Case Study: Ford House Retreat

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About the business

For owner Jenny Rotman, Ford House Retreat is more than a bed and breakfast, but a place that offers an experience that reflects the rich history of Bridgetown. With personal touches of locally made jarrah decor, 5 acres of beautiful gardens, homemade jams to enjoy at brunch and the site itself housing historic buildings – Ford House Retreat holds an important place for locals and visitors. 
Jenny has owned and operated Ford House Retreat for 27 years now, originally beginning the business with her husband who died 8 and ½ years ago. Although Jenny says the business has faced all sorts of ups and downs, living on the property has been heavenly. 
What has made the experience even more enjoyable has been her close relationship with Breathe Accounting and, in particular, working with one of Breathe Accounting’s directors Kiko Willers. 

“They’re honest, trustworthy and they’re invested in your business. You’re not just a number. And that’s exactly what you need running a business.”​

The Problem 

Before working with Breathe Accounting, Jenny had experienced several rounds of bad luck with previous accountants.
Jenny’s accountant of 20 years who lived in Bridgetown showed little interest in the business or in Jenny herself. This showed more than ever when Jenny’s husband passed. Jenny was struggling emotionally, physically and financially and confided in her accountant for help. The accountant told Jenny to give up on the business and sell. Instead, Jenny gave up on the accountant and found new support.
Unfortunately, this next accountant didn’t help with Jenny’s business goals either, who disappeared after 12 months of hiding the fact they did nothing. 

By this stage, Jenny was in debt with GST, in debt for Super and everything felt chaotic.

When she was recommended Breathe Accounting, she approached the referral with caution. However, from the first meeting with Kiko, she instantly felt reassured and like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

“Kiko was gorgeous. From just my first meeting with him, I felt safer.”

Due to a long history of questionable services from previous accountants, Jenny was starting from scratch. 

“It was painful and they had to work very hard to catch up. But they supported me, encouraged me and held my hand throughout the entire process. They have absolutely turned the business around.”

The Solution

From the first meeting, Breathe Accounting offered easy solutions to complex problems. Breathe Accounting accumulated all of Ford House Retreat’s books, organised the business’ finances and set up a methodical plan that would get Ford House back on the path to success.

“It was the first time I’ve had an accountant that is genuinely interested in me and my business and supporting me to get ahead. ”

For Jenny, she had never experienced an accounting firm like Breathe Accounting. Not only do they offer financial support, they offer support in all aspects of business. They genuinely care how you are doing and how your business is running. It’s this genuine care that has kept Jenny and many other clients working with Breathe Accounting. 

“Behind every successful business is a good accountant. It’s so important to the running of a small business. They’re very good at what they’re doing. In every way, they’re pivotal to the business. And now I don’t have to worry that if someone rings me from the tax department or something went wrong in the business, I’ve got somebody I can ring who will confidently break it down, offer clear direction and destress the situation… And, Kiko’s just adorable.”

Working in the tourism industry, COVID presented many hurdles and challenges for Ford House Retreat. It was important for Jenny to not only have a reliable and experienced accountant but also, to have emotional support to keep her spirits high during a time that was difficult.

“During the initial lockdowns of the pandemic, I rang Breathe Accounting everyday crying. Which wouldn’t have been great for them. But they listened and inspired optimism and resilience. They encourage and empower you to solve your problems. Which aren’t accounting issues really but help you immensely in your business.” 

The Results

“Enormous improvements. I’m confident. I’m secure. I’ve got more ideas. And, I keep calm when things dip. With Breathe Accounting’s mentoring I can achieve anything. I want to have a good life. I want to be able to sleep at night. And that’s really what Kiko has enabled me to do.”

Breathe Accounting completely changed the financial position of Ford House Retreat. Instantly, Ford House began getting ahead of government responsibilities that had been building up over the last few years.

“I was lost, I didn’t know what to do. Now, I’m completely up-to-date.”

Prior to 2019, Ford House Retreat was in an unstable position and were completely behind in their government responsibilities. Today, they’re ahead. Ford House Retreat has a reduced interest rate with the bank, all bookkeeping is done efficiently and timely, they have a new easy payroll system. They’re able to make plans for the future, feeling confident with their finances and bookwork.

“I’ve got someone now that I can talk to who has genuine interest in the place. It’s a packaged deal. I’ve got a confidant, someone who’s capable, a leader and someone to offer optimism in times of strife. All I need to do is pick up the phone and call Kiko and he’ll provide a solution. He’s one of the few people in my life I would highly recommend.”

Heading into the second half of 2022, Ford House are feeling optimistic and excited for what’s to come. Jenny and the team have made repairs to the property, they’ve booked in events to the end of the year and Jenny overall feels a better life/work balance. 

“I would recommend Breathe Accounting to anybody. Because it’s somewhere you feel comfortable. They don’t make you feel small or dumb. They help you to navigate the system. They’re very supportive and good at their jobs and are truly invested in your business. I can’t recommend them enough.”

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