Direct Debit for the Food & Drink Sector

GoCardless has helped businesses in the hospitality sector like Bookatable and Zenchef. Here’s how.


“It’s transformed our cashflow!” 4 reasons SaaS companies love GoCardless.

There’s been a revolution in the hospitality sector.

An explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers like TripAdvisor and Bookatable have made it second nature for customers to research restaurants and make bookings online.

Websites like Zenchef.com, meanwhile, are supplying restaurants and bars with one-stop-shop marketing, and leaving chefs and mixologists free to focus on what they do best – food and drink.

“We’ve been watching this sector grow for some time now,” says Nicola Anderson, VP of Marketing for GoCardless, a B2B company that helps businesses in the UK, France and Germany collect payments by Direct Debit.

“SaaS companies like these often charge on a subscription basis, and many are now turning to Direct Debit as a more efficient and cost-effective way to collect payments – this is where we come in.”

GoCardless already helps more than 14,000 businesses to collect Direct Debit. The businesses range from new startups, to large enterprises and the UK Government. Since launching in 2011, the business has grown by 300% a year, and now processes more than £1bn of payments every year.

Now GoCardless is adding SaaS from the food and drink sector to its booming client base – and this is what’s happening...

“MORE RESTAURANTS WILL PAY US BY DIRECT DEBIT NOW” BOOKATABLE.COM

Founded 10 years ago, Bookatable provides online booking services for 15,000 restaurants in 39 countries. The London-based reservation website continues to grow phenomenally and has more than clients paying monthly via Direct Debit than ever before – thanks to GoCardless.

“To begin with, we collected payment by Direct Debit directly through our bank,” explains Guy Halfhead, Chief Operating Officer for Bookatable.

“But they only allowed us to process paper Direct Debit mandates, which meant that our customers had to sign up by printing off a paper mandate and sending it to us in the post – and they very rarely did.”

Since taking up the GoCardless product at the end of 2014, the reservation website has managed to get hundreds more customers to pay by Direct Debit – which has drastically improved the company's cashflow.

It’s been positive for their customers too: “It’s made it easier for our restaurants to pay us, which saves them time.”

“I USED TO SPEND 40% OF MY TIME MANAGING PAYMENTS, NOW I SPEND LESS THAN 5%” ZENCHEF CO-FOUNDER

The same is true for Zenchef.com (formerly 1001 Menus), who have been providing marketing and PR services to over 2,500 restaurants across France and the UK since 2010.

Their co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Julien Balmont, oversaw the integration of GoCardless in 2015.

“Due to the scale of transactions that we needed to process, we opted for GoCardless’ customised scale pricing model that’s based on volume,” explains Julien.

Julien and the team had already been processing Direct Debit, but doing so directly through their bank.

“We were sending Excel generated CFONB files via an online form, and receiving rejections one by one via email. It was a painful process,” recalls Julien.

“Then, a year later, we decided to automate this process using a French Direct Debit company. We automated the file creation, dropped it on a server, and received the rejection in a summary file instead!”

Thankfully, times have changed and Zenchef now collects Direct Debit payments successfully from 2,300 customers – hassle free.

“We had all sorts of issues before,” says Julien. “There was no way to automatically query customer details, for example - everything had to be done manually. I used to spend 40% of my time managing payments, rejections and mandates. Now I spend less than 5% on it!”

Julien believes that at least 20 to 30 hours a month are saved thanks to the fully automated process that GoCardless Pro provides.

“WE’VE IMPROVED OUR CASHFLOW” OUBRUNCHER.COM

Zenchef isn’t the only business saving valuable time thanks to GoCardless. Founded in 2009 by three friends, Oubruncher.com (which means ‘where to brunch in French’) provides listings, reviews and need-to-know information on the best places for brunch in France. More recently, they’ve launched in Brussels, New York, Spain and the UK.

“We heard about GoCardless through our friends at Zenchef,” explains Sales Director, Mathilde Chiron. “We were previously collecting payments by cheque and bank transfer, but this was inefficient as payments were often not paid on time, which resulted in cash flow problems.”

Oubruncher, which currently has 84 customers paying by Direct Debit, decided to transfer over to GoCardless in 2015.

With no set-up or monthly fees, any business with a European bank account can sign up to the service and be up and running in minutes, with the cost fixed at 1% per transaction and capped at £2 or €2.

For businesses with larger transaction volumes, a bespoke scale pricing based on volume is also available.

Some of the team were resistant to the change: “they thought it would add complications and jam the business,” admits Mathilde.

The opposite has proved true, however: “The benefits are clear and simple, we’re saving time and cashflow is no longer a problem.”

“OUR BUSINESS IS MORE SCALABLE!” YOUSHOULD.EU

Timothée Emery is CEO of Youshould.eu, a website that matches up party organisers with suitable venues across France and Belgium. (Next time you need to organise a birthday party or work do, this is the site you need, and it’s coming to the UK too.)

“We chose Direct Debit and GoCardless because we wanted to make the payment process automatic .– Nobody was thinking about paying our bills before!” explains Timothée.

“Now we have three times more customers, but we still only need one person to handle the billing process.”

Having these payments taken care of automatically has been absolutely transformative, believes the CEO and co-founder. So much so, he’s now ready to scale the business with GoCardless.

“Our business is now much more scalable – we want to be the most scalable tool for organising parties on earth!”

Now doesn’t that sound like fun?!

GoCardless is the UK’s leading Direct Debit provider, offering a simple way to take recurring payments.

Sign up in just 2 minutes and join 16,000 other merchants processing over £1 billion of transactions every year. Find out more at gocardless.com or send a message to our Direct Debit experts:

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