EzeScan helps Côte Restaurants to improve invoice processing efficiency!

Background

Côte Restaurants first opened their doors in 2007 with their London based modern French brasserie style restaurants. In 2009 they expanded by opening restaurants in locations outside of London and their expansion across the UK has continued.

In recent years Côte have expanded rapidly via the acquisition of the restaurant chains Jackson & Rye and Limeyard, and now have a total of 46 restaurants in their portfolio, and in the region of 3,000 employees.


The Challenge

The central finance department is located in central London and on a daily basis receive huge volumes of invoices from the various restaurant locations to process. These arrive by a variety of different methods, many of them via the post. This meant not only did they often get lost, but also the process was very slow, meaning that they were often a week behind.

They all required processing manually which was time consuming and labour intensive and invoices could sometimes get lost or damaged. So Côte needed an automated solution to initially improve efficiency and ultimately save them time and money.


Why EzeScan?

EzeScan is a partner of Margolis, one of the UK’s leading Electronic Document and Data Management System providers, who already had plenty of experience with working with customers in the restaurant industry. Côte were already in theprocess of investigating implementing an automated system, and had previously spoken to 4 other providers, but were interested in speaking with Margolis due to their previous experience.

Margolis proposed the solution of using EzeScan as the front end capture solution in conjunction with DocuWare as the Document Management Solution (DMS). Although there are plenty of other companies who have the relevant capability these are often restricted by either scanning volumes or user licenses.

Côte were impressed by the overall solution from Margolis because this offered unlimited scanning volumes from EzeScan and unlimited user licenses with the cloud based DMS from DocuWare.

As Côte are currently processing 5,000 - 6,000 invoices per month with at least 50 approvers, unlimited capability was an essential requirement for them due to the fact that they are still looking to grow their business so required a solution that was completely future proofed.


The Solution

Côte were using Sage 200 as their accounting package and any invoices relating to food and beverages were already being submitted via the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system, Comtrex. So the EzeScan solution was implemented in order to grab all of the non EDI invoices that arrived as hard copies.

In practice, the finance department would receive invoices in volume, they are then scanned on a couple of networked scanners, at which point EzeScan would grab the relevant index fields and then drop the documents into hot folders.

EzeScan then monitors the hot folders and places them straight into the relevant DocuWare workflows for the restaurant managers to approve the invoices locally.

Some invoices require multiple approvals and previously this was done by signing hard copy documents which meant from start to finish could take up to 30 days. Now they can approve electronically via their mobile phones and the entire process has been reduced to 14 days maximum. It also means that if anyone is away the invoice can be passed to an alternative person to approve or approved remotely so no delays are incurred.

Alternatively, if pre approval is required they are held in order for a query code to be added before sending to the
approver. Then once approved they come back, the query code is removed, they are approved for payment and then stored within DocuWare.


Implementation

Due to the fact that Côte were using a very old version of Sage 200 the implementation was never going to be easy so there was quite a lot of background work required in order to get all systems working together seamlessly.

However, EzeScan worked together with Margolis to tweak and fine tune the existing systems, and also built a utility in order to facilitate the communication with Sage and the new EzeScan and DocuWare solutions, and it is all working well.

In fact, one of the reasons why EzeScan have become a ‘go to’ partner for Margolis is due to the support they receive from the EzeScan technical support team, who will always ensure they take the time to gain a full understanding of the customers’ needs and are on hand to provide help and guidance at all times.


The Results

The benefits to Cote have been massive, especially in terms of giving them the opportunity to better manage their cash flow due to the fact that invoices are being processed much faster.

Previously 6 staff were required to process invoices and now it’s only 1.5, so it has also freed up their capacity to get on with other tasks such as detailed statement reconciliations and building better relationships with suppliers, which they didn’t have time to do before.

The previous manual process often meant a fair amount of human error, and accuracy levels were around 75%. The introduction of the EzeScan solution has now increased accuracy levels to almost 90%.

Although they could make the system fully automated they still like to have some level of manual interaction in order to keep an eye on everything.

Cote have big plans for expansion and if they continue to grow at the same rate it was likely that they would need to employ 2 people to the finance team every year in order to cope with the growth.

However, due to the scalability of the solution now as they grow as a business they will not need to increase the head count as the solution is able to grow with them, which safe- guards the businesses growth plans.


“The support provided by the teams at EzeScan and Margolis has been amazing. Often with other businesses you meet the sales person, and then after installation you just have a helpline number to call. So it’s been fantastic that the same people are with you throughout the process. The sales person becomes your account manager and the technical team who install the system are always there to provide technical support and advice, and have full accountability. Although the price of the system was similar to competitive products the thing that really stuck out for me was the quality of the service, and I have happily recommended the solution to other businesses in the industry”.

Gordon Rollo
Finance Director, Côte Restaurants