Born and raised in Bologna, the food capital of Italy, Maurizio and Barbara Cocchi long dreamed of bringing the best Italian foods and cooking styles to the United States. In 2013, they made their dream a reality by founding Vitaly Caffé in Costa Mesa, California. At Vitaly, you can experience family, food and friendship as it happens around dining tables in Italian homes and restaurants. Throughout the day, the Cocchis have only one acceptable standard: excellence in both food and service.
Like most new restaurant concepts, Vitaly started small, so a combination of manual processes and multiple software solutions was adequate for running the restaurant. Specifically, the Cocchis relied on QuickBooks for accounting, Micros for point-of-sale (POS), and a third system for operations — all supplemented by a good deal of hands-on oversight of invoice approvals, cash flow, inventory and so on.
But as the restaurant prospered, the menu expanded and sales increased, these disparate systems began to show their weaknesses. For one thing, having a third-party accountant manage the books using a general-purpose software solution like QuickBooks was proving to be both expensive and inefficient.
The biggest problem was the patchwork nature of the overall approach, since it meant constantly having to juggle multiple tools that couldn’t talk to each other and didn’t share a common database. “We had to perform many steps to go from one tool to any of the others,” noted Mr. Cocchi. “For example, we had to manually review sales and labor data in our POS system, export it, and then upload it into QuickBooks. It was difficult, frustrating and time consuming.” Consequently, one of his prerequisites when searching for a new accounting system was that it had to be integrated with the POS system.
Bank reconciliation was also a challenge with his previous accounting software. “Doing bank reconciliation through QuickBooks took a lot of time and effort,” recalled Mr. Cocchi. “We were paying an accountant $800 a month to get it done. Moreover, we were at the mercy of his schedule.”
“Additionally, closing the books was never as fast as I would have liked, but during tax season, we basically lost communication with him and just had to wait until he was done doing taxes. It often took two or three months, which was really painful.” It was anywhere from February to May before the process was wrapped up.
Even though he was running only a single café, Mr. Cocchi was eager for all the benefits of a comprehensive and integrated approach to restaurant management. The trick was finding one that would be both effective and easy to use. Then he heard about Restaurant365.
Restaurant365 provides everything you need to manage your restaurant business — accounting, scheduling, inventory, and reporting — from a single cloud-based platform that runs in your internet browser. Even better, Restaurant365 seamlessly integrates with dozens of the top POS, payroll, accounting, and vendor providers, enabling you to streamline processes and reduce costs across your entire business. Plus, it gives the flexibility to choose whether to manage your accounting in house, outsource it, or use a combination of the two models.
Discovering Restaurant365 was like a second dream come true for Mr. Cocchi. “When I found out about Restaurant365 — fully integrated accounting, back of the house, scheduling, everything — I couldn’t believe it existed,” he said. “Once I saw what it could do, I fell in love with it. The integration was by far the most important factor, but I also liked that it was a cloud-based solution and that it was extremely easy to use. Moving to it was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.”
Since implementing Restaurant365, Mr. Cocchi has already seen tremendous benefits — even though he has been using the platform for only about a year and has been taking advantage of just a small fraction of its functionality. Getting started with R365 was simple, and because integration with Toast, his new POS system, is an integral part of the R365 platform, he began seeing return on his investment almost immediately in time savings alone. Rather than manually exporting and importing sales and labor data as he did with QuickBooks, the data is now automatically pulled from the POS system into R365.
In addition, bank reconciliation is no longer the complex, manual ordeal it used to be. “We tried doing bank reconciliation in QuickBooks on our own, but it was very tricky, so we were paying a third-party accountant $800 each month to do it,” explained Mr. Cocchi. “Now, with Restaurant365, bank reconciliation is so easy we can often do it ourselves in no time at all. If there is a problem that requires special attention, our accountant can handle it in less than an hour. Instead of $800 a month, we are now paying just $250 — so we’re saving $550 a month on accounting costs.”
Moreover, the books are closed promptly and reliably each month and at the end of the year. “Because the Restaurant365 platform is extremely efficient, our books are closed by the 15th of the month, and often even sooner,” noted Mr. Cocchi. “And instead of waiting for our accountant to be freed up in April or May, we had our books closed and tax returns completed this year by January 15.”
Restaurant365 also gives Mr. Cocchi the strong control he wanted to have over his accounting processes. In particular, the solution makes it easy to set up a multi-level approval process for accounts payable invoices and journal entries. “My assistant is quite helpful and knowledgeable, but she’s not a professional bookkeeper or accountant,” said Mr. Cocchi. “With R365, I can check her work through the workflow process, and nothing actually gets paid out until I approve it. It’s fantastic.”
As a hands-on owner and operator of a single establishment, Mr. Cocchi is on top of Vitaly’s operations in real time. He relies primarily on the Profit and Loss (P&L) statement and the Menu Item Analysis report, which helps him make better menu planning and pricing decisions. But as Vitaly grows, he is eager to take advantage of Restaurant365’s many other capabilities, starting with employee scheduling and inventory management, which will enable him to further reduce costs and increase profitability.
He is currently implementing stock counts and food costing on R365, with plans to complete his first inventory count on the system within the next few weeks. He also plans to begin ordering from his vendors through Restaurant365. “Restaurant365 is going to enter into more and more aspects of our daily operations in a bigger and more important way,” Mr. Cocchi said.
Even though Mr. Cocchi estimates he is currently using only 10% of the solution’s functionality, he is delighted with the value that Restaurant365 is already delivering, day in and day out. “It’s a very, very easy platform and I love it, honestly,” he concluded.