#RecipeForSuccess: Serving Restaurants’ Accounting and Bookkeeping Needs
With over 1 million restaurant locations in the United States employing over 10 percent of the workforce, and collecting nearly $800 billion per year in industry sales (according to Restaurant.org), restaurant accounting can be a very lucrative specialty. Let’s look at a #RecipeforSuccess you can use to successfully manage a restaurant-specific accounting practice.
What is a #RecipeforSuccess? Developed by QuickBooks ProAdvisors®, the #RecipeforSuccess campaign provides key ingredients and steps for accounting pros and their small business clients to achieve success.
Master Chef: Stacey L Byrne, CPA
My business was born in 1994. Since then, we’ve served a variety of small businesses, including attorneys, funeral homes, bowling alleys, non-profits, construction, eCommerce and at least a dozen other industries. As technology is changing, so are the needs of these industries. It becomes difficult, at best, to stay on top of all the industry-specific needs. As a small business, without a lot of staff, finding a couple of specific niches has allowed me to become more efficient and serve more clients.
- Clearly defined roles
- Value pricing
- Online access to required information
- Password keeper
- Secure platform for sharing documents
- Collaborative accounting software
- Documented processes
Step 1: Create Clearly Defined Roles With the Client
Before providing a menu of your service offerings, it is important to have a clear understanding of how involved the client will be in the day-to-day operations. Whether it is paying bills, managing reported tips, processing payroll, recording sales, balancing the bank accounts or managing third party payment services such as Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Door Dash, you need to have a feeling for which parts of the accounting process the client wants to handle, versus outsourcing to you. Understanding their level of desired involvement is critical before continuing on to Step 2.
Step 2: Let the Client Decide the Value of Your Services
Once you understand how involved the client wants to be, you can offer different service packages. Create a checklist of tasks to be handled. Use value pricing to offer three levels of service based on which roles you take on, versus the client. The more work the client wants you to do, the higher the price. The key to value pricing is to let the client decide how much they are willing to pay for the value they perceive. Some people want to be very hands-on, while others want to outsource as much as possible. By offering different pricing options, the client can decide what the best value is for them. It’s similar to going to a steak house for dinner; some will find a $20, 6 oz. steak to be enough for their appetite, while others will be willing to pay $75 for a 20 oz. piece of meat. Let your client decide how much of your services they want to bite off.
Step 3: Ensure You Have Online Access to All of the Required Information
One of the keys to a successful restaurant-specific accounting or bookkeeping business is the freedom to work when and where it is convenient for you. Online access is required to the bank account, merchant service account, third party payment providers (Square, Door Dash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub and others), bill payment software, payroll service provider and accounting software. Nothing stifles efficiency like having to wait for the client to give you what you need.
Step 4: Use a Password Keeper to Manage Client Logins
The days of tacking a sticky note to your monitor should be long gone by now. Password keepers provide an easy way to manage all of your client logins to various platforms. Spend a little time reviewing and testing different password keeping software until you find the right one for you. Some of them allow you to sync your passwords across different devices, and even share passwords with team members. Whether you use LastPass, RoboForm, Dashlane or any one of a gazillion other offerings, make sure it offers all of the functionality you will need.
Step 5: Add a Secure Platform for Sharing Documents
If you are paying bills for the client, you will need to use a bill payment service with built-in approval processes to manage the bills. Whether you use Bill.com, MineralTree, Bill & Pay or another provider, be sure you have the ability to capture information in a way that works for the client. Do they need to be able to scan, fax, email or upload documents?
For storing documents that are not stored in your bill payment service, such as employee tips reported each pay period, consider a secure portal. This allows you to manage the documents securely and share them with your client. ShareFile and SmartVault are two examples, but there are many other secure document storage portals. To spice up your recipe, implement Hubdoc, LedgerDocs, FileThis or another document retrieval system to automatically retrieve statements and other information that you will need.
Step 6: Use a Collaborative Accounting Software Package
QuickBooks® Online allows you and the client to work in the file at the same time, from any internet-connected device. This is especially important if the client is managing bill payments themselves and you are managing other tasks or roles for the business. It allows for anywhere access to the accounting system, so you and the client can work from anywhere. No more going to the restaurant to process payroll while you are on vacation. Sharing financial reports is easier and the client can stay on top of their numbers more regularly. This article talks about some crazy places accountants have worked.
Step 7: Be Sure to Document Your Processes
This recipe will flop like a cake without baking soda if you don’t follow this important step! As you grow, you will have many clients with slightly different processes, such as different combinations of POS, merchant services, third party payment systems and potentially different payroll platforms. A lot of what we do will be done online, such as gathering sales information from a Square POS system, or payment information from Door Dash. You need to document how you are gathering and recording the information needed for each step of the process.
Documenting your processes allows anyone in your firm (or you next month, when working on the same client) to know exactly where to get the information needed and how to record each of the tasks that you have been hired to do. Create checklists for each client with step-by-step instructions on where to get the information and how to record it. Include screenshots using the free Snipping Tool in Windows. As software interfaces change, you will need to update your processes. This makes things more efficient because you won’t have to rethink the process every time.