We’re growing. In the last year we saw a 60% increase in turnover, and rolled out S4Labour into over 30 new organisations, totalling over 300 sites.
As we grow, we are eager to recruit the best people to help drive our continued success. As such, we are currently advertising for the position of Business Development Manager, within our Sales & Marketing department.
Please find the full job description below. To apply, send a CV and detailed cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01295 267400 for more information
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On May 25th, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. The new laws oblige businesses to amend the way they interact with data in a world with an increasingly technological outlook.
GDPR impacts on the way we interact with employee data
As such, we have reviewed, audited, and documented our processes, and have made appropriate changes. How the GDPR affects S4Labour and its users.
How the GDPR affects S4Labour and its users
Under the GDPR, S4Labour is considered to be a data processor, as we give our clients access to our software, and hold their employees’ data on our servers. Our customers are considered to be data controllers.
What we’re doing…
We have documented all personal data that we hold, its source, and who can access it. We never share any personal data with any third party organisations unless advised to do so by clients.
Access Rights on S4Labour
We have reviewed the different user access levels in S4Labour, and the data users can access, ensuring it is appropriate and relevant to their role. This also applies internally; we have revised what our own staff can access and amend.
We require a secure transfer of data from clients. As data controllers, it is the responsibility of clients to be compliant in this.
Logging into S4Labour
We have evaluated our current log-in process and will be making appropriate changes. We will differentiate the password process security process based on system access rights, with greater authentication required for higher level users.
Online data is securely protected
We are currently reviewing our contracts with customers and amending terminology where required to ensure compliance. We will be contacting clients ahead of May 25th with revised contracts where necessary.
Data Protection & Security Policy
Our policy has been reviewed and updated in line with GDPR.
We are updating the privacy policies on our websites for increased transparency and full compliance.
Communication & Marketing
We are reviewing how we communicate with our customers and will implement a policy of communicating system information to users in a way that is fully compliant with GDPR and maximises visibility of important messages.
And now for the technical part…
Our data is stored on EC2 General Purpose SSD encrypted volumes using an AES-256 algorithm, so all stored data is encoded at rest. We take a snapshot every day, which is also encoded, which can be used for disaster recovery. In the worst-case scenario, we can lose up to one day’s worth of files. Hourly backups are made to Dropbox, and transferred using SSL/TSL 256-bit AES keys. Dropbox is encoded using 128-bit AES keys. S4Labour itself uses SSL/TLS SHA 256 encoding to protect data in motion, and is certified using a 2048 RSA certificate authenticated by Go Daddy Secure Certificate Authority.
We take GDPR compliance and the protection of our customers’ data very seriously. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The champagne corks were popping for two S4Labour customers, who claimed category wins as the prestigious Publican Awards last night.
Seafood Pub Company claim their trophy
Seafood Pub Company, who manage twelve sites in the North West of England, saw off stiff competition to secure the coveted Best Food Offer prize. They pride themselves on an ethos of sourcing quality local produce to serve classic British dishes and fresh seafood specials, and have quickly built a superb reputation, having previously won the same award in 2015. They began using S4Labour’s innovative labour management software in May 2016 and have thrived since, adding two new sites to their estate.
Meanwhile, Anglian Country Inns, themselves twice previous winners of the Best Food Offer Award, received vindication for their recent investment in their overnight offer, taking home the coveted Best Accommodation Operator title. Their estate covers eight destination pubs with rooms spread across Norfolk and Hertfordshire, and have won a host of awards and plaudits for their stunning refurbishments of historic English inns. They became S4Labour customers in early 2015 and their directors have often spoken warmly of the relationship between the two companies at industry events since.
We work with a large number of fantastic operators from all sectors of hospitality and are delighted to share in their successes. We wish the hard-working and high-achieving teams at Seafood Pub Company and Anglian Country Inns our warmest congratulations.
Life & Soul is a multi-site hospitality operator based in Cheshire. Its directors previously ran the DV8 cocktail bars brand and following the sale of two sites last year established Life & Soul as a new entity. The company has flourished since, with its Rumba Macclesfield venue claiming the Best Turnaround prize at the prestigious Great British Pub Awards 2017.
We caught up with Managing Director Martin Holmes – who has been using S4Labour in his sites since early 2016 – to discuss his business, its development, and how S4Labour helps drive its sustained success.
A typical night at Rumba
Can we have a quick introduction to your business?
We currently run three venues in Cheshire. At the core of the business is the Rumba brand, two wet-led sites offering cocktails to a lively crowd. We also operate The Castle Inn, a destination country pub with an emphasis on fresh, local, quality food. We’re growing fast and are in the process of opening a third Rumba, the biggest yet with a more developed food offer, as well as a fine dining restaurant, Cloud View, also in Cheshire.
How was the company founded and developed to its current form?
Chris Carsons, our CEO opened the first DV8 Bar in 2008. I have known Chris for around 12 years, but our paths crossed again in 2015 through my audit work. Together, we quickly saw the potential of the business, adding sites and developing the Rumba concept. Last year we took the decision to sell the DV8 sites to focus on Rumba. We’re still eager to operate quality venues outside of Rumba when the right opportunities arise, so took on the lease to the Castle Inn just outside Congleton. It’s a traditional country pub on the fringes of the Staffordshire Moorlands, and is equally popular with tourists and the local crowd. It’s been a great success so far, with like for like sales up 40% since we took over.
How is the business structured today?
We try to keep a flat structure, with lots of communication between the sites and senior management, and management taking an active interest in operations at site level. We’ve been investing in our infrastructure to allow for future growth, so have recently appointed two accounts administrators to bring our payroll in house, but wherever possible we promote internally. Since we started out, 90% of the appointments to management positions in our sites have been internal promotions, and we’re very proud of that.
The stunning Castle Inn, Congleton
What makes Life & Soul unique and successful?
We’ve always worked with a passion for delivering exceptional food, drink, and service, and it’s a mantra we embrace at all time, whether it’s 1AM on a Friday night in Rumba, or the middle of Sunday lunch service in the Castle Inn. We recognise that people are at the heart of this, so always aim to build great relationships with everyone from our bar staff, to our suppliers, to our landlords at Punch Taverns. We know how hard our teams work, so reward staff with trips to trade shows and the football, and give our managers a fund to spend on visiting other hospitality venues for inspiration. This means that we have very low employee turnover, especially in management positions – we’ve had one manager leave in three years – and as a result have a highly skilled and motivated workforce, dedicated to bringing special experiences to our customers. This was recognised in our category victory at the Great British Pub Awards last year, which was a fantastic reward for the hard work of everyone in our business.
What led you to decide that an advanced labour management solution would be of benefit to Life & Soul?
When we started out everything was very basic, with our labour managed using pen and paper and Excel spreadsheets. While that may have worked in the old days, it became clear that to build a business capable of expanding and thriving in the 21st century we needed to engage intelligent, modern systems across our operations.
What led you to decide that S4Labour was the best option?
After researching the market, I decided to implement Bleep EPoS across our sites. The people at Bleep recommended S4Labour as a great system for reducing costs, saving time, and giving insight into operations across multiple sites. From the first demonstration I could see that it would be a critical tool in our future.
S4Labour takes hourly sales data directly from Life & Soul’s EPoS
What other tools do you use in your business, and how have these been able to operate alongside, or been enhanced by, S4Labour?
The integration between S4Labour and our Bleep till systems has been a real asset, as it removes the task of manually entering sales into reports for our managers, and gives us detailed insight into sales by hour across all areas of our sites. We also manage our time and attendance through the integrated system, with staff clocking in and out on the EPoS terminals and S4Labour highlighting discrepancies from their scheduled shifts. It’s a massive improvement on our previous timesheet process.
The payroll exports we take from S4Labour conveniently feed our payroll process, making sure everyone gets paid correctly. Also, the reports we get from our reservation software reinforce what S4Labour shows us about busy and quiet times in our sites, allowing us to best deploy staff.
How have processes changed as a result of using S4Labour?
We have a group of very bright, young, enthusiastic managers who have really taken to S4Labour. Administrative time has been massively reduced with the removal of manual processes, and the engagement of hourly-paid staff with their roles has been improved by giving employees access to their rotas and holiday management tools online. From a head office perspective, we have been given such clarity of insight into our operations that we are able to make top level decisions with real confidence.
How has your experience been with S4Labour’s HR Module?
The HR Module has been a relatively recent introduction for us, and we’re in the process of transitioning to use the full functionality, but it’s evident that it’s a really useful tool. Bringing all HR documentation into one online space is a huge benefit, and the digital contracts are a particularly valuable feature. Disciplinary issues and grievances are very rare in our business, but the tools for managing them online will be very welcome when they do arise.
How has your relationship been with individuals within S4Labour?
Having a support desk service at S4Labour seven days a week is a real benefit, and the support staff have always been very helpful and timely in their responses. We’ve been working closely with our account manager Tobias recently, and I can’t fault his knowledge or effort. I know he comes from an operational background with some very good companies, so we always feel his guidance comes from a wealth of relevant experience.
Tobias Collison oversees Life & Soul’s S4Labour account
What’s next for Life & Soul?
Expansion is very much in our sights. We’re making good progress on the new Rumba and Cloud View sites and have our eyes open for more opportunities. With the help of S4Labour, our core infrastructure is in such good shape that we believe we’re in a position to add three or four further sites in the next few years. We don’t want to grow so fast we prejudice the high standards we pride ourselves on setting, but we’re confident that we’ve done the groundwork that will allow us to react quickly when the right opportunities do arise.
How do you plan to use S4Labour in the future to further improve processes and drive ongoing success?
We will continue the work we have started to streamline our HR processes through S4Labour, and as we add more sites will doubtless benefit from the easy visibility of trading conditions across the estate it brings, as well as the functionalities, like employee transfers, specifically designed for multi-site operators. The cost-saving aspect of S4Labour will continue to promote our profitability through the next few years and hopefully beyond.
What challenges do you face?
We’re generally pretty confident that we have our business in condition to deal with whatever tomorrow brings, but like most, we’re currently feeling the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. We may well see a labour shortage in the big cities, which would have a knock-on affect for the wider industry, so we’ll have to continue to ensure that working for us is an attractive prospect for the most talented individuals. Rents, business rates, and commodity costs are all on the rise, so keeping our labour spend down without compromising service, which S4Labour allows us to do, is a real benefit to us.
What advice would you give another operator that was looking to engage S4Labour?
I would certainly recommend it. There’s no way we could be doing what we are today without S4Labour. I would advise them to take a detailed and honest look at their current processes and identify the areas S4Labour could save them time and money. With the value of the savings across single and multiple sites and the quality of insight the reports give, the decision should be a simple one.
Are you able to give any tangible figures for savings you’ve achieved by using S4Labour?
I can say that we have comfortably saved 5% on our labour bill. It’s hard to put a cash figure on that as our number of sites has been fluid over the last couple of years, but it’s safe to say that the financial and time savings have been a significant factor in our success.
Last Wednesday we were lucky enough to sponsor the Propel Multi-Club March 2018 Conference. With a line-up of industry experts delivering talks on a variety of topics, we were eager to hear what they had to say.
The talks were of a high quality, with speakers combining their experiences with opinion on the current market and what the future holds. The event was chaired by Propel’s very own Paul Charity, whose questions to the speakers gave us plenty to think about. Here are the key points that we took home with us.
Nervous Time for Hospitality
With stories of struggles within the casual dining sector prevalent in day to day news, it was right that the day kicked-off with a talk on the current challenges and opportunities in the market.
Discounts, high levels of competition, and business rates were reoccurring themes highlighted by speakers as causes of the challenges we are experiencing within casual dining. As most people are aware of the challenges being faced, Ian Edward, an expert on mergers and acquisitions, shared his knowledge on what actions businesses should take to counter them.
With his working background, Ian focused on how an organisation should best prepare to sell. Ian advised to ‘cut or improve their tail of failing sites’ to attract investors or buyers to purchase a healthier business. With more and more competition in the sector, high streets are becoming heavily congested with casual dining sites. However, Ian was full of praise for S4Labour client, Loungers, commenting on how they have bucked the trend by opening sites in areas overlooked, areas such as the Market town of Hinckley.
There is no doubt that Deliveroo has impacted the hospitality sector, whet her it has been for better or for worse was up for discussion at the Propel Multi-Club Conference. Deliveroo was mentioned by many of the speakers, sharing stories of their experience with the food delivery company. James Hacon, Group Brand Strategy Director at Thai Leisure Group, spoke highly of Deliveroo and the positive effect that it’s had on their businesses. James explained that Thai Leisure Group offer Deliveroo drivers free food in an effort to keep them close to their venues, leading to improved delivery time and service; many people in the room seemed keen to take his advice on-board. On the other hand, in a discussion with Propel’s Paul Charity, chairman of Mitchells and Butlers, Bob Ivell, argued that Deliveroo couldn’t work in many of their sites, such as the ever-growing Miller and Carter steak restaurant, as you can’t transport a steak as easily as a pizza.
Yasha Estraikh, of Piper.
Yasha Estraikh, of investment company, Piper, reported on the findings of an exclusive survey of UK food service operators, which revealed the effects of the growth in food delivery on their businesses. Overall, reading of the survey was not happy. The main issue operators found with Deliveroo was the cost; Deliveroo take around 30% on all food they deliver, resulting in very little left for the operator. Other issues included, such as loss in restaurant footfall and drivers being disruptive when collecting food, ruining customer experience in the restaurant. Despite the negativity, there were positives raised, such as the increase in breakfast sales – particularly on the weekend.
Importance of Cost Control
After a delicious lunch, we all returned to our seats for a talk by Tim Barrett, analyst at Numis, on the unprecedented current cost environment in the food service sector. Tim began by asking the audience to raise their hand if their labour costs had risen within the last 12 months, and nearly everyone in the room raised their hand.
Tim highlighted the introduction of Business Rates, National Living Wage, and the Brexit result as causes of a significant rise in costs across the sector leading to many businesses struggling or closing.
Despite the gloomy nature of the topic, Tim was hopeful for the near future. He urged operators to avoid the common inclination to increase food and drink prices for customers to regain profit margins as this can have a negative effect on business. Instead, Tim suggested operators should look to cut costs where possible, with a strong nod towards labour scheduling systems, such as S4Labour, as a solution to gaining control of business costs.
Franchise and Growth
Continuing the theme of optimism and growth, we enjoyed talks from Nick Taplin, Chief Executive of Black and White Hospitality, and Max Hilton Jenvey, Global Head of Franchise for Chopstix.
Both speakers emphasised the importance of branding in their growth. Max told the story of how Chopstix revolutionised their in-store appearance and branding, to make themselves more attractive to the customer and a popular proposition for a potential franchisee. Both Max and Nick stressed the importance of uniqueness and simplicity in their product; by providing a relatively simply offering, delivered at a high standard, leading them to stand out in a crowded market, gain higher customer satisfaction, and keep control of their costs.
Nick, business partner of Marco Pierre White, spoke enthusiastically about bringing destination restaurants back into hotels. Much like Loungers bucking the trend of site location, Nick wants to keep the Marco Pierre White restaurants off the high street, and in doing so, differentiates their restaurants from other chains. The success of this and their overall brand was evident, their sites are performing well, their books are selling, and a film about Marco’s life is set to be released in 2019.
Max Hilton Jenvey speaking about the franchise model of Chopstix.
The Beauty of British Hospitality
With great minds sharing their experience and knowledge of the sector, it was hard to not feel a sense of pride and excitement about British hospitality. Sarah Bridge, founder of the aLadyofLeisure.com, shared her fondest memories of her travels across the UK. Sarah stressed the importance of operators striking the right balance between going the extra-mile and being overly-attentive. For example, we were told the story of when she a swarm of bees entered her room at the Manor House, Castle Combe, causing distress, she was moved to another room, and later found in there the gift of two jars of honey from their very own hive with a cute message saying that ‘we (the bees) are sorry we disturbed you earlier. Next time you visit we promise to bee-have!’. It was a pleasure to see that the ‘personal touch’ is still alive within British Hospitality.
We were lucky to hear Paul Wells, Chairman of Charles Wells, recount the journey of the Charles Wells pub estate. What was pleasing to learn from Paul, was that despite some of the challenges Charles Wells has experienced in the past, they had undergone European expansion, their family values remained, and they maintained a focus on localism. Paul spoke passionately about their journey of opening pubs across France; showing how the core aspects of British pubs, such as good quality cask ales, were popular across the pond. Paul got us excited for the future of Charles Wells, hinting at more experience based culinary experiences within sites, such as their pizza, pots, and pints offering, bringing the Kitchen into the restaurant.
With stories of struggles within the casual dining sector rife within the news at the moment, it would have been wrong for speakers to overlook challenges and issues. However, the overall message was that we are in the latter phase of the storm that we are presently enduring, and operators should be starting to look up again. It was clear that the people in the room were looking to achieve tighter management of their businesses, which would lessen the effects of a challenging market. Despite the current nervousness in the sector, talks on growth, branding, and franchising certainly whetted the appetite for the future of hospitality.