How Beachside VR Automates Financial Ops at Scale With Topkey

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Like many success stories in the short-term rental business, Riley Goldman didn’t start out with a master plan to build a portfolio of vacation homes. But after retiring from investment finance, he was curious about real estate — and a little bored. So Riley bought an eight-unit apartment complex near his home in Cocoa Beach, and started renting out a few listings on Airbnb. 

It went well, and Riley began fielding inquiries from other property owners about managing their rentals alongside his own. He took on a few additional homes, started earning more revenue, and recognized a big opportunity. 

Riley reached out to his friend JJ King, who had a track record of short-term rental entrepreneurial success with VRM Leads and Vintory. They joined forces to found Beachside Vacation Rentals, with the goal of building a modern hospitality company — and within two years, Riley and JJ were managing over 300 properties. 

Before Topkey: time-consuming bookkeeping and lost transactions

As Beachside grew — and grew quickly — Riley was on the hunt for any opportunity to improve the young company’s efficiency and profitability. They started assembling a modern STR tech stack to support their scaling operations, including Guesty, Breezeway, Wheelhouse, and SuiteOp.

But within just a few months, expense management had become an enormous bottleneck. Closing the books at the end of every month took hours and hours of Riley’s own time — time that he needed to spend building the business. 

“I would literally print out my credit card statement, and I would go through each line one by one,” Riley said. “I'd call every single one of my people and say, what is this receipt for? What did we buy? Which cleaning supplies should be billed to this unit?” 

Riley would comb through text exchanges with his maintenance and housekeeping crews, trying to trace back which property had a Keurig break mid-stay and needed an $80 emergency replacement from Target. And even after all that legwork, Riley would still have dozens of receipts that were either lost or couldn’t be tied back to a specific property for billing to the owner. 

“There had to have been thousands of dollars that were lost each month,” he said. “I had 20 units, and I was spending two days every month doing all of the accounting.”

As Beachside added more properties — and significantly more expenses — Riley knew this painstaking process wasn’t sustainable. There had to be a better way. 

Introducing Topkey: financial operations for vacation rentals

Through old friends at Vintory, JJ and Riley learned that the vacation rental industry’s first dedicated financial management platform was just going to market. 

We were building Topkey to solve the exact problems that Beachside was facing: centralizing banking*, automating expense management, and making bookkeeping much more efficient. Riley and his team signed on as a very early customer, and quickly began sharing feedback and insights to help us refine our products.  

Today, Beachside uses Topkey as its financial hub to manage company credit cards and expenses, as well as maintaining a secondary account to hold owner funds (similar to a trust account). Approximately 20 Beachside employees — including head housekeepers, runners, maintenance crews, and administrative staff — use a mix of virtual and physical credit cards issued by our banking partners. Riley can set low credit limits for the physical cards, which are mostly used for one-off purchases, while the administrative staff’s virtual cards have higher limits for larger purchases.

But the biggest game-changer for Beachside has been the mobile-first, automated expense tracking provided by Topkey. Whenever an employee makes a purchase on their company card, they receive an SMS text prompt asking them to upload a photo of their receipt and provide the name of the property. The Topkey platform automatically tags the transaction to the correct unit — virtually eliminating the manual legwork and lost receipts. 

“Being able to tag the property associated with a transaction saves so much bookkeeping energy and effort,” said Riley. “Now, I’m able to categorize every expense by which unit and what it’s for. And I don’t have to track receipts, because my staff has to take pictures of the receipts at the time of purchase.”

And since STR companies see inevitable changes in staffing and properties, Riley appreciates how easy Topkey makes it to keep his financial operations up-to-date. “On the back end, it’s so smooth and easy to add users, add cards, add properties — or deactivate cards and properties,” Riley says. “It only takes a minute to add a property. You can deactivate a card in 30 seconds. It’s super user-friendly.”

Topkey benefits: saving time, increasing revenue, and creating positive experiences 

With Topkey powering its financial operations, Beachside was able to enable lightning-fast growth with greater efficiency, higher revenue, and better experiences for their employees and owners. 

Saving the time and cost of a full-time bookkeeper

When Beachside started using Topkey, they were only managing around 20 properties — and bookkeeping still took about two days every month. 

“Today, we probably see 20x the amount of transactions,” said Riley. “Topkey literally replaces the need for a full-time bookkeeper.

Generating $40k/year in account interest

In addition to saving time and labor costs, Beachside generates revenue by earning interest on their secondary account to hold owner funds, provided through our banking partners. 

“This year, we’re probably going to make $40,000 off of interest income,” said Riley. “I can’t complain about that.”

Eliminating employees’ expense headaches

Topkey also helps Beachside provide a better employee experience by eliminating the headache of managing expenses. 

Our employees love it because they don’t really have to track receipts,” says Riley. “It’s so easy because they just use their phone — they take a picture of the receipt right in the store, and it only takes 15 seconds to submit everything. You upload the receipt before you even have a chance to lose it on your way back to the office. Everyone is thrilled about it.” 

Delivering on the promise of owner transparency

Since Beachside uses Guesty as its property management software (PMS), their owners can clearly see any associated expenses and receipts as journal entries. That helps Riley deliver on one of Beachside’s key promises: owner transparency.

“We’re very clear about any charge that we have,” says Riley. “Owners can see expenses through their journal entries in Guesty, so they can see any receipt for charges that we bill to them.”

For Beachside, this transparency is a differentiator. “I’d say 90% of owners care more about open communication, honesty, and transparency than the actual revenue they make. I’ve heard stories from property owners who were billed $300 for an expense, but they have no idea what it was for. One of my biggest selling points with owners is our transparency.”

Bottom line: Topkey gives back two full-time positions

Riley describes the value Topkey delivers in a very concrete way: it gives him back the equivalent of two full-time positions. 

“For a company my size, I’m basically saving a full-time employee’s worth of work,” he says. “And then I’m making almost a full-time salary from the interest on our account. It creates, in my opinion, two jobs for Beachside — it eliminates a job, and it brings in the income of a job. It’s a no-brainer in my eyes.”

Why Topkey: Beachside believes an STR-specific solution makes all the difference

Thanks to feedback and support from early customers like Beachside, Topkey has been pressure-tested to solve the unique problems facing STR managers. And Riley believes that makes all the difference when it comes to efficiency and value, especially compared to the generic expense management solutions many of his peers rely on. 

“All property managers I've talked to are all struggling in the same way: they have a solution, but it's not industry specific, so it doesn't really help,” says Riley. “Products like Ramp have to be customized to do what Topkey does out-of-the-box. And that customization isn’t easy.” 

With his financial background, it’s no surprise Riley describes the efficiency of an industry-specific solution in dollars-and-cents. 

“If you had a bookkeeper making $25-30/hour, and taking 10 minutes per journal entry between looking up the receipt and putting in the receipt, that’s $2 per entry, every single unit,” he says. “And they’re going to bring some human error into it. They’ll mischarge $30 instead of $50 because of a typo. Being able to categorize every transaction by property, and automatically sync into your Guesty or PMS software — when you use an industry-specific tool, you’re saving a bunch of money.”

Beyond the labor cost savings, Riley believes STR managers need a dedicated financial solution that maximizes their potential earnings on owner fund accounts. 

“The trust account for a short-term rental company is really different compared to a long-term rental company, which just holds security deposits,” he says. “But for vacation rental managers, your trust account gets up to a million, $2 million, $3 million. To be able to make money off that trust account, it’s just so huge.” 

Riley also believes property managers can undervalue the enormous benefits of working with an industry-specific solution: a support team who understands your needs and has your back.

“The employees at Topkey — Matt, Jon, Bryan, and Trevor — they’re all such awesome people to work with and they care about your success,” says Riley. “It’s hard to quantify that, but when you work with good people who actually care about you succeeding, it’s such a different atmosphere than, say, calling Booking.com and not being able to talk to a representative who’s able to get you an answer.”

Ultimately, Riley believes the biggest benefit of a purpose-built solution like Topkey is that property managers can reinvest their most valuable resource — their time — into building their business. 

“At the end of the day, people need to focus on being efficient and focusing on where they make money,” says Riley. “Topkey is obviously valuable for a big company with lots of transactions, but maybe even more so for a small operator. I remember when I was at 20 units and I was sitting down to spend multiple days looking at credit card statements. What if you could have signed up a new property in those three days?”

As always, Riley goes back to the math. “If using an industry-specific solution can make you 10-15% more efficient than a generic solution, it’s a no-brainer. You can spend that time focusing on doing things that actually make you money — like growing your portfolio.”

We love helping teams like Beachside’s save time, increase revenue, and eliminate headaches. If you’d like to learn how our industry-specific platform can make your STR finances more manageable, schedule a demo to see Topkey in action — and get a custom estimate of your potential savings on bookkeeping costs.

*Topkey is a financial technology company and is not a bank. Banking services provided by Thread Bank; Member FDIC.

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