Hook & Ladder
MANAGING A MULTI-LOCATION OPERATION FROM A PHONE
Hook & Ladder Living Café is a company like no other. Established in Waterford in 2013, it strives to create and provide the ultimate experience by constantly evolving and introducing what it calls a “third place” for customers.
Hook & Ladder offers customers a unique experience with a variety of store concepts under one roof – café, cookery school, furniture and home accessories store. Customers can relish the delicious café offerings, enhance their culinary skills in the cookery school, buy locally sourced produce from the artisan display, or purchase a distinctive and inspiring range of occasional furniture and accessories.
Following the success of its Waterford outlet, in May 2014 the flagship Hook & Ladder arrived in Sarsfield Street in Limerick City, Ampersand on Sexton St in May 2018 and two more premises were subsequently opened in Corbally and Castletroy, County Limerick.
Hook & Ladder now employs a staff of nearly 100 people in six locations, with a new Shannon Store opening on June 27th this year and the expansion plans for 2 more stores bringing total employees to 120 by the end of 2019.
For its first few years of existence, Hook & Ladder relied on Excel for its scheduling. This was just a simple spreadsheet application, with no formulas; nothing more than rough pricing, totalled up.
There was no possibility to do forecasts or get an overview of the hours. This meant that the company’s management couldn’t get much information from it.
As for records of attendance, this was even cruder, based on pen and paper timesheets. For processing the payroll, managers checked these manual timesheets against the scheduling.
For the accounts clerk this involved a lot of manual effort following up errors and conflicts of information. “Our end-of-week process used to take a full day between collecting information and following up with any queries. Our accounts clerk, Sharon McGuigan, spent an entire day per week on payroll alone,” says Hook & Ladder Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Moloney.
All that changed when Hook & Ladder implemented a multi-location staff management system from Bizimply in September 2018.
On the kitchen side of the operation alone, Hook & Ladder rosters around 40 people on a weekly basis. “We now have visibility across all locations and shared staff. Using drag and drop, it takes a maximum of half an hour to do,” says Sharon.
Another major benefit is that Bizimply has meant the end of so-called “ghost hours” – paying people based on what the company assumed they had worked, rather than the hours they actually worked: a typical problem when timesheets are done manually with pen and paper.
Bizimply brings accuracy where once there was guesswork, both for busy times and times when staff could be sent home.
Bizimply uploads directly into the Sage payroll application, which has saved hours every week. “It now takes half the time it did previously,” confirms Sharon.
Hook & Ladder staff are also seeing benefits. As well as the additional clarity, they get paid sooner. “We used to pay everyone on a Thursday morning, because it took until Tuesday afternoon to do the payroll accounts. Now it’s done by noon on Monday to be paid on Tuesday,” says COO Moloney.
Moloney adds that his own favourite Bizimply feature is the “Manager’s app”. “It means I can check attendance across all stores. I can see who’s sick, forgotten to sign in – who’s on breaks and so on, all from the convenience of my mobile phone,” he concludes.