Forklift Restaurant Gets More Freedom by Using xtraCHEF
When Forklift Restaurant first opened in 2016, the neighborhood in Tupelo, Mississippi where the restaurant is located had experienced years of economic decline. Several years later, it’s clear that Forklift has helped breathe new life into a community that needed a boost. As it turns out, xtraCHEF was the boost that Forklift needed to better run their business.
Firmly grounded in its Southern roots, Forklift serves its own twist on American staples while paying homage to classic Southern cooking, like shrimp and grits and fried chicken. Nachos come topped with crawfish; tater tots are smothered in oxtail gravy. The restaurant is also focused on sustainability, bringing the farm-to-table ethos to Tupelo by using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.
Chad Frerer, a partner at Forklift, has been an investor and key member of the restaurant since its inception. Despite not having a background in hospitality, Chad knew he’d need tools to help him keep manage all aspects of the finances and operations at Forklift as the restaurant—and the neighborhood— developed.
Standardizing a variety of invoice types for accurate data
Data accuracy wasn’t the only thing Frerer was seeking. Because of Forklift’s commitment to local purveyors, they purchase from many different vendors that all do business differently. He wanted to ensure that Forklift had a solution that could help them organize and track orders from all vendors.
From handwritten tickets provided by hyper-local farmers to electronic data interchange (EDI) invoices sent from major suppliers like U.S. Foods, Forklift needed xtraCHEF to support many different types of invoices. And xtraCHEF delivered.
“Some of these tickets are handwritten and don’t even have letterhead. But even those invoices have great accuracy!” according to Frerer.
Invoices from Forklift’s seafood vendor frequently had an issue where SKUs were being printed over safe food handling instructions. With their previous invoice recognition tool, all of that data was lost, but xtraCHEF picked it up.
I don’t have to sit there and toil away with every line item,” Frerer says. “The software does it for me.”
Holding vendors accountable for fluctuating prices
After automating line-item invoice processing, Frerer was able to dig into xtraCHEF’s Price Tracker to see exactly what vendors were charging him for what items—and how those prices changed over time.
The frequently fluctuating prices of ingredients can easily make or break food cost and COGS goals at any restaurant, so making sure the business is getting the best prices possible is paramount for success. Frerer uses the Price Tracker to hold his wide variety of vendors accountable for their prices.
“No matter what you sell, your vendors are your lifeblood,” says Frerer. “The software keeps everyone honest.”
Frerer notes that, although Price Trackers are widely available, they’re usually only offered by the broadline vendors who are only comparing their own prices across item types.
In my opinion, xtraCHEF has the only vendor-agnostic price tracker on the market. Y’all are lightyears ahead of the game.
Building partnerships and trust for a hopeful future in Tupelo
In addition to xtraCHEF’s excellent line-item recognition and price tracking capabilities, Frerer loves using the software because of the people behind it. “It’s one of the best working relationships we’ve had with a vendor,” he shares.
Forklift quickly signed on to earn manufacturer rebates when xtraCHEF rolled them out in June 2020. It’s a free benefit for xtraCHEF customers to earn cash back on qualifying food, beverage, and disposables purchases. All customers need to do is opt-in and continuing to capture purchase details.
We all know a lot of companies that offer a service in exchange for data. But xtraCHEF was the first to offer something that could subsidize the cost of the software. This is the first time in my life I’m actually making something back!
Forklift and Frerer are not just enjoying the benefits of free cash back. They also use Sync, another xtraCHEF tool that integrates Toast and QuickBooks. He’s able to avoid labor costs and fees from other, similar tools by automatically sending daily sales data from Toast directly to QuickBooks Online for the creation of journal entries.
As part of xtraCHEF’s seamless integration with Toast, Frerer is also able to use xtraCHEF’s Budgets & Forecasting feature. He sets a budget limitation on purchases for the period, and his managers can see exactly how they’re performing. “It’s as simple as a checkbook,” says Frerer.
Frerer has recommends xtraCHEF to any restaurant looking to be more profitable and overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Over the last 90 days, people [in Tupelo] are coming out and spending money,” he says. “Things look like they’re starting to turn around. It’s starting to feel normal again.”