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What is a Z Report? Your Restaurant End-of-Day Cheat Sheet

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The Z-Report is a restaurant owner's best friend. But what is it, and are you using it?

In restaurants, the Z-Report is essentially the “start-over” report. It’s the last thing you’ll review to end the day in order to begin the next day with a fresh set of zeroes.

This report is an enormous help for your metrics - let's go over some more details about it and how you can leverage this information to make smarter decisions in your restaurant.

What is a Z-Report?

If we’re considering the concept of alphabetical order, it might be helpful to explain the purpose of a Z-Report by first explaining the function of the X-Report.

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Think of the X-Report as a snapshot of your restaurant’s sales data at the time that you run the report. If you’ve ever heard of a “read-only” file on your computer, the X-Report is of similar value. The only time changes are made to an X-Report are when actual transactions are being processed in your POS. 

In some cloud systems, the X-Report might exist in the “back office” of your POS in the form of a real-time sales summary report. It might be a site that you access from the web, or even right from your phone or tablet. 

This is where the Z-Report comes into play. It takes the same snapshot of data that the X-Report does, and also resets your numbers at the same time. This is also usually when your credit card payments get authorized, or batched. If you’re lucky, your restaurant POS system will reset your data automatically (hey, sometimes people forget after a long shift) and you don’t have to lift a finger. All you have to do is review all of the data and maybe print the physical report to keep for your records.

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What Kind of Data is on the Z-Report?

In most cases, Z-Reports are customizable. This means you can pick and choose what information you’d like to see on your printed report at the end of each day. 

Your Z-Report will always contain a summary of sales and tax information. It gives a breakdown of each “tender type,” meaning it will show details how much of your sales were paid by credit card, cash, gift cards, and other payment types you might take. It even goes as far as breaking down each credit card type, showing exactly how much was paid by Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and so on.

If you’re running the Z-Report, it’s likely that you’ve already counted your cash drawers for the day and have entered those amounts into your POS. The Z-Report will let you know if your total cash is over or under the amount that the POS has recorded in cash sales. That way, if you have specific employees that are responsible for cash drawers, you can hold them accountable for those overages or shortages. 

Sales Data

In most cases, you’ll find an analysis of your different sales categories. This helps visualize what your business is selling the most (and least) of. 

For example, bars will usually create sales categories for the different types of alcohol they carry, such as beer, wine, and liquor. Restaurants that pool or share tips among their employees will often use these sales categories to determine how much different job roles will get tipped for their shift. A bar back might make a certain percentage of all beer and wine sales, or a busser might get a specific cut of all food sales. 

Keep in Mind: It’s important that all discounts, voids, and service charges (if you have them) are listed on your Z-Report. Giving names 

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to your discounts and voids that are easily recognizable is important. That way, you can spot areas of opportunity for your business. If you’re seeing high rates of employee discounts or repeatedly voided menu items, it might be time to start monitoring them a little more closely.

Another common thing we see in Z-Reports are areas for employee signatures. Night managers will often sign off on the Z-Report so that the next day’s manager can come in and do their checks and balances.

When is the Z-Report Normally Ran?

It’s safe to say that - in most cases - the Z-Report is usually run at the end of a business day, after all employees have completed their shifts and all transactions have been closed out. 

This isn’t always the case, though! 

Some restaurants may have separate services where maybe they’re open in the morning, close down mid-day, and then reset for evening service. This might mean that they run two Z-Reports, which is also normal. 

To put it simply, it will represent two time periods of sales data since it is a periodic report.

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