The hospitality market is one of the largest in the world, boasting over 180,000 businesses in the UK alone. It’s this sector that Nottingham based SME Easy Pre Orders are aiming to revolutionise, using their own bespoke software to streamline the way consumers interact with restaurants and venues.
“We started with something really basic in 2011,” recalls company Founder Mark Roberts. “My brother started a restaurant guide called ‘Go Dine’ in the East Midlands which now promotes around 500/600 restaurants. People were making online reservations, needing pre-orders and pre-order payments, groups in particular”. That’s when Mark and his brother spotted a gap in the market. “We thought, ‘hang on a minute - this is all done by spreadsheet and phone - it’s hugely inefficient’ so we decided to start Easy Pre Orders with a few restaurants we knew.”
The idea was simple: provide a service that allows the hospitality sector to organise and monitor its business transactions in a seamless, user-intuitive way. “Easy Pre Orders is a pre-order and events platform predominantly for the hospitality industry that allows groups and individuals to pre-order and pre-pay,” explains Roberts. As if simplifying things for the customer wasn’t enough, the service also offers practical and financial benefits for the companies that adopt the software
“We save around two hours for an organiser and we save the same amount of time for the venue that’s organising that event,” he adds. “So whether it’s a gala dinner or a Christmas meal out for the office, we make the whole process way more efficient.” In addition to improving business efficiency, the customer data gleaned by venues is an invaluable asset. “We offer a lot more data and understanding of the people who are arriving,” continues Roberts. “We increase table-turn so service is more efficient and we reduce waste and no-shows to virtually zero.”
"The investment money helped us to grow, particularly around our technology, adding further enhancements, making the system slicker and faster. It had a huge benefit.”
It’s this myriad of factors that have helped the team catch the attention of some of the high-street’s most popular eateries and hotspots. “We work with TGI Fridays, Las Iguanas, The Caesars Group, James Martin Restaurant, Brasserie Blanc, Ego, Rocket Restaurants and Belgo with another dozen or brands trialling in single outlets . There’s a lot of independent and regional chains signed up too.”
Naturally, the team have big plans for the future and they applied for Creative England funding to help catalyse Easy Pre Orders. “The funding helped massively,” says Roberts. “It was at a time where one of our biggest partnerships was with a company called Book a Table. They are Europe’s largest reservation company and work with 15,000 restaurants and we essentially integrated their reservations system. The investment money helped us to grow, particularly around our technology,” he says, “adding further enhancements, making the system slicker and faster. It had a huge benefit.”
In addition to speeding up the team’s technical offer, the funding and involvement with the Creative England team also opened doors to relationships with bigger, more recognised brands. “Getting off the ground is always difficult. We’re a new concept that’s changing the market and therefore sales can be a little slower,” admits Roberts. “However we were able to bring on a Sales Support and that’s helped us achieve new sales. It’s been absolutely vital for us.”
Of course, big brands have much to gain from working with flexible, agile startups like Easy Pre Orders. “We’re using all the latest technology and we’re a lot quicker,” points out Roberts. “We don’t have to go through a myriad of referrals up the chain of getting stuff live. Where corporates would have to schedule something in and it might take six months, we can literally get something up in a week. We have an agility, particularly around technology.”
As for the remainder of 2016, Easy Pre Orders have their sights set firmly on growth and cross sector integration. “The fact is that there are 60,000 hospitality venues that could use Easy Pre Orders across the UK so there’s still another 99% of the market that we could go after,” explains Roberts. “Growth is our focus and I’ve got advisors and executives that help me in other industries, such as aviation, to get those conversations going too. It’s an exciting time”
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