Xero is well known for giving small business owners remote access to their books. However, for the Ring of Bells pub it has also helped a first-time publican in a remote location to get on top of his accounts. Two years ago, a move to Devon saw former city professional Richard Edlmann set up his ‘destination’ pub with rooms in the picturesque village of North Bovey in the Dartmoor National Park.
Previous experience working in the hospitality industry and as a management accountant provided him with good grounding, along with five-star hospitality training at The Savoy. Like many small business owners, it was a desire to be his own boss combined with his passion for hospitality that spurred him on to buy the Ring of Bells pub.
“When the pub came up for sale, it was too good an opportunity to miss,” he said. “It’s a freehold, so it’s not tied to a brewery. The previous owners had brought in some good chefs and had done a great job of turning the business around, so it was already making money. Since then, we’ve done a lot of renovations, such as extending the previously tiny three metre kitchen, as well as building up a good team of staff. We’re also lucky to have a good local following. We have a lot of fun with our regulars.”
As a former financial expert, cloud accounting was top of Richard’s shopping list. “I looked at a couple of different software solutions and I chose Xero because it was very easy to use and there are a lot of great apps that integrate with it in the cloud. Looking back, the amount of paperwork involved in running a pub did come as a bit of a shock, which is where Receipt Bank in particular has been brilliant.”
Being a seasonal business, Richard has learned to expect and manage peaks and troughs. “Even in the winter when things slow down, many locals do stop by and you also get groups turning up without reservations. Summer takes care of itself – we do 25% of our business in July and August alone.
“From a purely numbers perspective, it would probably make sense to close in January and February, but in this industry you have to be reliable. If people turn up and you’re not open, they might never come back. We would also have to lay off staff for a couple of months and would struggle to replace them.”
Over time, Richard has learned to find a balance between managing the books and concentrating on the business. He consults his accountant for advice on making best use of his capex allowance, as well as for support with tax and year-end accounts. Other than that, he manages payroll, suppliers and other key financial aspects of the business himself. “Running a pub, you need to know where you are on a weekly basis,” he says. “Using Xero has enabled me to keep a tight grip on my finances. In this industry, cost control is critical. Missing alcohol, wastage and forgotten charges all add up, which is why it’s really important to manage stock reports and use them to identify any issues.”
With fast broadband connections now being introduced in the village, Richard now has his sights set on using cloud-based technology in other parts of the business, including intelligent EPOS (electronic point of sale) software.