Question: My current accountant just does not give me restaurant advice and I feel I am missing out on something. Without hurting his feelings how do I get a second opinion?
Answer:Most accountants do not specialize in one area of accounting or taxation. Most bookkeeping firms just take on most any client who is willing to use QuickBooks or the like and pay a monthly fee. A restaurant operation is a unique animal and you need someone who understands “paid outs” or “cash over/short” or “tips” or “employee theft.”
With the tough times that we are in we need to make that tough call and get a second opinion. Start by getting a current engagement letter from your accountant. This is a document that an accountant provides a client detailing out exactly what services will be performed, when and the associated fees. Once you receive this letter review it to see if all of the tasks are being performed on a timely basis as well as the fees matches the services.
Next, ask another restaurant operator or for that matter another business owner that you respect and find out if you can speak to their accountant over the phone or to meet in person. Tell the new accountant you are looking for someone in the restaurant industry that you can bounce off ideas with in addition to your current accountant and possibly switch if the right match comes along. Ask for their resume and a few customers to contact for references. This process may take some time but your gut is giving you signals to keep searching.
Once information is gathered on how other accountants service and charge their restaurant owners regarding fees a decision can be made in comparison to the fees, services and products being received currently. In the end a checkup is always healthy to keep your current accountant on their toes and knowledge that is gained about the competition.
Question: My credit card fees are just too expensive. How do I compare them?
Answer: I have learned that credit card fees change like the monthly cellular telephone charges and plans and if go unchecked they will continue until challenged.
I have my clients every six months perform a rate analysis check with a competitor to determine rates being charged are in line with the industry. Credit card fees have become a commodity and once the installation has occurred not much is done to control the costs or charges. If becomes automated with an 800 number at that point.
Therefore the devil is in the details and it is appropriate to have your statements compared. There are many companies willing to make a comparison of rates with you very quickly. Once this analysis is received the next step is to contact your current carrier and ask for a reduction in fees or rates if appropriate. It never hurts to ask.
Inquire whether all of your transactions are available online for viewing and backup. Do some due diligence to find out which company the promoter processes all of their transactions through and see if you recognize that back end processor. Contact your accountant to confirm whom you are processing your transactions with along with your bank for a second opinion. Ask questions. Get to the bottom of the major fees charged and how your restaurants current volume of transactions stacks up to different credit card processors. The credit card industry is known for not having transparency so during your investigation you may come across some land mines of individuals that won’t provide information or get offended in due diligence. I recommend keep digging and asking questions.
If a decision is made to switch make sure that termination fees from your current carrier are considered and to negotiate these types of fees with a new carrier in the future. Be aware the original contract you signed may have many termination clauses that need to be checked before a switch is made. After a little investigation it’s amazing what one will learn and uncover.