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Episode 36: Restaurant Management 101

Once a pro golfer, Anne Gannon combined her financial acumen with experience in the hospitality industry to create the Largo Group — a Boston-based accounting firm that specializes in helping restaurant owners with innovative accounting and bookkeeping solutions. In this episode, Gannon shares some of the ways that restaurants can succeed despite the ongoing pandemic, inflation and labor shortages.



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Podcast Transcript


Alvin Williams

Welcome everyone to The Check podcast today we have Anne Gannon joining us. Anne Gannon is a CPA and the founder of the Largo Goup, which is a leading accounting firm, based in Boston. Welcome to The Check.


Anne Gannon

Thank you very much.


Brady Viccellio

Thank you very much. And you have clients all over the country.


Anne Gannon

Yes. So our niche is restaurants, lots of independents, and also franchises. But we service clients all over the country, and really establish ourselves as trying to simplify the accounting process so you restaurant owners don't feel overwhelmed.


Brady Viccellio

So tell us a little bit about that. How do you how do you simplify the accounting process?


Anne Gannon

What we try to do is be in constant communication with our clients, we send out weekly reports, really helping them be proactive. So knowing that, knowing what your margins are, your food costs are, especially in times like this, where things are changing so rapidly, really helps you be able to make the best decision possible. So long before COVID, that was sort of our motto, what our business model is based on, and then when 2020 hit, it really was the difference maker that because we're in constant contact with our clients, we were on the phone right away and helping them learn about PPP, and what to do about cash flow, do you pay your bills right now? Do you hold your cash. And so we're really happy to say that 95% of our clients survived that they really were able to pivot and, and make a difference. So our goal, throughout this whole, 18 months has been to not just help but also educate people who aren't just our clients, but anything that we're seeing that's working really trying to pass it on because we're all connected to the restaurant industry. And so helps everyone if we can make it better.


Alvin Williams

And you can do all of this via Zoom, or telephone. And that's your way into the restaurant business. Because we as restaurant cannot serve food by via Zoom.


Anne Gannon

No, exactly. It's funny, because pre-COVID, it was always over the phone, which is kind of awkward, and not everyone loves to be on the phone. But then Zoom is great, because you see their face, and you see the back little hole office in the back of the restaurant. And then people's cars and their houses as kids run around. So Zoom has actually made it much more entertaining than just the phone call.


Alvin Williams

Well, before we get into the details of your business, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?


Anne Gannon

Yeah, so I'm not your typical accountant. I grew up playing actually professional golf. And my goal, you know, was really to be top level golfer I played here professionally, and then sort of did not love playing for money. It's really a weird dynamic. I'm not a gambler. I'm sort of like risk averse. So when the whole idea of like making a putt for $1,000, it was like, “Oh, I hate this, it’s just not for me.” So I went back to school, got a degree in my master's in accounting, because my undergrad had been in economics, and there's no jobs for economists. So went back for accounting, and then sort of realized that my love was hospitality. I had always grown up working in restaurants when I wasn't playing golf, working in golf courses, which is very much like hospitality with your food and beverage service. So when I went into public accounting, you know, I felt like my experience was so different from people who grew up wanting to be accountants, because I didn't know a lot about corporate, I knew a lot about small business and entrepreneurs and all of those people that I had played golf with along the way. So I quickly realized that was my passion was really, you know, getting out there building relationships with business owners, entrepreneurs, and trying to use my knowledge to help them make their business better. So I, after a few years in public accounting started the Largo Group. And we've grown--we were growing, you know, pre COVID. But really, what I found is COVID was just this opportunity to introduce business owners to accounting that can be done a better way, because if you were doing it the old- fashioned way, COVID happened and you were already on your rebound before you were talking to your accountant again. And that really was a disservice because you weren't able to make decisions quickly. You weren't able to adjust and pivot. But the people that were in our model, and we're looking at their food costs and their labor and cashflow weekly and monthly, we're aware of like, oh my God, that's not working. I need to, you know, adjust my management team or I'm going to plan and use this PPP money to save my management team. So I'm back up and running, and having that interaction with our team because we have the knowledge really helped them feel more secure and calm during a crazy time.


Alvin Williams

Sounds like a great service. Because do I mean during COVID ehen we're all trying to pivot do all those things


Brady Viccellio

We were lost.


Alvin Williams

Well, we were busy, so we're busy trying to cook him busy trying to find to go boxes and busy trying to do all that other stuff. And we really didn't get a chance to sit down and figure out okay, should we go in this direction, because this is going to save us money or this is going to make us more money and sounds like you guys figure all that stuff out, and then pass the information on to your clients.


Anne Gannon

And really just having I think the open dialogue, I think what is amazing for business owners of whatever size I mean, even the big guys, I think struggle or small, just startups, is who do you have that conversation with? Right? Because again, in the traditional model, if I'm a traditional accounting firm, my goal is to finish your return as quickly as possible, right, charge you a good rate for it. And then I'll talk to you next year, right? I just don't have time in that model to have a more proactive conversation, right? And the assumption is, oh, well, you guys will have those conversations elsewhere. But really, who do you have that conversation with, if it's not with the CPA? So that's sort of the idea is that if we can take that conversation and have it throughout the year in May or June, that isn't crazy with tax season, then why the time we get to the tax return, we're all in a better place. And you know, we feel more comfortable with the numbers.


Brady Viccellio

Well, I imagine your fees would vary wildly, because if your client is Jimmy's Hot Dogs, and he's got one delivery a week and, and two employees, and that's his wife and his daughter, you don't have to put too much work in for Jimmy. But then somebody like Alvin or me who's got a restaurant with a lot of employees--we have between the two of us quite a bit. And, you know, what, I don't know, 30 deliveries a week between the two of us probably. And so we'd have a different pricing structure, I would imagine.


Anne Gannon

Yeah. And it's really about how involved you want us to be weekly or monthly, how much time you know, are we going to talk every week, we're going to talk once a month. So that's really kind of a starting point for us, and then finding something that works for both parties, right? Because, again, we're not consultants, it's not the model of I'm going to charge you like 20 grand, and then never talk to you again in six months. My goal is to be your CPA for a long time. So we want to find something that works on both sides.


Brady Viccellio

Well, the reason I asked that, because whereas you're talking with all the things that you do I was like, sounds expensive.


Anne Gannon

Actually, we're very affordable. Because again, you know, our time is incredibly valuable in March. But if I'm able to have our conversation in May, and then do 15 minutes in March, it's like it works on both sides, too, right? So we're actually if anything more affordable than traditional accountants because of that, right?


Brady Viccellio

And then somebody who is basically consultant like you, it's almost like, too expensive not to have her. Now, if you if you don't have that organization, and she can bring it, it would be a whole other thing. If you're having trouble with your books, having trouble with food costing and labor and all that stuff. You're the person to call.


Anne Gannon

Well, or even just because like I said, our big message now is assistance to the hospitality industry. So we have free courses on our website all the time, at least, you know, two or three at a time for anyone who wants to, you know, look, right now we have harvesting revenue. So really taking a look at your revenue, because one thing that people don't realize, because everybody's been in the back of the house cooking or on the floor, because they can't find servers is how much your revenue has changed in the last two years, right? Because in 2019, your revenue may have been similar to today. But chances are your delivery fees were a fraction, right? So your delivery right now, maybe 20 to 30% of your overall revenue. So what is that and your bottom line? Other things like your price increase? Right? You may be comparing to 2019. But you raised your prices 5%. So is your business going up? Because you raised prices? Or is it going up because you have more customers? So just taking a look at little things like that can help you really understand what's going on in your business.


Brady Viccellio

And what do you think about the supply chain challenges that we're having on with the inflation and the labor shortage that we're dealing with, kind of towards this part of COVID?


Anne Gannon

Well, I would definitely say to business owners that it's something that we can't really be afraid of. I mean, to some degree, it's beyond your control, right? I mean, you have to have a certain quality of product to make your menu work. And your customers still want that quality of product in order to make your vision a reality. So how I look at it is, it's just, we still have to be in touch with the basics, right. So if your chicken has tripled in price, then the menu price of your chicken probably needs to be adjusted as well. And I think customers, at least will, what we're hearing from our clients is that for the most part, they know that right, you’re really not seeing a ton of pushback for raising menu prices with the people that are able to do the menu price increase in line with what it's costing them, things customers would know have gotten up in price, I really been able to just control their margins, right. So if your food cost has to be 25%, to make your bottom line work, then it just means we got to do a little digging to make sure we're still at 25% in line with everything that you're paying right now. So the positive or the one silver lining, anyone who knows me, I'm very positive person. During COVID, I was told to positive like, and it's not two weeks to slow the spread, sorry. But, you know, the silver lining of inflation is that your rent is set, right? Your fixed costs are set. So if you're able to manage your margins, in line with the price increase, it actually could be a good thing to your bottom line. And I know that sounds crazy. But that's why we actually have this high risk revenue free course on our website now to say, if you took your weekly, you know, adjusted revenue based on 5% increase and your food cost stays the same, your labor then stays the same, because we have to manage those two numbers to run a successful operation, that actually our operating costs should kind of be the same as before we raised our prices, which means our bottom line could have anything also stayed the same. So if we're able to look at that, and really not be afraid of it, because I think as restaurant tours as entrepreneurs, the one thing we all hate to do, anyone in service hates to raise prices, right? Because your fear is customers aren't going to show up, they're going to go find the pizza down the road, that's cheaper, the chickens that are cheaper. But that's not where we are right now. Right? Like everybody is raising prices. So if that's the case, and we're able to do it, there's no reason our business can't be successful in this environment.


Alvin Williams

With your clients, is that equal across the country? Or do you find it more expensive on the east coast or west?


Anne Gannon

No, I mean, I've had people all over the country tell me that it's worse than last year. What you're up against in terms of headwinds is worse than 2020. Because it's so drastic, in terms of what people are demanding for employees who walked in the door, you know, it's just jumped so high so fast. And then the food costs that it's really hard to just be aware and know, am I making the right decision? Should I pay my dishwasher $22 an hour? Like, you know, is that even going to work? So I think the stress all over the country, it's just worse than 2020. So if you're feeling that you're definitely not alone.


Brady Viccellio

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head with that, because it's, I've said the past six months have been the certainly the hardest part of this whole thing for me. And I think for one as well, I mean, in the first part, everybody was just confused and going in different directions, which was, I mean, in a way, it was kind of crazy. But it was a lot like camping out kind of thing. And now it's real, and people have all this leverage. And now I want to get back to real quick, what you're saying with the inflation, basically, is that as inflation grows, your debt shrinks, basically. Because if you're, I don't know, if you have $1,000, rent or mortgage, and two years ago, $1,000 would buy you a new bicycle, but now it buys you a new tire.Now your rent is worth a tire and not a whole bicycle. That makes a lot of sense. So you can basically utilize that savings to your advantage. Are you finding that your clients are more shifting towards a profit margin model rather than a percentage model on food costing and all that kind of thing? Because, you know, that there's been such a, everybody said, you know, you're just mentioned before, if you need to have 25%, or whatever, that's what you have to have. So, what I thought was, okay, well, I mean, a lot of times people say, I need to make this much money per guest. And yeah, base their pricing on that basically. Are you finding that people are moving more towards that? Are they still hanging on percentages?


Anne Gannon

I think both. I think it is good to look at that. But I think I think it's just updating because a lot of times like I said, the big thing with your guests, people who were looking at guest counts are ticket counts. Now with delivery fee, sometimes that's even getting wrong in wrong in your point of sale. So a lot of those numbers aren't even accurate right now in your point of sale, because Uber comes in as one ticket, but it's really five people ordering. So I think the first thing is to really make sure those numbers are legitimate, because a lot of times it's like, oh, these crazy guests check numbers, but it's because it's five people and five burgers as one. So I definitely think kind of making sure that point of sale numbers are arriving getting in there correctly. And then the second I think, is, it seems like the percentage is at least the starting point, because at least you can go back to your, you know, menu costing cards, or however your recipes are and just see like, what happens if chicken triples, you know, and what does that do to that, that item? And then I think the second part is, you know, kind of really looking at menu mix, because it seems like there's certain items that have just skyrocketed, where there's others that are not. So some of our clients are utilizing some good software, I mean, whatever software you use for your invoicing, should at least be able to do like an item history. And so like, this one guy, well, you can’t do ribs, those are crazy. And all of my proteins are crazy, but he had Walleye, because they were in Wisconsin. So it's like, let's do a fish fry. The Walleye has actually gone down. And so I think even if you can just get your team to look at like price history weekly, like your chef will be able to pick out like, oh, that's that item. But that's not this item, this item actually hasn't changed that much. So maybe that's something we can promote, or do a special on? Because it's not across the board.


Alvin Williams

Where do you think the hospitality industry or the restaurant industry is going in the next couple of years? Because a lot of restaurants have pivoted and, and there's new things industries like ghost kitchens, and people doing a lot of takeout business. And do you think that's going to be the wave of the future? Or have you seen something else? And so you get to talk to everybody across the country? What do you think, where are we going?


Anne Gannon

I definitely think people still want to eat out, I think your next generations, your younger generations love experiences. So even if they're, you know, using Instacart for all their groceries and you know, not going to stores, I think you still have a lot of people that want that experience. So, you know, I think it's being aware of your customer race. But that being said, I think it's been long enough to where the restaurants that know their customers still want delivery, I think we just have to learn to deal with that. Right. So the other part of the revenue is, you know, thought is if we're really looking at revenue, and you know, our delivery service used to bring in $4000 a week, and now it brings in $15,000. That's okay, as long as we've increased our price to cover that fee, right? Who really cares if our customers want to sit at home and order UberEATS as long as we're covering what it costs us to serve that meal. And it's a net zero, because so many of our customers were so afraid to raise prices by 20%. On the UberEATS platform, oh, I'll just raise it 10%. Well, if it's costing 20%, then you can't because now you're starting in a hole. So as long as we're covering our costs on all platforms, I think it's really just knowing where our customers are. Because again, like you said, there's, I think a difference between people who are still in the cities and the people who are in the suburbs where you know, certain Florida, everyone's just going there.


Alvin Williams

Third party fees were so high that we were pretty much giving it away. And then if we increased the prices, so that we would either break even or make some money, it just made those prices look absorbent to you know, regular customer. So it's just hard to do that.


Anne Gannon

I think what's happened and I agree at the beginning, right? Because I think especially pre COVID, it was like, well, you can't charge $15 for a hamburger, if the person coming in is getting charged 10, right, they're going to talk and they're not going to be happy. But I think because everybody's done it. I mean, even the national chains have all made sure that they're covering the cost of that service on those platforms. So I think even if you didn't in the past, and probably rightly so in the past, it's a new environment. Now, it's your customer who's just more aware that those services cost money.


Alvin Williams

So you think that everything's going to be normal again, people still want to go out for dinner. So you said that the younger people are the millennials that they are ordering groceries through Instacart. So do you think that's because they're doing it because of COVID reasons. Do you think they've just got used to it through COVID or they're just lazy and they want the groceries delivered? And they don't want to talk to people in the grocery store?


Anne Gannon

A mix of both. I mean, I think though, you know, the positive side of COVID Is it forced people to learn new technologies that maybe they didn’t before. I mean, how many people never had an UberEATS app on their phone who now do so I think it's introduced them to this new environment. I don't think it's here forever because I mean, I think that element will be people will like take-out forever. But I think you're always going to have your catering, you're always going to have your events, you know, you're always going to have the let's go out to eat. So I think it's truly going to be a mix of both


Brady Viccellio

The payroll protection plan or PPP, was a plan from the government that helped businesses such as restaurants make it through the pandemic. Anne, what are your thoughts on that?


Anne Gannon

I definitely thought that PPP was probably one of the best programs that government could have done for businesses. If you think about how scary the time was before, the money was handed out because of the restaurant business having terms on accounts payable. I mean, we had so many clients that and also the lag of payroll, that last two weeks of March was such a scary time, because who would have ever thought that you would have zero revenue, but you still have a full payroll to pay for, you know, time people have already worked. And you probably at least have two weeks of your AP that has to get paid with no hope of cash coming in at all right? Because in those weeks, it was like, you know, people doing 40,000 were doing 4000--it was crazy. And I felt like the way they did then the calculation on PPP, it was just the right amount of money, right? Like two months of payroll like that made sense. It wasn't crazy. People weren't for the most part taking advantage, it really was a good bridge to get people through COVID. And I think for the most part, other than the people who were truly in the cities or in, you know, I think California was exceptionally hard because their shutdowns just went so much longer. For the most part, it felt like it was enough money to kind of get people to the third and fourth quarter of 2020 back on their feet, like not a ton of cash left, but enough to just weather the storm. So I really felt like PPP was much needed and a great thing.


Brady Viccellio

The average consumer doesn't understand how tight margins are, like what happens when we don't have people coming in the door for a month. I mean, it's the when the bills, like you said there's bills just keep rolling in. And you're like, oh, okay.


Alvin Williams

You’re kind of a couple of meals away from closing up. Whereas retail, a clothing store, they may pay, $50 to produce this cardigan sweater, and they sell it for $150.


Brady Viccellio

They still very similar problems.


Alvin Williams

No other business runs slim margins like restaurants -- nothing. Anne, what do you think? Do any othetr industries run on a thinner margin that the restaurant industry is run on?


Brady Viccellio

Groceries are thinner.


Anne Gannon

Yeah, I mean, on paper, but I think cash flow wise, what makes restaurants hard is you have money coming out every day. I mean, your clothing store, their margin is the same, but they bought the inventory already. So when they're collecting, like, it's just cash in, but you guys have your payroll, you have, you know, 50 people on a payroll that has to get paid every two weeks. I mean, that's crazy. And I think that's, it's like you survive on your volume.


Alvin Williams

Cash flow. That's a big thing of what you guys do. So can you explain a little bit more how that works? In our industry?


Anne Gannon

Yeah. So I really think the biggest thing for restaurant owners is not to be afraid of cash flow, because I think what happens is you have money moving every day, right? Your balance is never the same. It's always up, it's always down. Sales tax that comes out once a month, it's really hard to get your hands on cash flow. And so one of the things that we tell you is really kind of passing it back to you because I think what happens then is like, well, I'll wait for my bookkeeper to be done, you know, my QuickBooks file or I'll wait till my accountant takes a look at it and reality, that cash flow really is on like the owner to understand, right? Because the accounting is great, but accounting is always looking backwards. Like it's not going to tell you what's happening today. It's going to tell you what, best last week or last month, but we have to know cash right now. So one thing I tell our owners is, at a minimum, look at the cash you ended the month with, you know, for the cash that you started the month with? Is it higher or lower? Right? And if it's higher by 5000? Is it because you didn't pay your bills? Or is that truly your profit, right? And if we get in the habit of we tell our clients, if you do nothing else, track your balance every day, we have a Google Sheet it's free, you can go on our website and get it literally every day record your bank balance because what that does is give you an idea of true cash in cash out and really then makes you feel more comfortable in making good decisions without the fear that can be around our cash flow.


Brady Viccellio

Alvin and I both been in charge of cash flow for over 20 years each and well…


Alvin Williams

You call it flow. I call it trickle


Brady Viccellio

Well it's a little bit of seat of the pants. And you have that leap of faith that, okay, I'm emptying my account, but… And usually it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t We're very hand to mouth in the restaurant business. It's just the the structure of it. And the interesting thing that we've mentioned before, is the fact that a lot of people don't realize the credit we extend to every single customer that walks in the door. You know, no matter what, we don't do a credit check to that somebody's coming in with, you know, 10 or their buddies and ring up $1,000 bill and said, Okay, well, we assume they'll be able to pay it on their way out. I mean, try to do that anywhere else in any other. I mean, you go to a hotel, the first thing they want to do get your credit card.


Anne Gannon

That's so true. Yeah, I mean, I think it is a leap of faith. It's a little


Alvin Williams

It's a little stressful. Maybe we should take up golf like, like Anne did. Brady and I are avid golfers?


Anne Gannon

Ohh, are you?


Alvin Williams

No, we’ve played once. Remember that one time we played? We were just disastrous.


Brady Viccellio

It was really bad. We need to stick to fish.


Anne Gannon

It’s okay, I can't cook.


Alvin Williams

So what do you think are some handy tips or tricks that could help restaurants improve, you know, efficiencies and improve our bottom line?


Anne Gannon

I definitely think software has come a long way. Right? So whether it's your point of sale, or however your whatever software you're using, I'm agnostic with software, I really don't care. But I think that software is your friend. Because if you can find a system that is reading your invoices, like I said that price history by item is so valuable for your chef or whoever's doing your ordering to just really see what each item is costing you today and how much it's changed. Because I think the more technology can help us get the data right now, then we can you know, make better decisions. So I would definitely say some sort of weekly check in with your management team, you know, where our sales again, like revenue targets, if your sale if your team has always set the target of you know, 25,000 a week? Well, if you raise prices, it really should probably be like 27,000 a week. Right? So just making them aware of the things that have changed. And some sort of check in and scorecard for how we're doing every week. What is our cost of goods right now? Right? Has it gone up? Has it stayed the same? Why if it has and not from the standpoint of you know, ruling with an iron fist but just checking every week so that people are constantly trying to get better would be I think the biggest thing.


Brady Viccellio

As a spinoff from that answer, I think when you look at a restaurant, I mean, you look at-- I don't know how many, hundreds, thousands--of restaurants’ books, with the good and the great, what's the difference? What do you think that special sauce is between the operators who do a good job and the operators who do a great job when it comes to profits?


Anne Gannon

First, team involvement, right? Because I think you have some owners who are afraid to share with the team, you know, and I don't think your team needs to know everything, they don't need to know what you the owner make or anything like that. But I do think, some sort of team involvement to where they know and they understand the importance of being efficient, because I think we're afraid to share with the team the cost of goods at the labor, but maybe we're not sharing the whole payroll, but maybe we look at just hourly payroll, and some sort of accountability to not just the owner, because I think owners and entrepreneurs want to be supermen and women, right? We want to do everything, but we can't, and we can't do everything well. So I think it's the people that are successful have surrounded them with themselves with management teams that complement them. So if you're not a detailed person, and you hate looking at percentages and graphs, and maybe a manager who can, is a good complement and making it more of a team effort, because regardless of your size, I think even if you have one manager, two managers, that running an efficient restaurant is just something that is a team effort and can't be done alone. Interesting,


Brady Viccellio

Interesting, quite insightful.


Alvin Williams

I got a question for you. And it's totally out of left field, and really non political, but I have severe paranoia and not much sleep. So what if there was ever another shutdown? Would there be more PPP money? And if there was another shutdown? Do you think that the industry could survive and bounce back again, like it has? I mean, we're not through the pandemic, yet. We're still in it. What do you think?


Anne Gannon

First of all, just from operators that I talked to, I don't think anyone's shutting down again.


Alvin Williams

if you get a mandate, nobody's doing it, right?


Anne Gannon

No, I mean, it depends on who you talk to. But I feel like, you know, and I think that was some of the anger of last year. I can tell you, even in my seat -- and my seat’s not anything like your seat--I was incredibly angry at how much most people in America didn't understand how hard that was for business owners. Because if you were someone who's just sitting at home, you know, watching Netflix, you didn't have to go to school or work. It's like a pandemic. This isn't so bad, but I mean, the shutdowns were horrible for restaurants, as you know, and I think, you know, so many of our clients were so angry because they had shut down thinking it was two weeks and then you Put your livelihood at stake, right? I mean, you have clients of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s millions of dollars invested million dollars on the line, you know, to the SBA, other resources. And you were told to shut down and you just did it. So I think fundamentally, as we get further along, I think that was the lesson to business owners to be like, Oh, well, wait a minute. Like, I'm all for rules, and I'm all for helping people. But I really risked my business and my future for this, and no one knew what was happening. And I think that, you know, I just don't see that everyone would ever shut down again, I think that was a big lesson. And you know, and I think that's where PPP was fair, right? Because you really screwed a lot of people. But PPP kind of made it whole to get everyone back to normal. So, I mean, I think government, but I think as government I mean, I think they have given up so much money in the last few years, that that's where the inflation comes in. But I don't know that you could go around and give another PPP again,


Brady Viccellio

The government is us, it's our money. Ultimately, I mean, we're paying it in, and then we get some back. We've all we paid that much over the years.


Anne Gannon

Yeah, well, and that's where the other thing with restaurants being aware of what's going on and other programs is, if you do still feel like you, you know, are struggling, there are still programs available with the employee retention credit. So we're really encouraging our clients, you can check out our website, rules that changed at the end of 2020 really made it where everybody could go back to 2020. And claim these credits retroactively. And this is hundreds of 1000s of dollars to most restaurants. And again, like you said, it's money you've already paid in that you literally get in the form of a check. So I would definitely say restaurants who haven't done that, do that. Because I think as we get into next year, things will shift and it's going to go into a more, you know, inflation and taxes and all of that. So I do think if you haven't looked at the RTC, definitely do it. Because there could still be money on the table.


Brady Viccellio

Well, the last stimulus--the infrastructure plan--eliminated that.


Anne Gannon

For the fourth quarter. It eliminated it moving forward. But any restaurant even if you didn't claim it yet, you can go back and claim it for all of 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021.


Alvin Williams

Okay, what is your website? Because it sounds like you have a lot of great information and tutorials on there and free advice


Anne Gannon

So it's the Largogroup.com. And you'll see we have courses if you enter your email address, you can get notifications. But our goal is to always have a free education. Usually, it's a two or three week course can be watched on demand, short 20 minute exercises, but just things that restaurant owners can feel proactive about and things you can do to improve your accounting.


Brady Viccellio

Of course, we'll link to her website on thecheckpodcast.com


Alvin Williams

Our very own website. Yeah. Thank you. And I was wondering, what do you think our comeback strategies are as restaurant tours? Because right now, definitely, we are having a nice influx of guests and customers that are that feel that they're safe to come back to our restaurants, and they want to be there for us to support us and to have our delicious food. But right now, we don't have enough staff because people are not, you know, getting back out into the into the workforce yet for whatever reasons. So what do you think our strategy is going forward?


Anne Gannon

Recently, I actually wrote a book called Never Again, An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating A Resilient Business. One of the things is really taking a look at what we learned in COVID. Like, what happened to your individual operation? How much did your sales decline? What changed in your menu mix and all of those things that have changed? And then I think the strategy is making sure that we are in a better position moving forward. So the first thing I ask people is, what's the lesson that you learned in COVID? Like, what is that one thing and usually that one thing is either, I will never have that level, that low of a cash balance, right? Like I will always have more cash, or I will never not know where my business is, because I had to call my Manager and Manager quit, I really had no idea how to do things. So usually, there's like that. One thing that is sticking out in your head is like, Oh, wow, like if I had done that differently, I would have felt differently in March 2020 probably wouldn't have changed anything because that's beyond our control. But just that feeling and I think taking that feeling and then saying okay, well how do I build better moving forward, whether it's I need to know operations or have systems in place. So we just have contingency plans and we know all that or if it is cash balance Do I make sure I have that cash balance, but whatever it is, I think it's just taking that and then building the weekly check in to say, you know, I can't go back to not paying attention, because that probably was a disservice that hurt me during the early months of COVID. Right. I need to figure out what I need to know and what my business needs every week. And then make sure just like we have a checklist for cleaning the bathroom, that we have a checklist for myself as owner, right, that I am going to make sure I am on top of these things every week, so that I know every week regardless of what happens outside of these four walls, I know that we're okay. And I think that's where the strategy starts. And then it's like I said, building little tools that you can check every week in your finances that don't take four hours, but little things we can do to make sure that the business is running successfully.


Brady Viccellio

If I remember the statistic, it was 90,000 restaurants closed during the pandemic, permanently.


Anne Gannon

I would actually say I think it's more this year, I have heard so many of our clients that are so tired and are just trying to get out now. And that survived that made it this far, and you would think are like going up. And hey, we made it and now we're like, you know what, next year I want out.


Brady Viccellio

I think that answers the first part of my question. I was going to ask what do you think is the difference between those survivors? Kind of like the good and great, what's the difference in those survivors and the ones that are making it now? And the ones that have just thrown in the towel or just couldn't make it? And you started to answer it, right there.


Anne Gannon

Well, yeah, I mean, I think that I think it's the people who, and rightly so, are exhausted, I think some of it is just you're overwhelmed. And I think the people that are able to see the silver lining, build a vision, because some of it is just a new vision, right? The restaurant you have today, maybe just different than was in 2019.


Brady Viccellio

It's hard to have that vision from the dish pit, you know. As an owner you know, it's…


Alvin Williams

It’s just different. It's not what we started out to do. So your dream or vision may have changed. So it's just a different business. And if you're willing to accept that business and move forward, or just like, well, you know, I'm kind of tired. This is not what I wanted. This is not what I signed up for. So I'm going to go off and do something else.


Anne Gannon

But I would say and I agree, right, like, it's completely different. But I think if you can get yourself to look at it through the money, that at least it helps you be okay with that decision. And when that is, you know, like, we have one client who it's like her and her husband, they just had to work in the business 24/7, right, because they couldn't afford employees, and they have to make their life work, and they have to make their mortgage payments. But I think breaking that down to be like, it's not a woe is me, I have to work in this business, every Saturday and Sunday, during my offseason, because I can't afford employees, but it's more of I'm choosing to, so I can pay my mortgage and take more money home. So I do think getting in control of the cash at least puts that decision in your hands. Because on the flip side, I have one guy just like, I'm not working in the district, I have four kids at home, I have to be there, my wife will kill me. I'm not there, there's nothing I can do. So I'm going to pay the dishwasher 25 bucks an hour, and I'm just going to and I don't even care and I have the money from PPP still and I'm just going to let it ride I'm going to raise my prices and you know what his margins look exactly like they did in 19 from raising its prices, any heard no complaints. So some of it is just looking at the numbers and making the decision because at least for better or worse, you own that decision.


Brady Viccellio

For me, survival is my thing. And I'm not a particularly competitive person. I'm not going to be beaten, you know, I'm not going to not beaten by this. I mean, you can beat me in checkers or flag football but I’m not going to be beaten by the pandemic.


Alvin Williams

Like Anne says, if you're prepared, and you know what your numbers are, you know what they should be, and you kind of keep a weekly I on it, maybe make a checklist it, it doesn't become this huge problem. You kind of see things, you know, step by step in small increments, and it makes it easier to get through. I think that's what you were saying. Yes.


Brady Viccellio

And I think that there's a financial solution to staffing, which is the pay more and raise your prices. And I found that when I if I pay my staff 50% More than they work a third less, because they're just looking for the same bottom line basically. What advice have you given to try to retain the staff?


Anne Gannon

Yeah, so I definitely think it's trying to be the employer of choice as much as you can. I mean, there's no denying that there's just a shortage. So I think it depends a lot in your area because You know, there's just some places, there's nobody applying for work. But I do think the idea is trying to get more money in their hands, you know, so they do feel appreciated, because I think, you know, during COVID, it was so hard for anyone working in the restaurant issues, right, they all lost their jobs overnight, and there was in a great safety net, and a lot of them didn't have great unemployment because they didn't claim their dibs, and all of those things that just made it hard for them. But you know, I think one idea that we've seen that works is just really trying to make them see every week or every couple of weeks, you know, whether it's an increase in the rate of I've heard great ideas from one of our clients today, if you don't call out or no show you actually get 50 cents more an hour on your rate. For the week that you do, it's actually worse, like nobody called out. So I think there's some unique ways to make them know that you appreciate them showing up. The other thing that is really coming in more than it has the best is, you know, their taxes might be going up too. If taxes go up, they go up for everybody. So is it is your manager always on their cell phone? Like could you reimburse the manager for the use of his cell phone or they use a driving their car to go get things mileage reimbursements? Because as little as that sounds, those are tax free dollars to them. So if you could get them, you know, extra $200 In a paycheck to reimburse them for things they're probably using. Anyway, it's still an expense to your business. You're not paying the payroll taxes on it, and they're getting dollar for dollar those money in their checks. So maybe there's things above and beyond even a rate that could potentially help them see more money in their pocket.


Brady Viccellio

That's great. And that's good advice. And I like this, particularly the 50 cents raise if they show up.


Anne Gannon

You’d be amazed at how well it works. They tried it on a whim, and it was like, Oh, wow. They’re here.


Alvin Williams

Well, Anne Ganon from the Largo Group. Thank you for being on our podcast. You've been very informative an awesome guest. Thank you.


Anne Gannon

Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.


Brady Viccellio

That's the largogroup.com.


Anne Gannon

Yes, and please check out our website. Like I said, we offer new courses every month. So if you subscribe, you will get notifications and they're always free.


Brady Viccellio

That's great. And thank you for me as well. Thank you from The Check for coming.


Alvin Williams

I'm Alvin


Brady Viccellio

I'm Brady.

And this is The Check.

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