September 3, 2021

How to Take Your Entire Restaurant AP Team Remote

by Jillian Straw

As we’ve seen over the past year and a half, businesses that have been able to pivot in the new normal that COVID ushered in have been able to survive—and even thrive—as the rest of the world sputters to get by.

Obviously, the restaurant and hospitality industries have been hit extremely hard by the impacts of the pandemic: locally-mandated closures and restrictions, skyrocketing food costs, and labor shortages all made the uphill battle for these businesses even more difficult to navigate. And yet, these businesses persisted.

QR codes finally escaped obscurity and were widely adapted as a low-touch way for customers to read menus and order. Online reservations and bookings made it much easier to control capacity—and have a record of clientele in case contact tracing was necessary. Food delivery services became even more popular for restaurants that had few other options to feed customers.

The restaurant industry isn’t usually on the cutting edge when it comes to technology. But, as we’ve written before, the crisis became a catalyst for the industry to seriously consider how it could meet the needs of the moment with tech. Consider the rise of digital payments: our data found that, even as the number of invoices restaurants were processing decreased, the number of digital payments soared as AP teams were unable (or unwilling) to access physical checks and the USPS experienced astounding delays.

With the new surge of COVID variants, it seems that there’s no end in sight for these unprecedented times. Instead of waiting for things to go back to normal, restaurant owners and managers should continue to adapt and see what else they can do to maintain business continuity and keep peace of mind for employees. An easy place to start? Taking AP teams remote.

This concept may have been laughable less than five years ago. But now, it’s a necessity to keep the restaurant running and give your staff a safe way to work. Here’s how your AP team can be run remotely—with just one piece of software.

Use software designed for visibility

Communication and collaboration are essential for AP teams that need to process hundreds (maybe thousands) of pages of invoices every week. If just one item is skipped or approved without verification, clean books may be jeopardized.

Remote AP teams need a way to all stay on the same page. Phone calls and emails can work for this purpose, sure, but they can easily be missed and overcomplicate basic workflows. Software like Ottimate is designed specifically to support restaurant AP teams: all steps in the approval process can be routed to exactly the right person, making it obvious exactly when each part of the workflow should be completed.

We know every restaurant does things differently, so our approvals are configurable, giving restaurant owners the flexibility they need to help their AP team thrive. Ottimate ensures that for any piece of information that might be on an invoice, there’s an opportunity to create a rule around it.

Digitize invoices to ditch the paper

AP teams can’t work without invoices. And when invoices are only provided as paper, it creates a whole host of problems:

  • Paper is easy to damage or lose entirely, especially in a busy kitchen or bar. This can lead to incorrect accounting and leave teams unprepared for audits.
  • Paper must be transported from a kitchen or bar as an order is received, to a member of the AP team who actually documents the invoice, and finally into storage indefinitely. This increases labor costs and adds an additional expense if there’s nowhere to store paperwork at the restaurant.
  • In the case of an audit, or even just an unpaid invoice notice from a vendor, AP teams must manually sort through a significant amount of paperwork to find appropriate documentation. This leads to higher labor costs due to the amount of time spent searching for a needle in the haystack. 

Invoice management software eliminates reliance on paper and actually gives AP teams better invoice processing capabilities than ever before:

  • Paper invoices can be scanned, emailed, or photographed and sent to Ottimate so a digital copy is saved. When digitized, invoices are more legible—but if they’re illegible, we’ll notify your AP team to take action.
  • Digitized invoices are saved on a cloud that can be accessed by anyone in your organization at any time, as long as they have login credentials. Cloud storage is extremely affordable and easy to use for even the least tech-savvy members of your AP team.
  • Use the search feature to find immediate results for the invoice information your AP team needs to dig up at a moment’s notice, saving time for your team and saving money on your labor expenses.

Learn more about the benefits of restaurant invoice software in this from our blog.

Offer EDI for vendors

Some vendors and restaurants were ahead of the adoption curve with technology by using electronic data interchange (EDI) to send and receive invoice information. Previously, this tech was available only for enterprise-level restaurants who had the tech capabilities in place to receive that data. But with Ottimate, EDI becomes accessible to all.

Even if your restaurant is small, it’s likely you might use one or two key vendors who supply most of the ingredients your restaurant uses on a daily basis. That means those vendor invoices are usually longer—and therefore take more time to process.

But by using EDI through Ottimate, hundred-page invoices are automatically received from vendors and labeled, organized, and stored on the software. Vendors worry less about getting a large paper invoice into your team’s hands, and your team gets to spend less time on review.

Want to know more about EDI in restaurants? Visit this blog archive.

Reconcile online

When invoices are digitized, there’s no need to scour each line item to look for price or quantity discrepancies. Ottimate is designed with artificial intelligence, so our software can automatically detect if there are issues with the invoices we’ve scanned for your business.

Incorrect statement? Missing invoice? Our platform flags it for your team so there’s less time between when a problem arises and when the problem is actually recognized, leading to more accurate accounting.

There’s no need to call vendors or wait for them to deliver your next order to chat face to face to address inconsistencies and discrepancies between what was ordered and what was received. Contact vendors directly through Ottimate with clear, thorough documentation on what went awry and what your team needs in order to reconcile those differences.

Pay vendors promptly

Why use a check or physical credit card when you can issue all payments to vendors online? Our bill pay solution gives AP teams the opportunity to send money to vendors directly through the platform via existing corporate credit cards, vCards, and ACH. And if your vendors don’t want a virtual payment, we’ll cut and mail a check on behalf of your business.

Don’t send AP teams to the office to pay the bills and leave checks vulnerable to the inconsistencies of the postal service. Just one click is all they’ll need to pay vendors promptly and keep your restaurant’s accounts in good standing.

Get more tips for vendor relationship management on our blog.

Build your business IQ

If your front of house has been using technology like QR codes, delivery services, and booking apps to stay organized, it’s time to get your back of house better prepared, too.

Build your business intelligence by taking your AP team remote and bringing Ottimate on board. Request a demo below so we can show you just how easy it is to make the change.

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