RDMS Group is a restaurant-focused accounting firm founded on more than providing clients with razor-sharp service and intelligence. It’s a company rooted in a passion for hospitality. Founders Tom Rutledge and Sean Olson met in the early 2000s while working for another restaurant accounting firm. While the two eventually parted ways to pursue other ventures operating restaurant companies, they kept in touch and soon realized they were similarly struggling to get their respective businesses to where they believed they could be. There was an opportunity to do more than manage restaurants’ credits and debits. There was a chance to provide owners and operators with the tools, insights, and resources to achieve their full potential.
Based in San Francisco, RDMS Group works today for 75 restaurant companies operating more than 125 locations in Northern California and beyond. That roster includes everything from food trucks to three Michelin-star restaurants.
Before partnering with Restaurant365, RDMS struggled with many of the same problems accountants, restaurant owners, and operators long fought. Rutledge called their solutions, at the time, “duct tape.” RDMS had an effective, sophisticated system, yet it was intensely manual and couldn’t deliver actionable data to clients as fast as needed. Moreover, those requirements placed various restraints on RDMS’s ability to grow.
“We were manually processing payroll, making journal entries, reconciling every bank system known to mankind, handling AP on a weekly basis, payroll biweekly, and then it was just a sprint to get to the end of the period,” Rutledge said. “If you really wanted to talk about your numbers, we would need at least 10 days after the close of a period.”
Game-Changing Restaurant Tech, All Day
By making R365 an integral part of the firm and its client’s operations, RDMS streamlined dozens of back-offices, reducing clients’ workloads and providing accurate, actionable, real-time information, based on accurate inventory, that started boosting bottom lines. RDMS also used the data and reporting gleaned via R365 to create a group purchasing organization to pass even more savings onto its clients. Finally, the efficiency of R365 is empowering RDMS to provide its clients with better service at a lower cost while enabling the firm to grow.
Where the Steak Hits the Grill
Barrio, an agave bar and Latin Kitchen overlooking the San Francisco Bay, is perhaps one of the best examples of the efficiencies RDMS developed for its clients. Although Barrio opened during the height of the pandemic in early 2021, it did so with RDMS and R365 at its core. It started with an integrated, all-in-one operational and back-office system that infused reliability and visibility into every aspect of the organization, pointing the company in a profitable direction toward growth.
Barrio Director of Operations Derek Belanger is an industry veteran who, for years, worked for organizations with disjointed, unsophisticated systems that often kept managers and other leaders in the dark.
“There were periods when we didn’t have data, and I was confident we had made some really good money, food was costed out, and then we got the P&L, and we lost $10,000,” he said. “You ask yourself, “How did that happen? We had the best month of the year, and yet it didn’t translate to profitability?”
With RDMS and Restaurant365, Barrio is seeing its daily and weekly performance, allowing the team to react to whatever may be happening behind the scenes to continually increase profitability.
“Before, I would feel like we’re overscheduled, but it was only a feeling, not data,” Belanger added. “Today, we can forecast more accurately, we can schedule more accurately, and our operations are getting tighter.”
A Data-Driven Plan
Having those real-time insights from an accurate, integrated, all-in-one platform was precisely what RDMS envisioned when it kicked off testing with Restaurant365. While RDMS is an accounting firm, Rutledge said he thinks of the company as a workflow optimization organization constantly churning data to provide deeper insights, drive decisions, and yield growing margins. As this process starts and continues for each client, RDMS with R365 can do far more than reconcile accounting and close the books at the end of each period. It helps set performance benchmarks and targets tailored to every restaurant company it works with and set out an actionable plan to achieve them.
“It’s really about achieving the best possible prime cost,” Rutledge said. “If you’re doing handmade pasta, you can get an 18% food cost, but your labor’s going be high, so where do you land on prime cost? We take the time to really understand and define that, and all of our clients are now able to optimize what prime cost should be for their organization, learn the benchmarks for their business, and use the tools RDMS and R365 provides to hit them.”
Partnering for Success
By generating all that data, RDMS has also provided an additional value-added service to its clients: market data and group purchasing. So as Rutledge helps clients by conglomerating them into a 100-plus-strong location purchasing group, Barrio has the information it needs to negotiate with vendors and further drive down costs.
“We’re able to say, “I know this group is getting this beef chuck for a dollar a pound less than we are; how can we get that price down?” Belanger said.
Those combined resources are how Barrio, a scratch-made Mexican kitchen, has run a 21% food cost in recent quarters, despite rapid price inflation.
The advantages RDMS Group provides with economies of scale are only the beginning. The company became increasingly efficient as RDMS became even more of a Restaurant365 expert. This allows it to better serve clients at a lower cost due to the fewer hours needed to produce work that once took weeks, and it also allows the firm to service more clients.
“We’d be doing half the workload if we were doing it the old way, and we’d only be doing it for half the client base,” Rutledge said. “Today, the challenge is clients calling who are expecting reports in 24 hours when it was once five weeks, but that’s a good problem to have. We wouldn’t be the size we are now or operating as well as we are now if it wasn’t for Restaurant365.”