Look for timesaving features, bank and POS integrations, and anytime, anywhere access.
Running a restaurant is hard work. In addition to making sure your establishment is clean and inviting, your staff is friendly and well trained, your menu is fresh and your food is delicious, you have to make sure you're running a profitable business – which is why you need good accounting software.
The best accounting software for your restaurant gives you real-time insights into your restaurant's financial health. It has both accounts payable and accounts receivable features so you can manage money coming in and going out of your restaurant. It connects with the other business programs you use, such as your POS and payroll systems, so you don't have to manually re-enter data, and it's also easy to access your account anywhere you are, via either mobile app or browser.
Here's what to look for in accounting software for your restaurant.
Accounts receivable (A/P), accounts payable (A/R) and reporting features
Your restaurant has incoming revenue and outgoing expenses, so you need full-featured accounting software that manages both sides of your cash flow. You need to be able to track income, pay bills and create invoices. You also need to generate reports that show you an accurate picture of your finances and allow you to analyze operational costs, sales, inventory and even traffic trends, which can help you determine how much perishable inventory to stock each day.
These are some other features to look for in accounting software:
- Smart reconciliation tools. Some accounting programs predict matches and allow you to reconcile in batches, making this tedious process easier and faster to accomplish.
- Fixed asset management. Whether you have expensive kitchen machinery, a delivery vehicle, or computers and tablets, you want to look for software with this feature, as it calculates depreciation – a useful tool when tax season rolls around.
- Payroll. If you don't already have a payroll service, consider adding one to your accounting software. Many companies offer payroll as an add-on service, and sharing data between the accounting system and payroll makes it easier for you to see and analyze labor costs.
Connections to your bank account and business programs
This may sound like a feature that's nice if you can get it but not necessary, but in fact, it's a top priority. The reason is that connecting your accounting software to your bank account and other programs allows them to share data. You don't have time to manually input financial information from multiple sources or transfer it from one system to the other. You also don't have time to track down errors introduced with data entry.
Before you purchase accounting software, check its app store to verify that integrations are available for the programs you already use, such as your POS system, inventory management software and payroll service. QuickBooks and Xero are popular accounting programs, and each offers hundreds of integrations with third-party business software.
Also verify that it connects to your business bank account and automatically imports your transactions each day so you don't have to perform this task manually.
Convenience is another factor to consider when you're looking for the best accounting software for your restaurant. You want to be able to access the program and your data at any time, wherever you are, so you can monitor your sales and run reports. For this reason, you want accounting software that allows you to access your account from any browser, and comes with mobile apps that make it easy to check your account on your phone or tablet.
What this means is that on your rare day off, if you have a nagging question about whether you actually paid a certain vendor last week, you can quickly check your accounting system from your home computer, laptop, tablet or phone, rather than going into the restaurant to check it on the computer in your office.
The final consideration should be your accountant's recommendation. Whether you have an in-house accountant or you're working with an outside accounting firm or CPA, you want to consider which software applications they're familiar with and recommend.
One thing you can do to ensure your restaurant's success is to choose the right accounting software. It will make it easier to keep a close eye on how much money you're bringing in and spending, helping you manage your business finances and run your restaurant more efficiently. Now that you know which features to look for, check out our accounting software best picks and reviews.