Caffe Society

Key Contact(s): Denis Ferguson
“I remember at year end having to go home and work most of my weekend to make sure that we met the submission deadline. We were so busy focussing on our customers that we didn’t have time to do this as part of your day-to-day work. Now, with the new processes and technology, I can process our year end in 2-3 hrs in an evening. With Sage 200cloud our accounts now go directly to HMRC from Sage and we have cut year end processing times by 80-90%."

Caffe Society is a family run business with plenty of experience in the commercial sector, supplying coffee machines, fresh coffee, and other coffee shop essentials to a wide variety of sites, ranging from small corner cafes right through to coffee chains, restaurants and guesthouses.

Caffe Society has been in the industry for over 15 years. The company is on a mission to help their clients realise their full potential and run a successful coffee business. Nothing gives them greater satisfaction than seeing coffee shops and cafes they have worked with turn into a great and thriving business. Whether their clients are looking for an espresso machine, the best coffee beans or just some advice, Caffe society is always on hand to help them.

Dennis Ferguson is the Marketing and IT Manager from Caffe Society. He has been working with the business from the very beginning and has been helping to spearhead their digital transformation journey during that time.

Dennis explained, “I’ve worked at Caffe Society since 2004. We are based near Leeds and like all businesses we started out in humble beginnings with a small office of 3-4 people. Over the years we have grown to become one of the main players in commercial coffee and catering and have over 30 employees.”

“As a company, Caffe Society has always kept up to date with the latest technologies, but years ago it didn’t come under the name of digital transformation, but essentially, that’s what it was. “

“Our digital transformation programme began in 2006.  We started slowly and then broadened out our scope which is what I would recommend any company to do. “

Watch the video below.

Data silos impact customer experience

Many businesses run on information islands caused by different departments and locations using different systems and processes for recording data. This causes data silos which hamper business growth, kill productivity, halt innovation, create communication problems, and demotivate employees.

The true value of data can only be achieved when it is combined for a holistic view of the organisation. Embracing data as a competitive advantage is a necessity for today’s business which is why Caffe Society decided to break down their silos.

Dennis explained, “We had a number of legacy systems in place which were really slow and weren’t integrated. This meant that we couldn’t get data out of our systems. Well, we could, but that would have taken days if not weeks of effort. “

“This also meant that we spent a lot of time doing double data entry across the various platforms. It also led to it taking us longer to fulfil a customer order.”

“In a nutshell, the legacy systems, the lack of integration, inefficient processes and inability to extract the valuable information that we needed in order to make intelligent business decisions were not there.”

“Moreover, as we developed and expanded the business, we got to the point where resources were too busy focusing on the customer and didn’t have time to manage the systems – so we needed a partner that could help ease the pressure on us with the expertise.”

Solving the data silo problems with digital transformation

“Thankfully, at the start of that journey we came across Xperience on Google of all things and we reached out to them. When we started talking, I liked their approach to what we were trying to do and I remember thinking at the time that these are great people that I can work with. And we’ve been working with them ever since.”

“We initially approached Xperience for support with ACT CRM (as I said – we started small!) At that time, we had been supporting it internally, but it had gone beyond our capabilities and skillset in terms of the technical side of things. Xperience was great and really supported us during that time.”

“We were also using Sage 50 which was no longer fit for purpose. We were working beyond its capacity in terms of the number of orders and the number of concurrent users. There was a lot of double entry as we were inputting data into Sage 50 as well as ACT CRM as the systems were not fully integrated.”

“We spoke with Xperience about the challenges we were facing and working together we decided that Sage 200 and Sage CRM which integrate directly would be a better fit for us. We worked together to make our processes more efficient and it has paid off. “

“Then in 2019, we upgraded to Sage 200Cloud which provided us with more capability and continued to drive us forward on our digital transformation journey as it helped us make Tax Digital where all VAT submissions had to be undertaken digitally.”

Caffe Society cuts year end processing times and data entry duplication by over 80%

Sage 200 has provided Caffe Society with the advanced functionality required to fully support the business, with comprehensive and real-time overview of its health and day-to-day operations.

Dennis explained, “Reporting is much more accurate and up to date. We can forecast our stocks accurately so that we don’t have stock overflow sitting in warehouses. We now have a live profit and loss and balance sheet, so we have our finger on the pulse in terms of the financial health of our business. I mean we can get reports almost instantly.”

Moreover, with 200cloud as the single source of truth for its data, Caffe Society has excelled in streamlining its processes, cutting year end processing times by 80-90% and data entry duplication by 80%.

Dennis commented, “I remember at year end having to go home and work most of my weekend to make sure that we met the submission deadline. We were so busy focussing on our customers that we didn’t have time to do this as part of your day-to-day work. Now, with the new processes and technology, I can process our year end in 2-3 hrs in an evening. With Sage 200cloud our accounts now go directly to HMRC from Sage and we have cut year end processing times by 80-90%. “

“We have also cut duplicate data entry by around 80%. For me, that’s what digital transformation is all about. It’s about more efficient processes and integrated technologies that allows you to focus on your customer and not be internally focussed on manual and inefficient processes.”

With their digital transformation journey Caffe Society has put their customers at the heart of our business, allowing the company to serve them better and improving the customer experience. Manual processes have been all eradicated, which means that employees have more time to focus on the customer instead of inefficient, internal processes.

“With the integrated CRM and ERP systems, we can now process the order from start to finish within our CRM without going int the Sales Order Processing within ERP. This means that we eradicate duplicate data input and our salespeople can now take the process right through to completion including raising the invoice.”

“The integration has also meant we could not only easily manage more concurrent users at once but also remove silos, saving on data entry as we only have to enter data once.”

“With Act we were unable to link various assets to a single company without creating duplicate records. Now we have much more flexibility with CRM as it is much more customisable and we are now able to create a custom entity without duplicating company records.”

Working from home productivity gains for Caffe Society

Microsoft 365 connects to Sage 200cloud allowing teams to collaborate and share data more easily. Files and data are no longer tied to a single computer, so there’s more choice to work remotely, saving time.

Dennis explained, “We were running an end-of-life exchange server and we had two options – either purchase a new exchange server or move to Microsoft 365. We chose the latter as we didn’t have the upfront capital expense of buying a new server and licenses and the burden of managing that server. We were able to get up and running quickly on a pay-as-you go basis.”

“Microsoft 365 has been a lifesaver over the past year with employees working remotely. We went from having once office to 30 satellite offices overnight. Microsoft 365 meant that this transition was relatively painless as our employees could work from home and access all their emails and Microsoft Office applications securely without coming into the office. “

“There is no doubt that the retail and catering industry was hit hard during the pandemic and like all businesses, we focussed on profit and loss and our cashflow to keep a tight eye on what was happening with the business on a daily basis.”

“This flexibility has allowed our business to continue to operate which would have been impossible on our old Exchange Server. “

Top tips for digital business transformation

Dennis said, “It’s important to have a clear plan which brings together your people, processes and technology. From a technology viewpoint you need systems that drive efficiencies into processes, integrates easily with other technologies, allows your people to focus on your customers to give them the best possible customer experience and most importantly gives you the data you need to make intelligent business decisions.”

“It’s also important to make sure that you have key stakeholder buy in. If the people at the top of the business aren’t bought into the process, no one else will either. So, make sure you bring your people with you.”

“It can’t stop – businesses always need to keep looking to improve and digital transformation is the way to do this. Finally, find a partner that you trust. For us, that was Xperience. “

The benefits of working with Xperience

“Xperience has become like a trusted friend at the end of the phone. We have built a really strong relationship over the 15 years that we have worked with you. If I was to sum up Xperience – a really good company who has helped us throughout our digital transformation journey. You have great people and are incredibly knowledgeable. “


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