Restaurant Accounting Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: December 06, 2023
How to Pick the Best Accounting Software: Restaurants
When you operate in the fast-paced world of restaurants you need all the help you can get to stay ahead of the competition. Every month new entrepreneurs try their hand at running a restaurant. What will give you the edge so you come out on top?
We’ll discuss one of the best tools you can have on your side: accounting software for restaurants.
Why Restaurant Accounting Software is a Wise Investment
Here’s the hard truth: your scrumptious meals aren’t the only factors that determine whether you’ll be successful as a restaurant owner. Many eateries don’t survive very long because it’s so challenging to manage the financial side of this type of business.
With food prices fluctuating and even the weather affecting how many people will join your tables this week, you constantly have to stay on top of figures:
- Identify waste so you can cut back on costs.
- Know that you’re using your employees optimally and not spending too much on labor.
- Are you making a profit on each dish?
You’ll be hard-pressed to determine this with manual calculations, especially with so much to do already. Accounting software streamlines this process and helps you identify problem areas.
And yes, you’ll find programs designed specifically for this niche. We’ll show you how to identify the best one for you.
Functionalities Your Restaurant Needs
When you’re looking at software vendors’ products, for a restaurant you usually need at least the following features to make it worth the expense.
In a restaurant, it’s not only about know how much stock is left, but helping you buy wisely so there are fresh ingredients for each day. You need to revise this on a daily basis. If you’re working at home, can you access what your staff entered into the system?
Managing your stock is also a tool in planning your menus. You can’t serve dishes if you can’t get certain seasonal ingredients. You need to know when to take it off the menu.
Income and Expenses
All your expenses must be managed from one place:
- Food sales
- Beverage sales
- Purchasing ingredients, beverages, and other items you sell in the restaurant
- Buying equipment
- Paying for labor, rent, and utilities
You can only determine your financial success if you take all aspects into consideration.
Labor is one of your biggest expenses and you need to manage it well to ensure employee wellbeing. You don’t want a disgruntled employee because you forgot to pay him or her for a shift. Because employees don’t necessarily work the same number of shifts each week, it requires meticulous record keeping. What makes it more complicated is that you have to monitor tips paid to each employee.
Your accounting software must also help you manage tip payments based on your agreement with staff as well as local legislation. You may have to meet minimum wage guidelines or you prefer sharing tips among all workers, not only waiters. Can your software help you calculate appropriate amounts quickly at the end of the week?
And here’s another factor to consider: Employee turnover rates are high in the food industry because it’s often a short-term plan for many workers. Your software must help you to quickly add a new waiter or remove someone from payroll as soon as they leave.
Accounting and Reports
You need all the reports any other business requires to stay in control and make informed decisions. But for a restaurant owner, your reports must also empower you to:
- See which days are least profitable so you can launch specials to draw more patrons.
- Do certain servers make you less money—perhaps you need to work on their skills?
- Are certain types of dishes more popular or not popular at all? Change the menu to draw in the most customers.
A POS system can be a separate program, but consider having it as part of your accounting software for a streamlined process.
If you already have a POS system, make sure your new software can integrate with it. You don’t want to risk errors by manually entering one system’s figures on another.
Above we mentioned the importance of having access to figures, even if you’re working from home. For this, a cloud-based system is often the best option. Alternatively, an on-site system can be implemented, but it may restrict how you work.
Ease of Use
You need to train new waiters quickly so they don’t waste time or make mistakes on the system. Opt for software with intuitive interfaces for the best outcome.
As mentioned above, having an integrated system is ideal. Here’s an ideal situation: let your accounting software help with reservations so you only have one progam running your entire show.
Some software products may help you with your staff schedule. Know when there’s an open shift so you can organize a replacement in time.
As with all software, your costs will vary based on the quality of the product and the features you’ll get.
If your restaurant operates on more than one site, look out for mention of this factor in vendors’ price lists. You may have to pay additional fees for each site you deploy the software at.
When budgeting for a POS and accounting software package, also consider whether you need to invest in new hardware:
- Tablets for orders
- Scanners if you switch to a barcode system
Your budget should also allow for training and implementation fees. Apart from that, most restaurants budget around $50/month on subscription fees, but it can go as high as $200/month.
Your restaurant may be new, or a local favorite established decades ago. Know that to keep up in the industry in 2019, you need software working to your benefit. Find your ideal package to stay in control.