In Focus Resource Center > Insights

Attributes of an Effective Controller - Going Beyond Essential Accounting Duties

As the restaurant and hospitality industries have faced rmany challenges over the past several years, an effective controller is more important than ever. With the recent trends in rising supply costs and continual shifts in labor, controllers have been tasked with trying to keep expenses in check so that more revenue dollars hit the bottom line. So, how do they get it done? A controller must have outstanding financial skills including budgeting, forecasting, and analysis. The best controllers have those essential skills in addition to the invaluable attributes of being a great communicator and collaborator, an organizer, and a cheerleader.

Communicator and Collaborator

The controller is the gatekeeper of information and should be assertive and involved in management meetings. Although from a financial perspective the controller should be involved, almost every decision that is made for the business or property will have a financial consequence. When there is open communication between management and other employees, there are no surprises. Effective controllers discuss not only financial information but also the overall health of the business or property with executives, including personnel issues that arise.

Controllers generally have their finger on the pulse of the business, and this insight is valued by owners and those in upper management. Excellent controllers know that the lack of this type of communication is detrimental to the success of the business and strive to keep themselves and their teams well-informed.


A controller must be organized. This includes knowing meeting times, when bills are to be paid, and when staff are going to be on vacation or out of the office. Too many times, controllers with the best intentions have issues with organization, which can lead to issues between them and staff. It is very difficult to explain a large, recurring bill that was not budgeted or forecasted to ownership. Effective controllers are always aware of all recurring expenses and have systems in place, whether automated or a simple tracking spreadsheet, to remain organized and informed.


The controller, along with the general manager, should be the voice to promote and protect the brand and the business. Owners should share the vision of the business with the controller so they can be an advocate for change when necessary. They should be able to listen and understand, but still uphold the values of management.

Jen Hogencamp is a partner at Citrin Cooperman where she is the co-leader of the Hospitality Practice. She can be reached at

Our specialists are here to help.

Get in touch with a specialist in your industry today. 

* Required

* I understand and agree to Citrin Cooperman’s Privacy Notice, which governs how Citrin Cooperman collects, uses, and shares my personal information. This includes my right to unsubscribe from marketing emails and further manage my Privacy Choices at any time. If you are a California Resident, please refer to our California Notice at Collection. If you have questions regarding our use of your personal data/information, please send an e-mail to