From Spreadsheets to Software. 6 Signs It’s Time to Take the Leap.

As a restaurant operator, you are the backbone of the restaurant.  You most likely started out passionate about serving people on their special days and being a part of creating memories for your patrons.  But on a Tuesday morning when you arrive early to the back office to a pile of invoices waiting to be processed, last night’s inventory sheets still sitting on the clipboard waiting to be entered, then the back door rings with a delivery and you haven’t even had a chance to print out the order to check it in correctly… you might wonder why you signed up for this.  This is not the part of your job that you are passionate about.  Managing spreadsheets is flat-out tedious work.

Most restaurants start out using spreadsheets because they are basically free, easy to use, and highly customizable.  You can use a spreadsheet for almost any function in your restaurant from inventory, invoicing, prep lists, food costing, scheduling, accounting, you name it.  They can even be easily fed information from your POS machines to help you make sense of all that data you are collecting.

However, at some point, you may question whether it is time to purchase business solution software to get you out of the office and back to concentrating on good food and great service.  This could be when you realize that there really isn’t room in the bankroll for a few full-time people to simply plug numbers into boxes. Or, perhaps this may be when you feel that you are not taking full advantage of the data you are collecting already to grow your business to its full potential.

Here are a few indicators that it may be time to move beyond spreadsheets:

  1. Labor for performing managerial duties (such as entering data and manually running reports) is costing more than the software fees would cost.  Software that can run a report at the click of a button or automatically send alerts to your mobile device will get you and your managers out of the back office and back onto the floor.
  2. Auditing issues are becoming a burden due to inconsistencies from data collected by managers. Software will create and enforce a workflow that ensures that each user/location is providing the same information by the same deadlines.
  3. Data integrity due to human error is an issue. Information being manually written, then later entered into a spreadsheet is more likely to contain errors as time passes from the action, or as it changes hands.
  4. You are experiencing logistical issues due to your data being stored in multiple locations. A software solution will eliminate the manual gathering and consolidating information from multiple locations. Information can be entered from anywhere and be stored in one central location.
  5. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) are consistently too high and you can’t determine why. Solutions that include COGS analysis can help you pinpoint where your costs are off so that you can make informed decisions.
  6. Margins are low. Having access to real-time information such as sales, COGS, labor, etc. can help you save money. An alert that you have an employee about to go into overtime saves you money rather than seeing it on a report at the end of the shift (or worse, at the end of the pay period).

If you decide it is time for you to take the leap to a business solution software, be sure to do your research.  Many software companies offer basic, low-cost packages that may be just enough to alleviate some of the office work that you or your managers are performing.  Others offer individual modules that let you choose to purchase only what you need.  For example, if you are only having issues with inventory and scheduling, you should only buy those units.  Be sure to ask for references as well.  Talking to a colleague who is currently using the solution you are considering can help alleviate any concerns you may have.

If you’d like to take a look at how Compeat can help you take the leap sign up for the March 12th webinar here.