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How PS40 & founder Michael Chiem thrived during COVID

PS40 Client Interview

POP is proud to introduce Michael Chiem, founder of the hand-crafted PS Sodas, and iconic, award-winning PS40 Cocktail BarMichael is the winner of the 2016 Australian Bartender of the Year award.  And with over 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry, he has no shortage of unique and creative ideas for how to run his business.

“It’s always been every bartender’s dream to open their own bar one day. You get to have the freedom to make your own choices.”

PS40 Company Story

Stepping into PS40 for the first time is an invitation to relax and open your senses. With its minimalist decor and friendly atmosphere, the concept bar is known for its sophisticated cocktails and hand-crafted sodas.

 

What sets PS40 apart from other bars is the level of care (and dare I say love) poured in the preparation of each cocktail. Michael confirms:

“We put a lot of effort in all of our drinks and I think you can taste that.”

A lot of preparation happens behind the scenes to deliver the most delicious drinks. All the way from the sourcing of the ingredients to how they all come together. The care goes beyond the drinks themselves, through exceptional service and a staff that enjoys building rapport with the guests. 

Growth

Now running for over 4.5 years, PS40 Cocktail Bar has established its iconic presence on the CBD scene and was elected Bar of the Year 2020

While the pandemic was a big hit for the hospitality sector, Michael saw it as an opportunity.  He used it to diversify into new revenue streams such as takeaways and delivery. It also forced the team to refocus and do more with less:

“Before we were doing lots of different things but maybe at 50-60%. When [COVID hit] and we lost half of the team, with the business on the line, we decided to do 5 or 6 things really well, and hopefully grow from there. So back to basics really.”

PS40 now offers delivery of their hand-crafted cocktails!

Challenge

Initially Michael started this business with a partner, with both of them investing their own money towards the bar. In September 2019, his partner sold his share of the business, leaving Michael as sole owner. In the process, it became evident to Michael that he needed more clarity, precision and recommendations around the bar’s finances.

PS40 BarAt the time, they were with a well-known accounting firm that wasn’t working well for them. Being a small business, they were often neglected. A lot of things were overlooked or not serviced by their previous accountant. Michael recalls that it felt like they were “definitely looked after by some intern who didn’t know what was going on”. This resulted in a serious lack of care and communication, which led Michael to turn to POP Business to handle the accounting, bookkeeping and compliance.

Why POP for PS40?

As a long-time friend of POP founder Sid Cachuela, it felt natural for Michael to entrust us with his business. But beyond that, there were a few reasons why POP Business might be a better fit for PS40:

  • We’re specialized in working with small business owners in their first years of operations, ensuring they get the attention they need as their company grows
  • We use technology to deliver high quality work more quickly & efficiently (and at a fraction of the price) – which leaves more time for communication & support
  • As a young business ourselves, we’re fully invested in the outcome of our clients and go over and beyond to provide a smooth experience

“We know they have our best interests at heart.”

 

Solution

As soon as PS40 and PS Soda switched to POP, Michael noticed a drastic change:

“Things started happening without us having to prompt. They were essentially driving us to do the right job, rather than us chasing our accountants.”

POP helped Michael get a better understanding of how much debt he was in and how much he was making. While before he didn’t really know how well the business was doing financially, he could now keep an eye on his cash flow and make better informed decisions. The team cleaned up his books so he could finally have a clear and realistic view on his business.

As a business owner, having to juggle between day-to-day operations and long-term vision means you can easily miss something. POP helped rectify past errors and pointed out mistakes that might’ve slipped his attention on several occasions, such as brushing away an invoice or paying someone twice. Michael was impressed by how thorough and quick the team was in picking this up. 

When COVID forced his bar to close, Michael knew he could count on POP’s help in navigating the different grants and Jobkeeper requisites. Our guidance helped him stay on top of this uncertain situation.

Having worked with hundreds of businesses, POP saw an opportunity to provide expert accounting advice when taking a bird’s eye view of how the business was initially structured. As a result of the review, the team noticed there was a practical way to restructure his business that would end up saving tens of thousands in tax every year for Michael and PS40.

POP makes tax enjoyable

Finally a big difference Michael found when working with POP is that it was a lot more “fun”. Unlike what you expect from interactions with an accountant, it’s entirely dread and pain-free, and conversations are easy to have. He likens the experience to the one you might get when you walk into a bar:

“You get good service and a cocktail, except here you get a tax return!”

Cheers to that!

Cheers to that

Benefits

To sum up, POP was able to help Michael clean up his accounts, confidently grow his activities, and lead his business through uncertain times. Some of the main benefits he found with POP included:

  1. A more proactive approach to anticipate needs and catch problems early
  2. A high level of service that is reliable & accurate
  3. A team that is personable and takes the time to answer all your questions

If this sounds like what you’re looking for in an accountant, we’d love to hear from you!
You can find out more about our services here or call us on 1300 180 630 to have a chat about how we can best help you.

PS40 Logo

We’d like to thank Michael Chiem for taking the time to do this interview. Check out the PS40 Instagram account to see their cocktail creations, opening hours and delivery options. They currently run Takeover Tuesdays where they invite a different up and coming chef each week to create a snack menu, with matching cocktails. Go on and treat yourself!

PS40 x BOPHA

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