Restaurant Operations and Finance Teams Can Work in Harmony. Here’s How
Isn’t it funny how operations and finance teams easily become enemies in restaurants—even though they share the same goal of making the restaurant successful?
Maybe it’s because, every time you collaborate, it seems to lead to extra work. Managers, you’re sending messy boxes of invoices to finance, then asking for those same invoices weeks later when you’re crunching numbers—or even asking for the master documentation to find the information yourself.
Bookkeepers and accountants, this is understandably frustrating. If you’re using paper-based records, you’re not prepared for operations to review them in time to make quick decisions. And if you’re using Excel, you’ve probably had to lock the operations team out so they don’t accidentally delete your formulas or data—and they aren’t happy about it!
Ops, you need more immediate visibility into performance. Finance, you need better ways to slice and dice data. At the end of the day, you’re focused on achieving the same goals, but you have much different ways of getting there.
Luckily, it is possible for you to work together in harmony while getting your job done! Read on for the three main problems that drive operations and finance apart, and the simple solutions that can make everyone happy.
The Problem: Paper
Many restaurant groups still rely on paper-based accounts payable (AP) processes. They’re spending a lot of money to ship documents from individual units to headquarters, then spending even more for invoice storage.
The reliance on paper means that documents could be stored in a variety of places before they even get to HQ! It makes the valuable data you’re collecting inaccessible to both finance teams who are reconciling invoices and preparing monthly statements, as well as ops teams who want to track recent performance.
But money and storage aren’t the only problems paper creates. Invoices from vendors go missing or get damaged extremely easily in a busy, messy back of house. Plus, there are security risks when high-turnover employees are tasked with manually entering sensitive financial information into accounting software or spreadsheets.
The Solution: Digitize
Burn the Banker’s Boxes: it’s time to store invoices electronically! AP management software for restaurants allows staff to scan, snap a photo, email, or utilize electronic data interchange (EDI) to feed invoices directly from vendors into your accounting system.
Digitization creates transparency by creating one central location for invoice data that’s easy for all teams to access. Ops teams can get short-term insight into business performance, and finance can look up invoices just by searching for an invoice number.
Everyone gets more visibility—and restaurant owners save on shipping, storage, and labor costs.
The Problem: Time
Time is a hot commodity in the industry. Bookkeepers and CPAs are spending their days making sure all data is entered correctly, the books are balanced, and reports are being built to prepare for month- and year-end reporting. There just isn’t time to dig through dirty invoices that have already been processed for ops members, like general managers, who are trying to find a vendor credit from weeks past.
But it’s not like general managers have extra time to look through those boxes themselves. They’re hitting the ground running during their shifts—and usually before and after it, too—and likely don’t know which boxes to look through for the invoices they need, anyway.
Being tight on time continues to create tension between the teams who are asked to take on additional tasks.
The Solution: Automation
Save time for everyone and reduce the errors associated with manual data entry by automating the accounts payable (AP) process. The solution applies General Ledger (GL) codes to invoices every time they’re digitized, eliminating the time that would be spent on manual coding.
Automation helps ops to identify and track invoice exceptions and credits, so they can immediately figure out issues like why their inventory is lower than it should be. It also helps finance teams to get invoice information automatically and accurately into accounting systems through integrations.
Overall, AP automation is a must-have for restaurant teams who want to save time (and stress).
The Problem: Data Analysis
Operations and finance have a huge need for the data that comes from invoices. But both teams need the data presented in much different ways. Finance is working on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting, while ops is trying to maximize margins by calculating plate costs and analyze performance against budget so they can help the restaurant and potentially qualify for a bonus.
Both teams might try to use one master spreadsheet to fit all of their data analysis needs, but anyone who’s gone down that path before knows it’s not actually a solution! Unlocked Excel sheets lead to accidental data and formula deletion, which creates a bookkeeping nightmare. But locking the document for editing keeps out ops from getting any of the information they need.
Just ditch the spreadsheet already! There’s a much easier way.
The Solution: Dynamic Dashboards
Cloud based restaurant management software allows everyone to access the data they need, when they need it. GMs can calculate recipe costs automatically, without bugging finance for ingredient prices over a period of time or accidentally removing a formula from a meticulously managed spreadsheet.
Finance can get a snapshot view of profit and loss statements to see if their meticulous calculations are on track at the close of the month. They can also easily track performance against budgets and forecasting, allowing them to raise a red flag before too much money has been lost.
With dynamic dashboards, everyone is empowered to do their job well—without jeopardizing the success of another department.
Solve All 3 Problems with Just 1 Platform
If you’re ready to call a truce between finance and ops, try xtraCHEF! xtraCHEF is a financial and operational management platform built specifically for restaurants. We digitize invoices, automate the coding process, and produce interactive, data-driven dashboards to save time and increase transparency across all restaurant teams.
Thousands of restaurants, independent groups, franchisees, and accountants already use xtraCHEF to create harmony between their finance and ops teams. Request a demo to see how xtraCHEF can bring peace to your back of house, too!