Q Why can’t all my vendors send me invoices electronically?


A If they’re not doing so, they should be. In this digital era, we should never have to store paper invoices and financial documents—it’s incredibly inefficient. You can pay bills and make daily deposits on secure websites. Accountants make sure your data is digitally stored and backed up, ensuring that it’s reliable, up-to-date and well-organized and that your accounts are reconciled. You can digitally monitor your monthly financial statement. So if you’re stuck with an antiquated invoice system that doesn’t fit within this digital financial reporting ecosystem, it’s time for an upgrade.

When a supplier wants to do business with you, I recommend asking him to provide examples of how he can send electronic invoice data in near-real-time. I even got one restaurant owner to place a sign on his front door. It read, “Dear Customers: We work only with vendors that provide excellent customer service and stand behind their product, providing our management with electronic data so we can ensure you receive the most value for your dollars spent, and allowing our team to manage our products and services on a consistent basis for your dining experience. Thank you!”

I have witnessed thousands of dollars gone to waste, thanks to back-office systems that depend on paper invoices, with each invoice having to be entered manually into the system. Stop! Get into the digital age and demand electronic data from your vendors. It’s a great feeling to walk into your restaurant each morning already knowing—thanks to alerts on your mobile phone—that the previous night’s delivery arrived as scheduled (so you won’t have to run to the grocery store to pick up missing ingredients). It reduces your stress level and keeps the morning prep work running efficiently.

If your vendor lacks the ability to provide this electronic service, call a competitor. Online data in near-real-time is a movement, one that the pizza chains have taken advantage of for decades. It’s time to put your foot down and ask every vendor, “How can you help me reduce my paperwork and improve my restaurant’s operations to turn a higher profit? Right now?”