There’s a lot to consider when it comes to what’s best for your hospitality business. Here are the most frequently asked questions, and answers.
Software and systems
How many users do you have?
There are over 3,000 current users, and approximately 2,500 suppliers. More are joining every week.
What is 'One Stop Shop'?
‘One Stop Shop’ is all about storing and delivering a range of products into one, thereby maximising the cost of buying while reducing the cost of multiple deliveries.
How integrated is the system?
The Caternet system is 100% integrated because it has been built from scratch by the same core team of developers, and to the one overall design.
The 3rd party integrations (normally finance, payroll, property management and epos) are therefore far lower in number than if you have various ‘modules’ supplied by different vendors.
How is the software structured?
All Caternet software is developed entirely in-house, and hosted by Caternet Ltd.
The foundation of the system is a full ERP type chart of accounts that links to your finance system and allows you to carry out your transfers prior to exporting to your finance system. It also allows you to operate our live priced purchase order commitment and P2P eProcurement system with your choice of suppliers.
It is this foundation software that allows you to modernise your financial admin, go paperless for invoices and set personal allowances to help your multiple users, groups and departments to not overspend on their budgets.
What standards do you work to?
We are a Microsoft Silver development partner (so our in-house developers have to pass regular technical examinations), and we hold the ISO9001 quality assurance standard. So you can be assured our software is fully tested before you get to play with it.
What is EDI?
EDI (electronic data interchange) is a transactional system where messages are sent automatically between the coreProcure system and the supplier online, to identify the various steps of an order.
It is an automated system so the user is not party to anything except the messages that come back advising them of what is happening at every step. Whether that’s the initial order, the acceptance, picking and delivery or the final goods being received and any changes that may acquire along the way.
It is a standardised and secure system that works to specific standards (we use the GS1 Supply Chain Standards).
Our Web Portal is a free manual system that we have created so that each supplier operates within their own unique ‘Web Portal’. Here they will receive their orders, links through to their appropriate catalogue for each user, and the control to manage their orders through to fulfilment and invoice.
How secure is your system?
We operate to https standards and as the system is online it doesn’t need to be part of your internal security protocols in relation to servers. It just needs a broadband link to the Internet.
How do you develop the system?
We develop the system through user comments and new content in relation to the services that we offer and the market segments that we operate in.
Committed to offering the best user experience we develop iteration once every four-six weeks, which we fit into the system design via the ‘agile’ process. This means we talk to our users a lot. We maintain a priority list of user ideas and we make them work without fail.
Do I have to commit for a long time?
From experience, we know that good software sells itself, and if users like it, they won’t want to stop using it. We suggest an initial one to three year contract with a six-month notice period so we can deliver your data and close off supplier relationships, if you do decide we’re not right for you.
How do I join up?
It’s very simple. Get in touch with us via phone on 0844 474 0808 or email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do the rest.
Costs and savings
How much does it cost?
We have simple tariffs for your sector of the Hospitality market. You pay monthly for the number of modules that you choose for each of your locations (no expensive user licences). Our clients see a return on investment by the end of the first month.
Get in touch with us via phone on 0844 474 0808 or email Mark at email@example.com, and we’ll complete a simple proposal for you.
Why can you charge so little?
In essence, we are focusing on the concept of delivering you online sustainably lower pricing and overhead expenditure in two very specific ways:
- By using modern PO commitment and P2P eProcurement technology to help you modernise your financial administration and control spending within your decentralised community.
- By creating live online pricing information about your supply requirements while also helping you to decide on what supplier you choose to work with – local or national.
We don’t mind what you decide to do about your suppliers, as it’s entirely your choice. But we do care about helping you to get the most effective and efficient service and price perspective.
Put simply, we are helping you cut out the middleman (and their excessive mark-up), and providing you with the technology to control and automate your community to make the most of those savings.
Are upgrades free?
Yes. We actively encourage users to make comments on what they would like the Caternet system to do. From your comments, the system gets enhanced on a regular basis along with FAQs and training video ‘bytes’ to keep all users involved.
I know about discounts – so where is your hidden income?
Put simply, we don’t get a ‘rebate’ or hidden ‘discount’. We deliberately allow the supplier to trade at no cost, so that you know the price you’re offered is not in any way inflated to pay for our charges.
How much can I expect to save?
Based on our experience over the last five years we have saved our clients an average of 5-15% based on their unique starting point. How? By achieving your budgets with the personal allowances, which stop over expenditure before it happens, and also through the live price guides that we provide to ensure you’re getting the most competitive price.
As well as money, our Caternet software will also save you time. Finance administration will become simpler, with fewer errors.
I don’t know whether my hardware is fast enough?
We rarely see the need for upgrading existing PCs, laptops and tablets, but our support team can always advise you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I need a separate broadband line?
We need broadband access to the Internet, but we can normally get there via your main comms link. Our support team will be happy to advise at email@example.com
How do you mobilise my system?
You carry on with your daily operation whilst we do the set up with your suppliers.
We will then help you with training and induction into the system and the set-up of budgets, purchase allowances, and so on.
We support you right the way through to making your first order, receiving the goods and paying for them. We will be there, online with you, every step of the way. The system is very intuitive so that we know you will pick it up very quickly.
We also help train up ‘superusers’ within your community who will be able to build their knowledge of the system, therefore helping your community make the most of Caternet’s capabilities.
How long does it take to mobilise?
Not long. We simply ask you to identify a central person who is able to inform us of who you want on the system and who your suppliers are. They don’t need to be IT expert, but a general knowledge of how to use IT systems would be helpful.
The majority of the work then takes place behind the scenes. This way we’re not interrupting your day-to- day running of your business until we have a system that is ready to go.
How do you update the system?
We update the system online and it is only unavailable for between 15 and 30 minutes whilst we do this.
This normally happens once every 4-6 weeks, as a new iteration is brought into the live system incorporating new features from our users’ comments. We tell you when we are going to do it via an alert banner on every user’s dashboard, and we give you plenty of notice. We never use CD-ROMs and we never need to come on-site.
How often is the software updated?
We update it normally every 4-6 weeks, which provides ongoing development and new content.
How do you help, train and support my users?
Due to the intuitive nature of the system, we have designed our help services on a self-learning and improvement process.
We will set your system up with your ‘superusers’ to the point where your suppliers are attached, users are set-up and you are ready to trade. We then have help notes and training video ‘bytes’ in the system that teach users the various processes in the system.
We provide monthly webinars for users to log onto where we follow a structured list of processes on a diarised basis (free of charge), and we are of course happy to carry out on-site training if required (chargeable).
What is a superuser?
A superuser is a user who is computer literate and willing to be trained to a higher level within the system. Taking on board the day to day administrative and set-up processes that happen within the system.
What happens if the electricity fails?
You don’t lose data other than the information that you were sending across the Internet at the nanosecond when the power outage is experienced. The Caternet online system will simply reboot and you can carry on where you left off.
That is the beauty of working online versus on-premise systems that cache data on the PC and you lose if the PC loses power.
Can you integrate into our finance system?
Yes. Via API or we create a CSV file export that is in your finance system format. This allows you to import the totals of each confirmed transaction, saving you time on administration, and ensuring your suppliers are paid on time.
Finally, reports can be gained from the line detail we retain in the Caternet system.
How do I control my spending?
You will have a main budget in your finance system. We mirror your main budget (including phasing). From there you can create separate purchase groups with user, group or departmental personal allowances that are linked to the relevant budget name.
You are now in control over the total sum of all purchasing, ensuring you hit targets while controlling your spend.
How do I manage my data export?
You get the download of data to integrate into your finance system whenever you want to export it from the system. The software is intelligent so knows when you last ran the batch export.
How exactly does the personal allowance work?
Users will not be able to order products that will create a budget overspend without confirmation from their authorising manager. Their manager will be allowed to either increase the users’ budget, or rephrase the same totals over the remaining financial periods left in the budget year.
If the authorising manager wants to increase the budget allowance, they likewise have a limit that they can increase by before they have to return to the budget ‘decision maker’ to get approval.
When it comes to food and beverage services, we provide a ‘budget alert’ in place of the personal allowances. This is because no one wants to stop the food coming for the menu on the next day, plus the budget alert system always makes the authorising manager aware of when the purchase allowance is coming up to being breached (as the catering manager will normally have a reason).
This is all achieved online and in real time, so the community moves on quickly, but most importantly your main budget is protected 24/7.
Who are the authorising managers?
An authorising manager would normally be a head of department or line manager to various users. They are able to authorise out of allowance spending decisions as well as amending annual budget and spending allowances for users, groups and departments.
What is the ‘live price guide’?
We have thousands of products being purchased in Caternet every day. So we collect prices (the data only) of these items and report the high and low prices to you when purchasing a similar product or service. It is then entirely your decision whether you buy with your current pricing structure and supplier, speak to the supplier to get a more competitive price, or change supplier.
Either way, you win by knowing what others pay, while saving time comparing costs across thousands of products you may need to buy.
How many licences can I have?
You will be provided with an unlimited user licence.
Do some suppliers refuse to work on the system?
Initially (in 2009), we did find that some suppliers had not heard of eProcurement and were averse to adopting the new technology.
But now, eight years on, there are several eProcurement systems, the majority of suppliers are online, and there is no ‘suspicion’ of the technology.
In fact, suppliers have found that they get their statements sorted and paid off much more quickly, on time and to credit agreements.
Do you cover all suppliers, large and small?
Yes. The beauty of the Caternet system is that it can work on an EDI connection with the larger suppliers. And for the smaller suppliers, we have a simple web portal that only needs a smart phone and Internet connection.
Do you cover the new EU food labelling regs?
Yes. We provide a full allergen directory and a service allergen alert system based on your recipes and products in the system.
Will I lose my connection to suppliers?
No. What you will lose is the time your buyers spend on the telephone ordering.
Your relationship with your supplier will actually improve because you will be able to spend more quality time with them ensuring you’re getting the right product quality, price and service.
Can I use my own suppliers?
Yes. We will just charge you for the use of the software. Your current suppliers won’t be charged to trade and you decide who those suppliers are at all times.
Can I use purchasing consortiums in the Caternet system?
Yes. But remember that you will then incur their additional transaction charges when you buy from any deal they work on.
Can my users have multiple suppliers?
Yes. But you won’t be maximising your purchasing power if you have multiple local suppliers for the same product.
With the price guide tool in the system, you will be able to identify which local suppliers are competitive and which ones you should be using.
Do I pay my suppliers?
Yes, just like you do now. The system allows for ordering, supplier communications and goods receipt. Once the goods are confirmed as received, your finance team reconciles the transaction. It’s then sent to the purchase ledger in your finance system via the export/import integration, ready for payment as normal within your agreed credit terms.
Do you scan invoices?
No. We no longer need to scan invoices as we are helping all suppliers to move over to our modern (HMRC approved) eStatement paperless system.
This means when goods have been received, if any changes or credit needs to be altered, the system automatically makes the changes therefore adjusting the invoice value.
We then allow the supplier to agree the changes with the buyer. Once that is agreed, the system will then invoice internally, which removes the need for a credit note or any scanning.