After emigrating from Lebanon to the U.S., brothers Walid and Rabih Jamal landed jobs as waitstaff at their local IHOP in Michigan. Years later, after the Jamals had finished college, the franchisee who had employed them reached out to let them know an IHOP in Grand Rapids was up for sale.
“He said, ‘You guys were very hardworking when you were here, and I think there’s an opportunity,’” Walid Jamal recalls. The two moved to acquire the restaurant in 2006, forming JHG Restaurants in the process, and have since grown their franchisee group to seven total IHOP locations. More recently, the duo purchased the IHOP franchising rights to Western Michigan and will look to scale their business even further.
The brothers learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business by putting pen to paper. Credits, debits, and other business-related information were recorded manually. As a result, it sometimes took up to a month to produce a profit-and-loss statement, meaning much of the information was obsolete by the time they came up with it.
Moreover, Walid says, the company’s reporting efforts were reactive rather than proactive. That reporting was often difficult for managers to understand and use in their daily operations. Finally, the business’ accounting processes were time-consuming, as was labor management, particularly scheduling.
“The biggest obstacle was verifying that we’re operating our restaurants at their most profitable margins,” Walid said. “The challenge then becomes what kind of tools can you provide your managers to make the best decisions on what to order, who to schedule, and how to get better, faster data?”
Shortly after implementing Restaurant365, an all-in-one restaurant management software, in 2021, the team immediately began to receive actionable insights into the performance of its four locations. Across the back office, Lurye said efficiency and automation within Restaurant365, in many cases, enables her to halve the time spent on various manual tasks. “Reconciling banks is 100 percent better than what it used to be,” she said. “We have 15 bank accounts, which used to take me a week’s worth of time [to reconcile]. Now, I can get it all done in a day.”
With the time saved on reporting and reconciliation, she can contribute to the business in various higher-value tasks, such as taking on a POS pilot program.
“Today, we can run P&Ls much more quickly and have accurate, real-time numbers in front of us,” says Michel Lurye, office and financial manager with JHG Restaurants. “From a manager and operational standpoint, the labor reporting has been invaluable. Our managers today have a better understanding of how to manage labor throughout the week so when the weekend comes, we’re not worried about overtime and excess cost.” Managers can further sharpen labor costs by using actual versus theoretical reporting to find all sorts of variance, including when team members are clocking in too early or too late.
Having set the stage for continued expansion in Western Michigan, Walid Jamal said he’s confident to undertake the push in partnership with Restaurant365. He says it’s never been easier for his team to open a restaurant and seamlessly integrate it as a business entity under the JHG Restaurants’ umbrella.
“The beauty of Restaurant365 is that it’s almost a copy-and- paste to set up a new entity or a new restaurant,” Jamal says. “So even if we go from four to eight locations tomorrow, we can do so efficiently and confidently.”
“Furthermore, the adaptability and innovations of Restaurant365 are extremely important to me,” Jamal continues. “I know there’s always a new tool or technology that will help improve my business, and I always want to be working with a company that truly serves its customer by making managers’ jobs and the company’s job easier.”
For more, schedule a 1:1 custom demo of Restaurant365 today to see how you can automate your accounting processes, improve store operations and streamline workforce challenges like hiring and payroll.