5 Things To Ask Your Restaurant's Bookkeeper

| 3 min read

5 Things To Ask Your Restaurant's Bookkeeper

We have a lot of experience with restaurant bookkeeping in Salt Lake City.  I never had a ton of restaurant experience outside of the dishwashing position until I started doing bookkeeping for other small businesses.  When I started doing bookkeeping for restaurants I immediately understood that they were very unique from a bookkeeping perspective.  I ended up managing the front of house of a restaurant for five years in addition to handling the back office tasks.  Through my experience I learned that the front of the house operations has an effect on the bookkeeping and understanding the ins and outs is extremely important.  If you own a restaurant and don't have your bookkeeping dialed in here are 5 questions I would ask your bookkeeper.  

Do You Have Any Restaurant Management Experience Or Restaurant Bookkeeping Experience?

Restaurants are very unique in so many ways, but especially in the bookkeeping aspect.  Possessing restaurant management experience will be highly beneficial in setting up a dialed restaurant bookkeeping system.  Having a thorough understanding of the way the front of the house operates will allow you to manage the bookkeeping and insert the proper checks and balances.  The margins in the restaurant industry are extremely tight so there are many things to keep an eye on.  Managing inventory, labor and food costs are just a few of the things that a good restaurant bookkeeper will keep a tight handle on.  There are important financial ratios for restaurants that your bookkeeper should know about and keep active in helping the business owner manage and control.  

What Restaurant POS Software Do You Recommend And Why?

The restaurant POS software that you choose is extremely important.  The functionality, ease of programing and reporting are all important things to consider when choosing a POS system.  However, I think the two most important things to consider when purchasing a restaurant POS system are the reputation of the company and the customer service.  Restaurant POS systems come and go so I would definitely suggest one that is reliable with a long history of success.  Additionally the customer service is an extremely important piece as isssues are going to come up and you will need support.  I have always recommended Aloha by NCR and POS Technologies locally in SLC due to their long running reputation and excellent customer service.  One last thing to consider is how robust of a system to go with, which will aid you in scaling your restaurant to multiple locations if that is your plan.   

What Experience Do You Have With Restaurant Bookkeeping For Multiple Locations?

This is an extremely important question if you intend to grow your restaurant beyond one location.  Handling the bookkeeping for one restaurant might not be all that difficult but handling the bookkeeping for multiple restaurants can be a challenge.  Recording the daily sales separately for each location is essential to get the books to reconcile as well as to produce accurate financial reporting.  Many owners choose to do restaurant bookkeeping in QuickBooks because it is such accepted accounting software.  However, just because you are an accountant doesn't mean you understand QuickBooks.  Finding a good bookkeeper that understands both restaurant bookkeeping and QuickBooks will ensure the proper system is put in place.  Having a good understanding of class tracking in QuickBooks is mandatory if you intend to create one company file for tracking multiple restaurant locations.    

What Experience Do You Have With Helping A Restaurant Scale From A Bookkeeping Standpoint?

Is your bookkeeping system built for scaling and what does that even mean? To me that means a highly efficient bookkeeping system, that is smooth to operate and easy to add another restaurant location to your business.  However, continually scaling your restaurant group can produce some major bookkeeping and administrative headaches if you don't have the proper systems set up.  Helping a restaurant scale from a bookkeeping perspective requires a take charge attitude from your bookkeeper.  Setting up a bookkeeping system on a hunch isn't going to work.  You have to understand the business in and out and be able to quickly make adjustments to the system.  Additionally you can't make suggestions on how the bookkeeping should be done you just need to tell the owners and managers how it needs to be handled.  Having the confidence required to set up a powerful restaurant bookkeeping system takes lots of experience in both restaurants and bookkeeping.  I consider a system to be scalable if I set it up and feel confident that if I were not around tomorrow that someone could easily step in and handle the bookkeeping.   

Tell Me About The Specifics Of The Restaurant Bookkeeping System You Will Put In Place And How You Envision Managing It?

There should be absolutely no hesitation from your restaurant bookkeeper on this.  I would be able to tell you exactly how we would manage the day to day invoices.  I could explain in depth how we would manage cash to make sure that nobody is stealing from the restaurant.  I could show you how your QuickBooks file should be hosted in a server environment, who should have access, what permission levels they should have and why.  I could tell you the importance of recording sales on a daily basis and how we are going to reconcile the books on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  Lastly, I could talk to you about the restaurant financial reporting we should put in place and what reports I would monitor.  I would also want to know if there are additional reports you would want to see and how often and when you would need them.  I could fire all of this information off without any hesitation and your restaurant bookkeeper should be able to do the same.   

The restaurant industry is a tough business.  Proper bookkeeping can make the difference between the success and failure of your restaurant.  There is not time or room for error to deal with a bookkeeper that is going to "figure it out."  You need to be dialed from day one to run a tight and profitable restaurant.  

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