United Bakers’s Recipe for the Next 100 Years of Success with Dext Prepare

About United Bakers

When Nathan Ladovsky walks between the tables filled with loyal customers at United Bakers, he’s not just working. He’s upholding a century-long tradition, following the steps of his great-grandparents. 

Recently immigrated from Poland, Aaron and Sarah Ladovsky established United Bakers in 1912. Focused on the old European flavours and cooking techniques they were familiar with, the business started as a bakery in the heart of the Jewish community in downtown Toronto. Three addresses, four generations and over 100 years later, United Bakers continues to operate – now as a restaurant where customers can enjoy delicious dishes and feel at home.

As the latest member of the family to run the business, Nathan has been introducing technology-based solutions to help him with day-to-day operations. Here, he tells us how he ensures United Bakers’ bookkeeping and accounting remain up to date, so he and his team can focus on what really matters: outstanding customer satisfaction.

Nathan Ladovsky runs United Bakers, a family business in Canada.

The challenge

The Ladovsky family still work together – Nathan’s father Philip helps with the books, aunt Ruthie is always present to coordinate the dining room and greet customers -, but the majority of the admin is now Nathan’s responsibility. 

“I started working in the business when I was 16 years old, washing dishes after school, and moved my way up. I got an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and History, which has nothing to do with restaurant operations, and thank God I had a family business to come back to”, he laughs. 

“I realized pretty quickly that I had no idea what I was doing and needed a professional education. So I got accepted into the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, which was an outstanding experience and gave me the tools I needed to help grow the business as well as a professional network that I still leverage to this day.”

The qualifications and knowledge Nathan needed to run the family business came just at the right time. When the Covid-19 pandemic broke and Canadians were told to stay at home, he was ready. A moment he remembers well:

“We were sitting at table 24. The dining room was dead because no one was going out, then the Chief Minister of Health came out on the news and said: ‘dining rooms have to close’. My father looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do’. And I replied, ‘I do.’”

A business doesn’t survive for over a century without the ability to adapt, and Nathan knew that United Bakers could make it through that new challenge. They reconfigured the restaurant to ensure distancing, stocked up on masks and hand sanitizer, and followed all the expected measures. But the bigger change came with technology.

“We had changed our Point Of Sales shortly before that, which was very beneficial, and redone our phone system. We’ve continued that drive of improvements and analysis to this date, where we’re constantly looking for good pieces of technology to incorporate into our business infrastructure to reduce variable costs in the form of labour and empower our staff to connect.”

Nathan explains that they were using QuickBooks Desktop, which was a challenge because it only allowed one person to be logged in to the book at a time. He made a case and convinced his father Philip to move to QuickBooks Online to more easily deal with the complexity of their growing business’s accounting.

“I say to anyone in a family business: make sure that you democratize access to your books across the decision-makers in your organization. Because if that ability to view how your business is functioning financially resides with a single person only, then you’re depriving everyone else of the information they need to make those decisions”, he explains.

Technology makes this process easy, and Nathan knew it could solve this and any future challenge, so they moved to the cloud. However, manually entering expenses data into their QuickBooks account was still taking a lot of time – after all, the piles of receipts, invoices and bank statements were still accumulating. Everything changed when, not long after that, Nathan was introduced to Dext Prepare – formerly Receipt Bank.

Some of the staff at United Bakers

The Solution

A fan of technology, Nathan was naturally excited to discover new tools to help improve United Bakers’s processes and efficiency. His accountant recommended Dext Prepare to manage and store receipts, invoices and bank statements, making a big difference in his bookkeeping. When they demonstrated the camera feature on the phone on the mobile app, he was sold.

“I knew that I could trust that they had already done a lot of research into understanding what tools exist in the marketplace and which was the best, so I welcomed Dext Prepare with open arms. The user interface is pretty straightforward, he says.

Transitioning to new technologies always requires a bit of learning, especially when there’s a generational component – Philip has been using the same desktop software for decades -, but the results pay off. With QuickBooks Online in place, the next step was integrating Dext Prepare. 

Nathan remembers that understanding how published receipts appear in QuickBooks and adjusting the parameters within Dext was a small learning curve, but they mastered it pretty quickly. 

“The integration between Dext and QuickBooks could not be better. I love how the two connect back and forth.”

And that’s when everything started to change.

The Impact

The hospitality industry is still very paper-based. Suppliers often use dot matrix printers to generate invoices and statements – which ends up creating piles of paperwork, Nathan explains. From just one of his suppliers, for example, he receives two invoices a day, every day. For a fully operational business like United Bakers, that adds up very quickly into a big pile.

“Before Dext Prepare, we would collect them in a stack of paper, then I would sit down with the statement and check off one by one, making sure that what I have in my stack of paper matches what I have on my statement. And if we’re missing an invoice or something, it would just take an extra day to call them and get it”, he recalls. 

“Now with Dext I just look at my accounts payable and I compare the outstanding liability to the value on the statement. If it matches, boom! Easy.”

They programmed the office scanner to send all those supplier invoices to Dext and use the mobile app for any other small paperwork such as receipts on the go. For Nathan, having the ability to scan and record all paperwork in a digitized form with the addition of OCR is a game changer.

“Improved accuracy, reduction of the amount of time it takes, and confidence for compliance, are the big three benefits we get from Dext Prepare and QuickBooks.”

Getting all expenses data accurately extracted and categorized to easily upload into the accounting software is the number one reason why businesses need Dext Prepare. But, for Nathan, knowing that all his paperwork is safely stored and can be easily accessible at any time is the cherry on top.

“I can very quickly open up Dext Prepare on my phone, go into the archive and search for any of our suppliers. If they change their prices, for example, I can go back and see what we’ve been traditionally charged for to compare. Having that entire history of all of your invoices in your pockets is really amazing”, he says.

“Dext is my go-to when I have to do anything with invoices.”

Another favourite feature for Nathan is the Boost, which speeds up the processing of all submitted items in the queue.

“Sometimes a supplier can send me a text message with a photo of the invoice. They might be tight on cash flow and they’ll say ‘hey, I’m on my way to drop off your paper cups, can I pick up the check?’ and I’ll say, ‘sure’. I forward that photo to Dext Prepare and boost it. In one minute it’s ready for approval. I enter it into QuickBooks and print the check. The whole thing is done in maybe seven minutes”, he explains.

“I could download it, put it into QuickBooks, manually write everything out… But if I can do something else at the same time while Dext is doing that legwork, I’d rather do that.”

Being able to easily manage day-to-day transactions and having the peace of mind of knowing the business’s bookkeeping is accurate for compliance is very helpful for any busy entrepreneur. But Nathan wasn’t expecting that the app’s insights would also help him identify opportunities to save money – which came as a nice surprise.

“Previously, we weren’t doing a good job of keeping track of the taxes we pay on small expenses and transactions. Here in Canada, you can count those ITCs [Income Tax Credits] against your sales to reduce your tax bill because all these small transactions might have a $1 or $2 tax charge – it adds up! Dext allowed us to have a more granular view and keep track better, reducing our overall tax bill.”

An investment that saves time and money, and makes life easier is, in Nathan’s opinion, a no-brainer. His advice for other hospitality businesses?

“What are you waiting for? Start using Dext!”

Moving Forward

Time-saving is, of course, a common benefit every user of Dext Prepare instantly notices. One of the main things Nathan learned at Cornell is to leverage technology to free up your staff to do what they do best – at United Bakers, that is to create heartfelt connections with his loyal customers.

“It’s not just knowing their names. It’s knowing the names of their kids, their parents, who they’re married to, who their in-laws are, what business they operate, where they went on vacation… All of these details are meaningful. My aunt Ruthie is the expert at this, and it’s something I’m learning from her.” 

“I always say that a restaurant is without a community to serve, and we have one of the best communities in North America, amazingly integrated and engaged. The more time I can spend engaging with the people in our community, the better everything feels.”

It’s with this energy and passion that the Ladovsky family hopes to navigate the future. By protecting their traditions and embracing technology in their operations – including bookkeeping and accounting -, United Bakers will remain one of the most successful stories in Canada’s hospitality industry.

United Bakers has been operating for over 100 years

“My goal is to continue to provide our community with the same warm, delicious food, service and hospitality that they’ve come to expect from my family and our business over the last century. I want to continue it and explore growth opportunities, but without ever compromising on the experience that we provide here in store”, he says.

So the smile on customers’ faces when they receive their delicious dishes can continue to be the main focus for Nathan, Philip, Ruthie and the entire United Bakers team for another 100 years – at least.


Photos: Ryan Nangreaves and personal archive.


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