With a concept for nearly every palate, Food Fight Restaurant Group has been providing diverse dining experiences throughout the greater Madison, Wisconsin area since 1990. The locally owned and operated restaurant group currently boasts 20 locations with FSR and QSR concepts ranging from premiere steakhouses to pizza eateries. Starting with Monty’s Blue Plate Diner as its entry into the Madison food scene, Food Fight founders Monty Schiro and Peder Moren have built a local restaurant empire with such distinct concepts as Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace with flavors of the southwest; Johnny Delmonico’s, a local favorite steakhouse; The Coopers Tavern with one of the best beer and whiskey selections in Madison; Eldorado Grill known for its critically acclaimed BBQ; Cento, a melding of old world Italian traditions with modern techniques; DLUX for the yummiest burgers in all of Madison; Luigi’s for fabulous pizza; and many more.
When Food Fight’s location count was getting larger, the company realized that Dynamics GP no longer met the accounting needs of the rapidly expanding food group. Accounts payable wasn’t visible and required a laborious process for Food Fight’s small accounting team, which consisted of two full-time accountants, a senior accountant, a part-time accountant, and controller, Amanda Jabs. “We had to alphabetize accounts payable, enter them in a batch, scan invoices alphabetically, and then if there was a problem, we had to find the detail alphabetically. This was very time consuming to do,” Ms. Jabs stated.
Additionally, there was a separate database for each restaurant location, which required pulling data and entering it manually into the system. Each accountant handled a handful of restaurants and they’d have to jump from one database to another.Meanwhile the managers, who are responsible for their numbers, couldn’t see their P&L statements until 10 days after the period ended.
“We knew at the time that there were more robust systems than what Great Plains could offer,” noted Ms. Jabs. Consequently, she set very specific criteria for the company’s next accounting system. “The priority was that there be an easy way to get a company dashboard. It also had to be cloud based with real-time reporting for all locations. Integration was also important and was an expectation of any accounting system we would choose.”
After looking at several options, Food Fight selected Restaurant365 because it not only met the criteria of a next-generation accounting system but would also facilitate the company’s future vision of getting managers off computers and into the restaurants. “Restaurant365 has changed our culture, where managers don’t feel they have to sit at their computers and fill out spreadsheets,” said Ms. Jabs.
Now that Food Fight has been using Restaurant365 for about two years, Ms. Jabs stated that she’s especially pleased with the ability to see sales by location side by side. “The executive team and operations managers get a snapshot of the important things every day without having to hunt for them,” she said. “Restaurant365 has been a game changer administratively. We can more easily see how we’re doing versus how we thought we were doing. If we’re not hitting our goals, we can get ahead of it faster.”
With Restaurant365, the managers now look at their P&L statements every day.
“The P&L is easy for us to teach and easy for general managers to understand. The drill down feature shows what makes up the numbers, so the managers truly understand them and can then take action on labor and ordering,” she stated. “Everything correlates with sales. Restaurant365 allows our managers to make decisions in a smart way.”
She also said that Restaurant365 has helped her support the operations team. “When we have discussions about saving on food costs, optimizing labor and increasing revenues, there’s full transparency because everyone sees the same numbers. We’re all on the same page and can be more productive. Our operations team says they wouldn’t know how to run our operations meetings anymore without Restaurant365.”
Additionally, as an investment-driven company, Food Fight is accountable to the board and investors, who used to have to wait two weeks for financials. Ms. Jabs says she is now able to get the financial information to them much sooner, while also being able to use the information to make more accurate cash flow projections.
She also said that Restaurant365 makes accounting easier and less time-consuming.
“We no longer have to manually import daily sales and payroll accruals. All the things that used to be done manually in a spreadsheet and then imported is now automated. This is a huge time savings.”
When asked if Restaurant365 met her integration expectations, Ms. Jabs replied, “I’ve been in restaurant accounting my whole career and never saw anything that integrates so nicely and cleanly.”
Over the past two years since implementing Restaurant365, Food Fight has continued on its rapid growth trajectory, expanding from 16 to 20 locations. While adding four locations, the restaurant group held the accounting team headcount to five, increasing the average number of restaurants handled by the three staff accountants from five to six, with the remaining two handled by the senior accountant.
Beyond not scaling the accounting staff to support the new locations, the existing staff has actually saved time since the implementation of Restaurant365, despite the extra demands inherent with growth.
While Ms. Jabs says it’s difficult to quantify the time savings her accounting team has realized by using Restaurant365 because the manual tasks are now replaced with more strategic endeavors, she estimates that each accountant has saved at least five hours per week in manual and other time-consuming work.
Multiplied by five accountants and 52 weeks per year means a significant redirection of time her team can refocus on strategies for prime cost reduction and revenue growth.Restaurant managers have also shifted how they spend their time using Restaurant365. While managers now enter their own invoices, they are able to spend less time filling out spreadsheets. Ms. Jabs said they are now spending more time in front of the house with customers.
“The managers are now more focused on the customer experience. Less time on the computer means more time with customers.”
Food Fight Restaurant Group selected Restaurant365 because it’s a cloud based, fully integrated, restaurant-specific accounting platform with real-time reporting capabilities. But what the company hadn’t expected was the time savings and its impact on the accounting team and general managers, and as a result, to the business. “I can’t imagine not having Restaurant365,” Ms. Jabs concluded.