Restaurant Business

Some Key Considerations When Selecting Your CP

Restaurant business experience.

Due to the complexity of restaurant accounting you will want a firm with experience in the industry. Successful restaurateurs track their inventory, food and labor costs, and keep on top of new legislation affecting the restaurant industry. These are just some of the restaurant industry considerations that a CPA experienced in the industry can help you navigate, and save you from costly mistakes.

Careful accounting and strategic planning are vital to the business development and continued success of restaurant professionals, food scientists, manufacturers, and others inthe food and beverage industry. At Ravi Shah CPA's & advisors, we put our years of expertiseto work for you with high-quality consulting services, certified public accountants, and otherresources. It’s our goal to help your business grow with our CPAs for restaurants!

Size does matter.

A CPA in a firm close to your business's size can most readily understand the challenges you face in your daily operations. A large international firm will likely provide less personal service and charge much higher fees than smaller, local firms. On the other hand, a firm that's too small, such as a sole practitioner, may not have the resources available to adequately meet your needs. A midsize local or regional firm offers moderate fees and multiple resources. This size firm will also offer a broader range of services than a sole practitioner. If you have restaurants in multiple states, look for a firm with offices in those states, or maybe consider CPA firms in each state. State and local tax laws can vary quite a bit and it's to your advantage to use a firm that is up-to-date with all of the tax laws that apply to your business locations.

Inquire about the service offered.

CPAs usually offer a range of accounting services. Since firms vary greatly in size the services offered will vary. Most firms offer bookkeeping services, tax preparation, management consulting, and business financial planning services. Some offer business valuation, audit, and review services as well. When looking at different CPA firms you need to compare what services each offers. Not all firms offer the same range of services. You must closely consider the firms' services and compare them with your needs.

Is the staff available and compatible with you?

Another very important consideration is the availability of the staff that will service your account. When you leave a message or have a question, you need to feel confident that the staff will respond in a timely manner. Delays could cost opportunities, which could cost you some profits.

Since you will work closely with the CPA firm's staff members, you need to know that they are available when you need them and you also should feel comfortable discussing your personal and business goals with them. It is a relationship of great trust. Make sure you are at ease when talking to the staff. If you feel any discomfort, the firm may not be a good fit for you or your business.

Get references

When talking to a prospective CPA you should always ask for references from other clients in the restaurant industry. Make sure to call them and closely evaluate their responses to your questions. Remember, the CPA will only give you the contact information of clients he/she feels are happy with his/her services. You may have to "read between the lines" and ask specific questions to determine if the firm will meet your needs.

Small business owners spend an average of eight hours a month performing payroll functions. That's 12 full days a year that could be spent generating sales, prospecting new business opportunities, improving products or services, or servicing customers.

We offer payroll solutions and a range of business services that meet your business's needs and enable you to spend time doing what you do best--running your company.

Ask the following questions of the references:

  • Do they receive a timely response when they call the firm?
  • Do they receive their reports on a timely basis?
  • Has the firm experienced a lot of staff turnover?
  • Does the firm contact them with updates on tax law changes and new opportunities?
  • Does the firm provide newsletters and client seminars?
  • Does the firm stay up-to-date with changes in technology?

Does the CPA have tax expertise?

Does your prospective CPA keep up-to-date with the latest changes in the tax laws? There have been many changes in recent years and staying on top of these can be of great benefit to your restaurant's profitability and cash flow. Ask the CPA if he or she sends out regular newsletters to keep clients informed about tax changes that may benefit their businesses. Find out what the firm's continuing education practices are for its staff. Remember -- the advice you receive is only as good as the training of the staff providing it.

You get what you pay for.

Any business in startup mode must be very cost-conscious. This is especially true in the highly competitive restaurant industry. Price should not be your primary concern, however, in the selection of a CPA. Good financial advice can make or break your startup restaurant and this is not the place to penny-pinch. Smaller firms, especially sole practitioners, tend to charge lower fees but also have fewer resources available. Medium-size firms may charge a bit more, but the additional resources are likely worth the extra cost.

Know whom you're dealing with.

Chances are, no matter what size firm you choose, that you will have one primary contact person within the firm. Ask for a resume. This is the person who will advise you on your financial matters and you will place a great deal of trust in them. Make sure that they have adequate experience, preferably in the restaurant industry, to meet your needs.

Never underestimate the importance of word-of-mouth recommendations.

In addition to CPAs there are a number of other accounting options available.

Use your CPA in combination with other available accounting services.

Due to the complexity of restaurant accounting you will want a firm with experience in the industry. Successful restaurateurs track their inventory, food and labor costs, and keep on top of new legislation affecting the restaurant industry. These are just some of the restaurant industry considerations that a CPA experienced in the industry can help you navigate, and save you from costly mistakes.

Custom Payroll Solutions For Your Business

We know that when it comes to payroll service - no one size fits all. That's why we offer the following 3 custom payroll processing options.

Bookkeeping services

Bookkeeping services are outside services, which usually do the monthly bookkeeping for multiple clients. These services are sometimes offered by public accounting firms but are offered by other individuals or companies as well. Bookkeeping services primarily perform data-entry services and provide you with monthly reports of your financial activity. They may also provide payroll processing services, check writing, and tax preparation services. If you consider using a bookkeeping service, try to find one with extensive restaurant experience.

In-house bookkeepers

In-house bookkeepers are restaurant employees who perform daily accounting tasks and may also perform secretarial duties for the general manager. Depending on the size of your establishment you may want to consider using an in-house bookkeeper to do the more routine record keeping. If you use an in-house bookkeeper, you will also need a good CPA to advise you in business financial planning, look at your monthly reports, and prepare your annual tax returns. They can also provide a good check and balance over the quality (and honesty) of your in-house record keeping. Consider having your outside CPA do periodic "miniaudits" of your financial records. This will help keep your bookkeeper honest and give you confidence in the accuracy of your financial information.

Payroll services

Payroll services specialize in preparing payroll checks and payroll tax returns. Due to the complexity of restaurant payroll, it is best to find a service with extensive experience in the restaurant industry. Tip reporting requirements, minimum wage laws for tipped employees, and the tip credit reporting requirements are unique to the restaurant industry and you will want a service that is well-versed in these rules.

Tax preparation

Tax preparation services generally specialize in preparing year-end tax returns. If you consider using a tax preparation service provided by someone other than a CPA you will want to ask for his or her credentials.

There are many different kinds of accounting services available on the market today and you will need to choose wisely which combination of these services you want to use. No matter which combination you choose, you should still have a good CPA on your "team" of advisers.

As you prepare to interview your prospective CPA, always remember: You are the customer. You have the right to ask lots of questions. Think of it as interviewing an employee for a long-term management position in your company. The right fit will help your bottom line and may save you from costly mistakes and lost opportunities.

Once you have selected your CPA and worked with him or her for a while, reassess the relationship. Are you getting the quality of service you expected? Has the CPA offered useful advice and provided timely information? Have you consistently worked with the same staff at the firm or has the firm experienced considerable turnover? If you are concerned about the service you receive, talk to your CPA about your concerns. If you continue to receive a lower level of service than you

Do's and Don'ts in Selecting a CPA


  • Talk to other restaurant owners and ask which CPA they use. Are they happy with their service?
  • Ask how many other restaurants are clients of the CPA.
  • Ask how many years of experience the CPA has, especially in the restaurant industry.
  • Ask for references and call them.
  • Interview more than one CPA.
  • Select a provider you feel comfortable with. Remember: This person will be key to your financial success.


  • Just pick someone from the Yellow Pages.
  • Make a decision based solely on price. Price is not always a good measure of quality.
  • Hire your friend's brother-in-law (nephew, sister, etc.) without considering if he will be able to adequately serve your needs.


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