Hospitality Technology (HT) has assembled a new thought leadership group, the Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council. This intimate community of finance and accounting executives from a diverse range of restaurant brands, will meet four times a year to identify best practices and develop standards to share with the industry. The Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council is sponsored by Restaurant365 (www.restaurant 365software.com). The charter of the council, comprised of 11 restaurant operators, plus representatives from Restaurant365 and HT, is to create a framework for operators looking to streamline and improve the operational impact accounting systems have on the enterprise.
During the first meeting, in October 2017, attendees agreed that systems integration continues to be a stumbling block. Christi Hing, CFO, Kona Grill voiced frustration caused by having 10 different SaaS providers with only a few that integrate. For Steven Song, CFO, Luke’s Lobster, a first step to achieving integration goals is identifying the role of the POS as either the central brain of operations or just a component. Secondly, he stresses the importance of open dialogue with vendors from the outset, during RFP and selection process.
“We gave our partners a map of all the things we wanted to integrate,” he explains. “At the very least they are aware that integration is important to us and part of why we selected them.”
The council also cites the need for better reporting. Michael Lubitz, CFO, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Worldwide, identifies a top need as integrated forecasting, scheduling and time reporting systems to enforce multiple state rules and jurisdictions. “Most POS systems don’t pay attention to that,” he notes, “and even back-office systems don’t do a great job.”
In looking at what system should be tasked with tracking labor and compliance, Mark Quandt, CFO, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill, says ideally this would be picked up by the POS or time and attendance. He sees an opportunity for a separate labor aggregations system.
For the executives, issues with reporting centered around time-saving and training. Bryan Kay, CFO, Vibe Coffee Group, admits that while his company has a good amount of data, they are not drowning in it. “The problem we have is training,” he admits. “Getting data down to the store level is a constant battle.”
Bill Valentas, VP of Finance, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers says that creating a data warehouse to culminate data from different systems helps them analyze and make decisions quickly, giving managers more opportunity to be out on the floor. “Raising the bar would be to have a direct API,” he says. “Anything that eliminates steps and allows us to leverage technology to streamline ops would be beneficial.”
Wood Ranch found it hard to get the data it was looking for from canned reports, so it built its own data warehouse. “Now we’re doing a second iteration with an independent vendor,” Quandt reveals. “The key is to find a partner that knows the industry and what you’re looking for and can pull that together. If you want flexibility, you have to have a warehouse where you can combine data from everywhere for reporting.”
Scott Gillman, Chairman, Mascott Corporation
Melissa Haman, Controller, Crazy Bowls & Wraps
Christi Hing, Chief Financial Officer, Kona Grill, Inc.
Amy Hwang, Controller, Upward Projects
Bryan Kay, Chief Financial Officer, Vibe Coffee Group
Brandon Keith, Chief Financial Officer, World Famous Fare
Michael Lubitz, Chief Financial Officer, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Worldwide
Colleen McGuinness, Accounting, Sweetgreen
Mark Quandt, Chief Financial Officer, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill
Steven Song, Chief Financial Officer, Luke’s Lobster
Bill Valentas, Vice President of Finance, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Abigail Lorden, VP, Group Brand Director, Hospitality Technology
Dorothy Creamer, Editor, Hospitality Technology
John Moody, Co-Founder, Restaurant365