Veteran Timeshare Professional Creates Premier Internet Based Reserves Management Software

By Marge Lennon

October 2009 - One of the most important challenges of the timeshare product is being able to maintain a resort in its original condition, years and years after its initial development and repeated use by thousands of returning vacationers. Annual maintenance fees and the implementation of a carefully crafted reserve management plan have helped extend the lifetime of many properties.

Reserves (or reserve funds) are the primary investment in a resort's future and are required to be addressed in most states. But due to the complexities and lack of guidelines on how a reserve management plan (reserve study) should be prepared, it is important to hire the proper reserves specialist to guide you through this complicated maize.

In 1989, Bill Chaffee, RRP (former CFO at Welk Resorts), found that there was no software available to help develop budgets, calculations and projections for reserve management plans. So he founded Advanced World Concepts, Inc. (AWC) to tackle the task and created some of the industry's first reserve management software in a DOS-based system. After the PRA System was developed, it was in use by major timeshare developer clients such as Welk Resorts and Island One Resorts, which have been upgraded to the next generation version.

Twenty plus years ago, developing reserve management plans was a time consuming and a tedious task. It required huge spreadsheets that included thousand of line items to determine the replacement costs of appliances, furnishings, exteriors and refurbishments. Highly labor intensive, the plans would take weeks and months to prepare and had to be constantly updated. Generally, only the employee who created the spreadsheets could understand them and was the only person who could continue to do the updates.

But as technology moved forward, Bill again recognized the need for a more streamlined, easier-to-use program for multi-property developers and management companies. After three years and close to a million dollars in development costs, the new Web-based PRA System was launched in June 2009 (www.prasystem.com). This new Web-based system reinvents the automation process of reserve management planning.

AWC's new system is based on 20 years of expertise in this highly specialized field and enables developers, management companies, associations and club systems to more efficiently tackle reserve challenges. The newest generation of the PRA Master System has been specifically designed for the timeshare industry to support preparing reserve management plans that ensure the availability of funds when needed for long term maintenance, refurbishment or replacement of reserve items.

Due to the complexities of the PRA System, the Certified Public Accounting firm Haskell & White, LLP was engaged to perform a Quality Assurance Evaluation verifying the system logic, functionality, accuracy and reporting compliance of American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's (AICPA) Audit and Accounting Guide for Common Interest Realty Associations and IRS tax guidelines.

Explains Bill, "AWC's new web-based system has many advanced features that deliver unique navigation, tracking, analysis tools, reports and charts. It is setting new standards for reserve study software and the preparation of reserve studies."

"The system," he continues, "simplifies financial analyses and processes while guiding the user to a desired solution without the need of software or accounting knowledge. An employee can be taught to use the system in about an hour, while a property's complete plan can be produced in hours instead of days or weeks."

The PRA System empowers owners' associations and reserve study consultants to operate successfully. It can also track and link multiple sites and properties reserve items while producing Quantity Purchasing reports.

One of the unique features of the PRA System is in helping the developer/management company to eliminate redundancies incurred by association and club system requirements. In the past, there has been no true solution in coordinating these efforts.

Bill adds that the system's only requirement is an Internet connection; it is compatible with Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 operating systems. Just as Windows works on a desktop concept where multiple applications can be open simultaneously, so does PRA via multiple open screens for streamlining the process. Reports are run as PDFs and can be opened and saved in Excel (CSV Delimited), Word or HTML while the database itself can be saved on an archived basis.

PRA also supports production of the Blueprint for Renovation that helps a resort to properly plan for refurbishments, critical for many of today's aging properties. Its Blueprint for Renovation determines what reserve items are being renovated, how timing and scheduling is determined and if special assessments or loans are required ... far in advance of their actual need.

FARROW Commercial Construction, of Santa Rosa, California, has adopted the PRA system for use with its timeshare renovation projects. "In utilizing the PRA system," says John Farrow, company president, "we are able to streamline the renovation planning process while incorporating our thorough knowledge of all interior and exterior costs associated with a renovation. It is an ideal collaboration."

Enthuses Kathy Rozzo, VP and Controller of Island One Resorts, "The PRA System has given Island One Resorts Hospitality Group the flexibility of managing and reporting reserve funds for 11 owner associations. The PRA System has the controls necessary to account for small, medium and large properties and allows us to include any and all cash flow 'what if' scenarios."

Added Sharon Zornes, Association Controller of Welk Resorts, "My overall expectations have been met and even exceeded with the robustness and flexibility of the program. I now have a system that can be managed effectively without enormous amounts of input, which provides the financial information I need for maximizing cash flow and cash management decisions. The process of setting up reserve studies for our new projects was looking like a monumental task. However, with the PRA System, it was achieved with relative ease."

Bill advises that potential timeshare buyers and owners are more savvy today and want to see how maintenance fees are used. They understand the importance of a well-constructed reserve management plan and recognize its value in being able to predict future costs.

Another key to the future success of a resort, he believes, is to have boards that support the need for healthy reserves and recognize that upkeep costs do increase. "A good board member's position should not be to try to keep fees low, but to maintain the quality of the resort itself to enhance its value. This also results in a positive impact on exchange company ratings," concludes Bill.

To learn more about the PRA System, contact Bill at 858-755-8877 or email him at bill.chaffee@prasystem.com

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