It doesn't matter how amazing your dishes are or how much ambiance is oozing from your dining floor, if you don't have the right tools to handle the financial side of your business, running a restaurant can be nigh on impossible. Luckily, there are a range of financial tools designed just for restaurant owners. Using these tools can help you manage your finances easily and effectively so you can focus your efforts on your real passion—dining.
1. Accounting Software
Whether you run a restaurant or any other type of business, quality accounting software is a must. Ideally, you want an online product so you can add details or check the numbers from anywhere. You also need a system that can integrate payroll, inventory, accounts payable, and whatever other accounting functions you need. Finally, you want as many of your other financial products as possible to integrate with your accounting system. That reduces errors and saves time.
2. Restaurant-Oriented Point of Sale Software
A point of sale system is essential for tracking sales, but for a top experience, you need a POS designed for use in the restaurant industry. Ideal programs accept multiple types of payment, integrate with your accounting software, and provide you with reports on top selling items. They can also split bills, handle bar tabs, and calculate different taxes for alcohol and food. These streamlined systems don't require a lot of hardware. Instead, they typically work on an iPad, and in some cases, you can find programs, such as TouchBistro, that allow you to set up tableside ordering for your guests as well.
3. Restaurant Loans
Regardless of how well you organize your finances, occasionally you may need a burst of working capital. In these cases, it can be beneficial to work with a lender that specifically offers loans for the restaurant industry. These lenders keep your industry in mind while reviewing the loan, and that can boost your chances of success. Additionally, when you apply for a restaurant line of credit with a fintech company, your application is not exclusively judged on the merit of your credit history. Instead, the lender looks at a range of data points that may include information from your POS system, your accounting software, your bank accounts, and even your online reviews. This can be invaluable if you need to buy extra food for a busy week or handle unforeseen experiences.
4. Bill Sync
As a restaurant owner, you have to juggle a lot of vendors, and if you miss paying one, you also risk not having the wine, food, or other items that you need on hand. Bill Sync is service that promises to take care of all that for you. When you receive a bill, you snap a picture, tap to send it, and you're done. The service then drafts a check to your vendor, mails it for you, and updates your accounting software accordingly. That cuts down on late fees, eliminates forgotten bills, and saves you time.
5. Deputy and Other Scheduling Apps
Scheduling apps, such as Deputy, are a definite improvement over paper or spreadsheet-based schedules. With these apps, your employees can submit time off requests that are easily visible when you start making the schedule. The program also alerts you about overtime and potential employee fatigue so you can make the most effective schedules for your restaurant, and you can upload details about each employee so you don't accidentally schedule a host for a serving shift or a salad cook for a shift on the grill.
Workers can clock in or out using Deputy, and you can text employees their schedules to minimize confusion. If your employees do offsite events, such as catering functions, you can also find scheduling apps that track GPS and allow employees to clock in or out remotely. Finally, quality scheduling apps sync with the payroll module of your accounting software. That saves you time, but it also helps to eliminate payroll errors.
6. Menu Engineering Tools
Calculating the cost of each plate can be challenging when you own a restaurant. If you charge too much, you risk driving customers away, but if you charge too little, you cannot cover your costs. A menu engineering tool can help with part of that dilemma. In particular, these tools help you assess the cost of each item in every dish, and they give you guidance on how much to charge. There are software companies that design these tools for restaurateurs, or you can simply download a template in Microsoft Excel and use that to calculate costs. Remember, however, that you don't necessarily need the same profit margin on each dish. In some cases, it works to have a lower margin on some dishes and a higher margin on others—that keeps the costs relatively consistent and spreads your potential profits over several items.
This is just a small sampling of the financial tools available for restaurants. Ultimately, the tools you need vary based on your distinct needs and the size of your restaurant; however, you may want to explore several tools and sign up for free trial periods so you can find the tools that best support your business.