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10/31/2019
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A Restaurant Accounting Innovation Roadmap: Best Practices to Optimize the Back-Office

Dorothy Creamer
Editor-in-Chief
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In 2018, Hospitality Technology and Restaurant365 chartered the Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council. The group came together for quarterly meetings to idea-share and collaborate on what was needed to bring more efficiencies and efficacy to the restaurant accounting space.

For Restaurant365, the Council served an added benefit acting as an unofficial operator advisory council. “We’ve extracted some real gems,” admits John Moody, co-founder, Restaurant365, referring to two concepts born during Council meetings that made their way into Restaurant365 systems updates. “The feedback from the group was so valuable as it would confirm our roadmap or give us something to add to the roadmap.”   

Following is output from the fourth and final Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council meeting as well as a compilation of the vast insights, feedback and best practices culled from the last 365 days.

TRENDING NOW: AI, AUTOMATION AND EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION

During the fourth and final 2019 meeting, held on October 2, council members discussed several hot topics. First, they shared best practices for the workforce through the finance lens.

The Price of Labor & Unhappy Employees

  1. Automate Processes

Mark Quandt, CFO of Wood Ranch BBQ, focuses on making onboarding as efficient for team members and managers as possible. Putting systems online and integrating the POS to bring information over to payroll are areas where he is trying to automate functions as much as possible. Specifically Quandt is eyeing automation to help with tip calucations, tip share, and pay cards for employees. Scott Gillman is interested in services that get employees to onboard themselves as systems become more sophisticated. “We’re getting there,” he says. “The government has been developing these forms for the digital world.”

 

  1. Happy Employees, Happy Customers

Quandt also is focusing on employee satisfaction. “We have an HR app that will ask them how things are going and makes it easy for them to make connections with other team members,” he says.

Brandon Keith, CFO, World Famous Fare, agrees workforce needs to be addressed through the perspective of taking care of people. “Everyone wants overtime, but it changes unit economics,” he says. “We’re focused on scheduling people appropriately and checking in with them to make sure we’re addressing any concerns.”

Luke’s Lobsters is focusing its workforce strategy on retention more than recruiting, according to Steve Song, CFO. “There could be enough data gathered on employee sentiment even from that sort of technology where you push a sad face, happy face or neutral face,” Song says. “It could at least tell you, ‘30% of employees are upset today, what’s going on?’”

Gillman enthusiastically agreed, offering the suggestion of a solution at the time clock where employees could rate the day or an app tied to time-keeping and payroll. Gillman also suggests exploring systems where employees can get an advance on daily pay to engender loyalty in employees.

2019 Restaurant Accounting Innovation Council Members

Scott Gillman, Chairman, Mascott Corporation

Melissa Haman, Finance, Broadway Restaurant Group

Steven Song, CFO, Luke’s Lobster

Mark Quandt, CFO, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

Michael Lubitz, CFO, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Worldwide

Christi Hing, CFO, Kona Grill Inc.

Brandon Keith, CFO, World Famous Fare

Bill Valentas, Vice President of Finance, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Bruce Nelson, CFO, Nova Hospitality Group

John Moody, Co-Founder, Restaurant365

Abigail Lorden, Vice President, Group Brand Director, Hospitality Technology

Dorothy Creamer, Editor-in-Chief, Hospitality Technology

Artificial Intelligence, Real Potential

Council members are interested and see the potential in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Song notes that some companies are using AI solutions to predict sales and historical data, but he doesn’t believe anything is a homerun….yet. “At some point it will be smarter and it will be like Google Maps, when you ignore the directions because you think you know better, but then you hit traffic and realize, ‘oh that’s why it said that.’”

Scott agrees there are algorithms already available like one he uses from Restaurant365 to calculate how much restaurants need based on historical usage per thousand and theoretical completion based on actual sales.

“Managers are pretty good at modifying a week out,” he says, “but the next level would be to take sales forecasting and scheduling to the next level and actually produce adjusted shifts based on quarter hour sales and general criteria, what are your desired shift plans and things like that. Not just decreasing staff, but making sure making sure have right amount of people on staff based on sales.”

Back-office: The Brains of the Restaurant

Brandon Keith explains that World Famous streamlined its hodge podge of systems to have a much smarter back-office. Keith believes that the POS is the conduit to the “big brain” of the restaurant, namely the back-office system.  

“When you’re reassessing POS software, and hardware costs continue to grow, as long as they integrate with your back-office provider that’s really the main focus,” Keith says. “We want to become POS agnostic.”