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Posts Tagged ‘Promotion’

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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While I’m not a fan of Groupon coupons, at least for restaurants, I felt compelled to write a few articles about it.  Today’s piece covers accounting for Groupon coupons, because I’ve seen some really weird accounting recommendations and far-from-best-practices.  As far as I know, none of the more unusual accounting has been suggested by real accountants!

Future articles will cover how to generate the proper entries in QuickBooks, how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to properly account for redemptions of Groupon certificates, and why you may be in for a huge shock when the tax man comes a knocking.

For what it’s worth, if you really, really think you need to use Groupon (or Living Social) coupons at your restaurant, at least get the accounting right.  There are four types of entries that need to be made in your accounting system, which are:

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It is almost impossible to compare a restaurant’s operations with industry averages.  Organizations like the CRFA aggregate the smallest mom-and-pop with the largest chains to get their averages.  Not many restaurants are “average”, anyway.  Just about all industry statistics are based on surveys, not actual operating results.  Even though such surveys are anonymous, who wants to put down that their cost of sales is 40% or more?  So, the results are often skewed.

There is another way of compiling restaurant operating results.

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When the economy went into a tailspin, a lot of restaurants experienced an alarming drop in sales.  Not only were guests spending less, fewer were dining out and those that were, dined out less often.  Pretty much every restaurant that I knew saw their sales drop by a minimum of 20% – some as much as 40%.  Understandably, this put severe pressure on the bottom-lines of a lot of restaurants.

Restaurateurs were willing to do just about anything to bring a customer in the door.  Many began offering coupons, some for the first time.  Done properly, coupons and other discounts can be a valuable marketing tool, but too often they seriously harm the restaurant’s brand.  Today’s article is not about whether they are useful.  Instead, I want to talk about how we account for discounts and what it means to our analysis of costs.

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