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Acquisition Efficiency

There is restaurant-acquisition efficiency -- and then there is Taste Buds-style restaurant-acquisition efficiency. The Louisiana-based management company acquired the five locations of Semolina restaurants in December 2006 in an operation that was both highly streamlined and cost efficient, thanks in large part to a killer application -- a back office and accounting software solution.

Taste Buds Management has managed six Zea restaurants since 1997. It recently absorbed the five Semolina restaurants without adding additional administrative costs, and managed to eliminate a six-figure accounting firm previously used by Semolina.

The solution
A large share of the credit for the efficient acquisition goes to its software application -- Compeat Back Office Software ( ) -- according to the management team, including VP of Operations Paul Hutson.

"The software's power and efficiency has allowed us to double our locations without adding a single person to our administrative team," notes Hutson. "That's a remarkable feat in this industry."

Taste Buds deployed the back office management and accounting software system in the new restaurants, and trained the new managers to use the application's functionality in record time.

Added functionality
Hutson points to the software's full-service functionality, agile reporting, and food cost management tools as particularly useful.

The software is set up to automatically produce all of Taste Buds' many reports, for example. "It's not just faster, but it's also more accurate and more flexible than other accounting processes," says Hutson. For example, it used to take Taste Buds two months to turn around a complete profit and loss statement each quarter. Now the company can create P&Ls in three days.

Taste Buds has tapped into the software's extensive reporting tools well beyond P&L statements. "It's easy to pull the data I need, export it into spreadsheets, and analyze it any way I want -- for example, by total cost or a percent of cost, by individual store or region, or by one menu or one dish."

In the first year after expanding its use of Compeat, Taste Buds' food costs were down by 5 percent for a total savings of $1 million in its five Zea restaurants. "The solution has impacted our cost savings in so many ways, including accuracy in product receipt at the back door, reducing
prep waste, and managing theoretical costs-to-sales.

"Because of the solution's power and extensive capabilities, we could acquire even more restaurants and still not expand our accounting staff."

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