An efficient bookkeeping system with integrated security measures is essential to run a successful restaurant. We understand that food business owners like you are busy, so our specialist bookkeepers have created this simple step-by-step guide to setting up a streamlined bookkeeping system. We also have lists of cloud-based solutions highly recommended by industry experts for you! Read on to start setting up your own bookkeeping system.

Why does your restaurant need a bookkeeping system?

A well-defined bookkeeping system accurately records business transactions in your restaurant. When all your documents and books are organised, managing your cash flow and lodging your BAS becomes a painless process. Having clean bookkeeping records also makes your food business attractive to investors and buyers.

How do you set up a restaurant bookkeeping system?

You can set up a restaurant bookkeeping system in 8 easy steps. The process starts with proper business registration. Doing this makes you eligible to claim tax refunds later. Next, there is record keeping and carefully choosing software and hardware. Finally, you must create a chart of accounts for your restaurant and set up business bank accounts.

1. Register your Australian Business Number.

The Australian Business Register has a web page for online ABN applications.

The application process will go faster if you have all the following information:

  • Tax file number (TFN)
  • Date of birth
  • Name


  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth for all key people in your business

2. Register for Goods and Services Tax (GST).

You need to register for GST to start claiming expenses from the day your restaurant starts operating. If you set up your business while not registered, you can’t get a tax refund for expenses during that period. GST registration can be done by phone, online or through a registered BAS agent.

3. Collect every receipt for transactions done with your business.

From the moment your food business is registered, keep every receipt and expense for your restaurant. The accounting software and POS can come later, but filing your receipts is necessary so you can claim back as much as you can when you lodge your BAS. Think about it: if there’s about five thousand dollars worth of missing set up receipts, that’s a deduction that you could’ve taken advantage of.

4. Choose accounting software for your restaurant or cafe.

Tech-savvy food business owners and operators are moving to cloud based systems to make their bookkeeping faster and more accurate. If you also use cloud based accounting software, you can get the latest financial information about your restaurant anytime, anywhere — fast. You can also choose a bookkeeper based on trust and industry knowledge, instead of being restricted to local bookkeepers only.

These are the most widely used cloud accounting software in the industry:

  • Xero
  • QuickBooks
  • MYOB
  • Reckon

5. Choose document management software to sync with your accounting software.

Document management software eliminates the need for manual data entry by syncing with supplier accounts and accounting software. It sends financial documents such as receipts, bills and invoices automatically to a secure account on the cloud which only you, your bookkeeper and your accountant can access for coding. This boosts efficiency in your bookkeeping process as a result.

Buy a high-performance scanner, like Fujitsu ScanSnap, to connect with your document management system. Its advanced paper feeding system and productivity features makes it easy to scan all types of receipts for record keeping.

There are two recommended brands of highly secure, cloud-based document management software:

  • HubDoc
  • Receipt Bank

6. Choose a compatible POS system.

When choosing a POS system, look at the set up cost. What hardware are they going to expect you to buy for this stuff to work? How much is the ongoing leasing of the software and the hardware? Every time there’s a transaction, is there going to be a percentage fee deducted out of each sale of every coffee? It’s important to consider this information because it will affect your restaurant’s overall profitability.

The following are examples of POS systems for restaurants:

  • Abacus
  • Albert
  • Automake
  • Kounta
  • Creative POS
  • Square

7. Set up your chart of accounts.

A chart of accounts consists of different categories that are added up to show what is happening in your business and help you make business decisions. Some accounting software have chart of account templates for food businesses. You can start with a simple one that can be modified as your restaurant grows. You can create a chart of accounts by yourself, but creating it with certified bookkeepers is highly recommended to avoid coding and tax errors. Make sure that your chart of accounts feeds properly into your POS system.

8. Open two bank accounts.

Teapot accounting involves two bank accounts. One account is your cheque account for your regular day to day trading, while the other is a general savings account that could be interest bearing. Make it a habit that you set up an automatic transaction with your bank every week, where some money tips from your cheque account into your savings account in anticipation for paying your BAS.

When restaurants start operating, they often forget that in the first three months they must pay their employees’ PAYG tax and GST. If you don’t put money aside for these bills, the cash flow grind will begin and you’ll end up making deals with the ATO to pay off your debt.

Most banks provide businesses with a BAS account or a GST account. You can sweep money into it every week so when the BAS report is due, you have the funds to pay the fees.

Now that you’re ready to get started, learn about the 5 common bookkeeping mistakes that you need to avoid in your restaurant or cafe.

Or, listen on the run to our podcast interview with Profitable Hospitality host, Ken Burgin.

Set up the best bookkeeping system for your food business with Restaurant Bookkeepers Australia

Call Restaurant Bookkeepers Australia now on 1300 043 327 to start a fresh change in your food business.

We are 100% cloud based and can easily help you no matter where you are in Australia. Easy sign up. No contracts. Pay as you go. Get started immediately. Contact us today!

Time to prep!  Mise en place!

Christine Green and team