Sunshine Tax: Taxes for Small Business in Florida

Florida is among the most tax-friendly states in America. If you have a small or midsize business in the state of Florida, you may be shielded from many typical forms of small business taxesBut how can you know which tax laws apply to your business? This post will cover some of the more common tax questions related to taxes for small businesses in Florida.

What Types of Tax Liabilities Are There for Florida Small Businesses?

Florida business owners should be aware of the following:

  • Corporations that do business in Florida must pay a 5.5% income tax
  • Florida has a sales tax rate of 6%
  • S Corporations are exempt from paying state income tax
  • Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and most LLCs are exempt from state income tax
  • Florida residents do not pay a state income tax
  • Business owners should expect to pay federal income tax on business earnings
  • Business conducted in other states may be subject to additional state laws

Because so many businesses are exempt from Florida state income tax, many small business owners can benefit from having their business shielded from traditional tax liabilities.  Below, we’ll go into greater detail regarding the rules for taxes for different types of business entities in the state of Florida.  

What Kinds of Taxes Can an S Corporation Expect to Pay in Florida?

In Florida, S Corporations are not treated as traditional corporations when it comes to taxes. Thus, S Corporations do not pay the state’s 5.5% corporate tax. S Corporations are also exempt from federal income tax.

How is this possible? With an S Corporation, the income earned by the business goes directly to the business owners. The owners are then expected to pay federal income tax based on the income they receive from their company. However, this income is not subject to Florida state tax.

A man and a sketch out a project for their LLC business

How Are Small Business LLCs Taxed in Florida?

An LLC can be classified in one of two ways. Typically, LLCs are designated to be partnerships or disregarded entities. However, in this case, the LLC does not pay Florida income tax simply because it is not classified as a corporation.

However, some LLCs can be classified as incorporated. If they are classified as an incorporated business, the LLC must pay the standard 5.5% Florida state income tax—or at least the 3.3% alternative minimum tax. LLCs classified as corporations will file Form F-1065 if one or more of its owners is a corporation.

The actual business owner does not have to pay tax to the state of Florida for the income they personally receive from the business, except in those cases in which the LLC is incorporated.

How Are Small Business Partnerships in Florida Taxed?

Business partnerships can be classified as general partnerships, limited partnerships (LPs), and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). Regardless of these specific designations, none of these partnerships are required to pay state income tax in Florida.

However, the partners of these businesses are required to pay federal income tax on the money they receive from these businesses, based on standard income tax rates. But because Florida does not tax ordinary income, business owners of partnerships are not required to pay Florida state income tax.

A Florida business owner sits at a table with a pile of tax papers.

What Tax Obligations Are There for Sole Proprietorships in Florida?

Florida treats a sole proprietorship like a partnership. The only difference is that the state looks at the distributed income to one proprietor instead of many partners. Thus, like partnerships, sole proprietorships are shielded from traditional state income tax.

This also means that the proprietor is expected to pay tax on any business income he or she receives, though only to the federal government. Since it is considered to be personal income, the individual does not pay state income taxes.

What If You Have a Multi-State Business? How Are You Taxed?

For most organizations, there are no required taxes for small businesses in Florida. However, if you own a business in Florida but earn money from another state, you are considered to have a nexus in those states. Therefore, in these situations, your business may be subject to the tax laws in those states.

Because different states have different state tax laws, this can be confusing. If you earn money in multiple states, it may be prudent to review nexus rules to see how they may impact your business. 

Let Xendoo Help You

Looking for Florida bookkeeping services? Xendoo can help. We understand the rules regarding taxes for small businesses in Florida and help you keep your books up-to-date. We can even help with Florida tax preparation. When you have questions, contact the experts at Xendoo.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Best Small Business Invoicing Practices

Is getting people to pay their invoice balance a challenging part of running your own business? You are not alone. According to a report in Entrepreneur, on average, small businesses had $84,000 in unpaid invoices. Waiting weeks and sometimes months for the checks to arrive and managing cash flow in the meantime can be daunting, to say the least. Since invoicing isn’t the most exciting aspect of your business, we want to share these tips for small business invoicing to help you get paid faster, increase client relations, and save time and money. 

What is an invoice?

An invoice is a bill generated by a vendor that lists details and costs for goods and services provided. You’re likely already invoicing your clients, but don’t forget it is a legally binding contract. Making sure your small business invoicing system is up to snuff can save you headaches down the road. 

Setting Expectations 

Review your contract template and make sure you set expectations for invoicing. Likewise, make sure your invoice aligns with what is in the contract. Include payment schedule, estimated totals, and project milestones for payment.

Consider your software

As you strategize for creating, sending, and organizing your invoices, we recommend automating as much as possible. Your accounting software likely offers a way to do this. At Xendoo, we use QuickBooks Online and Xero, which both have invoicing solutions and are known for being the best accounting software options.

If you’re considering an invoicing program separate from your accounting, ensure the two integrate and consider online payment processing. Clients love having the option to quickly pay online, so make sure your software can integrate with payments. The easiest method is the simplest—at Xendoo we offer solutions with online bookkeeping services, accounting, invoicing, and integrated payment processing all in one.

 

A bookkeeper shows a business owner how to set up an invoice

Make sure you include these basics in your invoices

  • Dates: Include invoice creation date. Consider including the date the good or service was delivered in the summary.
  • Unique invoice number: Especially important when sending multiple invoices to the same client.
  • Client’s P.O.: During the contract phase, find out if your client uses Purchase Orders (P.O.s). A P.O. is an agreement between a vendor and a customer that outlines the purchase details and is issued by the client before work is performed. 
  • Contact information for all parties involved: Include name, address, phone, and email for both companies’ project and accounting contacts.
  • Payment terms: Terms indicate how long the client has to pay you and are determined initially. Net 30 (due in 30 days), Net 60, and Due Upon Receipt are popular terms.
  • Summary description of goods/services provided: Make it concise! A common way to summarize is to refer to completed milestones that were outlined in your contract.
  • SKU numbers: If your company uses SKU numbers for goods/services, make sure to include them. SKUs are helpful when you need a pricing breakdown and to determine what goods are taxable.
  • Totals: Include the cost for each line item, subtotal, taxes or discounts, and the final total. 
  • Late/early payment details: Consider charging an added percentage if the payment is late and a discount for early payments.
  • Method of payments accepted: Indicate all options for how to pay and details. Let them know who to make a check out to and where to mail it, and include a link to pay online.

Be straightforward 

Make your summary description brief while ensuring the client will understand how you arrived at the total. Do everything you can to make it easy for your client to pay you. Keep your invoice to one page. 

Send invoices as soon as possible

An invoice should be sent promptly when the project has been completed. Your client will use the invoice as the first step in processing your payment and likely has internal steps to take before paying you. Therefore, the quicker you send the invoice, the quicker you get paid.

Give your customer multiple ways to pay your invoices

Consider including a “Pay Now!” button on digital invoices. Clients love the convenience of online payment and often take immediate action. And these online payments can sync with your accounting software and help you avoid the “checks in the mail” scenario. If you are issuing an international invoice, indicate which currency you accept.

A hiwte thank you note with black cursive writing sits on a table

The Art of the Follow-up

Frustrations aside, you must send professional follow-ups when you haven’t received payment. Consider making a schedule for follow-up emails in advance and writing templates, customizing them for each client. This might make the process quicker and less frustrating. 

Also, consider using read receipts. They are a great way to track when your communication was received and when to follow up.

When a few emails aren’t enough, call your client. A brief, friendly call gives you another opportunity to connect with your client. They are likely receiving invoices from multiple vendors. Stand out by offering a friendly, professional demeanor.

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks!

Once you’ve received payment(s), send a thank you note. It’s an opportunity to remind your client what a positive experience it was to work together.

Communication Strategy and Branding

Consider your invoice a branding opportunity! Xero and QuickBooks offer customizable options to add to your logo, colors, and fonts. If you’re planning to mail a thank you note, keep it on-brand, too.

Streamlining your small business invoicing process can help you retain customers, increase cash flow, and increase stability. In addition, your customers will remember your professionalism and gratitude. Sign up for Xendoo today, and let us help with bookkeeping and accounting for your small business.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Eight Tax Tips for Restaurant Owners

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

You know that filing taxes can be stressful even in the best of times, but as a restaurant owner, tax time can leave you feeling in the weeds because your deductions are exponentially more complex. Never fear, though, because Xendoo is here to help. If you aren’t yet taking advantage of our full suite of professional business accounting services, here are a few quick restaurant tax tips for filing returns that can help save you some headache and money.

1. Document, Document, Document!

Did we mention that you need to document everything?  One of the best restaurant tax tips is to document and keep every invoice, every check stub, and every e-mail, no matter how inconsequential you might think it is at the time. You just never know when you might need to produce that little receipt during an audit, and running across a receipt might even remind you of something that you almost forgot to deduct. Set up a sound filing system where you can locate any tax documents you might need by vendor or category and keep it up to date.

2. Deduct All Food and Beverage Expenses

Since food cost is almost certainly your largest expense category (with the possible exception of labor), you should be deducting the cost of everything on your menu as an ordinary and necessary cost of doing business. But it’s not just the actual ingredients that you can write off. You can also deduct the cost of preparation materials like fryer oil and condiments, as well as any food that you have to throw out because it’s expired or spoiled. This is one restaurant tax tip that can take the sting out of tossing out old produce.

3. Deduct All Employee Compensation

Payroll is your other big expense category, and it’s deductible as an ordinary and necessary expense because obviously, your business can’t operate without staff. But, again, it’s not just the weekly payroll that you get to deduct. You can also deduct the cost of any employee discounts on meals, paid vacation or sick days, and any dental, vision, health, life, or other types of insurance you might provide for your team members. However, business owners don’t generally get to count salaries or benefits to themselves as deductions because doing so would essentially make any profits from the business tax exempt.

4. Deduct Mileage and Business Travel

Do you or any of your employees drive a personal vehicle as part of the business? Are you maybe making deliveries or picking up supplies? What about to or from training events? If you have any sort of driving directly related to your business, you can deduct that at the current standard mileage rate. But be careful—this is an often-abused deduction, so your documentation of it needs to be meticulously maintained. Driving to and from work doesn’t count as a business expense. Use either a separate ledger or a smartphone app that’s designed to track mileage. Also, if you have overnight travel for training, food shows, conferences, or other business-related events, you can deduct hotel and food expenses, as well.

5. Deduct Large Equipment Purchases

Under a 2016 change to the tax code, you can now deduct the total cost of certain equipment purchases up to $500,000 for the year of purchase instead of depreciating equipment over time in the traditional manner. Known as the ‘Section 179 deduction,’ this change is meant to ease the cash flow for small businesses. It covers a wide array of equipment such as computers, office furniture, vehicles, and machinery. That means the new walk-in cooler you just bought because the old one finally bit the dust can start working for you right away.

 

A server pours coffee into mugs.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

6. Take Advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Many business owners aren’t aware that the tax code rewards employers for hiring people from certain groups that have historically had difficulty finding employment. Known as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), these groups might include military veterans, summer youth employees, long-term unemployment recipients, rehabilitated felons, residents of designated Empowerment Zones, and many others. This restaurant tax tip is an excellent way to save your business some money while contributing to the community through socially responsible hiring practices.

7. Make Use of Enhanced Charitable Deductions

With a handful of exceptions, the IRS allows businesses to deduct donations to §501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations just like individuals do, including some enhanced deductions specifically for restaurants donating food. Take advantage of these types of restaurant tax tips can be a little tricky, though, so you probably want to hire a small business accounting firm like Xendoo to help navigate these waters safely. You can’t deduct staff time or the total fair market value of the food, but these deductions can still help boost your profit margin significantly.

8. Track Employee Tips Meticulously

Reporting credit card tips is pretty easy since they are tracked through the POS system, but cash tips can get messy. It’s the responsibility of servers to report their tips accurately, but if they don’t report cash tips, the IRS will assume an 8% tip rule. In cash sale situations, the business owner’s responsibility is to withhold 8% of the employee’s cash sales as an assumed tip, and liability for failure to do so could land on the employer. It’s a good idea to go over these rules with your team because you also have to file a Form 8027 each year, and the IRS expects to see accurate records, so it’s in everyone’s interest to pay attention to this one.

 

These restaurant tax tips are a good start for any business owner, but bookkeeping for restaurants isn’t for the faint of heart, which is why Xendoo is ready to help with our affordable bookkeeping and accounting services. Instead, it would be best if you spent your time growing your business and let our team of experts lift the tax burden and do what they do best.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Using Your Food Effectively: Three Tips to Control Food Costs for Restaurant Owners

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

As a restaurant owner, you have a lot of expenses on your plate every month that a partner like Xendoo can help you manage, such as providing tax tips for restaurants. Like rent and insurance, many of those are fixed and are beyond your control except when it’s time to renegotiate those agreements. But others are variable and are within your power on a day-to-day basis. By far, the two most significant of these variable expenses are food and labor, and there are things you can do to minimize both without sacrificing customer service or menu quality. Labor is relatively straightforward, but food costs can often be an elusive target for new restaurateurs. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do to reduce food costs and increase your bottom line.

What Is Food Cost?

Put simply, your food cost is the ratio of what you spend on groceries to your front-of-house sales and is almost always expressed as a percentage. For example, if you have a good restaurant bookkeeping system in place and know that your monthly Sysco invoices are $30,000 and your sales for the month are $100,000, your food cost for that month is 30%. Of course, lower is always better when it comes to ways to reduce food costs, but 30% is the generally accepted ideal for most restaurants.

several plates of food with similar ingredients sit on a table

Reduce Food Costs: Know Your Plates

There is a science to menu planning, and it involves a lot more than just deciding what dishes you are good at preparing. First, you need to know exactly the cost of ingredients for each dish you offer on your menu, which is often called the “plate cost.” Calculating your plate cost can seem complex at first glance, but it’s fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Before you can calculate anything, you need to be sure you have standardized recipes with clearly defined units of measurement and quantities.

Make a list of each ingredient in the dish and do the same calculation for each one. You need to know the unit of measurement your supplier uses (the purchase unit), what your supplier charges you for it (the unit purchase cost), and the yield. Yield will only apply to some items that require trimming or peeling (like meat or potatoes) before they can be used, resulting in some waste that needs to be calculated into your cost. Standardized yield charts are available from most vendors. These three numbers will give you your actual unit price for the ingredient.

Menu Engineering: Putting it all together

Next, think about how you prepare your dish and define the unit of measurement called for in your recipe (the serving unit). Next, figure out how your serving unit relates to your purchase unit and calculate your serving unit cost. For example, if you buy ketchup by the pound and serve it by the ounce, you would divide your purchase unit cost by 16 to get the price per ounce. Lastly, define the quantity of serving units in the recipe (portion size).

That may sound like a lot of numbers, but you can calculate your plate cost with these numbers in hand. Let’s take the example of a side order of french fries. You buy Russet potatoes for $2 per pound, and let’s assume four potatoes to the pound. After peeling, you have 19% waste (an 81% yield). Your recipe calls for 8oz of potatoes on the order, so it’s easy to calculate the plate cost from there. At $2 per pound with 81% yield, your actual cost per usable pound is $2.47. Divide that by 16 to get the price per ounce ($0.15) and multiply by 8oz called for in your recipe to get your plate cost of $1.20 for an order of fries. Sticking to the 30% food cost rule, you should be pricing this menu item at no less than $4.00.

Menu Engineering: Reuse Ingredients

Mexican restaurants are often cited as one of the most profitable restaurant categories. One of the key reasons is the relatively small number of common ingredients used in most menu items. Think about it: how many things on a Mexican menu can you make with some ground beef, chicken, tortillas, cheese, beans, and rice? A lot. Having common ingredients among dishes means you don’t have a lot of different items sitting around on the shelf not being used if a particular dish isn’t selling well. Avoid menu items that call for ingredients—especially expensive ones—that are unused in any other dish.

Take Regular Inventory

A good, detailed inventory taken regularly is important in figuring out how to reduce food costs because you need to know which items are running high and whether you might have food walking out the back door at night. No one likes to think that someone on the staff might be stealing, but the sad reality in the restaurant business is that theft does happen. Therefore, always have the inventory conducted and signed off by at least two people to reduce the inventory shrinkage. Other reasons for an item running high may be poor preparation resulting in unnecessary waste or spoilage from incorrect rotation.

Compare Foodservice Vendors Regularly

You have several options for foodservice vendors, and just because you’ve chosen one doesn’t mean you have to stay with your current choice. The vendor that had the best pricing a year ago, or even six months ago, may not have the best prices today. Food prices fluctuate based on market supply and demand, and vendors often try to entice new clients with low introductory pricing that they can’t maintain for long. So be sure that you’re shopping your options regularly to keep them honest.

Produce delivered to market with classic vw bug on cobble stone street in front

Check-In Your Food Truck

When your truck comes in, be sure that someone checks off each item on the invoice and verifies the correct quantity before the driver leaves. Foodservice vendors will often run out of stock in the warehouse and either make substitutions or omit back-ordered items. Be sure that your rep knows what substitutions are and aren’t acceptable and what items are critical for your business. You should receive a credit for any back-ordered items, but sometimes the vendor might make an oversight, or the driver might simply make a mistake unloading the order. You can’t afford to pay for food you never receive, right?

First In, First Out

One of the most common reasons for spoilage is the lack of proper rotation on the shelf. When the food truck comes in, ensure that the person putting it away understands that new items always go in the back and older items get rotated to the front. It’s often tempting when things get busy to stick the new inventory in the front where it’s most convenient. A periodic spot check of expiration dates will usually reveal whether your team is rotating items properly.

Prevent Cross-Contamination and Spoilage

The way you store perishable items can sometimes affect their shelf life. Be sure that your cooler is set at the recommended temperature (28-32° for fresh meats) and that items in the cooler are correctly stored to prevent cross-contamination of microorganisms that can lead to early spoilage or even sickness. In addition, be sure that raw meats, poultry, and seafood are placed on bottom shelves to prevent meat juices from dripping onto other foods and causing contamination. 

Run Daily Specials

Daily specials are a great way to offer a tasty variety to your customers and get rid of that extra inventory lingering in the pantry a little longer than it should. Train the front-of-house staff to sell the specials effectively and promote them on social media. If you offer a buffet, that’s also a great way to reduce food costs while keeping your customers happy.

Food cost will always be one of the challenges of the restaurant business, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Using these tips, you can help keep your food cost under control and tame one of the biggest variables to your profit margin. If you are already close to the ideal food cost of 30%, congratulations, you’re ahead of the curve. But if not, you now have the tools to figure out where your grocery money is going and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Xendoo is here to help, so be sure to reach out and discover the full suite of services that Xendoo offers to restaurant owners just like you.

 

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Tips for Managing Restaurant Labor

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

As a restaurant owner, you know very well that managing your expenses can be a real headache. It doesn’t take long for high food or restaurant labor costs to start eating away at your bottom line. Fortunately, Xendoo is here to help. Aside from fixed expenses like rent and insurance, food cost and labor cost are the two most significant expense categories that an owner will wrestle with daily. We’ve already shown you how to manage your food costs, so let’s take a look at some tips for managing restaurant labor costs efficiently.

What Is Restaurant Labor Cost?

It’s a given that without your cooks, servers, bartenders, and hosts, your restaurant is nothing more than a grocery store with tables. Hiring the right team to give your restaurant legs and make it go is essential. But bringing on that team entails some restaurant labor costs because you have to pay them. Your restaurant labor costs are the ratio of what you spend on payroll during the month to your gross sales for the month. Restaurant labor cost is almost always expressed as a percentage.

If you have Xendoo’s bookkeeping for restaurants, all the figures you need should be at your fingertips. For example, if your gross sales for the month are $100,000 and you spend $25,000 on payroll, that means your restaurant labor cost for that month is 25%. Unlike food cost, there is no set labor percentage at which you should be running because labor varies widely in different segments and markets. But generally speaking, your restaurant labor cost should be between 25% and 35%.

a server stands by a booth full of customers

Break Down Your Payroll by Category

Servers are paid very differently than cooks or managers, so it’s often helpful to break payroll down into groups so you can see exactly which restaurant labor costs the most. Staff should be cross-trained to give you the flexibility to shift things around when you need to cut some costs. For example, front-of-house staff may offer some accessible opportunities to trim things down a little.

Depending on your current labor laws you can cross-train staff for certain roles. If your hostess is making $8 per hour and servers are making $2.13 per hour, maybe you could try staffing an extra server during slower times and make that person responsible for greeting guests who walk in. The same goes for bartenders, who are typically paid more than servers. If your servers are properly cross-trained, they should be able to fill in as a bartender during slow times. They don’t have to be experts in everything, just good enough to carry a little extra water when things are slow.

Calculate Restaurant Labor Cost Daily

Naturally, you will want to study your restaurant labor costs on your monthly P&L along with other expenses like filing taxes, but it’s also helpful to look at it daily. If something is amiss, you don’t want to let it go unchecked for a whole month, do you? It’s easier to manage it day-to-day when your memory is fresh about what happened that may have affected your labor. Run an end-of-day report and give it a quick once over to compare sales to payroll and adjust the next day’s schedule accordingly if you need to.

A restaurant owner looks at his POS system for scheduling.

Use Smart Forecasting

Many modern point of sale (POS) systems offer features to help you analyze your sales patterns by day and hour and create forecasts to help you schedule staff very accurately. If your system doesn’t offer these features, it might be worthwhile to consider upgrading. If you need to do forecasting by hand, sit down and compare the upcoming week to the same week last year and factor in any changes in the market. For instance, if you did $20,000 in sales the same week the previous year but you’ve been averaging 10% more year over year, then you would forecast sales of $22,000. Multiply that number by your target food cost, and then you know what your payroll budget is for the upcoming week.

Beware Turnover Cost

The restaurant industry is notorious for having a ridiculously high staff turnover rate. As an owner, you need to understand both obvious and hidden costs to employee turnover. The obvious restaurant labor cost is training time. You have to pay an employee to shadow another employee during training, essentially doubling the restaurant labor cost of that position for that period. That can spike your labor cost in a big way, but there are also more subtle restaurant labor costs associated with turnover.

A new, inexperienced employee will make mistakes that a more seasoned employee might not make, and those mistakes come with a price tag. Whether it’s unnecessary food waste, a customer refund, or a lost sale, it’s a cost that eats into your bottom line. So you should consider whether, in some cases, it might be advantageous to pay just a little bit more than the market average to keep those experienced employees and avoid turnover costs.

Xendoo is here to help you keep your restaurant’s bottom line as healthy as possible, and by using these strategies, you can keep those pesky restaurant labor costs in line. Be sure to check out Xendoo’s full suite of services for restaurants to find other ways Xendoo can help boost your profits.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Two business woman smile discuss accounting at a desk

Why You Should Hire an Experienced Florida Accountant

As a small business owner, you want to keep your head in the game. After all, you started your business because you’re passionate about the work you do, and you want to connect your products and services to customers.

So why are you trying to juggle your own books?

We understand the pressures that small business owners are experiencing. Handling your own bookkeeping and accounting may seem like an easy corner to cut, but the chances are that you’ll pay for it in one way or another. 

You simply might not be able to give your books the time and attention you need—a problem that can snowball out of control and leave you with a disaster once tax season approaches. There are many online accounting services available. You can’t discount the value and simplicity that these services can offer, but how can you be confident that these services will understand your local business or Florida state law? Unfortunately, accounting software is similarly generic and can only take you so far in navigating the needs of local Florida businesses.

An experienced Florida accountant can help you with more than just the books. So let’s explore the various benefits of hiring a Florida accountant for your business.

A Florida Accountant Can Help with the Legal Structure of Your Business

On paper, businesses are largely defined by their legal structure. A business can be a limited liability company (LLC), a partnership or corporation, or a sole proprietorship. These structures are based on characteristics such as:

  • Liability
  • Taxation
  • Fees and forms
  • Investment needs and opportunities
  • Maintaining operations

When you set up your business, how will you consider these factors? This is where an experienced Florida accountant can really be helpful. Choosing an accountant can help your business to navigate these questions and ensure that your business is optimized according to Florida business law.

A Florida Accountant Can Keep Your Books and Records Up-to-Date and Accurate

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of working with a Florida accountant is that they can keep an eye on your books. Ideally, an experienced accountant will monitor your books all year long (or at least at regular intervals), which is vital when it comes to tax planning.

Two business women discuss Florida tax laws

A Florida Certified Public Accountant Can Help You to Understand Sales Tax Laws

Tax laws are notoriously complicated. Sales tax laws in Florida are no exception. Unless you have a degree in accounting, you could quickly start tearing your hair out trying to stay above board. And if you slip up, your business could face stiff penalties for violating tax laws or failing to meet deadlines for your tax returns. This doesn’t just affect you — it will also affect your staff and your loyal customers.

What about an eCommerce business? Organizations that work with out-of-state customers create a business connection called a “nexus” that requires them to pay sales taxes. An experienced accountant can help you to navigate these twenty-first-century questions and spare you the penalties that might come your way for improper financial reporting. 

This is where Xendoo can be especially helpful. Our online financial experts provide tax services to a variety of businesses, but our real advantage is our understanding of the Florida economic landscape. 

Businesses looking for bookkeeping in Naples or bookkeeping in Gainesville, for example, can take advantage of our financial expertise and local knowledge.

A Florida Accountant Can Help to Expand Your Business

Are you looking to grow your business? An accountant can help with that, too. Good accountants can distill your financial statements into a digestible summary of your overall cash flow. 

Understanding your company’s financial health can be a great first step to discovering growth opportunities. An accountant can point out ways to leverage your assets so that your business can grow and flourish without sacrificing the organizational strategies necessary for filing taxes.

When certified public accountants handle the books, you can focus on the day-to-day operation of your business.

We Handle the Books; You Handle the Business

Ready to hire an accounting professional for your small business? As you’ve seen, there are many benefits of hiring an accountant. The average base salary for a Florida accountant is over $50,000, plus benefits. Most small businesses simply can’t afford to hire someone for the position. If your company needs bookkeeping services in Orlando, where can you turn?

This is where Xendoo truly shines. With our localized knowledge, we can provide expert  Tampa bookkeeping services as well as almost anywhere in Florida. You won’t have to pay a full-time professional or contract with expensive accounting firms.

Businesses grow when they are well-managed, and an accountant can handle the books while you run the business. When you’re ready to stop juggling the books and get back in business, contact us and see how our online services can help your business to thrive.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

A woman stress bites a pencil going over her Florida business taxes

How to File a Business Tax Extension in Florida

With so many day-to-day responsibilities that go into running a small business, such as inventory accounting, staffing, bookkeeping, and marketing, it can be easy to forget about the tax deadline. Yet, before you know it, their tax deadline came and went. 

Without a filed return, you may be wringing your hands and asking yourself questions on what to do next. Can you even make payments after a down year? Do you have the necessary paperwork? What do you do now that they’ve missed their deadline? Chances are that you are not alone, but don’t panic. Florida allows businesses to file a tax extension, but you can’t wait too long. Putting it off even further could increase your penalties and put you in financial hardship.

We’ll walk you through the process for filing a Florida business tax extension, so you can keep your business moving without the added stress. 

What is the Deadline for the Florida Business Tax Extension?

Different deadlines apply for federal and state taxes. Below are the deadlines for Florida’s state tax extension and the federal tax extension. 

State Tax Extension

Tax returns for Florida businesses are due by May 1 (the 1st day of the 4th month following the end of the taxable year). However, Florida allows for a six-month extension, which would move the new deadline to November 1st.

Federal Tax Extension

2021 tax deadlines have the following due dates:

  • Sole proprietorships and single-owner LLCs: May 17, 2021
  • Partnerships: March 15, 2021
  • S Corporations: March 15, 2021
  • C Corporations: April 15, 2021 

A Florida partnership or business has the option to file for a six-month extension, which would move the deadline to the following dates:

  • Sole proprietorships and single-owner LLCs: November 17, 2021
  • Partnerships: September 15, 2021
  • S Corporations: September 15, 2021
  • C Corporations: October 15, 2021 

Be prepared to pay a deposit for the taxes you owe. You will also be expected to pay your first quarterly taxes for your business on this date.

Image of tax forems 1120 on a desk next to a laptop bag

What Forms Do I Need to File to Apply for a Florida Business Tax Extension?

The form you need will depend on the type of business you’re operating. For the Florida business tax extension, you will first need to complete the form for a federal tax extension:

Please note that if you are filing for a federal tax extension, you must also file for an extension with the state of Florida. However, an approved federal extension will not guarantee an extension with the state.

Can I Pay My Balance When I Submit an Extension?

Businesses will have the option to pay their balance when they file for an extension, but all businesses should be prepared to pay at least a down payment for the taxes that they owe.

How Do I Submit My Forms?

It’s faster and easier to file electronically. Form 7004 can either be submitted electronically to the Florida Department of Revenue through Florida’s “File and Pay” e-service system or through the postal service by mailing your completed form to the following address:

Florida Department of Revenue

5050 W. Tennessee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0135

You do not have to send payment with your tax form, but you should be prepared to pay a deposit, as we already noted. Moreover, you should also account for possible late charges or penalties.

Can I File My Extension Electronically?

You may file Form 7004 through Florida’s “File and Pay” e-service system. Most tax preparation software can interface with this system, though if you have trouble, you may wish to contact your software provider or consider filing on paper.

What Happens if I Don’t Pay My Taxes?

If you pay your taxes late, charges will apply in the amount of 10% of your unpaid taxes. An additional 10% will accrue every month in which your taxes are unpaid, up to a possible penalty of 50% of your total outstanding taxes. Underpaying your taxes could also result in interest being applied, though this number varies.

If you don’t owe Florida taxes, you must still file for this fiscal year. Failing to do so can result in a late charge of $50 per month, up to a possible total of $300.

Can Xendoo Help with My Florida Business Tax Extension?

Our bookkeepers and tax specialists are well versed in Florida small businesses and can ensure that your taxes are filed correctly and on time. Plus, Xendoo’s financial experts can keep your records up to date and accurate, so you aren’t panicking but prepared when tax season comes around. If you’re looking for bookkeeping services in Orlando and the surrounding areas, Xendoo can help you to complete forms, meet deadlines, and more. 

Xendoo offers tax and bookkeeping services all over Florida, including:

When you need help, we’re only a click away. Reach out to our team today!

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Tips to Increase Retail Sales for Your Small Business

This past year has been incredibly hard on retailers, especially small businesses. Retail sales plunged more than 20% between February and April last year, but with pandemic restrictions easing, the industry is starting to recover. As folks are venturing out more, it’s the perfect time to refresh yourself and your sales associates on tips to help increase retail sales and work towards building your business back up!

Make your customers feel safe

Many people are finding it tough to return to their pre-pandemic selves quickly and are still moving with caution. Help them feel at ease by reminding them they are safe in your shop. Take note of what protocols major retailers are following. For example, make hand sanitizer available at the entry and the register. Use signage to share your mask policy, your cleaning protocol, and any policies on the dressing room or how to use ‘tester’ products. The safer customers feel, the more likely they are to make a purchase which will help increase your retail sales.

Curbside pickup and local delivery

 Many stores began offering curbside pickup and local delivery in 2020, and most customers have become accustomed to these services. Keep in mind that today’s customers value convenience,  so continue to offer these alternative methods moving forward. 

Train your staff

While you’re refreshing your team on cross- and up-selling, make sure they are up to speed on the basics, too. For example, do they need a reminder on any specials or promotions you’re offering? Ensure they are experts on your store’s products and that they are as informed as possible on your customer service expectations. Encourage them to think ahead to how they might answer specific questions customers might ask, including all frequently asked questions. If your staff can put your customers at ease, they are more likely to purchase from you than your competitors.

 

A sales woman upsells a product to a customer at checkout

Cross-selling and up-selling

The savviest sales associates know how to cross-sell and up-sell. When a customer is interested in one particular item, the savvy salesperson suggests a corresponding item to go along with it. “If you like that, you will love this, too!” Up-selling is suggesting a more expensive alternative to the item the customer is already interested in buying. “Oh, that one you have is great, but have you seen this (more expensive) version?” If your customer leaves with an item that they will enjoy more and feel like they got a great deal, they are more likely to be a repeat customer which can further help increase retail sales.

Merchandising

Make the way you merchandise or display your products a priority. Keep your displays fresh and regularly move merchandise around the store, which creates a sense of newness and will have your regular customers looking at products they may have otherwise passed. Feature new and seasonal products near the entrance. Keep everything clean, organized, and make sure it’s easy to navigate the store. Keep popular and inexpensive items near the registers to encourage impulse purchases during check-out. You should also keep up on your inventory accounting to ensure that those displays have enough product on them.

Make it personal

 80% of companies are more likely to purchase from a company that offers them a personal experience. So how might your store offer a personal touch? Branded items are a great way to creatively connect with your customers – make sure your logo or taglines are on bags, receipts, and automated email receipts. Consider slipping an extra treat into shopping bags, too. Perhaps a small button or magnet with your logo and website. And the best way to get personal is to really connect with your customers. Make it a priority to chat, remember their names, and take note of the types of products that interest them.

Loyalty programs

Customers love loyalty programs! Many small businesses still enjoy using classic “buy 10, get 1 free” style punch cards, but there are great digital-focused loyalty programs, too. Options like Loopy Loyalty and Smile.io encourage customers to shop with you again and engage with your brand. And get creative! These programs offer ways for you to customize the program to match your branding and speak to your customer. As you build your loyalty program, make sure you aren’t creating an unattainable goal. Earning $5 for every $25 you spend feels much more exciting than earning $1 for every $50 you spend, right!?

Make time to analyze

Small retail store owners are notoriously stretched for time, but it’s essential to set aside time to review what sales tactics are working and what aren’t. Look at the numbers and strategically think about what might have led to increases or dips in sales on any given day. This is where having professionals like the team at Xendoo manage your retail bookkeeping can go a long way. Through accurate and timely reports, you can quickly review the numbers and figure out what sales strategies are most effective.

It’s an exciting time for retailers to have a fresh start! Seize the opportunity and train your staff on new sales tactics, refresh your inventory offerings and displays, and get creative with new ways for your customers to engage with your brand. By outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting to the team at Xendoo, you’ll save time and money, and you’ll finally have the data you need to be more strategic about how to increase retail sales and remain profitable.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A retail shop displays an open sign in their window.

How to Make a Budget for Your Retail Store

As you look to grow your retail business and ensure you can maintain long-term stability, you will need to create and follow a retail budget. It’s one of the most important tools in small business retail management and can guide you as you make decisions, navigate unexpected changes, and work towards increasing cash flow and optimizing your profit. 

Your budget is something you make annually and adjust regularly based on actual expenses. This is where a skilled bookkeeper or accountant comes in handy! They can help make sure your budget predictions are accurate, and assist you in adjusting it throughout the year.

Being able to handle unexpected expenses on the fly is perhaps a budget’s greatest strength. A small retailer might face anything from windows suddenly covered in graffiti overnight to a global pandemic that forces them to temporarily close their doors. Budgets can help you hope for the best while planning for the worst. Here are the most common expenses a small business owner should consider when making a retail budget. 

Staffing

Everyone knows that retail business owners must regularly budget for their sales associates and store managers’ compensation, but don’t forget to plan for the associated payroll taxes and employee benefits including their time off. Additionally, consider additional labor costs for marketing, graphic design, inventory buying, facility maintenance, and order fulfillment and shipping. Keep in mind that Xendoo can help cut costs here by providing retail bookkeeping and accounting at a lower rate than on-staff employees.

A retail store front with a bike leaning against a post in the foreground

Photo by Sherzod Max on Unsplash

Facility Costs

When you first open your brick & mortar retail business the list of expenses associated with getting your physical space up and running is long. Painting, installing new lighting and hardware, choosing merchandise fixtures, installing electrical outlets, and a security system. Landscaping, adding in new vinyl graphics for your doors and windows, and don’t forget about signs. And there are more costs to maintaining your facility than one might expect. You will need to budget for unexpected expenses like plumbing problems, roof leaks, and ongoing maintenance such as replacing lights, signs, and store fixtures as needed. If your business has a second location you’ll need to make sure you budget separately for each space.

Marketing

Your annual marketing budget will change throughout the year. As you plan it out, keep in mind what times of year are best for sales – around holidays like President’s Day and Memorial Day, and as the seasons change. Plan to budget for paid social media and influencer marketing throughout the year, as well as any email marketing expenses you may incur. And don’t rely solely on digital marketing – your business may get great exposure by marketing through community partnerships, events, and even by mailing postcards to your customers.

Inventory

Inventory buying is one of a retail businesses’ most important and strategic costs to budget for. Retailers must prioritize inventory accounting, and keep a variety of things in mind like current trends, seasonal changes, and what sold well this time last year versus what didn’t. You’ll need to consider discounts and deals your vendors offer throughout the year, as well as freight charges. An excellent tool to consider using as you budget for inventory is an open-to-buy plan. An open-to-buy plan is an inventory management system that shows you how much inventory you can buy throughout the year.

Security

Even the smallest of retail businesses need to budget for loss prevention. Keeping your inventory numbers accurate will help you determine how much shrinkage affects your business. Do you need to increase your security? Perhaps you need to invest in security cameras or loss prevention training for your employees. According to the National Retail Federation, retail shrinkage is on the rise —totaling $61.7 billion in 2019, which is up from $50.6 billion the year before.

Technology

As you plan and review your budget, look for spots where technology might be able to save you money. Are the systems you are using, like an eCommerce platform, credit card machine, and merchant services, or your accounting software too expensive? Are there cheaper solutions? Spend a bit of time researching options and you might find better solutions. Some of your providers might even work together, for instance, Xendoo customers get a discount on Xero and Quickbooks software.

 

Trust us, we know that staying on budget is often easier said than done, especially for small business owners who are stretched for time. A quality bookkeeper or accountant like the team at Xendoo can help you plan and stay on budget, as well as find areas where you can save money through accurate, timely reports and advice. Become a budgeting pro with Xendoo today.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Bringing Home the Bacon: A Profit Growing Guide for Restaurateurs

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

It’s no secret that the restaurant business is tough, even in the best of times. Really tough. Even before the COVID-19 shutdowns, industry analysts estimate the failure rate for new restaurants in the first year was somewhere around 60%, with another 20% shuttering the doors before the 5-year mark. That’s only gotten worse during the pandemic, with hospitality being one of the industries hardest hit by shutdowns and restrictions. However, as bleak as that reality may seem, the restaurant industry is still viable, and there are things you as an owner can do to help increase restaurant profits and make sure you stay in the 40% that do well.

Understanding Profits: Gross vs. Net

When discussing how to increase restaurant profits, it’s important to distinguish between gross profit and net profit. Gross profit for a restaurant is defined as the price of the item minus the cost of goods sold, i.e., food cost. For example, if your signature lasagna dish sells for $20 and the ingredients to make it cost $7, your gross profit on that item is $13, and your profit margin is 65% (13 divided by 20). Industry norms and best practices suggest that food costs should run somewhere around 30%, which means that if your total sales for the month are $100,000, you should be spending roughly $30,000 with your foodservice vendor. Food costs that run higher than that can often be an indicator of excessive waste or theft (often referred to as shrinkage), so it’s essential to know your gross profit margin.

Net profit is the amount left over after ALL operating expenses are deducted, not just food costs. That includes expenses such as labor, food cost, rent, utilities, equipment repairs or leases, insurance, etc. Because it consists of a much more expansive list of expenses than gross profit, net profit will necessarily be a much smaller number. Typical net profit margins have shrunk in recent years but typically hover around 3-5%.

It’s critical to stay on top of your books and know exactly what your margins to increase restaurant profits because if you’re playing catch-up bookkeeping, you’re flying blind. Generally, when discussing how to increase restaurant profits, most people mean net profit because it’s the one that keeps the lights on for your business. With that in mind, there are two ways to boost your bottom line – you can increase sales or lower expenses. So let’s look first at ways to boost your sales numbers and increase your average ticket price or cover the average.

View of a restaurant menus with prices set for increase in profits

Review Your Menu Pricing

As we noted above, your food cost should be around 30% of your menu price, so you’ll need to calculate the plate cost of each menu item to help increase restaurant profits. To do this, first, make a list of each ingredient required to prepare the dish. Next, choose which unit of measure your foodservice vendor uses for the items (e.g., do you buy it by the pound, gallon, dozen, etc.) and identify your unit cost from your vendor. There may or may not be a yield percentage for the item, which would be waste from trimming or peeling the item before use. For example, certain cuts of meat may require trimming away fat or gristle, which reduces its useful yield. These can usually be found in standardized yield charts available from many vendors. 

Finally, do a similar calculation for the way you prepare the dish:

1.  Select the correct serving unit, which is usually as simple as the unit of measure that your recipe calls for.

2. Calculate the serving unit cost by dividing the cost per measure by the number of serving units per measure. The cost per measure for items with no yield is the unit purchase price, and for items with a yield, the unit purchase price is divided by the yield percentage. For example, if you buy ground beef for $4 per pound and your serving unit is ounces, the serving unit cost would be $0.25 per ounce ($4 divided by 16 ounces to the pound).

3. Select your portion size, which is the quantity called for by the recipe.

A simple plate cost for a hamburger and fries might look like this, assuming four potatoes to the pound and six slices per tomato:

Ingredient Purchase Unit Purchase Unit Cost Yield Actual Unit Cost Serving Unit Serving Unit Cost Portion Size Portion Cost
Ground Beef Pound $4.00 N/A $4.00 Ounce $0.25 5 $1.25
Bun Dozen $6.00 N/A $6.00 Each $0.50 1 $0.50
Tomato Pound $1.89 N/A $1.89 Slice $0.31 2 $0.62
Mustard Gallon $13.00 N/A $13.00 Ounce $0.81 1 $0.81
Potato Pound $2.00 .81 $2.46 Each $0.62 1 $0.62
$3.80

So we can see that the plate cost for this hamburger and fries meal is $3.80. Sticking to the rule of 30% food cost, the menu price of this item should be $12.50. If it’s less than that, it’s probably eating into your bottom line.

Identify Your Menu Hits and Misses

Now that you know your plate cost for each item on your menu, it’s time to compare those to some sales reports from your point-of-sale (POS) system to see where your profit is coming from. Create a spreadsheet with four categories and label them “HIGH PROFIT/HIGH SALES,” “HIGH PROFIT/LOW SALES,” “LOW PROFIT/HIGH SALES,” and “LOW PROFIT/LOW SALES.” Then, put each item on your menu into one of those categories to see where each item falls. Dishes that fall into the “LOW PROFIT/LOW SALES” category are candidates for removal in favor of more profitable offerings. Also, consider running daily specials that combine high-profit, low-sale items with big sellers to help move those lower selling items to get that incremental revenue.

Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Effectively

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of staff training in proper selling techniques to increase restaurant profits. Train your service staff to offer customers an appetizer or cocktail before starting their meal, and train them to make quality recommendations. If you are a full-service restaurant and serve alcohol, educate your staff about wine types and selections that you carry. Distributors will often send a representative to do this training for you at no cost. Armed with that knowledge, the staff then knows that the new full-bodied cabernet that just came in yesterday goes wonderfully with a steak dinner and can offer that to a customer considering the steak. The result is a happier customer with a higher ticket who will tell his or her friends about your knowledgeable staff. Run contests to reward the servers with the highest average ticket for the week to encourage up-selling.

In addition to some general restaurant bookkeeping tips, let’s look at some specific ways to manage your operating expenses and keep your bottom line healthy.

Watch Your Invoices Closely

Food prices constantly fluctuate due to various factors, with some items varying wildly. It’s important to know exactly the current price of a pound of shrimp. If that price begins to rise due to an oil spill, hurricane, or another event that causes a shortage, it might be prudent to take the shrimp cocktail off the appetizer menu for a little while if the price gets too high. Also, some food service vendors will try to get your business by initially offering you low prices that they can’t sustain with the intention of creeping the prices up slowly in the hope that you won’t notice. This practice is called “speeding.” Be sure to regularly compare pricing from different vendors to ensure that you’re getting the best price when your food truck comes in.

A server sets tables at a restaurant.

Manage Your Labor

Along with food cost, labor is the other big variable expense that operators can control to increase restaurant profits. Labor is often a very fine line to walk. Too much labor during slow times is an unnecessary expense and may dilute tips among servers and affect their morale, while too little staffing can result in poor customer service and quickly land your business in Yelp hell. Many modern point-of-sale (POS) systems include advanced scheduling that uses sales history to predict how many servers you will need at any given time. Many POS systems can even suggest your best-selling servers on your busiest shifts for you. If you have such a system, take advantage of these features to keep your staffing lean and mean. If you don’t, it might be cost-effective to consider upgrading.

Stick to Multi-Purpose Ingredients

When planning out your menu, try to avoid items that require ingredients that aren’t used in any other dish. For example, if nothing else on your menu uses shrimp, you should probably avoid putting the shrimp cocktail on your appetizer menu because shrimp is expensive and has a short shelf life. But if your menu includes a grilled chicken salad and lemon pepper chicken, the chicken quesadilla pinwheels might be a better appetizer for you. By sticking to ingredients that are used in multiple dishes, you can cut down food costs and waste significantly.

Take Regular Inventory

Taking regular inventory is one of your best tools to detect waste and theft, so set a schedule to take a detailed inventory regularly. Compare it to your sales report to see if the sell-through rate matches what you expected from your sales report. That way, you know which items are moving and which are sitting on the shelf too long, and whether you might have some product walking out the back door at night. Have it conducted by at least two people to ensure that it’s done accurately and honestly. 

Get a Handle on Your Bookkeeping

Good bookkeeping for restaurants is essential, and as a restaurant owner, you probably don’t have the time to be doing your books. Your focus needs to be on doing what really matters – growing your business and improving your bottom line. That’s where a partner like Xendoo can help by offering a full suite of business bookkeeping products and services to help you know where every dollar is going. Outsourcing is more affordable than you might think, and it can pay for itself very quickly. Economists call it “opportunity cost.” It’s the hidden cost of foregoing one opportunity in favor of another because you don’t have time to do both. Yes, assuming you have the knowledge, you might save a few dollars in accounting fees by doing it yourself, but how much will your business operations suffer because you’re spending all your time on that?

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.