AI, Apps & Technology: Where Do They Fit Into Your Business Strategy?

AI, Apps & Technology: Where Do They Fit Into Your Business Strategy?

From delivery drones and burger flipping robots…to AI powered drive thru service, phone answering technologies, and online reservations…to integrated inventory, ordering and point of service systems, food delivery apps and more, restaurants are being bombarded with a variety of technology solutions that they purportedly need to survive and thrive. While new and emerging technologies will no doubt play a role in the future of restaurants and how they operate, before rushing forward it may be in your best interest to take a step back by clarifying your business strategy and plans, and then considering which solutions can help you meet your goals.

What type of restaurant do you own? What are your short- and long-term growth goals and plans? Who are your customers, what are their demographics, and what do they expect when they visit or order from your establishment? What are the major brand attributes that drive your business success? How are your finances – profit margins, cash flow, cost of goods sold, inventory costs, and more? What are your biggest pain points? What are you hoping to improve? How do you measure success?

Having a clearly defined strategy puts you in a better position to protect the assets and attributes that contribute to your current-day successes, while clarifying which types of technology may make the most sense for your business going forward.

Today, there are technology solutions for virtually every aspect of running a restaurant. In truth, not all of them are a good fit for every restaurant. For example, a fine dining establishment is going to have to make a call about whether clients expect a live person answering a phone to take a reservation or a chatbot sending them a link. A casual dining establishment is going to have to determine whether adding a mobile food services platform is going to help or hurt margins. A quick serve restaurant may have to weigh the advantages of AI drive thru verses potential impact on on-site dining.

Once you have a clear strategy and goals, it’s easier to determine where AI and technology may fit and can add the most value.

When it comes to inventory, purchasing, and supply chain, AI solutions can analyze historical data on sales, customers, and more to more accurately forecast demand and supply, helping reduce waste from over-ordering and food spoilage. Some solutions can help track shipments so you can quickly respond to delays. Others can track upcoming menu promotions, ingredient levels, and expiration dates. There are also solutions that use real-time data for dynamic menu pricing that responds to price fluctuations and market conditions.

When it comes to labor, technology solutions – like drive thru AI, self-ordering kiosks, and online reservations or ordering – are available to free staff up to focus on value-added activities (i.e., customer service or food preparation). Other types of systems help managers make appropriate staffing decisions and monitor performance.

When it comes to customer service, solutions are available to immediately answer customer questions; make recommendations; handle reservations; facilitate easy, quick payments; and streamline ordering.

As for marketing, AI tools and solutions can help you analyze social media data to understand how customers feel about your restaurant, what customers are looking for so you can customize campaigns, and address concerns quickly. You can also use AI to help create content and images for a variety of channels (website, email, social media etc.).

There are also tools to help monitor, log, and automate food safety compliance-related tasks like temperature and cleanliness. And if your brand and reputation, in whole or in part, links to environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities, there are solutions that can help track and monitor your performance in priority areas so you can share this information with customers who support your establishment because of aligned values.

Taking a cue from large chains, we’re seeing AI used to monitor inventory; predict purchasing needs; forecast demand; answer customer questions and complaints; account for weather, traffic and seasonal swings; manage scheduling; stay on top of equipment maintenance; take reservations; create, adjust and personalize menus and prices; make recommendations to customers; take orders; manage the entire drive thru encounter; pay from tableside; ID trends; create and execute marketing plans; and more.

Ultimately, if the AI and technology solutions you choose to invest in align with your brand and support your goals, your business can benefit. Staff can be freed up to focus on value-added activities. Managers can make more informed decisions about staffing, menus, pricing, and inventory. The customer experience can be enhanced and productivity increased, while waste and mistakes are minimized.

Moving forward requires an unwavering commitment on your part to protect client’s data, train staff, re-engineer processes, and ensure your technology investment enhance the key reasons customers visit or purchase from your establishment in the first place.

As you consider which technology solutions best support and align with your goals, brand, and business, we want you to know you can count on RBT CPAs for your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs. We’ve been proudly serving municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and individuals in the Hudson Valley for over 55 years. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and find out how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Understanding Estate Freezes: A Wealth Preservation Strategy

Understanding Estate Freezes: A Wealth Preservation Strategy

An estate freeze is a sophisticated tool often employed in the realm of estate planning and wealth management, especially within family-run businesses. When executed correctly, it can help reduce taxes owed on your estate upon your death and help transition your business to the next generation in a smooth, tax-effective manner.

So, what is an estate freeze exactly?

Essentially, it’s a tax planning strategy that allows the owner of an appreciating asset (like a business) to ‘freeze’ its value at a certain point in time based on an up-to-date valuation. The future growth of the business is then transferred by gifting to others, frequently children. However, when structured correctly, the owner still retains control over the management of the business.

There are numerous benefits associated with an estate freeze. The most significant of these is the ability to reduce the tax burden upon death. Since the value of the gift is ‘frozen,’ any future increase in the value of the assets will not be included in the estate of the original owner, thus reducing the amount of estate tax payable.

Additionally, estate freezes are an effective way of transitioning wealth to the next generation. They allow the future growth of the business or asset to accumulate in the hands of beneficiaries, providing the next generation with a head start in their wealth accumulation journey. Plus, they won’t owe taxes on the transferred assets, until they die or sell the assets.

It’s important to note that while estate freezes can offer significant tax advantages, they also have potential downsides impacted by variables like business structure and succession plans. For example, if not structured correctly, they may trigger unwanted tax liabilities. Additionally, if the value of an asset decreases post freeze, the original owner could end up paying more in taxes than they would have without the freeze.

Before deciding on an estate freeze technique, individuals should consider their long-term financial goals and the needs of their beneficiaries. To get started consulting a tax professional specializing in estate planning is vital.

RBT CPAs professionals in our Trust, Estate and Gift Practice can provide valuable advice on the suitability of an estate freeze for your specific situation, refer you to an attorney and review legal documentation for accuracy, guide you through tax implications, and help you evaluate potential benefits versus risks.

If you’re interested in learning more, getting started, or reviewing plans you may already have in place, please don’t hesitate to email or

What’s more, our affiliate, Advent Valuation Advisors, is available to provide the up-to-date business valuation you will need as part of the estate freeze process.

Your RBT CPA client manager is also available to help start the discussion, in addition to handling your accounting, tax, audit, and business advisory needs. Give us a call today and find out how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Touching Base on the SLFRF: Are You Up to Date?

Touching Base on the SLFRF: Are You Up to Date?

In the blink of an eye, key State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) deadlines are approaching. SLFRF recipients have until December 2024 to obligate SLFRF allocations and until December 2026 (September 30, 2026 for Surface Transportation and Title 1 projects) to spend them. In the meantime, the annual reporting deadline of April 30 is approaching. With an Obligation Interim Final Rule; updated FAQs;  Compliance and Reporting Guidance; and a Project and Expenditure Report User Guide introduced in recent months, following is a quick review of some important highlights.

In November of 2023, the Treasury Department issued the “Obligation Interim Final Rule,” providing  clarifications and flexibilities related to the Treasury’s 2022 Final Rule. The Final Rule defined obligation as an “order placed for property and services and entry into contracts, subawards and similar transactions that require payment.” While the original definition stands, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Obligation Interim Final Rule Webinar provided this summary of the Obligation IFR clarifications:

  • Revision to the definition of “obligation” at 31 CFR 35.3
    – The definition if obligation is unchanged but a recipient is also considered to have incurred an obligation by December 31, 2024, when the recipient incurs costs related to the legal and administrative requirements of SLFRF award funds.
    – Recipient appropriation, budget or allocation processes do not provide a standard that could be applied consistently to the definition of obligation.
    – Recipients can continue charging indirect cost rates to the SLFRF throughout the period of performance.
  • Application of the obligation deadline (December 31, 2024) to subrecipients. Subrecipients aren’t subject to the obligation deadline; it only applies to SLFRF recipients.
  • Amending or replacing contracts and subawards after the obligation deadline. Generally, recipients cannot re-obligate funds or obligate additional funds after the obligation deadline. As noted on the Federal Register: “After December 31, a contract or subrecipient can only be replaced if it defaults; goes out of business or can’t carry out award terms; the SLFRF recipient and subrecipient agree to terminate the contract; or the if the initial reward was improperly made.”

(The webinar provides a lot of details and includes case studies. If you haven’t watched it, now may be a good time.)

While the big focus is on the December 31 obligation deadline, there’s an earlier one to keep in mind. If a recipient plans on using funds beyond December 31, 2024 for reporting and compliance; single audit costs; record retention and internal control requirements; property standards; environmental compliance requirements; or civil rights and nondiscrimination requirements, it must submit a report to the Treasury by April 30, 2024.

As noted on the Federal Register: “To take advantage of this additional flexibility, recipients must (1) determine the amount of SLFRF funds the recipient estimates it will use to cover such expenditures, (2) document a reasonable justification for this estimate, (3) report that amount to Treasury by April 30, 2024, with an explanation of how the amount was determined, and (4) report at award closeout the final amount expended for these costs.”

RBT CPAs’ Audit professionals can provide estimates for audits and internal control requirements to help you meet the April 30th reporting requirement.

Remember, funds not obligated by December 31, 2024 and any estimated amount not expended by December 31, 2026 must be returned to Treasury. No doubt, there’s more information to come.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for SLFRF information, refer to the U.S. Department of Treasury SLFRF website. For compliance and reporting information, visit the US Department of Treasury Compliance and Reporting Responsibilities webpage. Information specific to NEUs can be found here. Finally, the NYS Open Budget Website provides an overview of the SLFRF in New York.

Also, if you need estimates for the single audit and reporting control requirement expenses for the April 30 report, email for more information.

RBT CPAs is also available to meet all of your accounting, tax, audit, or advisory needs. We’ve been proudly serving municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and individuals in the Hudson Valley for over 50 years. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and find out how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Note: RBT CPAs is not a law firm. For legal advice, contact your legal counsel.