company operates in, but we also need to examine the rest of the income statement.

It is concerning to see the Operating Profit Margin as well as the Interest Coverage Ratio declining year over year. Operating Profit Margin shrinking is a negative because it indicates that the company is not controlling its operating expenses. Interest Coverage Ratio is especially concerning because this ratio indicates the ease of paying the interest on the outstanding debt, and Be Our Guest, Inc. may struggle paying the interest down the road if the ratio continues to decline. Note that the company is currently fully capable of paying for the interest on an annual and quarterly Tudor Team Five

Page 7 basis, but the trend downward will be noticed. Be Our Guest, Inc. relies on debt to build the business as you can see from the long term debt to equity ratios. However, the ratios are fairly consistent and it drops down to . 43 in 1997. The company is more than capable to cover the interest of this debt as noted earlier. Cash Flow is being adversely affected due to the abnormally large increase (56%) in G during 1997. According to the footnote on page 4 of the case, a company the size of Be Our Guest should have G sales in 1997 closer to $565,718 rather than the $840,718 that was reported.

The bank will keep a particular eye on Cash Flow/Debt Service Ratio and Debt/Tangible Net Worth Ratio along with the bottom line, since the covenants include requirements regarding these. The covenants require the Cash Flow/Debt Service ratio to not be less than 1/25:1, and the company is in line with this covenant on an annual basis. However, the company does not satisfy this covenant when looking at the quarterly figures. Debt/Tangible Net Worth cannot be greater than 2. 00:1, and Be Our Guest, Inc. satisfies this covenant on an annual and quarterly basis.

According to the covenants, the company can’t incur two consecutive quarters of net losses; nor incur a net loss for any fiscal year. The company did incur a loss in Q1 1997, but followed with a strong Q2 net profit, so the company is in compliance with this covenant as well. Be Our Guest, Inc. is in a seasonal industry, which is a concern, but even more of a concern is the company’s inability to produce projections. We understand that projections may not be extremely accurate, but it is possible to project through the use of confidence intervals.

The bank becomes a little more comfortable with the seasonality because they feel that Al Lovata (former Banker) is aware of the risks associated and has a handle on them. Tudor Team Five Page 8 The balance sheet is decent, but it is not incredibly strong because it is barely covering the current liabilities. As a banker we would also be concerned about the customer makeup. Be Our Guest, Inc. relies heavily on two particular customers (Customer A and B), which make up over 21% of the company’s sales.

These two customers make up 1/5 of the company’s budget, and I would like to know if the company has any backup plans in case they lost either of these customers and has performed the due diligence required to make sure its major customers are not insolvency risks themselves. Other than these top two customers, it appears that the customer base is spread out appropriately. The strong covenants in place are a source of comfort for the bank. Not only do they have strong covenants, but the bank also has virtually all of the company’s assets pledged and the shareholders guarantee the loan.

Given that this is an S Corporation, the shareholders’ personal assets would be safe, but since these shareholders guaranteed the loan, the bank can go after the personal assets of the shareholders. Be Our Guest, Inc. is not a start-up company, and it has been in operation since 1983, so there is a level of comfort knowing that this company has been around for over 10 years and has been remotely successful during this time as well. It has great management in place who each contributes strong and complimentary experiences along with a level of expertise.

This company is focused and driven to provide the best service they can within the industry, and they have been rewarded for it with the 1997 Small Business Firm of the Year. While Be Our Guest may not be the greatest risk, there are provisions in place and aspects of the company that make Be Our Guest an acceptable risk for the bank. Tudor Team Five Page 9 3. How much total bank financing will the company need at the end of 1998, including both the short-term borrowing under the bank credit line and the outstanding amount of the term loan? For convenience, assume that 1998 sales are $3,000,000. ) In order to estimate how much total bank financing the company will need at the end of 1998, there are two possible ways of forecasting the financial results in terms of balance sheet and income statement. The analysis must take into account the highly unpredictable, seasonal nature of the business. Due to this seasonality, there is high level of uncertainty whichever forecasting method is applied. The first method is to estimate the future income statement based on a trend or horizontal analysis.

In this specific case, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for each item on the income statement was calculated for the years 1994-1997. With regards to revenue, $3,000,000 for 1998 was accounted for in the calculation. This analysis shows an increase in G due to the unusual increase in G the previous year (1996-1997) affecting the CAGR in 1998. Consequently, the income statement shows a loss in the Net Earnings when applying this method. The second method is to calculate the costs of revenue based on the percentage impact of each item of cost on the total revenue in 1997 (vertical analysis).

This analysis, according to us, seems more logical in itself and also leads to a much more positive outlook for 1998 (Net Earnings of $99,408). The result would be sustainable for the business. Two more steps are necessary to forecast the financing needs for the year 1998: Tudor Team Five Page 10 The first step is repayment of the line of credit for the short-term liabilities ($140,000+$3,498). The second step is better management of the seasonality, especially for quarters 1 and 4 which are the most risky quarters for the business.

Given that Net Earnings are around $68,096, the line of credit needs to cover the difference ($75,402). Taking into consideration the seasonality, calculated as operating cash flow (refer to case – covenants), there should be no liquidity problems year-end 1998. The cash flow available at the end of 1998 completely covers the losses in Q1 and Q4. The company should keep the line of credit, because debt is incurred upon the credit line only when used. The management, however, should only use the credit line when absolutely necessary.

Finally, the company should convert approximately $75,000 of the $140,000 of the line of credit into long-term debt because it will cost less in terms of interest. In addition, the company should increase the long-term debt accordingly (based on the strategy regarding future investments; see answer to question 4). Assuming that the long-term loan is amortised in a constant manner, with approximately 25% payoff per year as “current instalment of term note”, shown to be the same figure as 1997 ($75,268) which is calculated based on the term note payable less current instalment of $168,043 for 1998.

Tudor Team Five Page 11 Proposed here is a two-step approach for financing the investment: The first step is to obtain another long-term loan of $200,000 to change and improve the phone and IT systems. This will lead to a better position to judge the current market needs to revise and produce a strong strategy for the business in terms of efficiency, profitability and long-term outlook. Once this step is accomplished, by 1999, the company should obtain yet another long-term loan.

Regarding the possibility of an acquisition, if Be Our Guest makes an acquisition, it can do so through a leveraged-buyout. Therefore, taking on the debt of the company being acquired and funding the other part of the acquisition by selling part of the equity of Be Our Guest (Following the financial restructuring and the increase in efficiency the value of the stock will increase). Asking for a loan for an acquisition today would not be reasonable, nor is it likely that the bank would agree to issue the loan. Currently, the financial ratios of the company do not justify an acquisition.

Therefore, starting off with a smaller loan to improve the company running in terms of efficiency and infrastructure will be of greater value. In total the company should take the following long-term loans: $75,000 (line of credit converted into long-term loan) $200,000 (investment) $168,000 (outstanding long-term loan) Total long-term loans in the Balance Sheet by end of 1998: $443,000 As already mentioned before, the line of credit should remain available at the same level as before ($140,000) since it is only paid for if used (expected 1998: fully available).

Tudor Team Five Page 12 4. What should Al Lovata and Simone Williamson ask for when talking with the bank? If the company needs additional bank financing, should the increase be provided by an increase in the credit line, or should the size of the term loan be increased to meet the need? Should they ask for some relaxation or change in the loan covenants, particularly the personal guarantees that they have provided at the bank’s request? Al Lovata and Simone Wiliamson should approach Anne Granger in a confident way.

Be Our Guest’s balance sheet is fairly strong and fairly liquid, the income statement shows signs of growth and the company is generally doing well. Hence Be Our Guest can take a confident stand to discuss the covenants openly with the bank in order to reach some relaxation on the strict terms. They need to work with the bank to: *lower the rate *review the requirements of personal guarantees for the loan Be our Guest Inc. can consider the possibility of going to another bank if State Street holds their ground on these strict covenants

Considering the current and past status of the balance sheets and income statements it is realistic to assume that Be Our Guest, Inc. would not have much difficulty to find a new lender who would agree on different, more relaxed terms of covenants. The company mainly needs the line of credit to finance the seasonal effects of Q1, which could be reduced by a solid growth or expansion plan or merely revising the company’s HR strategy regarding the full-time staff during Q1. Tudor Team Five

Page 13 For example, they could reduce the staff’s hours, which would keep them on a full-time employment base but would reduce the G costs for this particular quarter; or they could put the full-time staff on a strategic rotation plan which incorporates the poor business of quarter 1 but leaves options in case of unexpected business in this time period which would also reduce the general G costs and still leave the company in a good position to handle short-term notice business.

Regarding the interest for outstanding borrowings on the credit line as well as the interest for the long-term loan, it has been reliably covered and there is no immediate reason to believe that this will change. Any future increase of the long-term loan to drive the growth of the company in terms of business expansion or increasing assets can only be interpreted in a positive way seeing that the revenues have shown to increase with all previous growth-measures.

State Street bank should recognise the company’s solid management foundations and the well-going business over the past years and keep their good standing with Be Our Guest, Inc. Lovata and Williamson want to be prepared for future growth. The way to growth has been identified in two possible options, completing an acquisition or expanding their product line. Both of these strategies need to be supported by a consistent long term plan in order to finance their investment needs.

Pertaining to this reason, for funding their growth they should ask the bank to extend their long term lend (clearly cheaper than a revolving credit) and moreover ask to re-negotiate the interest rate (too high especially to be a “prime rate”). Additionally each growth plan in the first few years needs patience and flexibility in terms of managing losses, therefore it would be crucial to review Tudor Team Five Page 14 at least part of the current covenants, like prohibiting two consecutive quarters of net losses and avoiding a net loss for any fiscal year.

Taking into account that they are in a good financial position and that the extra money they would need is for future expansions and growth of the company, refinancing its existing debt to obtain better terms, could be quite reasonable. Moreover the company has a fairly strong balance sheet and profitable growth, so it has plenty of bargaining power to negotiate a better deal with the bank. The only negative item is given by the decrease in the last 4 years of the “net income”, but again it is an issue suggested by a covenant (distribute more than 50% of the earnings to the principals).

It is probably the most useless and most dangerous of the list as it is leading the owners to distribute the profit thereby increasing the G costs. Definitely, another crucial aspect is about liquidity pain, especially for an already seasoned business as that of “Be Our Guest”. In this case they should consider converting some of their revolving credit to term debt (cheaper) making line of credit available, which is currently fully used (coherently to the 1998 expected cash position, answer 3).

In this sense the best deal for “Be Our Guest” might be to invest in a business that generates revenue during current slow seasons and eases the firm’s reliance on credit for working capital. Thus even if the tents business could be apparently external to the “Be Our Guest” business model this business expansion should be taken into consideration. It is not only a new source of profit but will also enable profits for the current business in the slow seasons (tents are mainly set off in the rainy and cold seasons like fall and winter).

However, they should be able to distinguish between long term debt and short term line of credit, using the first one for investments and the second one to manage liquidity pain periods. Tudor Team Five Page 15 Leaving aside its convenience in general, the nature of the long-term debt, makes the development of the financial plan easier by providing the exact future payment scheme. On the contrary the line of credit is extremely useful to manage liquidity pain periods but should be paid back quickly or converted in term loan.

Finally while refinanced bank loans for now may be adequate to finance the company, it may not be enough for future plans and therefore curb the expansion (current debt/tangible worth ratio is already higher than 1). They should consider a different way of raising funds e. g. from selling equity. Reviewing the personal guarantees is fundamental in order to attract new investor and to manage the company differently. Be Our Guest was created as a business idea and for many years ran more like a family business but now it is a profitable firm that should be managed in terms of efficiency and profitability.

This leads to two necessary actions: one by the State Bank, to get rid of the covenant including the personal guarantee of the loan by the management; and second by Be Our Guest, Inc. to review their company status. In terms of the State Bank, it will be essential to convince Anne Granger to remove the covenant regarding the guarantee for the long-term loan. From the point of view of the management of Be our Guest, Inc. they need to review their company status. Only when they successfully separate the business from the family-business approach on which terms Be Our Guest, Inc. as founded, they can attract future investors. Tudor Team Five Page 16 Exhibit 1 – Annual Income Statements (1994-1997) Tudor Team Five Page 17 Exhibit 2 – Annual Balance Sheets (1994-1997) Tudor Team Five Page 18 Exhibit 3 – Quarterly Income Statements 1997 Tudor Team Five Page 19 Exhibit 4 – Quarterly Balance Sheets 1997 Tudor Team Five Page 20 Exhibit 5 – Forecasting Tudor Team Five Page 21 Exhibit 6 – Annual Ratios Tudor Team Five Page 22 Exhibit 7 – Quarterly Ratios Tudor Team Five Page 23

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