Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
As a busy restaurateur, it’s easy to push restaurant bookkeeping tasks to the bottom of your priority list. After all, you have better things to do – right?
Not so fast. Restaurant bookkeeping is an essential function for businesses large and small, as accurate, reliable numbers are essential for sound decision making. Also, there is the whole matter of taxes to consider. Safe to say, it’s better to get things right the first time with bookkeeping, instead of paying for your mistakes later on.
To help get your restaurant accounting processes on the right track, we have assembled the following five tips.
1. Record Sales Daily
It’s dangerously easy to fall behind on recording your sales. In fact, one of the reasons that bookkeeping for restaurants is often a mess is simply because owners and managers fall behind on basic tasks.
To stay up to date, make a habit of copying or importing the sales from your POS system into your accounting software each day. What you’re aiming for are books that correlate with your bank statements. If you save up all those credit card charges for a weekly or monthly deposit, you’ll have a hard time doing analysis later.
Ideally, your accounting software and POS system are integrated so that this is done automatically. At Xendoo, we integrate your bank transactions with your books, so data entry is always up to the minute. Automating this process not only saves you the time of doing the work manually but also greatly improves accuracy.
2. Reconcile Bank Statements Every Month
Yes, your bank statements should be reconciled every month. No, it’s not a good idea to let them sit around for 3, 4, 5, or more months. If you’ve forgotten to enter a payment or a sale in your books, but that payment or sale has been processed by your bank, it will be easier to correct the error if you catch it quickly. In an extreme case, not knowing how much you really have in the bank could lead to bounced checks.
For every account that you receive a monthly statement — bank, credit cards, lines of credit, and loans — compare what their statement says with what your books say. If there are discrepancies, track down what happened and fix it. Of course, if you outsource bookkeeping to a service like Xendoo, you can keep up with this task while keeping your personal schedule open for other responsibilities.
3. Pay Your Bills Promptly
Vendors love customers who pay on time – or even early. Doing so will get you better deals and early payment discounts. On the flip side, being late will rack up interest charges. Staying on top of your bills, along with managing labor costs properly, are keys to keeping your financial house in order.
To make sure this happens, you should have a reliable Accounts Payable process in place. Your A/P system will record invoices, pay bills online with a credit card or digitally generated checks, and automatically enter the expenses in your books. Record new invoices once or twice a week and make payments once per week to stay current.
4. Take a Close Look at Your Financial Reports
Anyone can quickly glance at the bottom line of a financial report—but those numbers only tell a portion of the story. It’s the details that you need to understand, and those can be gathered if you take the time to read through your restaurant bookkeeping reports carefully.
Your profit & loss statements and balance sheets can reveal crucial statistics for a restaurant business such as:
- Profit margin: gross profit ÷ total revenue
- Sales vs. cost of goods sold ratio
- Prime cost: ideally food + beverage + labor = 60% – 65% of total sales
- Compare current profit & loss to previous months and years
Profit margins are notoriously tight in the restaurant industry. Having current information about your financial health is just as important as creating tasty food or offering great service. That’s why Xendoo guarantees delivery of your P&L statement by the 5th business day of every month.
5. Nail Your Taxes.
It’s worthwhile to track down as many tax tips for restaurants as you can find since taxes make up such a notable expense every month. One of the best ways to stay on top of taxes and avoid paying more than is necessary is to keep detailed, accurate records of everything that takes place in your business.
Extra Ingredient: Outsource Your Payroll
Payroll processing can be quite time-consuming, especially given the complex shift scheduling of most restaurants. It also comes with high penalties if you make mistakes in calculating payroll taxes, or don’t file the taxes on time.
Payroll services are generally affordable, and can often be bundled with other accounting services. Xendoo offers packages that include payroll processing for a budget-friendly flat monthly fee.
Documentation is the name of the game in accounting, yet many restaurants – and businesses in other industries – fall short when doing their own bookkeeping. Working with Xendoo is a big step in the right direction when it comes to documentation and record keeping. And, of course, Xendoo can manage your tax filing as well, so there is nothing lost in translation when going from one service to the next. As an all-in-one bookkeeping and tax filing solution for your restaurant, tax season will no longer feel like the nightmare it once was