PetSmart

Learn how PetSmart used itamlink to organize data from more than 1,650 pet superstores across North America, helping to inform strategic business decisions

Choosing property tax software: a Q&A with PetSmart

We sat down for a Q&A with Byron Ayle, the Senior Director of Real Estate Administration at PetSmart, as he shared his experience with searching for, finding and using the itamlink property tax software.

What prompted you to look for a property tax solution?

Specifically, we wanted to capture multiple years of detailed Property Tax data for our 1,600+ properties.

We like to joke that we are “data rich, but aggregate poor.” itamlink has allowed us to take the data we have sitting around, aggregate it and use it to help make decisions that can reduce property tax expense.

Primarily, we wanted:

  • Data that encompasses not only how much we paid the Landlord or the taxing jurisdiction, but the nuts and bolts behind the calculation.
  • Visibility to see what parts of our calculations are climbing and which are dropping, so we quickly know where and when we should appeal. With this information, we can assist our third-party appeal company (or push the Landlord)with opportunities to appeal. It also helps to ensure they are chasing savings for us.
  • Year-over-year comparability to quickly identify and prevent billing errors by our landlords. This is immediate savings or cost avoidance.
  • Aggregated data to improve assumptions for our new store performance modeling to assist our new store development team analyze potential new store locations. We wanted a solution to make expense forecasting easier and more accurate.
  • A software to help us manage our appeals and refunds with our third-party appeal team.

itamlink solved these issues for us, plus we picked up some additional benefits around calendarizing due dates where we pay the taxing jurisdiction directly, notifications to prevent late fees and interest, and we can generate monthly accruals for the accounting team.

How does itamlink solve those problems?

We have taken advantage of the pro-rata share functionality. We are loading our landlord reimbursement properties and itamlink does the math on the shopping center tax bills to carve out PetSmart’s exposure. This provides us with a portfolio view of our asset control and exposure totals. We can look by state, jurisdiction, etc. and begin to look at data at a company level not just the pay-direct locations.The pro-rata share functionality update is huge for us (retailers).

Appeal management has been a big gain for us as well. The nature of the appeal game is that your appeal team is working on appeals from several years ago, but you are busy reviewing and paying current activity. You need a tool to manage and track what appeal is active, deferred or complete. Did you get the refund yet? Does the refund match what you expected? Did you pay your appeal team their contingency? These are all items you can track efficiently and report on in itamlink.

Capture has been a great addition and worth the additional licensing cost. We do not want our associates keying in data; Capture grabs it and loads it for us.Eliminate fat-finger errors and boring, redundant tasks, and instead spend that time analyzing data to reduce expense.

The general layout and navigation is simple to use and logical. When reviewing the other products in this space, we immediately noticed the clarity and simplicity of itamlink. As a user, you want to reduce clicks to navigate and work through screens that make sense and flow from step-to-step.

How is working with the itamlink team?

The Rethink team has been a pleasure to work with to get us on the right path for our specific vision. They are easy to bounce ideas off and answer our questions on general usage. We pepper [them] regularly and they are quick to respond and assist. If they don’t hear from us in a while, they reach out to make sure everything is going well.

The President of the company, Mordechai, came out and was on-site for our implementation. In all my software implementations, I never had the head of the company come to work personally with me and my team to setup the software.Probably why this was the smoothest software implementation I have experienced.Mordechai is always asking for feedback, always looking to improve on the software they have built and has even implemented a few of the improvements we asked for.

Any final pieces of advice?

Attend the annual, free, itamlink user workshop. We attended this year for the first time and I regret skipping it last year. You will learn best practices, tips/tricks, ask questions, and get instruction specific to your issues, hear what other users are using the product for, and their challenges and of course, network with peers. We picked up some great instruction at the conference that has saved us hours of labor; the time savings easily covered the cost of attending the user conference.

At this event, Rethink also previewed the updates they are making to the user interface (UI). It says a lot about a company that continues to invest time and resources in maintaining a fresh UI, taking advantage of what users are seeing in other applications and platforms.Centralize, aggregate and use your data more effectively like PetSmart.

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© 2021 Rethink Solutions. All Rights Reserved