On-Call Restaurant Accounting (OCRA) is an accounting and business consulting firm designed with the restaurateur in mind. Founded in 2009 in Denver, Colorado, OCRA now serves more than 215 restaurants in seventeen states and has plans for continued expansion. Throughout its growth, the firm has always made it a priority to deliver a premier level of service to its customers through meaningful relationships, technology advancements and strategic hires. With a unique combination of financial expertise, decades of experience in the restaurant industry and state-of-the-art software solutions, OCRA empowers clients to get out of the back office and run their businesses more effectively.
Trying to manage a single restaurant business using a generic accounting solution like QuickBooks is a constant struggle. But for an accounting firm that serves the industry, that burden is multiplied by dozens or hundreds of clients — making the tool even more of a roadblock to profitability and growth.
Mark Rubinstein, President and Founder of OCRA, was all too familiar with this problem, describing his experience with QuickBooks as “cumbersome.” Two specific limitations of the tool were particularly frustrating. First, QuickBooks is inflexible in multiple ways that matter a great deal in the restaurant sector. “QuickBooks requires each week to start on Sunday, but not many of our clients run Sunday through Saturday weeks. Therefore, we were constantly exporting several weeks next to each other to get the information we needed,” he said. “Also, there are formulas you can’t change, so we had to also export that data and change those formulas manually.” All that manipulation took a lot of time — and introduced an unacceptably high risk of errors.
The other critical issue Mr. Rubinstein cited was the lack of integration between QuickBooks and other restaurant systems. OCRA had to manually enter the sales and labor data from each client’s POS system each day — further increasing costs and error risk. “In addition, because QuickBooks is strictly an accounting tool, we were unable to offer much in the operations area, such as inventory services,” Mr. Rubinstein noted. “That greatly limited our ability to attract clients with more complex needs.”
To replace QuickBooks, Mr. Rubinstein investigated a variety of options on the market, from point solutions to more comprehensive tools. Ultimately, he chose Restaurant365, not just for its comprehensive, web-based platform, but also for the vendor’s commitment to constant improvement and track record of delivering on its promises.
“While R365 didn’t yet have some functionality I needed back in 2015, the company told me those features would be ready in the first quarter of the next year. When that time arrived, I checked up on it, expecting that the company would have gotten maybe half of it done — but they’d actually done everything they said they would. That gave me confidence.” Soon after, OCRA became an R365 partner. “Since then, R365 has continued to improve the platform. R365 has become an invaluable tool in our business.”
Partnering with Restaurant365 has allowed OCRA to automate a variety of time-consuming tasks to improve efficiency — and also to expand its service offerings. As a result, OCRA has been able to more than triple its client base in just three years. “When we started with Restaurant365, we had 60–70 clients. Now we serve 215 restaurants in seventeen states,” Mr. Rubinstein reported. “If I hadn’t made the change to R365, I simply couldn’t have had that kind of growth.” He also noted that at least 30 new clients were direct referrals from Restaurant365.
He cited several specific benefits of the solution. “First, Restaurant365 enables us to be more efficient, so we can take on more clients,” Mr. Rubinstein said. “By eliminating the manual entry and all the exporting we used to have to do, R365 saves us between half an hour to an hour a week per client. If we were still using QuickBooks, I would have had to hire at least five more people just to do the data entry for the larger clients we now serve.”
Second, because Restaurant365 is an integrated platform that offers accounting, operations, scheduling and reporting, OCRA is now able to offer a greater breadth of services to attract more clients. “Previously, we did our clients’ accounting and were not very involved in the operations side of their businesses,” noted Mr. Rubinstein. “With R365, we can deliver services like comprehensive inventory management, so we can approach bigger or more sophisticated restaurants.”
Converting prospects into clients is as easy as demonstrating the features of the Restaurant365 platform, said Mr. Rubinstein. “We can say to somebody who’s using the desktop version of QuickBooks, ‘You know how you need to be at your computer to do just about anything at all? R365 is web-based so you can access it from anywhere. Remember how QuickBooks has no inventory option? R365 has full inventory functionality built in. Tired of all the work exporting data and pasting it into Excel? R365 integrates accounting and operations.’ The value is obvious to anyone in the industry.”
Onboarding new clients is fast and easy as well. “It takes just four or five days to get a new client up and running, with sales coming in and financial reports being produced,” reported Mr. Rubinstein. “Setting up inventory from scratch adds only another two weeks.”
Once clients are set up, OCRA is able to provide them with a wide variety of useful reports. “I always start with the P&L,” Mr. Rubinstein said. “I can run it week versus prior or see all the weeks throughout a period side by side very easily. Being able to click through to the invoices makes it efficient for us to review it and spot any discrepancies before we turn it over to our clients.” Since the R365 platform is specifically designed for restaurants, OCRA can easily adapt the reports to each client’s requirements, such as a monthly accounting cycle, 13 four-week cycles or 4/4/5-week cycles — with no painful exporting and manual tweaking of the data.
The R365 reports are invaluable to the restaurants that OCRA serves. Mr. Rubinstein noted that his clients particularly like the daily R365 flash report, which includes several key metrics that provide valuable insight for each location. Other reports help them control their food and labor costs or optimize their inventory, and restaurants that run on periods easily see how their business is doing throughout a period compared to their budget. Some clients choose to go into R365 themselves and get even more detailed information; for example, by running the Actual versus Theoretical Analysis report, they can identify inventory issues that are cutting into their profit margin, such as imperfect portions, accidental waste, improper invoicing and employee theft.
In short, OCRA’s partnership with Restaurant365 is a win-win for both OCRA and its clients. OCRA now runs its business so efficiently that it was able to triple its client base in just three years and it is even better equipped to deliver on its promise of enabling clients to run their restaurant businesses more effectively.
If your accounting firm would like to chat about becoming a Restaurant365 Accounting Partner, schedule a call today.