Finance Leaders Call for Transparency

Dorothy Creamer
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Hospitality Technology (HT) hosted the second meeting of the Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council in January 2018. Here we highlight three key takeaways.

1. Select nimble technology partners

As more restaurants are looking to offer online ordering and delivery, operations rely on third party services to enable services. Council members admit integrating these systems through the point of sale and into accounting systems can result in a bit of a “bureaucratic  nightmare” if technology partners are not flexible enough to facilitate. Steven Song, CFO, Luke’s Lobster, cautions against having a “Frankenstein lab” environment with different tablets around the POS, and advises carefully considering a brand’s goals and long-term roadmap.

“Be careful of rolling out something just because it works today,” he advises. “Choose a partner keeping in mind what the optimal solution will be as you scale so it won’t take 50 times the effort down the road.” 

For Song, the game changer was finding a POS partner that would allow for custom integrations. Organizations flexible enough to deliver integrations pays dividends as it saves on store-level labor, eliminating the need for staff to manually enter orders from various channels. This also eliminates reconciliation issues and errors. 


2. Avoid Data Silos

Michael Lubitz, CFO, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Worldwide, shares that with conceptually disparate restaurants it creates complexities in configuring systems. “We don’t have cookie cutter implementations, each one is unique and I struggle with having resources internally to get training in place,” he says. “I rely on tech partners to accomplish this.”

Mark Quandt, CFO, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill stresses the importance of arming employees with access to data and understanding that data.  Implementing different products and bringing information over from the POS has required that Quandt’s team finds the right level of detail in each system. 

“We’ve partnered with a company that scans invoices and brings that over to accounting so employees can link directly back,” he reveals. “We want to make access to data as seamless as possible.”  


3. Train employees 

Lubitz says a top goal is to “remove administrative burden” from store-level managers. Providing proper systems to employees is only part of the battle. Council members discuss the importance of not assuming that managers understand the nuances of accounting. Bryan Kay, CFO, Vibe Coffee Group, admits to making this mistake and stresses the importance of basic training and showing managers how inventory numbers impact store level numbers. 

“Managers are often focused on quarterly numbers, but to help them understand how different reporting through the course of the day, week, month, effects that — that’s eye-opening for them,” Kay says.  

Song shared a best practice implemented at Luke’s Lobster that proved beneficial. The brand held training sessions to teach GMs personal finance — how to set budgets, costs, expenses and income. “It was helpful for them personally,” Song says, “but it also provided a bridge to connect the dots to how restaurant level economics play into daily routines.”