5 tips to successfully outsource your restaurant’s accounting and payroll
Running a business involves a lot of moving parts, and when you run restaurant franchises, those moving parts can be multiplied by 10 (or more). You’re constantly juggling schedules, employees, customers, training, marketing, food inventory, technology, and payroll and accounting. Throw in multiple locations, and it makes sense to seek outside help for some of these aspects of the business.
If payroll and accounting are taking up a lot of time that could be spent face-to-face with employees and customers, that might be the right area to outsource. But how do you smooth the transition to make sure your new systems really do save you time and effort? Here are 5 tips to make outsourcing your payroll and accounting as smooth as possible.
1. Establish a realistic process and timeline for payroll
It’s important to set up your system in a way that’s sustainable and easy to export. For example, most restaurants find it easier to pay employees bi-weekly versus bi-monthly because pay periods are always 14 days. Figuring this out ahead of time will reduce friction.
What else can smooth the process? Give yourself breathing room by establishing deadlines for making payroll changes. Let’s say that you need to pay employees on the following Friday. By establishing the preceding Monday as the deadline for any payroll adjustments, you avoid last-minute scrambles.
Establishing clear guidelines will help you define your payroll needs and better understand your options.
2. Have a thoughtful and organized ledger
Time spent digging for infrequently used or non-existent codes is a waste. Not to mention the added risk of entering items incorrectly. Your ledger should be created in a way that anticipates the needs of your industry. When you remove the guessing game for the accountant, it improves accuracy and makes them more self-sufficient.
3. Determine payment terms with vendors
Establish payment terms upfront with vendors to avoid confusion. If you’re expecting to pay a vendor in 60 days but they expect payment in 30 days, you could run into accounting errors. You should also confirm who will be sending invoices to the vendors (individual stores, a central office, etc.) in order to avoid accounting complications down the line.
Determining payment terms upfront eliminates frustrations later on and helps you come up with realistic income calculations.
4. Define a process or timeline for gaps between performance and expectation
What happens if the vendor doesn’t provide what you expected? Whom do you contact? Both you and your vendor should have several points of contact. This allows both you and your vendor the ability to contact each other with questions or concerns and streamlines communication.
Set up a plan with your vendor that includes points of contact, instructions on how to resolve unfulfilled expectations, and a resolution timeline. This will help you both understand how things will work and reduce frustration.
5. Establish a rollout strategy
A lot of owners try to roll out a big change to all of their restaurants at the same time. This isn’t a good idea because it doesn’t give you time to resolve integration bugs or unexpected issues. By rushing the process, it could take longer to fully implement your new accounting and payroll than if you would have tested it on a smaller portion of restaurants. How can you do this effectively?
Imagine that you want to outsource the accounting and payroll for 100 restaurants. By implementing the change in only 10 of the 100 locations, you can work through the bugs at a manageable scale. Then, when you’re ready, you can roll out the change to the rest of the restaurants with the fixes already in place. This increases the speed with which you can implement change and avoids dealing with issues at 10 times the scale.
Communicate these expectations with your vendor early to avoid any lag time in your transition to outsourced accounting and payroll. This will reduce stress and set you up for success. If you find yourself butting heads on many of these expectations, keep searching, the right vendor is out there.