How Global Hookah Took Back More Than 3 Days Every Month with Compliance Automation
Global Hookah, a worldwide hookah and flavored tobacco distributor based in Charlotte, North Carolina needed a dependable partner for their excise tax return generation process.
With a tax team of one and a software provider that wasn’t meeting deadlines, Global Hookah knew it was time to think differently. They wanted to transform their filing process from manual and inconsistent to intuitive, transparent, and reliable.
Global Hookah’s previous excise tax provider, whom they used for ten years, was tasked with generating returns, filing with jurisdiction, and remitting payment.
“They were not filing the taxes on time, and they weren’t transparent with their support - they weren’t responding to us,” said Brennan Appel, CEO at Global Hookah. “It was causing a lot of issues and complications with the states. Our relationship ended very rocky.”
On top of that, Appel himself, had to spent three to five days preparing data manual ly every month, instead of being able to focus on running the business.
“We basically were spending a lot of time breaking down the invoices or sales by state or jurisdiction and then calculating those values based on if it's tobacco or non-tobacco on the invoice, and then compiling all that information, then manually adding it up in spreadsheets,” said Appel.
Tax preparation took a significant amount of time to complete and cut into revenue-generating tasks.
“The biggest challenge with excise tax filing is it's very time-consuming, and filing tax returns just doesn't generate income for the company,” said Appel. “It's something that you just want to have a process for where you can get it done as quickly, efficiently, and accurately as possible and then utilize people more effectively than just, you know, filing tax returns.”
They needed a partner that generated returns while automating their data preparation and had world-class support. At the time, there wasn’t a great alternative geared towards tobacco taxes available. So Global Hookah found the next best thing: a company with a proven track record in excise tax, a reputation of dependable client support, and well-known industry expertise in-house.
“IGEN was able to help us very, very quickly launch the solution and get up to speed and back on track in just 90 days,” said Appel.
Today, Global Hookah uses ComplyIQ, IGEN’s compliance automation engine to file all their tobacco tax returns in 26 states. Their next goal is to get their sister company, who operates in all 50 states, up and running.
With ComplyIQ, Global Hookah’s data preparation process for different jurisdictions became a breeze. IGEN’s tobacco tax experts update any regulatory changes in the platform, so the preparations and calculations always meet compliance standards. Taking that burden off the one-man tax team at Global Hookah has been the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It speeds everything up; we see a night and day difference between the manual process and the automation done with IGEN,” said Appel
The difference between no reliable support to having a front-line support team backed by industry experts right here in the U.S., was immediately apparent.
“IGEN, to me, is like the NFL compared to past competitors I worked with who were similar to The Sandlot,” said Appel. “IGEN is the NFL of the tech software space, and the people are professional and willing to help and go the extra mile.”
Other clients, like Global Hookah, agree. IGEN client support has a 4.9/5-star rating based on hundreds of client reviews.
Global Hookah and IGEN were laser-focused on getting up and running as fast as possible.
“I came up to Green Bay and spent a week here working with the team because, for me, time was my number one focus and priority,” said Appel. “It was a great experience; the team was very professional and helpful.”
IGEN’s accelerated onboarding is designed to deliver the fastest time-to-value in the industry.
“Everything was totally new since we were the first tobacco client,” said Appel. “But we had eight returns within 30 days, 16 returns after 60 days, and everything was completed within 90-120 days.”
Global Hookah has increased filing efficiencies by more than 87%, and that's just the beginning.
“Before we were on an automated solution, it used to take, you know, maybe three, four or five days to do because it was all a manual process,” said Appel. “Now, it only takes our tax accountant three to four hours.”
Global Hookah’s team has:
- Increased filing efficiencies by more than 87%
- Reclaimed hundreds of hours of the CEO's time annually
- Empowered the team to focus on strategic initiatives , revenue-generating activities, and running the business
- Minimized errors and inaccuracies that would have caused late filing and amendments