Clint Blaylock, vice president of payments at Restaurant365, has seen puzzling accounting practices since joining the payments industry over 20 years ago. That includes brands manually cutting hundreds of checks per month and stuffing them into envelopes by hand—a process that costs $5.91 per mailed check, according to data from the Association of Financial Professionals.
“When I came into this industry, I quickly found out that most restaurants are doing accounts payable manually,” Blaylock says. “And it honestly blew my mind how many vendors each restaurant had and how time consuming that must be. One of our clients had 17,000 checks per year that they were printing, stamping, and stuffing—with so many brands already strapped for staffing, this is a really inefficient way of doing things.”
Restaurant365 offers an automated accounts payable system—AP Payments—that was created with restaurant brands in mind. In fact, Restaurant 365’s AP Payments lays claim to being the only of its kind that was made specifically for restaurants. The company—which also boasts a suite of restaurant management software—has intimate knowledge of the industry and all of the pain points that operators deal with on a day-to-day basis.
It’s why the solution was tailored to work for all types of operators, from independent chef/owner figures, to franchisee groups with a large portfolio, to chains with thousands of locations. The platform tracks all outgoing payments on a single user-friendly dashboard, giving operators transparency into the accounts payable process. Instead of sorting through piles of paper invoices, brand executives can pull up invoices and pay them with the click of a button. There are varying levels of approval processes, too—the payment process can be fully automated, or require approvals by certain financial figures within the brand’s structure. Regardless, the approval process is seamless, Blaylock says.
Beyond saving brands time and about $5 per check, the platform can help earn thousands of dollars in rebates thanks to Restaurant365’s “virtual cards,” which function as credit cards but are more safe and secure. Similarly, brands can leverage ACH technology via the AP Payments software to keep cash flow going and the bills paid.
“One of the struggles for restaurants that work with third-parties to outsource the accounts payable process is that they often have to prefund ACH payments,” Blaylock says. “We understand that the restaurant industry has really tight margins and cash flow is a really big deal to operators. Because we integrate directly with a restaurant’s bank account, we’re removing any delays in payments by not requiring prefunding. That’s one of the reasons they love us.”
Ultimately, AP Payments saves brands labor costs in the c-suite. Suddenly, hours and even entire days are freed up for the accounting and finance department to focus on other tasks. Similarly, store managers no longer have to spend time each day sorting through every paper invoice that comes into the store, nor do they need to program them into a spreadsheet—most large foodservice vendors automatically invoice through AP Payments. Pivotally, the platform has allowed many restaurant accounting teams to work remotely during the pandemic, as access to a printer is no longer a requirement.
“We’ve seen cases where brands have been able to cut positions after implementing AP Payments,” Blaylock says. “But more often than not it’s really about taking a load off of people who feel stretched thin. Let’s be honest—a lot of people are working a lot more than 40 hours a week in this industry. What we’ve seen is that when brands implement this, employees are happy about it because it frees them up to focus on other things.”
So how can brands make the switch? Blaylock estimates that brands can migrate to AP Payments in a month or less. He says it requires just 1 to 2 hours of time from the restaurant brand’s team—there’s no need to retrain staff once the software is implemented.
“Nobody else in the industry is really doing this,” Blaylock says. “Yes, there are third parties who are trying to get a piece of the pie, but the difference with us is that we are a fully integrated platform. When brands implement AP Payments, it’s like a Christmas gift to staff. You’re freeing up so much of their time and they love it.
For more on AP Payments, visit the Restaurant365 website.
By Charlie Pogacar