I was chatting to a café owner the other day. Justine and her husband, Rico run three busy cafes in a regional area. Each café is slightly different in what it offers but they have a strong recognisable brand in their town.
So we got talking about how they do it.
Rico spends most of his time in the kitchens and managing front of house. Justine juggles her time working a few days a week in two of the cafes and doing the books and payroll the other days of the week from their home office using desktop accounting software.
She expressed frustration at being away from the cafes for that time or having to run home or wait until they got home after a long day before they could check on their cash flow, payroll information and any other financial data they may need to access in order to make a business decision.
We also chatted about the manual way in which they count the tills and record the takings from each café, entering it all into a spreadsheet onsite then re-entering the data into the accounting software they’re using in the home office.
They also had a near miss a few years ago when their computer got a virus and they almost lost all of their data. Yikes!
Her main complaint?
“I feel like I am always two steps behind.”
So then I talked through a number of accounting and business process software and apps we guide our clients in the hospitality industry towards. Here at Cornerstone we see the immediate impact and benefits being smart about using the right sort of software can bring to a hospitality business.
Here are five of our favourites:
1. Xero is one of the most popular accounting software programs on the market at the moment. The reason? It offers cloud accounting. This means Justine and Rico can access their financial data from anywhere – their phones, a laptop at one of the cafes, iPads and of course their home office. AND it removes the risk of losing valuable information to a virus or security attack.
2. Keypay is one of the better payroll software applications on the market because it can be used standalone or with Xero. Key features include built-in award information for all sorts of industries, including hospitality, retail and early childhood services.
3. Kounta is an online Point of Sale software that allows a business to take customer orders, manage inventory, loyalty programs and more AND it integrates with multiple cloud accounting software programs. This means no more printing off the till records at the register at the end of the day then manually recording the takings into a separate spreadsheet. It’s all linked in to your accounting software. Rico can check on what inventory is getting low and send a supplier order from the kitchen and Justine can check on each of the takings in each of the cafes at any point of time from wherever she may be!
4. Many people think Paypal is for eBay or online purchases but some savvy hospitality businesses are using it in other ways. Paypal’s Pay at Table app allows PayPal customers to check into a restaurant or venue on their smartphone, enter their table number and then pay their bill (and it has a tipping function!). It’s designed to make it easier for diners to pay their bills. And it seems to encourage people to eat or drink more. I was at a meeting with a client at a café and he used the app to order a second round of coffees. Now THAT’S a win win situation. More coffee for the customer and more revenue for the café owner.
5. Beat the Q (and Hey You) is for your busy customers who hate to wait. Customers can order and pay up front en route to your café or restaurant then walk on in past the queue to pick up their coffee and be on the way. This is great for café owners as it can help attract new customers, increase customer loyalty and order values AND you generate more orders without the long queues!
It was an eye-opener for Justine. She simply had no idea these platforms and software programs were available in the hospitality industry. She had been working for so long IN her business always ‘two steps behind’ (remember they were her words) that she and Rico had not had the opportunity to come up for air and work ON their business.
We finished the conversation with me chatting about how I have seen our clients get hours back in their day once they implemented one or more of these software programs into their business. Not only that, it made an impact on their cash flow as they became more proactive about business development and customer service because they finally had time to focus on growing the business….they had managed to get out from under a pile of paperwork and administrative pain and get on the front foot with their business again.
From two steps behind to on the front foot. Isn’t that where any business owner wants to get to?