5 Tips for Finding the Right Restaurant Invoice Software
by Jillian Straw
Restaurant invoice software has become a must-have tool for owners and operators who are looking to optimize processes after a tumultuous year. After all, the time and money spent on processing invoices in restaurants is astronomical: about 85 minutes and over $25 in labor costs per invoice.
But with so many options available to support invoice management, restaurateurs must figure out which solution makes the most sense for their business model—and which software they can trust with their Accounts Payable (AP) process.
As your restaurant business researches invoice software, use our 5 tips to make sure you pick the right drop-in solution for your tech stack.
Tip 1: Restaurant invoice software should be zero-touch
A key feature that makes invoice software so appealing for restaurant owners is that it reduces or completely eliminates paper invoices. Anyone who’s worked in a restaurant has likely encountered the vicious cycle:
- A vendor hands over a physical invoice along with the goods that were purchased.
- Someone from the back of house, like a chef, manually checks the invoice to compare what was ordered against what was received and jots down notes.
- The invoice is handed over to accounting for processing and General Ledger coding.
- The invoice is stored in a Bankers Box indefinitely.
Thinking about the number of physical touchpoints for each invoice just within a restaurant’s walls is enough to make the skin crawl for any germaphobe. But several touchpoints don’t only spread germs—they multiply labor costs and increase the chance that errors will be introduced in your AP.
When seeking a restaurant invoice software solution, look for the phrase “zero-touch AP.” Providers of this software are committed to using artificial intelligence (AI) to scan, digitize, and store invoices, drastically reducing the labor and storage costs associated with the handling and storage of paper, as well as the errors that can be introduced by manual data input.
Tip 2: Restaurant invoice software should automate General Ledger coding
Zero-Touch AP can go one step further in assisting accounting teams with tedious tasks. The restaurant invoice software you implement should not only digitize invoices, but also have the capability to automatically apply General Ledger (GL) codes every time an invoice is scanned.
Proper GL coding is vital for any restaurateur who wants to have insight on where their money is spent the most, but it’s a time-consuming process—especially for restaurants that frequently receive large invoices.
Instead, accounting teams can apply a rule to new invoice scans just once, and the right restaurant invoice software should be able to automatically apply those rules to every subsequent invoice. It’s yet another feature that can reduce labor costs and eliminate human coding errors.
Tip 3: Restaurant invoice software should allow account splits
Restaurants of all styles and sizes make purchases that should technically be split in a Chart of Accounts (CoA). Consider a multi-location Mexican restaurant: limes are not only needed in every location, but also in each location’s back of house, as well as in their bars.
Manual account splits can introduce a lot of discrepancy in your books. It’s incredibly easy for errors to be introduced if counts are off or calculations are incorrect. But the right restaurant invoice software can support and automatically apply these splits—no human calculation required.
With this feature, accountants can easily attribute the proper spend across departments and/or locations, and restaurant operators get better insight into how much those departments and/or locations are ordering against the average.
Tip 4: Restaurant invoice software should streamline communication
When researching restaurant invoice software, be wary of any product that doesn’t offer opportunities to communicate clearly, securely, and efficiently. Invoices can contain sensitive data; as a business owner or operator, you want to protect that information from getting in the wrong hands.
Seek solutions that offer advanced approval routing for every single line on an invoice. It can enable managers to get invoice approvals only from business owners or accountants; accountants can designate approvals from managers before they cut vendor checks. Flexible workflows and permissions ensure that invoices are only seen by the people who need to see them, while supporting a more efficient AP process.
Similar to routing rules, your restaurant invoice solution should also address statement reconciliation. How many times has your accounting team spotted an error in an invoice, only to play phone tag with vendors as the paper gets buried under other, newer invoices?
Certain software will flag invoice errors automatically and generate an email that goes directly to vendors with the issue. Vendors are then prompted to revise the invoice and resubmit directly into the software, drastically decreasing the time your team needs to spend on tracking down accurate documentation.
Tip 5: Restaurant invoice software should allow you to close the AP loop
The above tips are the core features you should look for when securing invoice software for your restaurant. But the best in class solutions go a step further, creating a true end-to-end AP solution that allows you and your employees to directly pay vendors.
Physical checks take time to write, create more manual touchpoints, and can be difficult to track. Restaurant invoice software that also offers bill pay eliminates these obstacles, giving you the opportunity to pay through automated checks, ACH transfers, or virtual card payments that are simple to track.
Some solutions even offer the opportunity to earn cash back if you choose to make virtual card payments. Restaurant owners and operators who go down this route might be able to recoup their entire investment on invoice software just from the feature, in addition to a massive reduction in labor cost.
Look No Further for the Right Restaurant Invoice Software
Your research for invoice software can end right here. Plate IQ is trusted by thousands of restaurants nationwide to scan, code, store, and process invoices with accuracy and ease. If you’re ready to invest in an end-to-end AP solution for your restaurant, request a demo of our product to see it in action.
Jillian Straw writes for Plate IQ, covering technology in the hospitality industry from a background in restaurants and operations management.
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