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Going paperless in the hospitality industry.

Updated: Aug 11



In the olden days

In 1993 I got my first job as a part-time barman in a real ale, rock pub in the midlands.

A year later I was promoted to assistant manager and as part of my new role, I had to make sure the paperwork was taken care of. In 1994 at this pub, that meant filling the shoe box, with paper and every now and again would be picked up by the boss. Paper was everywhere. Letters flooded in every day and we saved the old till journal rolls in an old damp crisp box.

When we wanted to start a marketing campaign to give a special night a push, there was a girl on the bar who was good at drawing, she would draw a poster and take it to the post office to be photocopied. The paper posters would then be put up within a massive radius of maybe 100 yards, or less if raining.

When it came to pay day, the paper payslips arrived in the post (eventually), and our wages were stuffed into tiny brown paper pay envelopes.

In 2020, not only is this old fashioned way of running a pub becoming obsolete, even the post office seems an anachronism!

Technology


Technology has slowly changed the way we work, bit by bit giving us individual solutions to individual problems. The problem was that each solution was separate.

Yes, you could receive an emailed invoice but it would then be printed out for stocktakers or for accountants/bookkeepers.

You could scan an invoice for emailing but it meant using a scanner, or scanner bed on your printer. Scanning it, saving the file with the right name, then email as an attachment to someone who 90% of the time would then print it!

Technology gets there though and we’re finally seeing the synergy between systems that can actually work for our industry.


At Roslyns we already have our own client portal. Our clients can submit their revenue and payroll details straight into our secure website and have a central place for all confidential reports from payroll to accounts and stock reports. They can scan an invoice on a phone app and send it to a central email address that automatically sorts it.

We are also now working with a company called Lightyear. Put simply, their system allows our clients to have all their suppliers email invoices. These then go straight into their accounts and the details go straight in as a delivery for the stocktaker. It can even read scans of invoices. All invoices are held centrally for us or our client to view at any time.

As someone who started in the shoebox years, this is a real game-changer.


Benefits for everyone

Roslyns’ move towards offering a streamlined paperless service is really just a symptom of the changes in how we all do business. I bought a house last year through an online-only conveyancing company. At my heart, I think I’m a bit old fashioned, but I tried it and it was a revelation. Not only was the process smooth, but a year later I wanted to check something on a drainage report … my account was still live, and I had the report in seconds.

Worldwide and across all sectors, paperless is the future of business.

SAVE MONEY: It has been a scandal for years, the cost of printer ink. Factor that with paper cost and the postage cost and you’ve saved straightaway.

FLEXIBILITY: When you are paperless, you can send and access information anywhere, on your computer, laptop/tablet, or mobile phone.

SECURITY: It seems crazy to put important information into the postal system rather than directly through a secure online system.

TIME: Inevitably if invoices/payslips are going straight to where they need to be without your intervention, you have the time to spend on your business, or with your family.

ENVIRONMENTAL: I have been banging on about the time and money we can all save as the industry moves to paperless, but the obvious other benefit is an environmental one. In 2019 why are so many people printing ink onto paper, putting them in envelopes and putting them into vans to be taken to the other end of the country? Where they are then opened, put into another envelope, another van and sent to another place!

COVID-19

Whereas going paperless always made sense, the restrictions that the COVID lockdown placed on business mean that those of us who had already embraced paperless working were in a much stronger position. For us, that meant our clients were able to scan and upload paperwork instead of relying on the post.

How to go paperless

It really is simple, pubs/bars, speak to your suppliers and ask for paperless invoicing (you may even get a discount with some), and if your accountant can’t support paperless, give us a ring. We’re already set up with the systems to make paperless a breeze.

Remember though, in this post I’m not just talking to sites, I’m talking to multiples and pub Companies. Invest in the technology and partner with companies embracing the future, the benefits I mentioned above go for you too, but on a larger scale.

Summary

Just as there will always be a place for those who write and send letters through the post, there will always be a place for those who still use paper receipts, but the world has moved on.

When the government brought about the Making Tax Digital changes, it was simply a reaction to what was happening anyway.

Business is paperless. Is yours?


#paperless

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