Groupon POS Implications

This is the second article in a series about Groupon coupons for restaurants.  The first article covered accounting for Groupon transactions.  This piece covers how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to record POS systemredemptions of coupons.  Failing to do so properly could result in the restaurant being on the hook for a lot of sales tax, penalties and interest!
In the first article, we learned that HST applies to the “promotional value” of the Groupon coupon.  In our example, the coupon was worth $100 of meals, and the customer purchased it for $50, which was paid directly to Groupon.  The promotional value of the coupon is the $50, even though the restaurant does not receive this amount from Groupon.  So, when the customer orders $100 worth of meals and drinks at a restaurant, she will have to pay tax on $50, but she will receive a credit for $100 (face value of the coupon).
Restaurants that use Groupon (or other similar programs) may need to update their POS systems to properly account for these transactions.  Many POS systems can be easily modified by the user to make these changes, but some require programming by the developer (which can take time).  Here are the changes you will need.
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Accounting for Groupon Coupons

While I’m not a fan of Groupon coupons, at least for restaurants, I felt compelled to write a few articles about it.  Today’s piece covers accounting for Groupon coupons, because I’ve seen some really weird accounting recommendations and far-from-best-practices.  As far as I know, none of the more unusual accounting has been suggested by real accountants!
Future articles will cover how to generate the proper entries in QuickBooks, how to set up your Point of Sale (POS) system to properly account for redemptions of Groupon certificates, and why you may be in for a huge shock when the tax man comes a knocking.
For what it’s worth, if you really, really think you need to use Groupon (or Living Social) coupons at your restaurant, at least get the accounting right.  There are four types of entries that need to be made in your accounting system, which are:
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Cost Control is the Key to Survival

AbacusWhile there are some signs that we may be emerging from the recession, I think you’ll find that consumer behaviour has been changed, perhaps for many years to come.  Even your “well-off” customers are much more price conscious that they have ever been before.  Actually, they are more value conscious.  In order to “survive and thrive”, you have to continuously monitor your restaurant’s value proposition.
While there’s more to the value proposition than your menu and prices, these are the two aspects that can be adjusted fairly easily in the short-term.  These are also the two areas that most restaurateurs fiddle with first, when times get tough.  We could probably add labour into the mix, too.
Recessions always harm the restaurant industry.  People lose their jobs (or worry that they will lose them), cut back on meals outside the home, and spend less when they do go out.  Most restaurants experience a drop in both volume and check averages, often severely reducing (or eliminating) their profits.  To cover their fixed costs, restaurateurs will try everything to keep the customers they have and steal their competitors’ customers.  Most start with price reductions, either through coupons and discounts or with across the board price reductions.  It doesn’t take long to realize that quality or portion sizes have to be reduced to maintain profitable margins.  Easier said than done!
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How the HST Will Affect Your Prices & Margins

Recently, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) published three calculators to help restaurateurs determine the effect of the new HST, effective July 1, 2010, on their prices.  The calculators cover wine, spirits and beer.  I’ve included the links, below.  Perhaps a short note is necessary to help you use them properly.  They are set up for “typical” value, medium and premium priced examples.  Unfortunately, you aren’t able to change the net cost figures, but they will give you an idea as to the effects on your prices and the price that your customers will be paying come July.
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