Web Application for Catering Business

I am currently maintaining my catering business on MS Excel;
I maintain the following columns:
1-      Category
2-      Product
3-      Kcal
4-      Element (ingredient)
5-      Measurement (How the ingredient is bought: KG, Pack, Box etc.)
6-      Output (How many end products this element produces)
7-      Cost per element
8-      Total cost
9-      Sale price (per client)
10-      P/L
11-      Orders (by client)
12-      Expenses (Rents, Salaries, and Deliveries etc.)
Are you aware of a simple web based system that can cover this for me?
Not only accounting, I am selling B2B and B2C. I do sandwiches, juices, salads, and parfaits. I want to track the cost of each item and its elements.

I want to sell to each client with different price depending on a criteria I want to maintain.

Be able to follow up with orders placed by clients and print out their invoices and receipts.

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David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
General Logic Considerations

1) First you'll have to determine how you will maintain + present different pricing to different clients.

2) So looks like all your B2C clients will see same pricing + B2B clients all have different pricing.

3) One approach will be for B2C prices to be available for everyone to see (no login). Then if a client desires B2B pricing (which I'm guessing means a discount on volume), they will login to see their unique pricing.

Tip: If your product is good enough, give no discount + also add a fee to orders you deliver.

Tip: I had a friend who ran catering business out of her apartment selling to 600+ clients/week at $125 minimum/order, keeping around 60% of income as profit.

My first suggestion to you is hire someone to walk through your business + ensure your pricing vs. work vs. delivery mechanism is optimized.

There are many ways to approach food services most people rarely consider.
David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
You can always just setup a simple WordPress site with unique pricing based on login.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
You have a number of things that you are really doing.

1) Tracking Customers

2) Tracking Profit (Cost per element)

3) Products (Category, Product, Output, Notes for ingredients)

4) Sales

5) Reports

5) Expenses

6) Paying vendors

7) Receiving money

8) Preparing for your accountant

9) Payroll

This can get messy with using just a spreadsheet although for starting out was probably easy to get up and running. As you grow that will not be manageable.   As a developer, I would say create a custom program that can use an api for an accounting software. The advantage is every business is different and it is not always easy to fit a pre existing  mold. The downside is that can be expensive.  For what you are doing, I would look to Quikcbooks as what you need is already there.


If possible,  use quickbooks online.  Work with presales to set up your needs for variable pricing.  Even if you go with the top tier at $150/month it will be less than doing a custom program.
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feesuAuthor Commented:
Dear David,

Commenting on your points respectively:

1.      I am not going to present the prices on a website or a menu. The prices are based on quantities and accounts of course. I sell to coffee shops as a supplier, and I can sell to individuals who order by phone or in future via the website. I will want to setup a different price for each client inside the system.
2.      Answered in (1).
3.      I am asking about the a system that handles my backoffice and not an online website to promote my products. Maybe I can accept if the suggested can be connected to a website for customers to start placing orders, but the subject of my question is a backoffice system.
4.      Products are good enough but the market is not very good, and corporates – who will make the bulk of my business - look at cost before quality. Once I start delivery I will charge for delivery of course.
5.      In my region I cannot work from home. I have to have licenses. I cannot sell to corporates from home. I can sell home to home only.
6.      My partner is a chef, and we are handling this together.
7.      I don’t have a huge capital, so very conservative with spending.
8.      Answered in (1).

feesuAuthor Commented:
Dear Scott,

1.      I am an IT guy myself with 20 years of programming experience, but as you said it won’t be feasible to develop something from scratch.
2.      I have tried QuickBooks and tried something else called CaterEase. The latter looks more to fit my needs.
3.      I have just started and I don’t have except one client who orders few items a week so that is manageable by excel and that’s why I am in a hurry to set things up before volume increases.
Why don’t you have a look at CaterEase if you haven’t already seen it and let me know what you think? I am kinda confused with a final decision.

Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
If you break it down perhaps to Accounting needs (Customers, Products, Costs, Sales, Billing, P/L, Payroll, inventory etc) this is where most accounting packages will work.  Where that will probably fail is tracking specific ingredients and quantities needed. That is where I would still use Excel.  

Products like CaterEase are for your front end, managing recipes, events and staff.  As you can see, that does not help with the accounting you need.

You have to decide what your budget will allow.  If your budget is $100/month then you need to choose one. If it were me, I would spend that on quickbooks because managing recipes, quantities and planning what is needed can be done on excel with a little effort and knowledge you already have.  Event scheduling can be done in Outlook, Google or Office 365.  As you grow, you can add on with a catering specific management software that will most likely have hooks for QB.
David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
1) Simple solution for providing pricing will be to have each person register (person or company) + provide unique pricing per login.

2) For accounting, best to just use some sort of existing system like Quickbooks.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Going back to your questions:

I want to sell to each client with different price depending on a criteria I want to maintain.
This falls under the accounting functions you can do with Quickbooks.

Be able to follow up with orders placed by clients and print out their invoices and receipts.
This will fall under the accounting functions you can do with Quickbooks.

Not only accounting, I am selling B2B and B2C. I do sandwiches, juices, salads, and parfaits. I want to track the cost of each item and its elements.
This will fall under the accounting functions you can do with Quickbooks by setting up products and using advanced pricing to manage different pricing for different types of customers. You can also override default pricing too. Your estimate, invoicing and even taking payments can be done via quickbooks.

Are you aware of a simple web based system that can cover this for me?
None of this may be simple, but you can use Quickbooks web based and for spreadsheets, Google Docs or Office365.  If budget allows, then for sure add on with catering software like CaterEase because you do want to spend your time on your business and not building systems.
feesuAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much gentlemen.

This mean I will never have a single system that covers all of this, even when my business grows!

@Scott: Have you looked at CaterEase? So even later on there wont be integration between it and QB?
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
> This mean I will never have a single system that covers all of this

Yes, that is going to be the case.  Running your day to day business and accounting functions are two different animals.  You would be best served to use accounting software for accounting and the catering software for the day to day scheduling, menus / Recipes  etc. CaterEase has integration with quickbooks https://www.caterease.com/features/extras/accounting-software/
Seamlessly pass all financial information – optionally including line item details and even payment information – directly from Caterease into your favorite accounting package.
Our incredible interface with QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online..... Caterease will instantly create a detailed invoice in your QuickBooks program ... and will automatically link this invoice to the appropriate client (or create a new client when necessary). Any changes to the Caterease event can be instantly updated in QuickBooks, so you always have the most current and accurate information.

When it comes time to do your payroll and submit your payroll reports and tax information and work with your accountant, you will be happy you spent the time with Quickbooks.
feesuAuthor Commented:
@Scott! This piece of info you shared is very helpful! Any idea what is the min amount that I can spend on a monthly basis to make use of both features of CaterEase and QB? I know you're gonna tell me it all depends on what versions I want to buy. I am a start up and I wish to have the least of expenses on this until I make more clients and can afford spending more money.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I know you're gonna tell me it all depends on what versions I want to buy
That is exactly right.  

The minimum for Quickbooks is $20/month and the minimum for CaterEase is $68/month.  

Read through all the options for both. You can't run your business only using CaterEase as you need to have an accounting system. You can't do everything on Quuickbooks either that both pieces of software do but with one of the more advanced versions of Quickbooks you can probably do most things coupled with your spreadsheets for the rest.  

Or you may decide to not worry about the accounting side and throw everything in a file cabinet until needed. But I think you will find that option to be frustrating at tax time especially for tracking payroll.

Or are you going to do a lot of marketing up front to where you expect a large number of jobs? If that is the case, then I would figure out what you need now and just purchase it.

If you are going to stick with your one client for now and grow organically, you may want to wait to actual purchase anything until you do get more clients and use this time to research.
feesuAuthor Commented:
Thanks Scott.

I spoke to CE's pre sales team and they confirmed that lots of successful clients of theirs run only CE and it's basic Accounting was enough for them.

I therefore have decided to go with CE alone for the timebeing and see if I can't live without QB, then I'll start with it.

What do you think?
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Well, if I was them and my potential client said they can use only use them or me, I would choose me too :)

The real answer is you have spent a lot of time doing your due diligence, reading what was said here and talking with pre sales and at some point you just have to make a decision.
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