AP automation is a relatively new item on the restaurant technology menu. The capabilities of restaurant AP have traditionally been reserved for large enterprise accounting and ERP systems. Now affordable and easy-to-use platforms, such as xtraCHEF, are helping bring these valuable tools to the masses.

Restaurant AP Automation eliminates painful data entry into spreadsheets and accounting systems. This puts hours back into your week, increases data accuracy by removing human errors, keeps staff on task, and eliminates the need to manage, store, and ship paper invoices.

You can imagine the insights you can you gather with clean, real-time invoice data.

Continue reading to learn about five critical benefits of restaurant AP automation platforms and why they matter for your business.

  1. Accuracy – Ensure exact invoice data is captured and uploaded to accounting system
  2. Actionability – Gain newfound insights from digital invoice analysis
  3. Priorities – Get invoice receivers back to their critical daily tasks
  4. Accountability – Track vendor credits, returns, and handwritten invoice adjustments
  5. Practicality – Eliminate the need to safeguard, copy, store, transport paper invoices

1. Accuracy – Ensure exact invoice data is captured and uploaded to accounting system

Digitizing invoices reduces human touches in your AP processes, keeping your data much more accurate than it would through manual entry. Clean, accurate data is the foundation on which insights are identified and decisions can be made.

Your staff are constantly buzzing around preparing for service, working service, or cleaning up after service. Automation mitigates the input errors that they’ll inevitably make when receiving and inputting invoice data. And the expedited process of simply taking an image of the invoice will get them back to their priority tasks quicker.

Struggles with restaurant accounting and AP processes
Restaurant AP automation alleviates common AP struggles.

The accuracy improvements don’t stop with your in-house staff. Nearly one-third of your restaurant operator peers believe that their AP and accounting process requires too many disparate systems for data entry. The same amount also state that their accounting system relies too much on manual process and data entry.

2. Actionability – Gain newfound insights from digital invoice analysis

Achieving accurate invoice data is the first step toward data-driven decision making. It’s this data-driven decision making that unlocks true actionability in your AP automation process.

AP automation allows the system to complete the heavy lifting while you and other stakeholders – ops, finance, accountants, etc – are served easily digestible dashboards and recommendations.

AP automation empowers you to analyze and take actions on key metrics
Restaurant AP automation makes powerful reporting readily available.

If you want a snapshot of the health across your operation, it’s there. If you want to drill down into a specific span of service at one of your locations, AP automation can do that too. You’ll always be able to see where money is being spent and which levers you can pull to adjust spending for short- and long-term goals.

With automatically generated charts and graphs, you can visualize vital data in a variety of ways and make strategic decisions that save money, drive revenue, and free up resources.

3. Priorities – Get invoice receivers back to their critical daily tasks

Your tremendously busy restaurant staff is mentioned above, but it’s worth peeling back further.

Restaurant AP automation keeps staff on task
AP automation keeps your staff working on their key tasks.

Servers, prep cooks, bartenders, and even your managers all have tons of tasks to complete prior to, during, and after service. Whether it’s silverware rolls or tomorrow’s mise, they have plenty of priorities to work through.

The last thing you need your staff doing is trying to multi-task with receiving and processing a vendor delivery and subsequent invoice.

AP automation makes it quick and simple to get an invoice into the system so that staff can stay on their priorities. All you must do is designate one or two employees as invoice receivers. You can have them download our invoice scanning app, fold invoice scanning into their priorities, and then BAM! – you have kicked off an automated AP process.

4. Accountability – Track vendor credits, returns, and handwritten invoice adjustments

AP automation and invoice digitizing will mitigate internal errors at the onset of the AP process. But what if your vendor sends you 10 cases of caviar instead of 10 containers?

Restaurant AP provides accountability for vendor orders
Restaurant AP automation provides key insights and alerts on variance in your orders.

That’s a big price difference that will require some accountability. Identifying these mistakes and efficiently and accurately reconciling them is an essential benefit of AP automation.

Accountability is especially key with so many products that spoil, spill, or may be missing from orders. Automation simplifies the reconciliation process by making fast, accurate comparisons between what you order, what you are charged, and what you receive.

5. Practicality – Eliminate the need to safeguard, copy, store, or transport paper invoices

Our fifth and final restaurant AP automation benefit is the simplest, but don’t let that sway you from its real-world impact.

AP automation makes paper processing obsolete. You have them whenever you need them, and most certainly more organized than they’d ever be in physical form.

Eliminate the tedious need to manage paper invoices
Restaurant AP automation eliminates the tedious process of paper invoice management.

No more going back to reference illegible notes…crammed in the invoice margins…underneath coffee stains. No more transporting stacks papers across town or across country. And no more paying to store, ship, and generally deal with paper invoices.

Wash your hands of all of it.

Obvious benefits, but is the juice worth the squeeze?

AP automation gives you a significant edge over paper-based invoicing and accounting. Hopefully, that is obvious at this point. But adoption still comes down to the cost benefit at the end of the day, right?

We can tell you all about these benefits – and more – but you need to quantify the operational efficiencies and risk mitigation to justify the spend on a restaurant AP automation platform.

Here is some quantification:

  • Studies show that it costs $10 and takes 8 days on average to process a single invoice, with the process including receiving, analyzing, recording, and inputting invoice data, and then paying invoices. You know how convoluted this process can be in the restaurant industry, where even modest operations require multiple vendors and multifaceted supply chains with minimal resources dedicated to financial operations.

Need more quantifying, how about this:

  • A 2015 analysis of 11,000 restaurant invoices found at least one overcharge 35% of the time – over 10% higher than the 23% overcharge average across all industries. Get charged for some extra dry pasta or canned tomatoes not ideal but not the end of the world. Get charged for an extra zero at the end of your dry-aged prime beef poundage and that’s going to hurt.

Where do you go from here, chef?

Few if any industries understand Sisyphus and the concept of fighting the good fight better than restaurant workers. But in the case of the paper invoice, it’s simply not a fight worth fighting anymore.

We know the restaurant war is never won, so let us relieve you and your staff of the paper invoice battle so that you can focus on the daily battles required to keep on keeping on. Let us give you these five restaurant AP automation benefits – and a whole lot more.

Download the AP Automation eBook!

Digitizing your invoices saves time and boosts profits. 🚀

Get the ebook to learn why and how to automate your AP. 🤖