Summer is no rest period for hundreds of small business operators. While office workers remove themselves from the stresses of daily work, meetings, and deadlines, many cafés are preparing for unpredictable volumes of customers and daily profit associated with summer trading.
To relieve the stress for café owners heading into the holiday break, Parikshit Kikla, Founder of 360 Accounting Services, works with cafés, restaurants, and other small businesses on a daily basis, assisting them to keep track of their finances and understand how their stores are running.
Parikshit has been working with the hospitality industry since 2008, and previously did bookkeeping for the likes of St Ali and Sensory Lab. Now in his role at 360 Accounting, Parikshit works as a virtual Chief Financial Officer for businesses across Australia.
During the summer months, he says cafés need to be adequately staffed to meet demand.
“When it’s busier and you’ve got the same amount of staff, the turnaround time is higher,” Parikshit says. “You need to have sufficient staff so the customer’s wait time is at a minimum. For that, you need to know when it’s busy and when it’s not.”
360 Accounting Services can help businesses analyse how it has performed in the past few years, and provide a forecast based on that information.
Ronnie Atlas, Owner of Republic of Letters in Balwyn, Victoria, has begun using Parikshit and 360 Accounting Services to assist with his bookkeeping.
“I like the personal service [360 Accounting] offers and [Parikshit’s] knowledge of the industry. He understands the food services business, accounting, and how they relate to each other,” Ronnie says.
“I’d much rather work with an accountant who has consistently worked within the food services industry than someone who has worked in [other fields].
“I’m able to much more clearly see how we’re tracking with profit and expenses, especially in regards to purchases, supplies, cost of goods, and wages.”
Unlike some CBD businesses, Ronnie finds that in summer months he is able to extend his opening hours as customers stay longer and come later in the day.
“There are longer hours of trading because the daylight is longer, the weather is warmer so people like to sit down for a while and relax, as opposed to winter where they want to get in and get out,” he says. “I typically have to roster staff for longer too.”
Parikshit says with rosters changing week to week, hospitality owners need to utilise their casual staff more.
“Casual staff require a different level and style of management,” Parikshit says.
“With full-time employees, you know the time they can work [and how much they will be paid]. Casual staff can work around that. For example, on the weekends you’re better off having full-time staff work, with casual staff working on normal rates on weekdays.
“But weekend and penalty rates can be different and hard to keep track of. There is software available that can help with time and attendance, rostering and budgeting. providing reports that can be monthly or weekly.”
Parikshit’s favourite software he recommends to café owners to streamline these administrative tasks are Tanda and Ento.
“If there are any changes to laws relating to penalty rates or superannuation for example, [the software] gets updated within the app so you don’t need to worry about it,” Parikshit says. “With casual staff, the online software can be used to monitor hourly rates and manage rostering.”
Parikshit also notes that many casual employees in hospitality are backpackers and international students, so employers need to know their employee’s right to work.
“As a business owner, you should know when your employee’s visa will end and line up a replacement if you need to,” he says.
Another issue that can catch café owners off-guard is staff turnover.
“Every time you have staff leaving, you need to re-train new staff which can take time, effort, energy, and resources,” he says. “It helps cut costs if you can retain well-trained staff throughout busy periods.
“Well-trained staff also manage their time well. Newer staff will take more time to serve and increase wait time for the customers.”
Ronnie agrees, saying his well-trained staff work in a number of roles around the café.
“Our staff have flexibility with how they work. They may work on the floor, in the kitchen, cleaning. I’ve got them doing a number of things,” he says.
Though software like Tanda and Ento cannot help retain staff, they alleviate the manual work café owners undertake, such as filling out, organising, and submitting timesheets.
The reduced manual data entry eases onboarding and can help organise training in a structured manner.
Parikshit says the applications gather sign-in and sign-out information and can pass it on to payroll companies like Xero.
“All managers need to do is review and approve the hours worked,” he says.
Parikshit says both software programs perform similar functions but users may prefer one interface over the other.
“These apps offer a trial period, so you can see if the interface works for you,” he says. “There are other platforms available, [but Tanda and Ento] are really leading the industry because they are always updating and improving their software.”
While most hospitality venues will see a boost at the start of summer, Parikshit warns that managers should be prepared for a sharp drop off in January.
“Normally, December will be busier than January. Everyone is there until Christmas, and once they’ve celebrated and spent time with their families, they go overseas or on holiday,” he says. “Then schools re-open and it returns to normal.”
With the turbulent summer months ahead, 360 Accounting Services can help cafés implement internal reporting to maximise their peak periods and prepare for drops.
“Small businesses, like cafés and other the hospitality venues, don’t usually have an internal accountant. 360 Accounting can help with internal weekly, monthly, or quarterly reporting, preparing budgets, budget variances, and forecasting,” Parikshit says.
“Once they start receiving these reports, café owners can really start to make sense of their business and how much revenue they’re generating. Once they get an idea of that, it becomes easier to plan for the future.”
For more information, visit www.360accountingservices.com.au