Where the typical restaurateur’s financial expertise lacks, restaurant accounting software can pick up the slack. Most restaurateurs find their way into the industry because of a knack for hospitality, not accounting. But if accounting software is figured into a restaurant’s equation, it will add up to success.
With the exception of large, multi-unit chains with their own in-house staff of accountants, most restaurateurs use a computer program to do their number-crunching. Some of the most popular financial packages on the market include Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Microsoft Great Plains), QuickBooks and Peachtree.
A fully-integrated restaurant accounting software system is composed of a point-of-sale (POS) system, a middleware system and a financial software package. The easiest way to import numbers into accounting programs is through the middleware system.
Middleware systems play the middleman between restaurant POS systems and financial management software by pulling sales and inventory data from your POS system, processing the figures and importing the appropriate information into your financial software. Middleware systems are capable of managing inventory control, theoretical costing and store-level financial reporting.
There are many hidden costs associated with running a restaurant that basic profit and loss statements can’t detect. Restaurant accounting software can help bring these to light.
Restaurant middleware systems can identify all of the data from your POS system that is required to produce a detailed financial report.
The middleware system will separate sales data by categories and labor data by department. It should also provide food and beverage inventories and daily fixed expenses to produce a weekly estimate of the restaurant’s net profit.
While simple financial packages such as QuickBooks only cost a few hundred dollars, middleware and POS systems run several thousand dollars per module. Though some can be less expensive, they may have limitations.
It is critical for restaurants to invest in restaurant-specific middleware and POS systems that are equipped with software support and training.
A restaurant consulting firm can provide guidance regarding which POS and middleware systems will best suit a restaurant’s individual needs based on volume and concept. If the firm has finance experts on staff, they can also help interpret restaurant accounting software reports.
Three of the most popular restaurant-specific middleware systems include MenuLink, Eatec and Restaurant Magic. All three systems are capable of integrating with most brands of POS systems and restaurant accounting software programs. Each brand offers customizable components and upgrades, but standard capabilities include inventory statements, profit and loss statements, sales analysis and sales forecasting.
Certain models allow for on-demand, Internet-based reports. Most interface directly with supply chains such as Sysco to enable supply chain management in areas such as ordering, invoicing and costing. Other upgrades include modules for catering and retail merchandising.
A brand called Compeat is evolving restaurant accounting systems by eliminating middleware systems. Its system, which includes middleware and accounting capabilities, can be integrated directly with POS systems.
Restaurant Accounting Software: Hiring a Professional
Even with a fully-integrated accounting system in place, a restaurant should always consult a restaurant financial consultant to help analyze its numbers. Data is useless if it cannot be interpreted.
Your consultant must be familiar with the particular financial software, middleware system and POS system that your restaurant uses in order to provide basic training and support should any bookkeeping or software problems arise.
A financial consultant can also offer advice about which records a restaurant should keep and how to maintain them, assist with income statements and cost segregation analysis, and provide tax advice and finance management tips. A financial consultant who specializes within the restaurant industry can tailor their services to a restaurant’s needs according to segment and size.
Let your restaurant accounting system quantify the results of your labor while you stick to what you know best, providing quality food and service.