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Archive for the ‘Customer Comps’ Category

If I had been the founder of Groupon when Google offered up $6 billion for it, the door wouldn’t have hit me on the back-side as I rushed to the bank to cash the cheque! While I think Groupon is an interesting concept, they are really greedy, and ultimately, it will be their downfall. Let me explain.

Groupon seeks out businesses that are willing to offer deep discounts for their goods and services. Usually, the discounts are around 50%. Groupon takes another 25% or so for publicizing the offer and collecting the funds from the bargain-hunters. That leaves the business with only 25% of what it would normally take in on a sale.

Groupon talks businesses into signing up by claiming that they may lose a bit on the first sale, but they will make it up on subsequent sales. Nonsense. Alternatively, if businesses have excess capacity, they can accommodate lower-paying customers, because they only have to cover the incremental (or marginal) cost of servicing the customer. This works for spas and other similar businesses. There aren’t too many businesses that have a marginal cost less than 25%.

What about restaurants? They are probably the most popular Groupon category, based on demand. Is it worth it for a restaurant to sign up for Groupon?

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I’m almost finished with Groupon articles!  I’ve got two more, then, I think we’re done.  I’ve been writing these articles, because there is a lot of confusion surrounding the accounting for Groupon certificates and how to enter them in QuickBooks.  The resources for learning about these areas are poor (and often contradictory), but that’s nothing compared with the confusing, and often downright incorrect, information that has been written about the tax implications of using Groupon!  I hope these articles will help accountants, bookkeepers and restaurant owners set up their books and account for these transactions properly.

Today’s article explains how to account for a restaurant’s Groupon transactions in QuickBooks.  Previous articles have covered the POS system set up for Groupon transactions, accounting for Groupon transactions (in general), and the very important tax implications of using Groupon in a restaurant.

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This is the second article in a series about Groupon coupons for restaurants.  The first article covered accounting for Groupon transactions.  This piece covers how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to record POS systemredemptions of coupons.  Failing to do so properly could result in the restaurant being on the hook for a lot of sales tax, penalties and interest!

In the first article, we learned that HST applies to the “promotional value” of the Groupon coupon.  In our example, the coupon was worth $100 of meals, and the customer purchased it for $50, which was paid directly to Groupon.  The promotional value of the coupon is the $50, even though the restaurant does not receive this amount from Groupon.  So, when the customer orders $100 worth of meals and drinks at a restaurant, she will have to pay tax on $50, but she will receive a credit for $100 (face value of the coupon).

Restaurants that use Groupon (or other similar programs) may need to update their POS systems to properly account for these transactions.  Many POS systems can be easily modified by the user to make these changes, but some require programming by the developer (which can take time).  Here are the changes you will need.

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The first three posts in this series covered fraud and theft of products entering the establishment, food theft, and alcohol theft.  Now, we’re going to look at outright theft of sales receipts.  While it’s unlikely that your servers are grabbing handfuls of dollars on their way out the door, today’s post looks at several more sophisticated methods of achieving the same result.

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Most restaurateurs know that theft is a problem in the hospitality industry, but very few know how much is going on in their own establishments. According to the U.S. National Restaurant Association, approximately 4% of all revenue is lost to in-house theft.  The latest figures from Statistics Canada, NPD Group and the CRFA, indicate that the average profit margin for Canadian restaurants was only 4.4% of operating revenue!  Based on these figures, approximately one-half of your profit is lost to employee theft.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the cost of missing alcohol is only half of the story.  Increasingly, restaurants and bars are learning that they have substantial tax liabilities resulting from stolen alcohol.  I urge you to learn more about this insidious practice, here.  It’s no wonder that 35% of restaurants fail because of employee theft!

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AbacusWhile there are some signs that we may be emerging from the recession, I think you’ll find that consumer behaviour has been changed, perhaps for many years to come.  Even your “well-off” customers are much more price conscious that they have ever been before.  Actually, they are more value conscious.  In order to “survive and thrive”, you have to continuously monitor your restaurant’s value proposition.

While there’s more to the value proposition than your menu and prices, these are the two aspects that can be adjusted fairly easily in the short-term.  These are also the two areas that most restaurateurs fiddle with first, when times get tough.  We could probably add labour into the mix, too.

Recessions always harm the restaurant industry.  People lose their jobs (or worry that they will lose them), cut back on meals outside the home, and spend less when they do go out.  Most restaurants experience a drop in both volume and check averages, often severely reducing (or eliminating) their profits.  To cover their fixed costs, restaurateurs will try everything to keep the customers they have and steal their competitors’ customers.  Most start with price reductions, either through coupons and discounts or with across the board price reductions.  It doesn’t take long to realize that quality or portion sizes have to be reduced to maintain profitable margins.  Easier said than done!

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I’m sure all restaurant consultants and accountants advise their clients to count inventory regularly.  Depending on how many menu items and ingredients in use, and how many times you count inventory, this simple procedure can represent a very significant time commitment.  Let’s take a closer look at inventory counts and see whether they’re worth the time and effort.

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