Andrea Hipsher, director of finance for Bria Hammel Interiors and its sister company, Brooke & Lou, has been an accountant for 15 years. After starting out in public accounting, Andrea worked for Target Corporation for nine years in various accounting and finance roles, and then served as controller for a construction company. Today, Andrea oversees all of the finance and accounting for Bria Hammel’s interior design business, as well as her home furnishings collection, Brooke & Lou.
What led Andrea to make the switch from a large corporation like Target to a small interior design firm?
“I had a growing interest in interior design and home decor, so I thought it was a great opportunity to join up a personal interest I had with my career skill set,” she says. “I have a strong passion for this industry and this company and enjoy using my skill set to help our company grow profitably, help our team with decision making, and support our customer experience.”
As a CPA with no prior interior design industry experience, Andrea offers a unique perspective on the different accounting systems available and how they compare. In this interview, she shares what her experience with Design Manager has been like so far, and how she uses it to assist in her day-to-day accounting operations.
Office Design by Bria Hammel Interiors
Getting Up to Speed on Design Manager
Bria Hammel has been a longtime friend and ambassador of Design Manager, using the software since the earliest days of her business in 2012. But when Andrea came on board in July 2019, she had never used it before, having worked with enterprise accounting systems such as Lawson and SAP in the past.
“Coming from a background of seeing a lot of different ERP systems, I've been able to get what I need out of Design Manager in terms of reporting and being able to do financial and business analysis,” Andrea says. “I think it's a great fit for interior designers because of its ability to keep everything very structured and organized and supporting processes. We try to keep our operations and processes streamlined, efficient, and organized, and it definitely supports our culture around that,” she says.
In terms of on-boarding and getting up to speed with the new system, Andrea says it was a combination of in-house training, as well as utilizing Design Manager’s online resources and support.
“The screenshots and videos are super helpful for somebody who's brand new, and all of the resources are very user-friendly and straightforward,” Andrea says. “When I've had questions, I've been able to send those to the support team at Design Manager, and they've always been able to help me, and they do it quickly and with very great answers that get me what I'm looking for. So overall, I feel like it's been an easy transition, and the interface is pretty intuitive.”
Andrea’s Favorite Features
Andrea mainly uses Design Manager for customer billing, the accounts payable cycle, and reporting. As a former controller, she stresses the importance of having controls in place to ensure that everything is kept clean and accurate.
“One of my favorite Design Manager features is the PO system,” Andrea says. “I like that when invoices come in, they have to get matched up first, and they're not just getting posted without us knowing exactly what the charge is and what it's for. Without that, you create a lot of risks.”
She also appreciates Design Manager’s time billing tools, which enable her to track the team’s billable hours every month.
Andrea says, “It's very easy for me to go into a project and bill design time. All the detail of what someone was spending their time on gets pulled onto the invoice. This allows our clients to get an understanding of what they’re paying for. It’s an efficient process.”
The other reports that Andrea frequently uses include the income statement, balance sheet, cash flow, and sales tax reports. “Design Manager definitely meets my needs in terms of understanding what's going on in the business,” she says.
More recently, the Bria Hammel Interiors team has also started adding pictures to the stock list in the inventory model. “I think that's been really helpful for us to make sure we really understand what's showing in that list and that it's accurate,” Andrea says. “It impacts the balance sheet, which is very important for me to keep accurate.”
A System Set Up to Support an Interior Design Business
As an accountant with no previous interior design experience, Andrea can still appreciate the importance of having a system that is designed with the interior design business model in mind.
“Design Manager is set up to support an interior design business, and I think that's key to bringing all the processes together efficiently. Design Manger really acts as a tool to support our business vs. a more generic software that might feel like more of a burden than a helpful tool,” she says.