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Maple Street Biscuit Company prides itself on serving “food you can’t find anywhere else.” For instance, imagine a freshly made biscuit sandwich with fried chicken and a goat cheese medallion, slathered in homemade pepper jelly…need we go on?
The restaurant’s culture is just as vibrant as its menu flavors – Maple Street is all about creating a community atmosphere where customers gather at big community tables, the restaurants are closed on Sundays to give employees time to spend with friends and family, and restaurant managers are called “Community Leaders.”
Given the unique environment it has created, it’s perhaps no surprise that Maple Street became overwhelmingly busy, and with that, the company began to grow quickly. Today, Maple Street has more than 30 locations from Texas to North Carolina, and the group’s success has landed it at the number six spot on Restaurant Business Magazine’s “Future 50” list of emerging restaurant chains.
When the concept scales, but back-of-house practices don’t
Maple Street quickly discovered that while its concept was scalable, many back-of-house practices were not. Daily sales reports and purchase invoices from each location piled up in accounting. Additionally, at the end of each period, the accounting team’s email inboxes were stuffed with every location’s inventory spreadsheets, which had to be combined manually in order to create accurate entries in the accounting system.
“This sounds too good to be true. I’m so glad it wasn’t!”
For the operations team, the process of completing inventory sheets was extremely tedious. Team members had to input all the data into spreadsheets and update every item price manually. For senior leaders, the data was difficult to analyze and required lots of work to combine and structure for comparing store performance. It became obvious that Maple Street’s changing size would require a new system.
When an investor brought up MarginEdge, CFO Javier Retamar remembers his response, “After being introduced to MarginEdge and seeing what it could do, my primary reaction was ‘this sounds too good to be true.’ I’m so glad it wasn’t!” Once implemented, MarginEdge ushered in major advancements across departments, all leading Maple Street towards better scalability and profitability.
The accounting team was thrilled to save more than 20 hours a week. With MarginEdge, they no longer need to manually input daily sales entries because this data flows automatically from their POS into their accounting system. The team is also pleased to no longer code invoices and receipts – store employees photograph all of that paper with a phone app, and the invoice line-item data is quickly captured and coded by MarginEdge.
The continuous flow of invoice data has transformed the inventory process as well. Inventory prices are now automatically updated throughout the period, and inventory is easily entered online. Since MarginEdge is cloud-based, inventory across all locations – along with all invoices and sales – can be viewed and approved online, then shared with accounting instantaneously. Javier is thrilled with this efficient process, commenting, “Inventory got ridiculously easier!”
With visibility comes improvement
Maple Street now tracks its spending in real time using customizable budgets that are easily set and viewed by location. Community Leaders can see their spending throughout each period to assess whether they’re on course to meet their goals, plus they can see how their spending compares to previous periods and stacks up against the spending of their peers. A little healthy competition amongst the group can really motivate individual restaurants to get efficient with spending. “You don’t want to be number 32 of 32 locations when it comes to budget performance,” Javier remarks.
For Maple Street’s senior management, viewing spending across locations is critical. Now, in MarginEdge every location’s budget data is visible on one screen, separated by category or summarized and ranked by performance. From these insights, leadership can see which locations are the star performers – often setting new group goals – and which stores need the most support. MarginEdge allows management to quickly see where everyone is and help make timely changes. As Javier points out, “With visibility comes improvement.”
Faster numbers, lower COGS
With continuous invoice processing and the daily flow of sales data, Maple Street is able to generate its final COGS for each period within three days, a process that used to take about 10 days. And Maple Street can now close the books on each period in a week, where before it used to take up to three.
“MarginEdge allowed our team to go from being an accounting department to being more of a finance department.”
With faster COGS and reporting data, operations can make quicker adjustments when data reveals any unfavorable numbers. For example, if too much of an ingredient is being used, management can immediately meet with kitchen staff to discuss portion control or waste. Making corrections sooner rather than later reduces the cost of mistakes. Javier estimates that faster reporting and improved visibility has translated into a COGS savings equal to about one percent of sales.
Professionalizing the finance department
With all the time saved by cutting out repetitive, manual processing, the accounting team is engaged in performing more advisory work rather than scrambling to keep up with an overwhelming number of bookkeeping tasks. Javier sums up, “MarginEdge allowed our team to go from being an accounting department to being more of a finance department. Now, it’s not just about inputting things after the fact; we have the time and tools to analyze.” With MarginEdge, Maple Street is ideally positioned not only to keep up with an expanding footprint, but also to use the platform as a catalyst for sustained growth for years to come.