Q My back office is a mess. How do I get it organized?
A As an accountant who works with restaurant own- ers nationwide, I often sit in their back-of-the-house
offices. It’s typically a 4’-by- 4’ space that also serves as a
broom closet and a break room. It’s packed with security cameras, employee uniforms, filing cabinets, post-it
boards and ethernet cables that hang around you like a
nest of boa constrictors. It’s pitiful.
I urge my independent restaurant clients to mirror the
national chains when setting up a back office. You need
only an all-in-one printer, copier and scanner; a touch-screen computer; a shredder; and a sign that says “No
Admittance.” In this day and age, you don’t need a filing
cabinet or storage area for paper. Cables should be neatly
encased in plastic tubing. Shift lockers for waitstaff should
be located outside of the office. For communications, just
set up a high-speed Internet connection and a Bluetooth
headset with voice-over-IP for phone calls.
To prepare for a spring cleaning at your restaurant, start
by creating a company-wide initiative to reduce clutter.
Assign maintenance of the house office to a staff member
and pay that person to start the process. Here’s how to do it:
1.;Get;rid;of;all;paper. Organize all paper items into
marked storage boxes. Interview every manager,
employee and accountant to find out how each document got there, why it’s still there and who needs
a copy of it. If it’s important, scan it and email the
file to the appropriate person and throw the paper
should be placed temporarily in storage boxes, and
employees must claim them and take them home—
or lose them! If you have shift lockers, that’s where
personal items should go, not in the back office. The
back office is not a landfill—it’s a place of business
that needs to be organized and spotless.
3.;Create;manuals;for;office;equipment. Create a
simple training manual explaining the function of
each piece of equipment and who should use what,
how to use it and where to store/send any processed
With this system in place, it’s up to shift managers to
keep things orderly. There’s a direct correlation between
an organized back-of-the-house system and restaurant
profitability. Chew on that for a while!
How to Better
Michael J. Rasmussen is the owner of Rasmussen Tax Group ( rasmussentaxgroup.com) in
Conway, Arkansas. He is also the co-owner of Eyenalyze ( eyenalyze.com), a company that
provides real-time profit analysis for restaurant owners.
There’s a direct correlation between an
organized back-of-the-house system and a
By Michael J. Rasmussen