Uno Corporation Knows Pizza by the Numbers

accounting uno logoAaron Spencer, now Uno Corporation chairman, enjoyed his first Chicago Original Deep Dish Pizza so much that he contacted Ike Sewell, founder of the original Pizzeria Uno restaurants, about expanding to other cities. He formed Uno Corporation in 1979, opening both company-owned and franchise units across the United States. By 1992 there were 100 Pizzeria Uno restaurants. Today the company has more than 200 restaurants in 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.


As the company grew, so did the restaurant concept and the menu. In 2003 the restaurant name changed from Pizzeria Uno to Uno Chicago Grill to better reflect its Chicago warehouse decor and casual dining menu. Appetizers, ribs, seafood, burgers, steaks, pasta dishes, and desserts joined its signature deep dish pizzas.


A high growth business such as Uno Corporation requires accurate, timely financial data to succeed. “How you manage your financial performance or operating ­ per­ formance on a daily business is very important,” says Craig Miller, Uno’s chief financial ­ officer. “The margins in the restaurant business average 3 to 4 cents on every dollar.” Therefore, accounting for every penny becomes critical to achieving profitability.


Uno Corporation’s financial data support decisions ranging from building a new restaurant and allocating funds to planning menus and developing marketing campaigns. Responsibility for data collection rests with the finance, accounting, and analysis people. They test that data against historical performance, evaluate how these decisions affected the company, and then project their impact on Uno’s future.


Managing costs is essential to the restaurant business. Uno’s restaurant managers keep a close watch on food, labor, repairs and maintenance, and other controllable costs. As Miller explains, “It’s a thin profitability, and it doesn’t take much to throw it out of whack. . . . If you get a big spike [in cost] in one of your big food items that is out of your control, you can wipe out your profitability pretty quickly. You can’t make a profit if you have to turn around and raise prices. It destroys the value equation against some of your competitors.”


Accounting for Uno’s widespread operations uses a sophisticated computer system to manage the cost structure. Each restaurant has computerized point-of-sale ­ terminals that collect such data as sales figures, what items people buy, inventory ­ replenishment statistics, and hours and wage rates of employees. With this data, Uno Corporation can compare each unit’s operating performance against its theoretical food control system. “If you are planning to run a 25 percent cost of sales and it goes to 27 percent, why is that?” says Miller.


In addition to short-term operations, Uno Corporation must manage its balance sheet to permit future growth. The average Uno restaurant requires $1.7 million in upfront capital, excluding land. Uno uses debt to finance its expansion program. The companygoal is to sustain its 20 to 25 percent annual growth in EPS and revenue. “We think we can do that by managing our balance sheet very well and being prudent about our investments,” says Miller.

Information Systems Careers

Many students prepare for careers where they develop and maintain information systems as solutions to business problems. These graduates are considered Information Technology Professionals and are in high demand by today’s businesses.  Because of their unique understanding of business, combined with an understanding of today’s information technology and how to use it for competitive advantage, Management Information System (MIS) majors are especially prized by many organizations.  Students in the MIS programs get real-world experience with project assignments that represent those found in business and industry. Project teams are emphasized in many courses.

Careers in information systemsInformation Systems Careers

Although job titles vary from one organization to another, the following entry-level job titles and descriptions are typical of what is found in businesses today.  Regardless of title, employers expect their information technology professionals to have solid communication, analytical, technical, and managerial skills.  These skills are essential in the problem-solving environment common to all MIS positions.  The following are but a few of the positions that most MIS majors have typically accepted upon graduation.

Systems Analyst

Systems Analysts investigate business processes and determine user needs related to information-based problems. Analysts often work in a team environment.  The output from the systems analysis process is ultimately a set of detailed specifications for a new or modified system. Another term for this position is business analyst.


Programmers write computer programs according to specifications prepared by a systems analyst.  Programmers may work individually or in teams. Students who wish to be programmers can take additional programming classes offered by the Computer Science department.  A specialized area of programming, web development has become very popular.


Programmer analysts combine both of the above job categories. They serve as systems analysts, and then modify the computer programs involved in their analysis. For example, a programmer/analyst might work with the accounting department to determine that changes are necessary to the computer reports, and then actually make the programming changes.

Network/LAN Administrator

The network/LAN administrator deals with many of the aspects of user connectivity (data, voice, and video) within the organization.  Duties included such responsibilities as designing the network architecture, wiring network ports, installing file servers, maintaining user names and passwords, and trouble-shooting telecommunications problems.

Database Administrator

The database administrator is responsible for designing, implementing, and/or maintaining the database systems of the organization, including establishing policies and procedures for security, management, and maintenance.  The Database Administrator’s role includes working with end users as well as with information systems programmers and system administrators.

Consultant/Business Analyst

People in this role are involved in solving clients’ problems in a wide variety of settings. Consulting requires excellent communication skills and the ability to quickly identify and define a problem. Consultants frequently act as trainers, user support specialists, technical support specialists, or project group experts in a particular technology or method.