Three Mistakes Restaurants Could Be Making

Amid the dinner rushes and the constant flow of inventory, how can one stay on top of the accounting needed to run a restaurant? Keeping track of the books may seem more daunting than keeping up with customers, but it is just as important. Yet in the attempt to do so, many restaurants have made mistakes that can be costly. Here are three common accounting mistakes all restaurants should know and advice on how to prevent them using restaurant software solutions.

1. Not Keeping Track of Inventory

Inventory is one of the most important parts of the restaurant business; you need to stay well stocked and prepared for whatever comes your way. A mistake that many restaurant owners make is simply not keeping up on their inventory. To prevent food and beverage costs from being inaccurate, simply take a physical count and make inventory adjustments every accounting period.

Food and beverage costs are one of the largest expenditures for a restaurant, but they are also the most controllable expense. Knowing at all times what is in your inventory gives you control over your expenses by allowing you to make informed decisions. Without making periodic adjustments to your inventory in your accounting, your financials will only reflect the food purchase, not the food usage. Help your restaurant by keeping track of your inventory and making the adjustments needed for accounting accuracy.

2. Disorganization of Information

When dealing with large amounts of information, it can be hard to see where a problem may exist. If said problem arises in the books, it can be time consuming to sort through all the information to find it. This is why organization is a very important tool when accounting. Software for restaurants allows restaurant owners to see problems in their accounting and pinpoint exactly where it is. Putting all of your costs into categories will help to keep your books organized and make important information readily available.

3. Doing It All On Your Own

Keeping the book is a key task to any business, and doing them wrong can be an expensive mistake. When an owner has so many other important tasks to look after, this can be a huge burden. For keeping the books, you need assistance in order to prevent small mistakes and notice any problems.

You could hire a bookkeeper to come in and handle the books, but there can be a problem with this. They will only be effective if they are kept up-to-date on all financial transactions within the restaurant. A common problem with this situation is when someone buys supplies or gives out bonuses and does not report it to the bookkeeper.

To avoid problems like this, you can use restaurant solutions software. When it comes to finding the right solution, accounting software for restaurants is the answer. This will make bookkeeping quick, easy and accurate. Keep your house in order with smart accounting software.

Running a restaurant is can be a challenge at times, but it is also a passion for many. Don’t let small mistakes take down a big dream. Take care of your restaurant by preventing accounting mistakes.

Common Mistakes in Business Bookkeeping

As an entrepreneur, your role in your business may be categorized by many names: boss, clerk, accountant, advertiser, public relations, secretary, front desk, cook, builder, designer...the list of hats goes on. Being a small business owner is a monumental task and requires more than a little elbow grease. It requires the gumption to succeed and the intelligence to understand a bit of everything. You’ve got employees who depend on you—not to mention your own family, so you don’t have the luxury of getting things right on the third or fourth time. You’ve got to get it right now. Since bookkeeping is a full time job in and of itself, here are three mistakes to not make when maintaining your small business bookkeeping.

1. A lot of inventory and no money

It is important to make sure you don’t tie up all your funds in inventory. However, if you currently have inventory available, you may not have much in the way of immediately accessible funds but you do have equity sitting on your shelves. Whether that’s lumber in your carpentry business or ingredients for a restaurant, your inventory is worth something. Each of these items has specific value to your business’ sales and profit, so they should be treated like money. You should have complete lists of your inventory that are maintained as often as possible. When inventory is used, it should be noted and tracked, making sure none is wasted; every bit of inventory wasted is money lost. Keep track of what is taken in, what is sent out or used, purchase dates, where items are stored, and the conditions in which it is stored.

2. Using a personal bank account to track your expenses

Just like you balance your checkbook with your bank account, it's important to keep a ledger for your business that tracks your revenue, expenses and debts. Keeping track of every purchase made or sale completed will help you know the exact amount of money you are making or losing. The benefits are enormous: you can immediately identify discrepancies between your ledger and bank account, you have clear paper records for the IRS if you are selected for audit, and you can make purchases wisely, knowing exactly how much you have to spend on more product. This even comes down to tracking petty cash. Be sure that every penny is accounted for. You’ll be thanking yourself at tax season for creating and using your ledger and files.

3. Allowing employees to work whenever they want

That makes sense—let your employees tell you when they want to work, how often or how much you owe them, or what benefits they deserve. NOT!

In order to run your business effectively, you need to develop patterns of order and structure. Set employee schedules and follow a system to track their hours, pay and benefits. For example, under the law, each type of employee is guaranteed different requirements. Full-time employees have breaks, full benefits and vacation time. Part-time receive a part benefit, and freelance or temporary employees aren't covered by either of those. Maintaining time worked, benefits and their declared status as full/part/freelance helps you track the cost of those employees.

These are just three common mistakes made by small business owners when it comes to bookkeeping. Serious time should be devoted to bookkeeping. I would even go so far as to suggest auditing classes at a local college or doing some bookkeeping research for more advanced information. If you don’t have the time to devote to this kind of commitment, hire a bookkeeping professional as soon as you can or get some technology help. Don’t forget, these are your business’ pennies on the line—your creation, pride and joy.

The Business Behind the Coffee

What Happens behind the Scenes of Your Local Coffee Shop

Think of your trip to work this morning. How many coffee shops did you pass? Probably more than a few. There are over 53,000 coffee and snack shops in the United States, with over $30 billion in total revenue each year. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that there seems to be a coffee shop on every corner, and with a market share of over 30%, it’s also no wonder that many of the shops you see have the name Starbucks emblazoned across the front of them. But let’s forget the big name chains for a little bit and take a peek behind the scenes at your local coffee shop.

The Crazy Hours

We’re pretty sure that nobody gets into the coffee shop business for the hours. Like any business in the hospitality industry, the hours tend to be much longer than office or even retail hours: opening earlier and staying open later. Many coffee shops have work that must be done about 18 hours a day, 7 seven days a week, with the owners or managers working a vast majority of those hours. Despite extended hours of operation, the majority of sales for a coffee shop still occur in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., with the bulk of that occurring between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., creating a very narrow window for turning a profit. Oh, and the next time you’re enjoying your Americano, Cappuccino or Macchiato on your paid day off from work, remember that holidays are essentially non-existent for a coffee shop.

The Tasty Products

Any coffee shop that is capable of being profitable in a world of Starbucks and other chain coffee shops has to offer coffee and other products that their customers love. Coffee drinkers are fiercely loyal to their coffee brand, but winning that loyalty can be tricky. Balancing consistency in product delivery with food safety involving perishable products and ingredients is no simple task. It takes a complicated combination of training, processes and ingredient monitoring to ensure that you get exactly what you’re craving every time.

The Friendly Staff

The best coffee shops have a friendly and welcoming staff from the owners and managers down to the people clearing your table. However, that doesn’t just happen. It’s an ongoing struggle for coffee shop owners to find good, reliable help that is also willing to act happy and friendly even when they’re having a bad day. Working in a service industry tends to be fast-paced and stressful; doing so with a smile on your face takes a special kind of person.

The Great Environment

Chances are that your local coffee shop has something unique to offer in the way of environment. Whether they’re going for warm and cozy, geek chic or fun and off-beat, they have to maintain their appearance to keep their customers happy. Cleanliness on both sides of the counter helps create an ambiance that feels welcoming and inviting but takes a lot of attention to detail and self-motivation on the part of the staff.

The Hidden Side of Business

Running behind all of the surface activities at your local coffee shop is a veritable torrent of hidden activity. In order to facilitate a smooth-running business, there are many things that have to happen. Among these activities: inventory must be ordered, stocked and tracked; people must be payed; cash flow must be managed; and taxes must be payed on time. Many of these activities can be simplified by using a quality restaurant POS system, but it still takes time. And with average checks as low as $2.00-$4.50, it takes a lot of transactions every day to come out ahead in the coffee shop business.

As you can see, there’s a lot more going on at your local coffee shop than just coffee and pastries. So, the next time you stop in to get your caffeine fix, take a moment to appreciate how much has gone into your “cup of joe.”



Do I Need a New POS System for My Business?

Running a business just isn’t the same as it used to be. Traditionally, updating a Point of Sale (POS) system has been done every six years or so, with business owners trying to get the most out of their investment as they possibly can before upgrading. However, that may not be the wisest course of action in today’s ever-changing business world. In fact, it has come to the point that outdated POS systems may actually create a competitive disadvantage. We’ve put together four of the many reasons you may decide it’s time to upgrade your POS system.

Reasons to Upgrade Your POS System


1. Your System Isn’t Working Right

If your POS system has slowed down, checkout times are longer, payments are being delayed, or authorizations are failing repeatedly, it’s time to consider a system upgrade. Sometimes a software update is all you need, but electronics wear out, and you can’t keep running the same system forever. Customers are easily swayed by small delays, so upgrading your POS system can be financially beneficial. Upgrading your POS system can also help you integrate your POS terminal up front with your system in the back office.


2. Accepting Plastic

If your system is so antiquated that you still can’t accept plastic, you’re probably losing quite a bit of business. Many younger consumers carry very little or no cash. That means if you want to turn them into paying customers, you better accept plastic. While cash probably won’t be going away anytime soon, only 23% of POS purchases are expected to be made with cash by 2017. If your company is unable to process plastic payment, you’re probably losing sales to your competitors already.


3. Complying with PCI Standards

If you are currently able to accept cards as payment, you’re probably aware that the Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards are constantly changing because hackers are relentlessly attempting to circumvent new security protocols. If you are attempting to continue doing business on an out-of-date POS system that is incapable of complying with current PCI standards, you are putting your business at risk for significant fines from credit card associations as well as costly data breaches. Remember: there comes a point that software updates are no longer enough and you need to invest in new POS hardware as well.


4. Upgrading to Gift Cards

Many older POS systems are incapable of issuing and redeeming plastic gift cards. As we mentioned in our blog post Who Should Offer Gift Cards, switching from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards can actually increase sales by 50-100%, and 72% of customers who use a gift card will spend more than the original value loaded on the card. American’s were projected to spend $31.74 billion on gift cards over the Christmas holiday. Getting a slice of a similar pie next year seems like a pretty good reason to upgrade your POS system.

Upgrading Your POS System

Like we said, there are a many reasons to upgrade your POS system. It’s a decision that can make your business better and more competitive. Upgrading your POS system is an investment, and you have to look at it that way. You can’t just focus on the costs; you also have to look at the value provided and the ROI you can receive. If you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade, but you’re still worried about the cost, check out our quality used POS systems to see if there’s something that’s right for you. Source:

Choosing an Effective Restaurant POS System

Planning the menu and gaining a healthy clientele are not the only things you’ll need to worry about when opening or expanding a restaurant. A profitable restaurant also has a great point of sale system to keep everything running smoothly. As you search for the best POS system for your restaurant, consider these important features. 

Upgradeable and Supported

As you’ve probably noticed, technology is constantly evolving, which means that your POS system will need to be upgraded at some point. It’s important to look for a POS system that you can easily upgrade so that you can stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest features. You’ll also want the option of full tech support available 24/7 in case of glitches. You can’t afford to stop running your business to repair your POS system when it breaks down.

Labor Monitoring Capabilities

The best POS systems will have the ability to track your labor percentages and employee accuracy. Always knowing your labor percentages will help you to keep costs associated with your business to a minimum, increasing your success. It will also be very helpful to keep a record of each employee’s till and computer use to help you distinguish the good employees from the bad.

Hardware and Software Packages

Though you can use any hardware compatible with your software of choice, buying it in a package provides a smoother, more affordable option. Usually when you purchase the hardware and software together, the license fee you would normally have to pay for each computer is waived, making it a very cost-efficient choice.

Great Inventory Tools

An accurate inventory is the most important aspect of running any restaraunt, and using a sub-par POS system will make it that much more difficult. Look for a POS system that will accurately keep track of money lost on wasted food. This way, you can track food use and waste so that you know what to reorder and what to boot from your menu.

Handheld Option

It’s always a great idea to have a handheld version of your POS system handy when you’re running a restaurant. It makes it easy to monitor sales, keep track of inventory, and run credit cards without being tied to a computer.

Reasonable Cost

The cost of a really good POS system can be astronomical, making it very difficult to see a lot of profit in the beginning. The good news is, the cost of the system doesn’t have much to do with the effectiveness of it. In fact, a great option for a new business would be a used POS system that has all the features you need without the cost. Provided it has all the necessary features, a used system will work just as well as a brand new one, and you can begin to see profits much sooner in your restaurant dealings.

Save Big with Used POS Systems!

To put it simply, your point of sale system, or POS, is the software used in restaurants, retail, hospitality, and general business settings to process payment transactions. However, a good POS system is even more than that. It relieves much of the stress associated with retail inventory and helps you keep track of your best customers, which is especially helpful in the restaurant and hospitality business. It becomes a computerized service center, helping you keep track of ways you can save time and money. With all of the things you depend on for your point of sale system, you definitely want to make sure you get the right one. However, these systems are very expensive. Besides the purchase for your initial POS software installations, you’ll need:


It’s generally a one-time licensing fee, though some ask for a monthly subscription.


This depends on the size of your business and the equipment you decide to use. It includes cash drawers, receipt printers, barcode scanners, and credit card readers.


You’ll need software to connect your POS system to other software, like accounting, social media, etc.

Credit Card Processing

You must pay for the systems to process all payments made with credit cards.


Though some POS systems come with support available at any time, most require you to purchase that separately. Large businesses can expect to pay tens of thousands for a point of sale system; moderate to small businesses will pay about half that. Though purchasing the system is integral to running your business, there’s no need to go to that much expense for it. Normally, you would be required to purchase all of the necessary pieces of a POS system separately, but these used systems come in a package deal with everything you need. With used POS systems, you can get the necessities for running your business at an average of 40% off the original price. Each of the systems and all of the hardware that comes with it are certified to be in perfect working order. Don’t stress about the costs associated with opening or expanding your business. Look into our great selection of used POS systems to find the most valuable and complete solution possible for your business.

Who Should Offer Gift Cards?

As a business owner, do you want to miss out on even a tiny slice of a $31.74 billion pie? If you’re not providing gift card services, that’s exactly what you’re doing. As gift cards grow in popularity, it becomes more and more critical for every business that sells food, goods and even services to provide gift cards for their customers and have reliable gift card processing integrated into their Point of Sale (POS) system.


 Gift Cards – The Gift of Choice

For many years, gift cards were deemed impersonal or were mainly bought because they were convenient. However, they have now become a practical gift choice for millions of holiday shoppers. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed that a staggering 62% of shoppers would like to receive a gift card. Far from being considered impersonal by the recipient, they have actually been the most requested gift item for eight years in a row.


The NRF started tracking consumers’ intentions to buy gift cards for holiday gifts back in 2003, and total spending on gift cards since that time has increased by 83%. If you think your customers are too old, too young or too whatever to buy gift cards, you’re probably wrong. Adults 65+ years old actually spend the most on holiday gift cards ($204.59 on average), but even the group projected to spend the least on gift cards this year (18-24 year olds) will spend an average of $113.75 on them this holiday season.


 Why Gift Cards?

Beyond the huge amount of money that is spent on them each year, you may be wondering what other benefits gift cards offer. For starters, we’ve found that restaurants that switch from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards typically see a 50-100% increase in sales. Additionally, most gift cards are used within 60 days of being issued, and 72% of customers using a gift card will actually spend more than the value originally loaded on the card.


 Make Money the Easy Way


On the other hand, did you know that 27% of gift cards are never redeemed and about 40% of those that are redeemed aren’t redeemed for the full value? As a store owner, you’re going to want to be able to capture at least some of the unused balances left on gift cards. The simple solution is to choose a system that doesn’t process your gift cards through a third party company. This also saves you from having to pay swipe fees and transaction fees.


People have many different reasons for purchasing gift cards, including allowing the recipient to choose their own gift, fast and easy purchasing, and sticking to a holiday budget.


No matter what their reason for buying is and no matter how you look at it, choosing to offer gift cards to your customers just makes sense. The holidays are upon us, and the big holiday shopping season kicks off soon. Don’t miss out on your slice of the gift card pie.





5 Common Accounting Mishaps and How to Avoid Them

When running a restaurant, there are many mishaps and pitfalls that can arise in the accounting aspects of the business. Unfortunately, common accounting mishaps can be found everywhere. This is mainly because accounting methods are used to track and report everything in a business. To help you out, we’ve put together this list of five common accounting mishaps and how to avoid them.


1. An Inefficient Accounting System


The Problem:

If you don’t have a properly setup and implemented accounting system, it can be very difficult to make good, informed decisions about your company. While “flying blind” can be thrilling in many aspects of life, it isn’t the best business model. Generally speaking, your ability to run your restaurant profitably is directly related to how well you can see and manage your accounts.


The Solution:

One of the best ways to make sure you have an efficient accounting system in place is to seek the help of an accountant or a restaurant financial consultant. They can help you make sure your systems are all working together and instruct you on how to correctly post different information to your General Ledger. Additionally, point of sale software, also known as POS software, can greatly facilitate your ability to track diverse aspects of your business so that you can be proactive in running your restaurant.


2. Incorrect Point of Sale (POS) Setup


The Problem:

After the basic accounting system, the most common accounting mishap happens during the initial setup of a restaurant POS system. Whether you as a restaurant owner or manager intend to use the accounting side of the point of sale software or not, it is important to understand that your General Ledger is only as accurate as you want it to be.


The Solution:

Correctly setting up your restaurant POS allows it to correctly track and report a myriad of information that can be integrated into your General Ledger. Remember that basic balances journalized on day one of month one go a long way toward the accuracy of (and your ability to accurately report) your company’s financial situation.


3. Bank Account Reconciliation


The Problem:

Another common mistake that can be avoided is found in the reconciliation of your bank account. Restaurant owners often forget that they have to manually journalize unrealized charges found on their bank statements—charges that are not known by the accounting software. These are often small charges for offhand supplies or inventory, bank fees, chargebacks, and credit card fees.


The Solution:

If you intend on reconciling your company’s bank account from month to month (as you should), you will need to be prepared to manually journalize unrealized transactions from your bank account to your General Ledger. These small charges add up quickly and can create a big difference between your actual account balances and what your accounting software is reporting. Again, your General Ledger is only as accurate as you want it to be.


4. Reports That Don’t Include Useful and Timely Information


The Problem:

Generally, income statements aren’t available until part way through the following month. So, if all you’re looking at are monthly income statements, your information is typically incomplete and not up to date. This makes it difficult to adjust employee schedules and food purchasing in a proactive manner.


The Solution:

Utilizing a restaurant POS, especially one that integrates directly with your accounting software, can help you track sales, inventory, and labor in an up-to-date and accurate way. You can get timely reports on accounts payable, accounts receivable, vendor ordering and inventory, payroll, transactions, and many more. Properly set up, point of sale software can even adjust inventory for each item sold based on what’s in it.


5. Menu Items Have Not Been Costed


The Problem:

Common practice when pricing menu items is to find a similar item at competing restaurants and then price your item similarly. While taking your competitors’ prices into account is important, it should never be your sole consideration. You need to know how much each item costs in order to correctly price your menu.


The Solution:

Each item’s cost should be determined and documented. While it can be time consuming, it is important to know exactly what goes into each menu item and how much those ingredients cost. This should also be reevaluated on a regular basis as your vendors and food costs change so that you can accurately account for how much each menu item costs and how much you should be charging for them.

In order for your restaurant to be as profitable as possible, you need to be able to make good decisions. In order for you to make good decisions, you need good information. You need to make sure that your General Ledger accurately reflects what is actually going on in your business. Hopefully this list helps you to find some of the pitfalls of restaurant accounting before they trip you up.

5 Undervalued or Overlooked Elements to Opening Your Own Restaurant

If you’ve decided to open a restaurant, there are a lot of things you’ve probably thought a lot about. Hopefully, some of these include concept, location, recipes, vendors, location, decor, and...location. If any of these elements have not been a big part of your planning, you should probably take a step back and figure them out before you move forward. Opening a restaurant is expensive, both in terms of time and money. You want to make sure that you get it right so that your new business can succeed.


While the elements listed above tend to be front and center in the mind of a potential restaurateur, there are other things that may not cross your worried and harried mind until it’s too late. We’ve put together a list of 5 undervalued or overlooked elements to opening your own restaurant.



1. A Signature Dish

Having a signature dish isn’t something a lot of people talk about, but it’s definitely something worth thinking about. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you should have something that is exceptional on your menu. This is the item that makes people say, “Hey, let’s go to that one restaurant, they have the best ________________ !” In the age of social media, you may think that word of mouth is dead, but that’s not true. Word of mouth is alive and well, and it’s found a comfortable home online. Social media can make or break a businesses these days. Finding your signature dish and encouraging your customers to post or tweet about it can make a huge difference to your success.


2. Pricing

There’s a lot to consider when deciding on your pricing. You’re opening a restaurant to make money, and the profit margin on restaurants is lower than in many industries. That means your prices have to be exactly right—like Goldilocks right. Your prices have to be high enough to cover your overhead with a little left over at the end of the day, but they can’t be so high that people won’t be willing to pay them. The all-important location plays into this one, too. If you want to open a fancy steak and seafood restaurant, you don’t locate it in a low-income area. 


3. Cash Reserves

Most people seriously underestimate the amount of money they should have in reserve when they open a new business. The sad truth is, it takes time for a restaurant to really find its stride. To be quite frank, you should probably have enough money in reserve to run your restaurant without any monetary inflow for several months to a year. Equipment breaks, customer bases take time to establish, and disasters happen. A good reserve lets you stay open despite early setbacks.


4. Restaurant Computer Systems

If you really want to survive, a restaurant computer system can really make a difference. They represent a big initial investment, but they tend to be worth it. These systems are designed to help you with everything from ordering and receiving to employee data. They can even help you track sales volume and food waste. A good restaurant computer system can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to the large quantity of paperwork it takes to run a successful restaurant.


5. Having a “Cold Open”

Face it, it’s going to take a few days or weeks for everything to start running smoothly. A cold open gives you the chance to work out the kinks before your Grand Opening. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if your equipment works right is to use it. A cold open gives you the time to find things that aren’t working right and fix them. It also gives you a chance to make sure your new staff gets the chance to learn how to work as a team. People that come in during a cold open expect things to be a little rocky, so it’s okay when everything doesn’t go perfectly.

We’re not going to lie to you, opening a new restaurant isn’t going to be easy. However, we hope that these tips help you to be successful in doing so. Follow your dream, and make it worth the time and money spent.

The 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit

restaraurant Innovation SummitIf you have ever wondered how you could better put data to work for your business, you should attend this conference. If you are looking for ways to integrate social media with your operations, you should attend this conference. If you are looking to find out what your customers want more of from a loyalty program or get more participation, you should attend this conference.

The 2014 Restaurant Innovation Summit promises to be positively brimming with industry innovations and insights! 

What is it?

The Restaurant Innovation Summit is a gathering of restaurant professionals put on by the National Restaurant Association to discuss emerging technologies and their application in innovating restaurant operations. This year, the summit is focused on data alchemy—how data stewardship can lead to innovation that can provide better hospitality experiences. In other words, data alchemy is harnessing the power of the customer information you can collect. Data can hold immense decision-making power if you know how to collect and use it to improve restaurant operations and outreach.

What to Expect

At the Summit, there will be 9 dynamic breakout sessions that you can attend in addition to two keynote presentations. The topics of these sessions will be:

  • Mobile Payments
  • Data Stewardship and Privacy
  • Collaborative Economy
  • Behavior Science and Loyalty
  • Innovative Use of Social Media

This event is meant to excite and inspire its attendees by presenting a positive exchange of ideas and innovations that are applicable to the restaurant world using data and new technologies.

According to the NRA’s chief innovation and member advancement officer, Phil Kafarakis, “The ideas presented at this year’s summit will help operators be more efficient, cost effective and achieve business success.”

Who Will Be in Attendance?

Let’s just say that last year, there were Chief Executive, Marketing, and Financial officers in attendance from a variety of well-known companies and organizations. There are 26 exceptional thought leaders scheduled to speak at this year’s summit. Coming from a wide range of technology, marketing, business development, and operations positions and experiences, those in attendance should prepare to have the fire of innovation lit from these great speakers.

When/Where is it?

The summit is held in Atlanta, Georgia, and will be held on October 28th and 29th. The registration fee is $395 for active NRA members and $895 for non-members.