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What Should I Know About Restaurant Bookkeeping?

By J. Airman
Updated May 16, 2024
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You should know that restaurant bookkeeping accounts for all the incoming and outgoing money in a food sales business. Most of the money coming into a restaurant is from dining room, bar, and carry-out transactions. Restaurants often have many different suppliers, bills, and employees to pay. Profit and loss margins for a restaurant are determined by balancing the sales and payouts figures. Many business owners outsource accounting procedures to companies specializing in restaurant bookkeeping.

Professional accounting services are commonly contracted to handle all restaurant bookkeeping. Payment receipts, sales receipts, and bank deposit slips are usually cataloged on a daily basis for review by the bookkeeping agency. Outsourced bookkeeping is a time-saving measure that is almost always cost effective as well. A general understanding of restaurant management and accounting procedure normally makes it easier to read and comprehend bookkeeping reports. An experienced accounting firm can help a restaurant find ways to save money and increase profit margins.

Restaurant bookkeeping is a powerful tool to guide a food business toward profitability. Food and beverage sales often generate all the profits in a successful restaurant. Detailed restaurant bookkeeping can show a business owner what elements of the restaurant are making the most money. A restaurant owner can constantly move the offerings of the establishment toward the money by closely following the sales figures. Revisions to restaurant promotions and menus are often a direct result of an accounting review.

Operating a restaurant has many costs beyond the food and employee salaries. Property costs, insurance fees, and loan payments can sometimes be too much for a business manager to keep straight without restaurant bookkeeping. Payment issues with product and equipment suppliers are much easier to resolve when receipt records are properly documented through restaurant bookkeeping. Paperless restaurant bookkeeping procedures require that all payout receipts and invoices are scanned to create a permanent digital copy.

Bookkeeping services mostly handle the paperwork off site, which can reduce internal theft. Accounting companies are generally in direct communication with the owner and much less likely to manipulate numbers without any access to cash. A restaurant manager may have reason to change sales figures in a manual ledger to cover missing cash. Providing off site accountants with access to detailed receipts from a point of sale, or POS, system will often uncover or eliminate sales manipulation. The unbiased perspective of an outside accounting firm can clarify discrepancies and guide future personnel decisions.

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Discussion Comments
By pleonasm — On Jun 29, 2013

@clintflint - If it's a small restaurant I wouldn't even bother to hire someone to keep the books. There is plenty of good bookkeeping software out there and the average person should have no trouble using it or understanding it. If they have trouble they can always outsource it to their computer savvy niece or nephew.

Hiring someone to keep the books can be very expensive. I know, I know, if you don't know what you're doing it can end up being even more expensive, but I really think most people can handle it as long as they apply common sense.

By clintflint — On Jun 28, 2013

@bythewell - I would add to that that you will be better at running your business in general if you know the basic principles behind bookkeeping and how to keep yourself in the green.

It's no good if you pay someone to look after your books and then can't understand their advice. They won't know the ins and outs of the business, it's your job to be able to tie what they know with what you know, so that you can make good decisions about what is working and what isn't.

I think sometimes that people get too emotional about their business and don't want to think about it in terms of money. But it's not a dirty word if you don't make it one.

By bythewell — On Jun 27, 2013

It's just so important to make sure that you know at least the bare minimum about bookkeeping, whatever your business, even if you're going to pay someone else to do the bulk of it.

Even if you've got someone you love doing it, say, your partner, you still need to know enough to know if they are competent. If you're hiring someone to do it, it works the same way and you also need to be able to check their work over and make sure they aren't slipping themselves an extra bonus.

It's not good to be too cynical, but it's also not good to blindly ignore what amounts to the most important thing in most businesses.

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