QuickBooks Tips/Tricks Working with QuickBooks

Restaurant Accounting with QuickBooks: Recording Daily Sales

Written by Doug Sleeter

Restaurant_Cover_250x325A restaurant’s success relies on an effective back office accounting system, and QuickBooks financial software can be a critical part of that success. QuickBooks can be used for purchasing, bill paying, tips tracking, gift certificates, cash management, time tracking, and payroll. However, restaurants that choose QuickBooks for their accounting will need to understand how to properly set up and use QuickBooks to meet their unique needs. In this article, we’ll talk about how to “zero out the cash register” when recording your daily sales.

This is an excerpt from Restaurant Accounting with QuickBooks, an ebook by Doug Sleeter of The Sleeter Group.

Zeroing Out the Cash Register

Each day, at the end of business, you’ll “zero out” the cash register or POS system and create the reports of the day’s sales. With that information, you’ll create a single entry into QuickBooks for each server that will record his or her total sales for the day. Start by zeroing out the cash register or POS system and create a “Z-tape” similar to the one shown here: Z-Tape for employee Madona Blundell Notice that the Z-tape might not give you all of the line-by-line detail you need for the entries in QuickBooks, so you may have to do a bit of extra figuring to come up with the exact lines you need for the QuickBooks entry. For example, the Z-tape shows $61.43 was collected in tips. You need to add that into the Daily Sales sales receipt as shown below. In addition, you’ll also add two additional Items specifying the amount of cash you paid out to the server at the end of her shift. In this case, Madona was paid all of the $61.43 in tips that evening in cash, so you should record the Tips Paid and Tips Out Liability Items at the bottom of the sales receipt with opposite dollar amounts.

A Quick Note about Items

Before you create your sales receipt in QuickBooks you will need to set up some basic items in the item list, such as we show here. for the full description of each item type and how it should be set up, refer to our Restaurant Accounting with QuickBooks ebook. The ebook packages includes a sample company file with the item list already set up for you. Restaurant Item List

Entering Daily Sales by Server

This daily sales receipt is critical to keeping proper accounting records and driving the reports shown below. Follow these steps:

  1. From the Customers menu, select Enter Sales Receipt.
  2. Enter All Customers in the Customer name field and continue entering the daily sales information as shown below.
  3. Continue entering sales receipts for each of the servers for the day.

Daily Sales Summary using Sales Receipts – Gift Certificates and Tips accounted for on the form Enter a different sales receipt for the total sales for each server, each day. Note the following about the daily sales receipt:

  • Enter the server’s initials, the weekday, the total count (number of guests), the number of to go orders, and the average ticket into the custom fields as we have set up in the form header.
  • Enter the total sales for each service item (Food sales, Bar sales, and any other sales items you track), followed by a subtotal (use a subtotal item). This is a subtotal of the sales, gift certificates, and tips collected.
  • Enter the sales tax item(s) and the amount collected (per the cash register). Then add another subtotal to show the total collections “to account for.”
  • Enter each of the payment types including cash, gift certificate redemptions, and credit cards, followed by a third subtotal. This third subtotal should match the “total to account for” subtotal a few lines earlier. If it doesn’t match, there is either a cash shortage or a cash overage.
  • Use the Over/Short item with whatever amount is needed to zero out the total at the bottom of the sales receipt. If the amount is positive, the cash drawer is over by that amount. You should scrutinize this figure over time to detect errors and/or theft.
  • The last two lines are where you enter two items to handle tips paid out in cash to the server. The first line is a positive number which reduces the Cash Tips Holding bank account, and the second line is a negative number that reduces the Employee Tips Payable liability account.

Notice that sales tax is entered directly on the face of the sales receipt, and the Tax field at the bottom is set to N/A. This is important for properly tracking sales tax reports and making sure that the exact sales tax collected by the POS system is recorded into QuickBooks.

Memorized Sales Receipts

Memorized transactions allow you to efficiently enter frequent transactions. Since you’ll be entering the same basic information each day for each server, but with different dollar amounts, you could speed up your data entry by memorizing sales receipts for each server for each day of the week. To memorize a Sales Receipt, fill it out completely and then select Memorize Sales Receipt from the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+M. Then give the transaction a name that you’ll recognize the next time you need to enter a similar transaction. The screen shot below shows the memorized sales receipts in the sample file from the Restaurant Accounting with QuickBooks toolkit sample file, organized by server and day of week. Memorized Transaction List To use a memorized transaction as template for a new transaction, display the memorized transaction list by pressing Ctrl-T and then double-click on the transaction in the list. Make the necessary changes before saving the transaction.

Handling Accounts Receivable in Restaurants

If your restaurant has credit customers, my recommendation is that you separate out the credit sales from the cash sales during the day. Record the credit customers outside of the normal POS system (i.e. do not ring up their sales), but instead create a separate QuickBooks Invoice for each sale to your AR customers. You’ll also record payments each day as they come in through the Receive Payments feature of QuickBooks. This way, you’ll be able to track your Accounts Receivable in QuickBooks normally, and you won’t struggle to separate out the AR sales from the cash sales each day.

Did you find this helpful? This is an excerpt from the Restaurant Accounting with QuickBooks ebook by Doug Sleeter. The ebook contains chapters on QuickBooks setups, payroll setup, bank deposits, reports for restaurants, and more.

About the author

Doug Sleeter

Doug Sleeter is a passionate leader of innovation and change in the small business accounting technology world. As a CPA firm veteran and former Apple Computer Evangelist, Doug has melded his two great passions (accounting and technology) to guide developers in the innovation of new products and to educate and lead accounting professionals who serve small businesses.

Doug is best known for his expertise in QuickBooks as well as driving the adoption of online accounting and small business process solutions. In the early 1990s, Doug was a pioneer in developing the first QuickBooks seminars in the country and has since built the largest group of accounting software consultants in the small business accounting profession. Doug serves on several advisory boards for technology companies and has consulted with numerous industry leaders, including Intuit, Sage, Apple, and Adobe Systems.
CPA Practice Advisor has recognized Doug as one of the "Top 25 Thought Leaders" in the accounting profession for the past several years and he has been named to Accounting Today's "Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting" each year since 2008. Highly sought for his ability to engage and educate accounting professionals, Doug presents at various accounting events throughout the year, including those held by the AICPA and numerous state CPA societies. Doug also hosts the annual Accounting Solutions Conference, attended by hundreds of accounting professionals, industry leaders, and technology developers.


  • Where were you when I ran an restaurant and figured all this out myself? This is a much better system than the one I made up, though mine worked. What a useful article!!!!1

  • Thanks Varada, It does work nicely, and the best thing is that it can be accomplished with so little data entry each day. Check out the full toolkit and eBook in our store. The link to the product is at the bottom of the article above.

  • your Daily sales report will not import into my version of QB pro 2013. there are custom fields not available in my company file.? So it looks like any wother sales invoice. doesn’t help me at all.

    • Nick, are you referring to a “report” or to “sales receipt template”? There is a “Restaurant Daily Sales” template, as far as reports I’m not sure which one you are referring to.

      Assuming you are talking about the “restaurant daily sales” sales receipt template, I was able to import it into my test file. But,I already had some custom fields set up, so that might be a difference. You can create three custom fields in your “customer” list; “Count”, “ToGo” and “Avg”, and the imported template should use those. If you have any other difficulties with this, let us know.

    • Hi Nick,

      If you are trying to import the “Restaurant Daily Sales.DES” file, which is a Sales Receipt template, you should get a message that says “The template you have chosen contained custom fields that are not available in your company file. These fields have been removed.” Note that the fields we use in this sales receipt template are specified in detail in the eBook starting on page 12. You can still import the template, but you’ll need to add those custom fields into your file.

    • Hi Carl,

      The guide is not directly adaptable to QBO. The methods we use are very specific to QuickBooks Desktop. QBO does not have the “payment” item type, so the “zero-dollar sales receipt” wouldn’t be possible.

      I’m sure we’ll come up with a good answer for restaurants who want to us QBO. If anyone reading this wants to take the challenge, please contact us.

    • Thanks Laura, Glad you like the solution. The key goal is to limit the data entry job for the restaurant, while still driving their key financial reports.

      Also, it’s completely independent of which POS they use. Just take z-tapes and enter them as zero-sales-receipts.

      Thanks for chiming in.

  • Doug can you tell me is there anything similar to this published in Canada? I am sure I can use a lot of this but our tax system is much different.

  • Hello Doug,

    Great article! I have been a bookkeeper for a few years now, and was curious what differences a restaurant would have in its accounting methods. I noticed that you mention the credit card sales as being a receivable. This seems off to me. Is this because it is based on a cash basis and not an accrual?

    Thank you!

    • Virginia,

      You might have misread. I was referring to “Credit sales” (as in sales that hit Accounts Receivable as opposed to receiving immediate payment) when talking about AR. Not credit card sales.

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