How to Unite the Front and Back of the House Through Accounting


Break down the proverbial wall by focusing on key metrics

Break down the proverbial wall by focusing on key metrics

In a restaurant, the proverbial wall between the front and back of the house can negatively impact operations on a day-to-day basis. However, when it comes to the finances in the full-service restaurant, it is best to seek ways to break down this barrier in order to analyze, interpret, and organize the financial data into meaningful business intelligence that helps empower the restaurateur to make time-sensitive decisions that impact the bottom line.

Finding a way to combine financial information with key operational statistics is a complex challenge for most restaurateurs. Accounting business process outsourcing (BPO) offers management an opportunity to merge data from point of sale systems, suppliers, banks, and payroll systems to provide a consolidated view of the financial operations of the restaurant. Most importantly, the data is delivered real-time via easy-to-read dashboards and performance metrics that even the most “accounting-challenged” owner can understand.

Endless Possibilities from Real-Time BPO Data for Restaurants

If you are like most restaurateurs, by the time you ferret out important data, the information is no longer relevant or meaningful to help you make strategic decisions.

How much more proactive could you be in managing your labor costs, if you were to receive an email alert when your employees are approaching overtime hours for the week? Or have the ability to know immediately when there is a discrepancy in the daily cash deposit at the bank?

In order to be successful, owners also need to keep track of the money coming in from their guests and the money going out to their vendors, as well as to interpret how this information correlates to decisions regarding menu and staff changes.

Imagine being able to see a drop in sales on a particular menu item in time to make adjustments to your next weekly food purchase. Or having the ability to compare food costs on sales across multiple locations for a particular day, or shift. How about analyzing how loyalty cards, advertising, and other promotional activity are impacting your sales? Or determining which employees are driving more alcohol sales per cover?

With BPO, your “Virtual CFO” can help guide users through this maze of information and allow one to focus on the key metrics that matter the most—all while freeing up your valuable time to focus on the food, not the finances.

BPO Costs Compensated for By Increased Restaurant Revenue

What can restaurants expect to pay for these types of services? A lot less than one might think. BPOs leverage streamlined processes and system automation for routine tasks, so the costs are usually lower than hiring full-time staff to keep the books. Monthly costs typically run between $1,000 and $3,000 per location for full-service restaurants, depending on their size and sales volume. Services include processing and payment of all vendor invoices, sales and beverage tax reporting, cash and credit card reconciliation, daily management reports, and preparation of monthly financial statements. Payroll and CFO advisory services can be added à-la-carte, as necessary, at heavily discounted rates. Since most BPOs operate on a fixed-fee basis, the costs are predictable and easy to budget, which makes life a little easier for the already cash-strapped restaurateur.

The systems used are all cloud-based, so the restaurant owner does not need to make additional investments in IT to access the data or services. All you need is a PC and an internet connection to view the data or authorize vendor payments from anywhere, at any time of the day or night.

Dashboards of key performance indicators (KPIs) are a common feature. Many BPOs offer mobile apps for smartphones or tablets as well, which is a popular option for the on-the-go entrepreneur. In addition to monthly service fees, one can expect to pay a one-time charge equal to about two months for service set up, which includes integrating your POS data into an accounting system and personalizing the daily work flow to accommodate the individual needs of the establishment.

The future of restaurant accounting is in high-tech analytics. By leveraging combined business intelligence and technology offered by accounting BPOs, savvy restaurateurs can unite the front of the house with the back, move a step ahead of the competition, and make more timely and impactful decisions that will help their business grow and prosper.

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.

Darla Worsham

Darla Worsham is a Senior Manager in the Client Accounting Service department at Bennett Thrasher PC in Atlanta. Darla has over 20 years’ experience in private industry. As a Senior Manager at Bennett Thrasher, she manages the BPO practice and provides CFO and IT consulting services for small to mid-size businesses. Prior to joining Bennett Thrasher, Darla was the CFO for a multi-company real estate legal services firm, following many years as a CFO for small to mid-size companies in a variety of industries. Darla’s particular expertise in financial management, business process analysis, and building operational efficiencies won her CFO of the year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for Small Private Companies under $100M in 2010.

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