How Your Restaurant Can Leverage Automated Invoice Processing
by Jacob Statler
The hospitality business has always been a bustling industry.
Seasonality creates an inevitable ebb and flow in the hospitality industry. And it’s up to you to be prepared for your next busy season. Streamlining your systems ensures smoother sailing and satisfied guests.
When your industry picks up, it means heavy payables pick up as well. As additional guests arrive, so do additional invoices that must be processed.
Having an automated invoice processing system reduces time spent manually handling your invoice process — time you’d rather use to serve your guests.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide to automated invoice processing to help you make more time for guest service.
- What is automated invoice processing?
- How do manual & automated invoice processing differ?
- Why transitioning to invoice automation makes sense in our digital world
- 5 Reasons to automate invoice processing
- Guide to implement automated invoicing
- Automated invoice processing enables scalability
Before being acquired by Cava, Zoës Kitchen was already drowning in paperwork. “We would print out 5,000 pages a week of just invoices. I used to have someone every Tuesday who would sit there and print. That’s all they did.” Read how they eliminated 40 reams of paper each month by using Plate IQ’s automated invoice processing.
What is automated invoice processing?
Automated invoice processing is the process of utilizing software to digitize, transcribe, and route invoices through approval & accounting processes.
How do manual & automated invoice processing differ?
Manual invoice processing requires a lot of human touch. Paper invoices move from hand to hand. In manual data entry, all essential invoice information (invoice number, date, item description, total price, etc.) must be located and entered into the accounting system.
Human error is inevitable, and there’s no way around it without automation.
Incorrect data entry causes a ripple effect. One Bloomberg study reported that as many as 28% of companies make tax and accounting mistakes due to mistakes stemming from manual data entry.
Automated invoice processing streamlines and automates these steps, enabling a true zero-touch process. The invoice process runs automatically and seamlessly, with fewer errors and a quicker turnaround time from the moment it’s received until payment is completed.
Automated invoice processing also reduces the amount of paper used — great for the environment and your bottom line as well. For example, using Plate IQ’s automated invoice processing software, the Karl Strauss Brewing Company reduced their AP paper use by 95%.
Transitioning to invoice automation is forward-thinking
We’re living in a digital world. And automation of invoice processing is a solid way to take advantage of the cutting-edge technology we have at our fingertips. Implementing automated invoice processing is a logical, forward-thinking step towards embracing technology in your business.
The hospitality industry is one of the busiest industries, and you’ve got pressing responsibilities that trump the relentless task of entering invoices.
You should be focused on serving your guests instead of being hunched over your laptop, entering data from coffee-stained invoices.
By saving time and increasing efficiency through automated invoicing, you’ll be able to focus on crucial accounting tasks, like reporting and analyzing your spending.
With the tools available today, the process of switching over to automation has never been more straightforward.
5 Reasons to Automate Invoice Processing
1. Save Time
Time is a finite resource, and it’s essential to use it wisely. An automated invoice processing system frees up time spent manually entering invoices, waiting on the approval process, printing and mailing checks, and stuffing invoices in filing cabinets.
In fact, according to WorkMarket’s 2020 In(Sight) Report, 53% of employees state that they can save up to 2 work hours per day, a whopping 240 hours a year, through automation.
2. Save Money
You already know that in the hospitality industry, your bottom line is everything. Automation requires fewer office supplies (i.e., paper and printer ink), fewer employees, less money spent paying employees to participate in the paperwork shuffle.
Once you implement your automated invoice processing system and dramatically reduce the time it takes to process an invoice, you’ll be able to ask your vendors for early-payment discounts.
3. Cash Flow and Performance Optimization
Automation increases efficiency. Digitized invoices enable you to quickly see where invoices are in the approval process. This will not only keep you in the know but allow you to have more control over your bill payment, which in turn gives you more control over your cash flow.
4. Efficiency and Fewer Errors
In the hospitality industry, we are decidedly pro-human. It’s our whole business. But when it comes to invoice processing, the more humans involved, the slower the process moves. And the more likely it is you’ll be dealing with errors.
Automated invoice processing increases your efficiency and eliminates human error, creating a more streamlined workflow.
We can’t talk about accounting issues without addressing the all-important topic of compliance. Once you automate, storing and accessing necessary documents is much easier. For example, tax records are available at the click of a button. And if you get audited, you can access digitized invoices to answer questions quickly, which can give you a sigh of relief and make your auditor happy.
In most cases, the IRS requires you to keep tax-related documents and records for 7 years. Automated invoice processing digitizes all paper, making storing those documents a breeze and keeping you compliant.
Your guide to implementing automated invoicing
Making a move from manual to automated invoice processing can feel overwhelming.
We’ve created a guide below to help your implementation of automated invoicing go smoothly.
Analyze current processes
Before you make the transition to automated invoice processing, analyze each area of the process listed below: how they’re working and what needs improvement.
- Process of capture, GL coding, and matching supporting documents
- Invoice approval process
- Invoice payment process
- Invoices and payment info archival process
Centralize invoice management
Centralized invoice management combines the invoice processes from different locations and manages them in a singular location. This will allow you to identify and overcome any inefficiencies or redundancies that result from having separate systems and operations.
Plate IQ offers a streamlined solution to centralize your invoice management — everything you need, all in one place.
Automation is key to increasing efficiency and profitability in your invoice management process. Selecting the right automation software to streamline your invoice system is where the rubber meets the road.
Use these points as a compass in your software selection:
- Trust — Do they have good customer service to help you in your transition?
- Experience — Have they helped other businesses streamline their processes?
- Accurate invoice data capture — What is their process for capturing invoice data?
- Automatic invoice approval — Are you able to set advanced approval rules?
- Ability to track accounts payable invoices — Is the tracking system easy to navigate?
- Solid Integration — Do they integrate with your current accounting system?
- Ability to automate electronic payments — Are you able to automate electronic payments to your regular vendors?
Proactively request early payment discounts
A streamlined, automated invoice processing system shaves days off the process — no more long waits for data entry and approval. Once you’ve automated your system, ask your vendors for early payment discounts.
Automated invoice processing is a must
Automated invoice processing is an obvious choice to boost efficiency and profitability while opening the door to growth.
It’s up to you to make wise, forward-thinking decisions to ensure the success of your business. With invoice automation software like Plate IQ at your disposal, you’ll be able to automate your invoice processing seamlessly and position your business for future success.
That’s forward-thinking at its finest.
Check out Plate IQ today and request your free demo to experience how automation can unlock your potential.
Jacob Statler writes about the unique challenges of hospitality AP automation for Plate IQ.
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