Aspire for More with Erin

Let's Talk Business with Burdette Tatum

August 22, 2023 Erin Thompson
Aspire for More with Erin
Let's Talk Business with Burdette Tatum
Show Notes Transcript

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Hi on today's aspire for more with Erin podcast episode, I am interviewing Burdett Tatum. And Burdette Tatum is owner and operator of Tatum account services and his mission is to serve the senior living industry with training, backup, accounting support at community and home office levels. His team will fill in the gap. If you have any accounting openings in your company. Burdette has served the senior living industry for 10 years. He is a certified public accountant and he has worked at the corporate level, leading a team of property accountants. His passion is to teach and lead the business directors in the community to provide excellent service in all their daily functions. He has worked closely with business directors, executive directors, and the corporate level positions to ensure his clients that are new to the industry or the community. Get the proper comprehensive training. For debt believes new business directors need adequate time to feel comfortable in the processes of the community and feel confident in how their role can build trust with all the people that we serve in the communities. On a personal note. He is an impressive father of four. He lives in Georgia and he was once an amateur bodybuilder. And this episode Burdette and I focus on how important training is for our business directors and how instilling in them. The importance of their role in creating trust with our family members, we go over key performance indicators that all managers may want to know if they aspire to grow. In the industry and some personal stories that really impressed me with Ability to overcome hard times and become better because of the experience. I had so much fun with this interview and I hope that you enjoy it too.

Erin:

Today on my episode of the aspire for more with Erin podcast, we're welcoming a Burdett Tatum. Burdett, thank you for being here today. I appreciate that. I want to hear about these kids. You've got four kids and I have two, all those, one of mine feels like four. How do you make it work? Are they all boys? Are they all girls? What's the mix? Tell me all about them.

Burdette:

And that's a great question. So yeah, for four children, three boys and a little girl. We've got 16, 11, nine and eight. So my baby is my little girl. so one shy of a starting five on the basketball team, right? So, weekends at my house are interesting and it's, it's, a lot of baseball, a lot of gymnastics. So it's good.

Erin:

Yes. I bet that little girl is rotten. I bet she's rotten.

Burdette:

100%. She has me wrapped twice around the fingers.

Erin:

Yes, for sure. That is certainly a very important topic to dive into, but to me, the amateur bodybuilding experience, we got to talk more about that. So walk me through what led you to that? What did you learn from that? And I like to talk about vulnerability a lot. So go deep. I want to hear all about it.

Burdette:

100%. no, and I love the way you put it in the intro. I can get used to that image amateur bodybuilding. but no, I guess I always have been, I guess, health conscious. And so I, I've always tried to keep a consistent workout routine. but I don't know, I, at 1 point I had got a trainer, and he had mentioned to me saying, Hey, this is not the 1st time I heard it. You should give a bodybuilding a try and it's like, well, okay. And so just not knowing anything and going with it. I agreed let's prepare. At the time he was going to do the show with me. And so he was like, Hey, I'm going to be there with you. And so we just did training and I'll pause there and say. to help explain the story. It was right after my accident and I'll go back to what that accident was, but it was a couple months after my accident. So anyway, we're training. Obviously, you probably know that it takes a lot of commitment on your diet and just consistency in the way you eat and the way you train. So fast forward, it's actually a Lee Haney. bodybuilding event and, and Lee Haney is, eight time Mr. Olympian. So it was a big deal and probably not the first bodybuilding event you want to do because it brings out like the people that know what they're doing. So, so needless to say, even though I was in an amateur class, I was against folks that I'm like, no, it's no way you're a novice right like you're there. But anyway, just kind of fast forward through that. It takes a lot of commitment, obviously. but that was in November of 2017 and in April. So a couple months earlier in April, I, had an accident and, basically, I, I tried to set the house on fire. and you know in front of the stove, can of Pam blows up fire, I've got burns all over. And so, fast forward, I went 2 or 3 weeks in the hospital. And so from there to try to get back in shape and then have this crazy idea to say, Hey, you know what? I'm going to get on stage. With healed burns, all on my arm, had some burns on my face on my head, all that stuff that I had to begin to repair, to get on stage where, you're in bodybuilding and you're supposed to be flawless, right? You're not supposed to have any blemishes on your body. Here I am standing with, burns or healed burns on my right arm. But, yeah. That experience was eye opening. and you're talking about being vulnerable, right? So being up there and letting people take pictures at you and judge you and holding poses and smiling and, learning the way you have to show off your body because you can have a great body, but if you don't know how to show it off, you don't get anything. Needless to say, I didn't win. Okay. But, it wasn't win for me in the sense that for one, I took a lot of courage, right? Again, just in the hospital months earlier to now be standing on stage. And then, yeah. To find out that leading up to it, my trainer that was going to be with me was unable to be there. So he was not in the show. So here I am in the background by myself, looking at all these studs, everybody's doing pushups and stuff before they go on stage. And I'm just like, looking all crazy. But anyway, to go through that, it was fun. It was enjoyable. It was scary. It was, again, standing on stage, holding poses and smiling at folks with cameras, was tough, but, I wouldn't trade experience for a world. I mean, it was incredible to try to recover from those burns and prepare my body to get back to a place. I enjoyed it. So that's my bodybuilding experience.

Erin:

That is an amazing story because you're right. It does take courage. I mean, A, just being on the stage was a win. The whole process was a win. I think that if we can, I think that literally if we look back in our lives. And we look at what pain we're grateful for, right? We can all look back and say, there is something that happened to us that caused us great pain, but we're thankful for it because it taught us this. And I think that is a prime example of setbacks in life that could really destroy you. I mean, destroy you, but instead you sat there and said, let me let the world see it. That is amazing. That is such an amazing story.

Burdette:

Yeah, that and you know what the, I can laugh about it now, obviously at the time, right? It was like, oh, man, that was for one bonehead move, right? The, can of Pam says, highly flammable. But anyway, cooking in it, it was sitting on a stovetop got too hot but I'll tell you in the blessing here. at the time, my youngest boy was three, about to turn four, and my baby girl was two. But my wife and my son had just walked past the stove, like literally had just walked past. They hadn't made it out the kitchen yet, so then I was in front of the stove, and that's when the whole explosion happened. But, fast forward now, I mean, that's a story I hold on to. And I wish I can say I, I planned all that to say that happened and then get on stage. But just the way the events happened and when I was presented with the opportunity, it's like, why not? You got burns on your body, so. Like get up there and just go forward. So it was a cool experience. It's

Erin:

true. I don't have burns, but I certainly have things in my life, rejections and different things that create stories, right. And I think when you hear people overcome the physical elements of bad things that happened to them, it makes, it's easy to see. The progression, but when those hurts are, psychological or whatever, it's hard for people to see the levels of overcoming. And so stories like this inspire me because we all have hurts. We all have rejections. We all have stories that we tell ourselves that limit us. But here's an example of how imperfection actually propelled you to success. It teaches you that the scars are worth it. The scars are beautiful, and sign of overcoming and that, that's awesome. So thank you. I like that. So I guess that really goes into when I saw you on LinkedIn. You were doing videos, and I thought that that was really interesting because not a lot of people do videos and you do videos and explaining accountant processes. And I thought that was really interesting. And not many people do that, especially in accounting. So you really take. A quote unquote, boring process and turn it into TV, right? For content for us to consume. And I know from my own experience, um, doing videos on LinkedIn is. Um, very vulnerable. And for me, probably my version of bodybuilding. So talk to me about how you started doing that. I'm really intrigued about that story. What made you do that? What's the impact that you've seen? What keeps you going and doing that?

Burdette:

It's a good question. And I, and I, and I think you kind of said it, right? So, um, a seemingly boring topic, right? Nobody's. rushing or, buying tickets to go hear about accounting, right? Like nobody's sitting in there to just be like, Oh, you know, that was a great accounting lesson I got, but, um, I always liked, cause I, you know, I consider myself kind of a unorthodox accountant, right? So, you know, getting into the industry and I never felt like the stereotypical accountant, which whatever that is. I think anybody will have their own definition but behind a computer, your calculator with your glasses on and you're crunching numbers. Right? Um, I think the, the concepts, and the stories that the, numbers tell and really breaking something down. That seems to be very complicated. Just when you hear accountants, like, your mind shuts down. Breaking down, you know, those things that seem very complicated and just trying to bring that to, the audience. And it just comes from the time working with a lot of these leaders and, certain things, accounting related that can, trip our leaders up. And it's really just a passion to say, Hey, it's really not that complicated. Lets draw the diagram on the whiteboard. This is what we're doing when we, recognize the reservation fee. That's all, we're doing moving money to this bucket, right? We don't have to, Talk about debits and credits to teach accounting. We can just say that, Hey, when you're doing these functions and the yardi system or whatever your accounting system is, you're doing this, the computer's doing the accounting, I just want you to have a good understanding of the why. And we'll get into, get into some of this, but I think it will make, it makes the training stick a lot more. Um, so it's really to, to answer your question, it's, the passion behind trying to just bring something that seems to be complicated and breaking it down and making it simple and trying to speak the business officer leaders language. Right. And not using a whole bunch of accounting jargon, but speaking their language and we can have a real dialogue and they can say, Hey, these are things I don't understand. And we can, and I can really help break down some of those barriers, that have been set to say, Hey, I can't learn to count this. I really can't do this. No, actually you've already been doing accounting and majority of the accounting is happening in your community, which we'll dive into. And I'm just wanting to bring light to that. Yeah,

Erin:

it's so true. I love the fact that LinkedIn has opened. an opportunity to train community leaders in a way that maybe they don't get inside of company. Um, I'm newer to LinkedIn. I've been on almost a year. and when I saw what you were doing, it helped me to continue to do what I was doing, right? Because you were doing it in your department, like in your little area. Cause sometimes when we see people with like minds. It helps us keep going. And I thought, my God, if I had that when I was inside the community, because I used Yardi and it was bulky sometimes for me, I didn't quite understand it. And I watched some of your videos and because I have, you know, a context from it, I'm like, Hmm, that sure would have been nice. You know, I think it's important that we draw attention to. What LinkedIn content can be for our senior living leaders with people like you. and the vision that I have for me, what we can do to affect change in an industry. Your company Tatum accounting services offers that training support, to communities. And to corporate corporate levels. Right. So talk to me, of course, your videos tell me that that's what you're passionate about. So talk to me about how you do that, what you do, what you've seen. Um, I'm a big believer in patterns, right? So when we see patterns, when we identify them, we can use them in our favor and then create new ones based on the information that you have. So talk a little bit about your value add to your, people you serve. And then let's talk about the patterns that we see, what you've seen.

Burdette:

Absolutely, and honestly, really, I, like to think it of, it's really just a framework, right? Like, I, I, I'm, I'm kind of teaching or putting out there or recognize that it's just a framework. And so the full framework of, bringing support to the to the business office, right? Like, we, in my in my fantasy brain and what I see is, um, we can create these awesome bulletproof, if you will, business offices by, by teaching a framework, right? So you have overall framework and then you have a framework on how you handle accounts payable, and we can dive into details there and the framework of how you handle accounts receivable, and we can dive into the detail there and then a framework of how you understand how that rolls up and it builds the financials. And in those frameworks, there's processes that we want to teach and say, Hey, we want to make sure that these processes are sured up because. individually, those things are not hard things. And we all have come into contact with that, even just on a personal level, right? We know that we get bills that come into our household, right? Those are bills, those expenses, and we know that we also have income that comes into our household, from a job or whatnot. And ideally, the income is more than the bills that come into the household, right? And so just on on that level, and if the check didn't come in, right? Thank you. You know, that particular month, then we can't pay the bills that that have come in, right? Like, we, we can't call up and say, Hey, my check is a little late. The light bill is still going to say, Hey, your light bill is due. so getting back to, it's really just bringing light to, the framework and helping these operators. because I've been in there and doing it from the property accountant side, leading team of property accountants, really digging into the financials. I'm accounting CPA, so I understand that, but, the rewarding part of me being in this industry is being able to spend a lot of time with the business office leaders. I had a really awesome, unique position of being able to work closely with them and, seeing some of the things that tripped them up, seeing some of the frustrations, the support that they needed. And it really takes a lot of time because honestly, the operators when they have property accountants, they hired him to do that to be really good property accounts. They might not necessarily be prepared to also provide the support to the business office staff sometimes it's kind of a, oh yeah, I have to do that too. I think what, what's bringing light to is that there's a lot of intentionality that has to go into that level of support. And so you can have 2 people running after the same goal, but it almost seems like you're going in opposite directions. So say it's between the 1st and the 10th and property accountants are grinding, trying to get the financials out and they don't, they don't have as much time to respond. As they need, but then you say, have the operating staff to have things going on and they need some support. So both both are trying to run down and make the community the best it can be, whether that's getting financial to investors or taking care of the residents. Um, but some of their activities are taking them in opposite directions. And, you know, what I'm saying is, we can, we can send in a gap there. We understand what the property countenance are having to tackle, but we also understand what the business office leaders need. And they need that information. They need to be self sufficient, right? So that's where the training component comes in. It's not that they want to sit around and say, Hey, Burdette or Erin I don't know how to do this, so I'll wait for you to show me. No, they want to be self sufficient. Give me sufficient training so that I can feel good about my role. So that I can, so I know that I'm adding value. I know that I'm winning each day. And now when I wake up and show up to work, I'm not scared of yardi because I understand I know what I need to do. And I can get that out of the way and go, and go do other things. Yeah,

Erin:

I think, I just think the word framework is, not used enough inside senior living. I did not know that word, honestly, until I started taking courses on how to be an entrepreneur. Like what, I mean, what you're giving business directors is a framework. It's a guide. It's a way to train your mind. That each thing has its own, process. And sometimes in training, in my experience, in training inside senior living, we just throw everything at you with no framework. Yes. Your policy and procedure manual is a framework, but that's a huge framework. As a business director, you need framework for each piece. When I taught myself how to literally look at the move in process inside of Yardi, just as the move in process. it made sense when I, when I cut things down into small bite sized pieces, but we're not afforded that time inside senior living. We're, we're really not in the traditional training setting. It's just like, here's your book. Here's what you got to do. Now we have a move in. So now you have to figure it out. And I am very passionate about services like yours and mine to where we can give people and companies things like frameworks to where it's an easy thing to wrap your mind around. It's so easy. Like this leads to this leads to this because not everybody can connect the dots at the beginning. And a framework can help somebody connect those dots. And that's important. And I, and the word leverage was never something that inside senior living that was ever discussed with me. And I'm sure that you could attest that. we have to leverage our strengths, right? And if we're not taught to do that, we're trying to do everything. And that's overwhelming. And because training is very important to you. These are the things that businesses like yours and mine and, and boutique senior living businesses coming in and helping the industry can really affect change. You see the patterns. so talk about those. What patterns do you see? I mean, turnover is a big topic. I know that we have talked in the past about training and the roots and the mindset of new business directors and even new account managers. what have you seen in your experience?

Burdette:

Yeah, no, that's a great, point. And you said one of my favorite words, which is leverage and I want to come back to that. working with a lot of the leaders I work with, you do see patterns and you see some of the, it's not like we're necessarily seeing. new issues, right? You know, if I go back to the times that I work and even today, you're seeing some of the same things that are tripping up some of the leaders. And this is where some of those videos come from. So in our industry is unique of, you know, taking a reservation deposit, and then that's got to sit on the balance sheet. And once the resident moves in, okay, now we count that as income because in most cases not refundable, right? That alone, and how that transfer happens, right? So on one hand, we can talk about The technical piece of it. Oh, you got a liability. Now you can recognize that as as income and all that kind of stuff. Or we can just draw some diagrams. Hey, it sits in this bucket. Think of it like a security deposit. When you go put a deposit on an apartment, the difference is now once you move in. Hey, now there's no longer an obligation to return that to the payer. That now is recognized on your income statement As income, we can teach that in a way that it's not just the accounting jargon. I want to identify, Hey, when you do these clicks in yardi on the backend, that's what you're doing. And so in some of my videos, I actually really had like an Excel file showing that this is moving also showing the financials also showing the ledger. relating to them that, Oh yeah, I know those screens and I go in and do that. Oh, is that what's happening on the backend? Right. And I think it just brings. Clarity and it's like now we can really dive in and discuss certain things because now they see what things are being impacted going back to the framework and seeing how things are connected. just right there that's a pattern of really drilling down and understand that process because I've seen that trip up so many leaders and then you throw in things like incentives or discounts I mean some of our communities are really creative and business office leaders is you're trying to spend time understanding what the incentive is. And it's like, okay, now how do I go and show that in an accounting system? And there's a huge like gap that exists, right? So to take from what the marketing leader gave me, this is the language that was used. Now, how do I tie that language to what I understand and accounting in the system? And a lot of times it's hard to bridge that gap. And again, I want to exist and bring some, some clarity to that, say, Hey, when they say this, that means this, right? Hey, we waived the fee. We didn't charge it. Well, that doesn't mean on this end, you just don't charge. That means you show, then you show a discount. And this is why. And so readers of the financials can see and understand. And so really just bringing attention to, uh, to that and. Because of those patterns, it helps me focus on some of those topics that I want to I know we'll get into this, but resident ledgers. Oh, my goodness, right? Like, that is a really big deal. And we want to do everything we can to protect the residents ledgers because you and I know very well that can really be a stain against the community if a ledger goes out and it's just In terrible condition. I always say, even if it's accurate, if it's a lot of ins and outs, that's just going to build a case of this, but this must be wrong. I can't follow it. It must be wrong. And therefore I'm not going to pay. And then you have that whole, conversation.

Erin:

Let's stay there. That's important. Like, I am a big proponent of building trust inside of community. I do a lot of projects. reading surveys that have gone wrong and how to help, create new policies or processes for communities and defend it and potentially try to discredit it. So one of the things that is a pattern that I have seen in reading these surveys is trust. And every department has an ability to, gain trust, earn trust, and keep trust. To be consistent with communication and really trust just boils down to communication. And are you doing what you say you're going to do? and the business director is the person who's responsible for the money. Okay. So if the nurse. Or if the executive director is doing a great job and communicating what's going on, and all these other things, and then the business director is not a great communicator, there's a little bit of that emotional deposit, right? Like, is the bank account full of trust? And then, did something happen and... And we can recover from it. It just took a little bit of withdrawal from it. But if there are other departments who are not doing a good job communicating and trust and following up and following through, and then we have a mistake on the ledger, Who is going to get the brunt of the anger of the family, the business director is. it's almost like culinary, Like it's very black and white. The fish is burnt, the chicken is tough. And so therefore I'm going to get, I'm going to lash out at you because I can. And it's the same way at money. You debited my account twice, or you told me that this charge was going to be off of the, the statement, but it's not, there are things that business directors can do to alleviate that pressure. Tell us what they are.

Burdette:

For that that that is beautiful the way you put that and and and really, you know, when you when you see the output of the ledger, and because I can take a look at the ledger these days and say, all right, well, you know, quickly, you can be drawn to certain things and then you, can walk it back or just say, okay, I wonder what this process looks like. Because how was that missing? I wonder what this process looks like. Oh, okay. You're not taking advantage of this control that's built into the system. And now when you stack all that on top of each other, then yeah, the output is pretty bad, which is frustrating for the business office leader because they're not trying to mess up the ledger. So maybe it was a lack of training. Maybe it was just a lack of support. They inherited a tough situation, right? We could talk about that as well, of new leaders coming on and they just kind of. I'm sure you can relate to inherit in a situation that's like, Oh, man, now I've got to come in and try to work my magic. And so a lot of those things come to play. And to your point in the industry where trust can be very thin, right, it takes a lot to get that trust. And I think when we talk about trust, I'll try to explain it this way, we really have to consider the, the customer profile. And, since you said, being vulnerable, I'll, try to explain it in a personal example. So we've got this customer profile that we know that exists in senior living. Every operator, every community, I think, understands this, but, um, I'm a customer, right? or, the decision maker of a customer. So mom has early onset Alzheimer's, right? Um, we're about, maybe a decade up the road with that diagnosis. And, when you, when I think about, And again, thinking about the customer profile, um, this is my mother, the woman that gave birth to me. And, to say, Mr. Executive director, Miss executive director, you can care for my mother better than I can. Um, never, never mind. The fact is going in the background. We talked about it for children married. So you're trying to raise kids, you know, trying to have marital bliss. You know, we talked about this, the sandwich generation. So having parents, you have to take care of the kids, you have to take care of yourself. Nevermind all that going on in the background. my question still is you can care for mom better than I can. The environment is already set to have somewhat of a low level of trust, even at the very least some skepticism. Right? And so, again, thinking about the customer profile, all this baggage that that comes along with it. And now you're talking about some of the things we're saying. So now, when there's a messed up ledger, There's not too much leeway that you have because you already have all these things in the background that the customers are dealing with. And so soon as something is off, it's like, yep, I knew it. I knew that was going to happen and I knew I was the best care for my mother. I'm just speaking personally. there's not, no matter how true it is, there's not a story good enough that can explain why mom fell or why mom, Hadn't been changed, right? Even if it's true. Hey, my mom got out of control. She loves playing spades. She's stood on the chair to celebrate and she fell, right? All those things can be true, but I'm still like, yep, I knew it. And so when you have that in the background, and then, that really works into the training. Mindset and all that stuff, because if, if that's established and understood, then we can go into the training. So now when I'm saying, hey, it's very vital to put, um, good detail notes in the, the descriptions when you're putting in payables, because the show up on the finance is really important to do that, right? And you can always go back to again, remembering our customer profile. Remember the things the chips are almost stacked up against us, right? And so these are things that we have to do. We have to be intentional about this framework so that. Okay. we can really execute on the level that we want to execute with because we don't have as much leeway as other industries may have. And, I, I can get behind the fact that operators and communities are really making a bold declaration. That declaration is with their chest out saying, yes, we can take care of mom. Tatum, we can take care of mom. We, we, we can. And, and, and people like yourself and myself, you know, are looking to join arms with those operators or communities and say, Hey, we're going to be the support so that you can hold up to that declaration. That yes, you could take care of mom. You could take care of Lisa. That's my mom's name. You could take care of them. And you've got to support and folks like us that they're going to help support. That make that true. So it's really talking about trust. You consider that customer profile and that feeds into the training. I think with that understanding, it's like, all right, now we can run towards this goal and win. And I understand why these details have to be in place. I understand why we have to be OCD about processes because we don't have that much we're working with. We're trying to fill up that bank account of trust. So when we do have a oops, it's like, all right, well, you guys have built so much trust up. We can, we can get past that. That's

Erin:

a beautiful framework that I hope that people that listen to this podcast can teach every department really. I mean, that's really profound when you think about it. I mean, yes, we, as a community, there is a built in of lack of trust because of the vulnerability and the fear and really potential elements of shame. Which is exactly what you explained of having to need the help, right? And whereas other departments are a little bit more emotional based, trust is emotional. Um, and this can't necessarily be factual, right? Some of it can money and food can certainly be very factual. And if every business director knew that in their role at the beginning, Of, of building trust. I think that we could see change. Um, I think that's profound, honestly. And it's certainly the way I operated as an executive director. Um, but I think it took me a few years to be able to communicate it that way. So I really liked the way that you said that. Um, and yes, the seven habits of highly successful people and that emotional deposit and that emotional bank account is huge. And how we in the industry need to operate. So I like that a lot because mindset's important. And if you go into it, knowing your hurdles that you have to Bob and weave from, right. you can navigate that a little bit more successfully. So a business director makes a mistake somehow she's new or he's new. Doesn't really understand it, but an account was debited twice. What's the steps process wise, but also in communication to the family, what would they do in order to build the trust, keep the trust, and learn from it. This is a great training example.

Burdette:

Yeah, that's really good. And I think you said it right. that communication piece has got to be huge, right? Like the damage is done. It's not like we can take it back and they never even see it, right? They're going to see it. So, I mean, that communication piece is great. And if that understanding is, at the forefront from day one, then there's, Potentially already relationship built, even if not with that business office leader, but with the community itself, because everybody has the same mindset of again, we know the customer profile. So we know we have to be intentional and building this trust. And so there's, there's potentially some trust that's already built, but that communications got to be huge, right? to your point, that's money. That's, Very, very powerful. I know if my account got debited twice, I'm going to be upset. And when I have a phone call, it may not be the nicest phone call and no harm in it. But like you said, if the fish is burnt, then it's the cook's fault, right? So my account is debited twice. You took money in my account. You should have. So, that communication first and foremost, but then With the same relationship, not just with the families and the payers, but the relationship with your property accountant and the relationship with the operator, right? Like, that's got to be a really good relationship. I tried to be intentional about the relationships that I have with the business office leaders and told them, Hey, pick up the phone. Call me. A lot of them have my cell phone. I'm shooting me a text because that's something that's like fire drill oh man we took$5,000 twice. What's our policy? What's the procedure to put that money back as fast as we can? Um, those are the type of things that it's like, all right, you want to be able to get ahold of somebody. And now let's walk through that depending on what the procedures are for that operator. But let's, how can we put this money back? Cause sometimes it's not as good as you say, all the money was just sitting in the can go as a credit towards the next month's rent. Well, it's only the first, right? So that's 30 days early. Everybody's not in a position to do that. And so I think communication on both levels with the families, but also with your corporate team. And hopefully there's a really good, uh, relationship there with their property accounting. If there's not, I would urge every business office leader to, know who that point of contact is and foster that good relationship. And I know one thing that we was always taught to be intentional about is, like, hey, I'm you only hear from me, you know, during month end. I'm like, what are your accruals? I need to make sure this is in there. Then that's it. Right? Like, let's have a dialogue. Let's have an opportunity for the trainer support or have somebody fill in the gap to have that support that they can help them with. All right. What do I do in a situation like that? Because that's that's very important because maybe that 1 mistake then spiral out and then we end up losing a wonderful resident just because we're not able to hold to that bold declaration that we were talking about, right? Because part of that care is not just, care but it's the financial care, right? Like, it's not necessarily cheap to be in these communities. And so that financial care has to be the same intentionality. We sure up and say, all right, well, what led to this? Okay, again, did we accidentally run billing twice? Okay, let's train that out. I know Yardi does, but, there's a maximum amount that we could put so, even if rent is this, we can say, hey, never pull more than this. And when I do trainings, this one thing I stress, if the rent is$5000 a month, right? We're going to say this is the max amount. So even if we had a and we billed twice, no matter what, the system is not going to pull more than that. And it's just a control that we want to play. So we because we never want to have that conversation. That's a tough conversation to have and kind of tough to come back from. Because now I don't want to be on ACH anymore. Nope. I'm going to write you checks that slows down the process a little bit. And it just kind of goes, you know, it just kind of goes down that route and it's hard to, get them back there.

Erin:

I don't want to write checks. I don't want to be on an ACH anymore. Yes. Right. Yes. I think, I think the moral of the story, I think in any department, if you're, if you make a problem or if a problem happens, own it immediately. Don't hide it. like you said, talk to somebody about it very quick, learn from it, you're not a failure, if you debited somebody's account five times, like you've made the same mistake five times, okay, let's talk about that. And that's a great exercise of trust to a family, trust to your executive director, trust to your property accountant, trust to your regional director, I made a mistake. I got to talk to you about it. We got to figure out how this happened and how it won't happen again. I mean, that's an excellent exercise in, doing things the right way. When you're proactive about the conversation and you allow reactivity to happen, that's when defensiveness comes in and irrationalism and a lot of different things. So the more proactive you are in every aspect in life, but specifically this one, with people's money. I had a great relationship with mine. We laughed and I got her sense of personality and, sense of humor. And she got mine and we talked about, the Royals in England an lot. that's important. And I know that you offer the same services in a corporate standpoint. So talk about that. And maybe some of the challenges that the corporate accountants face, they may not know how to support a community in detailed ways. So talk about all of that in your experience there. That's

Burdette:

right. that was my introduction to senior living right like so I came on as a property accountant, I moved up the ranks and got to a point where I led a team of property accountants but just accounting in general. And so they have their own challenges that they're dealing with and. Some of the same conversations, right? Like turnover exists in this industry, and it's not just reserved for the business office. It's it's in every department, and it's at the operator level as well. Property accountants may move on or what have you, for good reasons, right? And there's got to be some plans in place. And so, we do stand in the gap on that level as well, because it's kind of what we know. Um, we've gotten calls before, like, Hey, you know, we just kind of lost the property accountant. Can you guys jump in and close these books for us?, it's financial doing the 20th You know, can you guys help us out? Um, but what awesome to be able to have that type of support that knows that, Hey, this exists and then somebody that can jump in and come up to speed very quickly. Because again, some of the same challenges exist there where the focus there a lot of times is we have to meet the deadlines. So, it's August 10. So, probably very busy time right now for property accountants and you know, they're working on the July close and in many cases, some financials are due by today, right? And so going back to their heads being down and maybe not being able to provide the support that's still needed because that doesn't mean the first 10 days for the business office leader slows down. If anything, that's when they get a lot of payments and a lot of things are going on. They have things they need to do. And so if they don't have the right resources and training ahead of time, they've got to reach out more. And it's just these things that are not working together. And it hurts the trust between the two. And I think both sides really struggle. It could be frustrating to property accountant because it's like, Hey, my main role is X or what I believe to be. And it could be frustrated for the business office leader. Like, Hey, I'm trying to do this, but I don't have the resources that I need. I understand and see that gap. And so on both ends, we can help support the business office, but then we also can help support the operator at that level in a property accounting, so that they can help hit their deadlines.

Erin:

You know, the gap to me, as I'm sitting here and listening to you is context. You know, people don't buy things or understand things or do things because of what they, they want to know the why. And I don't think the why is ever really explained properly. And I think that goes back to frameworks. And I think that if the accountant could have a conversation with the business directors about why deadlines are the way they are, instead of just saying, Hey, you don't need to buy anything after the 22nd of the month. Well, to me, that is. One of the most foolish things that I have ever heard as an executive director, you're telling me that I can't buy anything after the 22nd of the month. That's crazy to me. Like I'm looking at that comment and I'm saying, Oh, I'm going to get creative. You know what I mean? Like I will be going to Sam's, I will be doing whatever needs to be done, you hmm. Then all of a sudden there's a little bit of clarity. There's a little bit of context and I can find the middle ground to help support both sides, but to tell me that I can't get what I need because I've got eight, nine more days in a month. And I can't guarantee that I'm not going to need anything. That's

Burdette:

right.

Erin:

That's right.

Burdette:

right now. I mean, that's so true. Both sides are running towards the same goal, but it definitely is like, hey, let's, let's have a conversation. Let's understand the why let's understand what's going on over here. Because if I am just putting comments out like that, then the thought is like, okay, well, Burdette really doesn't understand what's going on at the community he really doesn't get it because those eight days that things are going to happen And so it's got to be that continued dialogue and. Truly a mentality to support. Gone are the days of property accountants and they could just do accounting and that's all they could focus on, right? I was fortunate enough to serve an operator that like, no, get in the community, you've got to get in the community, you've got to see and touch and feel and, and see what's really going on and have that appreciation again, understanding if I knew this going in, understand that customer profile and know what they're dealing with, right? Again, seemingly stacks been. Chips been stacked against you and understand like, okay, well, that's that can be tense. All right. Well, this is some of the things that I can do to help that. And then even works in my favorite training, because, hey, we know, I don't want you to get a call, Erin, where a customer looks in their account and says, I see you drafted my account twice. Like, I want you to beat that call, right? If, if it has to happen, I don't want you to get all these calls from vendors saying, Hey, we haven't been paid again, or US food saying, we're not sitting in the truck, but it's in the truck because we're behind on payments, right? All those things that good communication, that good dialogue, and just some intentionality and teaching these frameworks to both sides, all getting on the same page saying, all right, like, this is how we unite and run down the goal again of, you know, being who we say we are.

Erin:

I feel like we just solved the world's problems in the conversation. All we need is to talk. All right. I want to inspire people to aspire for more for themselves. And we've talked a lot about that today through mindset and training and communication and owning our mistakes and communicating them for people who are business directors or assistant business directors or even activities directors who want to progress. I think one of the biggest things in an interview, people are going to want to know, how do they control finances? Do you know what NOI is? How do you get a good NOI? So from your perspective, since you are the money guy, let's talk about what NOI is. And what do people, let's just say, business directors or activity directors, or even sales directors, need to know from a finance standpoint to the basics to get to the executive director

Burdette:

role? That's a, that's a really good question. And as you were, talking, I was thinking, right off the bat and controlling what you can control. And we'll talk about NOI and also break it down to each level net operating income, simply the rents that we have coming in and all the income that we have coming in less all the operating expenses. gives us a number. Hopefully that's a positive number or the goal is to make that number positive as quickly as we can, right? Like at the day, that's, that's what we're trying to go after. When we, performas are being put together and all these things, you, you have your periods where, you know, it's going to be, be negative, but at some point in that budget and that formula that flips positive and that's what we're trying to, uh, run after. So each department, has their area of the finances that they are, called to control and that's where the spin downs come in place. So if I'm in activities, I have the certain GL codes or whatever, and a budget assigned to each of those. And my goal is to be able to stay in line with that budget, but I'll say this and I want to clarify when we're talking about a budget. Budget is not what has happened is what we hope to happen happen. And there's a lot of work that goes into creating a budget and we have this master plan. to answer your question., I would say there's an understanding of know the budget, but also know where your actuals lie. And what I mean by that, if I was new stepping into a role, maybe having a financial brain, let me see the actuals from last year. That's going to tell a story. And really, the base of a lot of budget is, hey, let's look at our spend historically, and then that's going to help us project what is going to be considering other factors. I want to know the actuals of last year. I want to know that actual I want to know the reality of what's happened and I want to see how that activities direct we're spending and then I can see. Okay. How far close they were to the budget because that's. And now I can take that to this new year and say, all right, I can kind of see where they were. And yeah, I'll ask questions if I see high spikes. Okay, what, what we got to understand what happened in the environment, but there's an understanding of the actuals. And then I can say, all right, and even see if the budget makes sense. And it's realistic because again, if the budget is on finalized and we're talking about now July of next year. A lot of events could have could have could have taken place that now blow that budget up. But the idea of doing those spenddowns to have an understanding of where your actuals are you can now see and say all right well. This may help me shave some costs over here because I've seen this or this may help me improve some items constantly knowing that, um, one is proactive. So being proactive about the finances, right? So, spend down is I got to be proactive. I want to track this monthly. I want to understand what I'm spending. I want to see where I came out. And, but, but I think that historical data gives you a look back into the past to see, I can see historically, I can see that. Okay. We've never hit budget on here, so let me ask some more questions. Right, and, and what's going on? I think value in the budget and understanding that, but also kind of seeing what's happened in reality. Um, so like this year, I would almost say you can annualize this year, so through June we know or finalize the most communities, maybe even through July. So we can take, let's just say June, we can take six months. Of again, my personal department, I could take 6 months of all the expenses this year, right? Have that total so I can get, I can divide that by 60 and I get a monthly number. Then I can multiply that by 12 to then annualize what maybe this year was shaped up to be. And I would, I would kind of do that and see where, where we are, especially going into next year. But it's things like that, that to help say, all right, well, I can see based on my, my spending of the 6 months. This is where I'm going to finish. And that takes me further away from the budget or close to the budget, or there's some things that I can do in the next couple of months to really get back in line based on, based on what's happening. But I think those are just some, some cool tricks and things that we're understanding that, all right, this is how I can help better control, my area of the

Erin:

financials. Right. Spend downs are important, knowing where your money's going. And I think another way to add support to that is in a calendar or in a notebook, write notes about what each month brought. And so when you get asked, or if you get asked during budget season, why was this account so high here? You have an answer for that. Um, and you don't have that context. If you are a new director. You have that context if you've been in that same position for a year. And so I would say if you're a new director, start making notes about each month, what the events were, what were the opportunities, what you couldn't do because you didn't have the money. What you had to do, even though you didn't have the money. And so you can always refer back to that because we think, I'm guilty of this, we always think that we'll remember, but we don't always remember. and NOI, every department manager, and if you especially want to be an executive director, you should show interest what the NOI goal is for the month, and then where you were as a community. That's planting seeds to future you, whatever aspirations that you have. I think if anybody wants to become an executive director, they should probably be interested in the sales process, the spin down process, and knowing what the goals are, the financial goals are. I think that those help and understanding budgets, um, and being able to talk to them is

Burdette:

important. 100% right and that's a really good point. And, you know, again, if I'm that leader, you know, I want to be able to speak with you, Erin and 1. Let you know that hey, I've got a hold on my, my budget, my spend down. I can I can talk to you about. Okay. So, yes, I went over budget, but. Um, a lot of times it's okay. There's there's explanation behind it, right? You have the budget versus actual again. Budget is done almost, you know, this many months ago, if I can explain you. Okay. Well, why do you guys hit the budget here? That's because we had this come up. Um, we had that come up. I know exactly what it was. And these are some things that I can do to help in, in, in future months or years. Um, does the census have something to do with it? You know, there's, there's all kinds of things, but just understanding that to your point and making notes and knowing why we had certain spikes, been able to have that financial conversation with my leader. Sets the stage for, all right, well, one day I, yes, I do aspire to be a executive director and I understand that I just have to do this on a more, uh, macro level, um, to your point.

Erin:

yeah, absolutely. All right, last question. I think it's really important. I think inside the senior living industry, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try to change lives. We think the these big grand gestures the massive movie theater room or all these other things changes lives. And those do certainly play a role in supporting the people that we serve, but ultimately we're bringing people back to the ordinary moments that they want to get back to. And to play on that point a little bit, what is a moment in your life that was was just a simple ordinary moment, but the impact that that moment had in your life was huge.

Burdette:

That's a great question. I'll maybe cheat a little bit and use, an example that I somewhat used before, but it's so huge. And, um, you know, and just thinking about. My approach that it's always been in terms of when I'm interacting with, the different community leaders and just doing the ordinary things of just, trying to be excellent in my role and listening, right, communication, I mean, communications come up a couple of times but you never can communicate too much, right? Like it's always an opportunity, but, how I've dealt with, the leaders And, you know, they will always say things like, Oh, man, Burdette is so patient, but it is so patient. and I remember just, uh, one scenario, uh, specifically where, we've been working with the leader and, oftentimes we have some type of corporate event, where the, the team will come up, to the to the corporate headquarters, if you will, and I just remember this leader coming to the back darting around because the count's on the back, darken darting around to my, my desk and just gave me the biggest hug And just I guess just a sign of appreciation, From the communication that we've had, it's almost like we were best buds. And I, and I could tell you more stories of just meeting some of the team and them coming, coming over and just really embracing me and just saying, Hey, you just don't know how supportive you are and how much you helped me, in my role. So that's been pretty special.

Erin:

That's just communication is just ordinary, and yet it's extraordinary because we're starving for it in the communities, and that is such a valid, honest and a truth of what proper support looks and feels like. I think is so great about your company and what it. supports in the industry is that it takes the pressure off. You don't have the pressure that a trainer or a business director, specialist, or whatever has, you're like the consultant who cares about the person and the person's success only. And there is such value to that. And that story just proves it. I can think about all the people, the consultants in my life that changed my life, because their only care was my success. And if we can get back to that, I think that we would see a huge shift in the industry for the people who want to do the right thing. Is there anything else that you want to say? I mean, you inspire me and hopefully a lot of other people to, to communicate, to be proactive, to, offer ordinary support with extraordinary impact. And, I think you can't put a value on that. But anything else you want to add about your company?

Burdette:

Uh, well, no, first I just want to, gratitude to you and I appreciate the opportunity. I mean, you inspire me. I've seen a lot of content that you put out and, um, it's just simply amazing. And so I, the opportunity to come on and have a, just a nice and candid conversation with you has been, uh, pretty rewarding just to me. So I appreciate the work that you're doing and please keep it up because it's, it's so needed. I would just end it with kind of that thought of locking arms, understanding that profile that we talked about. And there's a bold declaration that operators and communities are, putting out there and senior living and. The work that you're doing, the work that I'm doing, the work that so many other professionals are doing, we're saying, Hey, we're going to lock arms with you and, and, and let's do it together. So thank you. Thank you so much.

Erin:

All right. Thank you for being here Thank you listeners for being here. And we hope that you aspire for more for you. Have a great day.