Using technology to improve business efficiency was always on the horizon at The Butcher Shoppe, but when the COVID-19 pandemic put the business into a fire-fighting mode, finding ways to operate lean-and-mean became a top priority.
The company took its dilemma to Notch, and played an instrumental role in shaping Notch's Accounts Receivable Solution, a new component of the Notch platform that streamlines payment processing for food distributors and wholesalers.
When top chefs are looking for bespoke butcher cuts to serve their guests, they look no further than The Butcher Shoppe. Established 40 years ago in Toronto’s Kensington Market, The Butcher Shoppe specifically caters to the wholesale hotel and restaurant trade, and is universally recognized for its highest quality product made the old-school way, where everything is made to order and everything is custom.
Today, the business operates seven days a week out of 75,000 square feet of space located in Toronto, employs 235 people, and handles roughly 800 deliveries a day shipping close to 100,000 pounds of meat a day to thousands of restaurants, hotels, casinos, golf courses and schools found in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
In less than a month, The Butcher Shoppe eliminated manual credit card processing, deployed three staff to higher value work, and positively impacted its cash flow.
While old-school tradition is at the heart of The Butcher Shoppe brand, it certainly doesn’t mean the workings of the business run that way. Stacey Weisberg, along with his brother Noah and his father Allan have a decidedly modern view when it comes to growing their operations, from the modern high-tech lobby that greets visitors when they arrive, to the smart way technology is used to drive efficiency.
Joining the family business eleven and a half years ago, Stacey immediately saw an opportunity to put his sales, marketing and finance knowledge, honed at retailer Canadian Tire, fashion brand Hugo Boss and consulting firm Deloitte to work.
Says Stacey, “I came into a world and an industry that was, respectfully, very antiquated, where many things are still done with pencil and paper. Meat, fish, fruit and vegetable, dairy, and cheese wholesalers are still very much old school. So I quickly saw a huge opportunity to adapt our business to a changing world, grow our brand and make a mark.”
Within that first decade, the family was able to introduce a variety of business changes that allowed The Butcher Shoppe to double its business.
Then, the pandemic hit. The Butcher Shoppe’s customers were forced to shut down and the company’s business dried up.
Says Stacey, “We had come so far, but we had to go into fire-fighting mode. We were selling essentially only to food service. They were all losing money and our sales dried up. We were sitting on a huge amount of perishable inventory. So we needed to roll up our sleeves, be lean and be smart.”
Stacey always saw technology as a critical enabler of The Butcher Shoppe’s future growth -- the third pillar of a strategy that also included building out the company’s sales capacity and hiring fresh young business talent. But with the pressures of the pandemic, technologies that could allow for greater business efficiency jumped to the forefront.
“Like everything else we’ve been doing, the technologies we’ve used have been quite antiquated,” Stacey admits. “Everything was working, but it could be done better.”
With a new lean mindset, he began actively looking for technology to streamline and bring cost and business efficiency to The Butcher Shoppe and help the team weather the pandemic crisis.
Independent chefs and restaurants may be buying wholesale, but they behave just like consumers when they purchase products for their establishment. They like to use their credit card. Last year, The Butcher Shoppe processed 40,000 credit card transactions. And each of those transactions was handled by hand.
“A chef would call up, place a custom order and give us their credit card number. Then we’d go onto our computer, type the number in, add it to the invoice, tally up the amount, process the card, take the receipt, email the receipt and post it to our ERP system. And we did that 150 times a day,” says Stacey. “We had close to three people doing that work full time at least six days a week and on calls pretty much 24/7 because restaurants don’t keep traditional business hours. I saw how many credit cards we were processing here in the office, and how slammed our team was. And I thought, I can walk into any cafe or restaurant and just tap my card and it works. So surely we could do the same here?”
Stacey was familiar with Notch and the company’s mission to bring tech to the food service business. So he approached Jordan Huck, CEO of Notch in search of an answer to his credit card processing dilemma. He found a very receptive ear.
“I said to Jordan, look, I have a need. We’re processing all of these credit cards manually and it's ridiculous. Can we build something together?”
Notch was looking to expand its platform into accounts receivable management, and the opportunity presented by The Butcher Shoppe arrived at the perfect time for Jordan and his company. The Butcher Shoppe was able to frame out and shape a set of technology requirements representative of its industry and it was more than happy to beta test the new solution. In less than four months Notch's accounts receivable solution for distributors had been developed, Notch and The Butcher Shoppe tested the software with a dozen customers, and the first few invoices had been processed.
Notch’s focus on customer experience closely matched with The Butcher Shoppe’s brand values. Says Stacey, “We knew we were building something new. We knew there would be hiccups.”
“But as a small business ourselves we truly appreciated Notch’s entrepreneurial drive and the fact the Notch team is very hands-on with customers. So just like us, Notch has a unique way of blending modern tech with an old-school service mentality to achieve innovation. It’s a powerful combination.”
Now, when a steak order comes into The Butcher Shoppe, instead of manually processing credit card transactions, the steaks are cut, the weight goes onto the invoice and at that moment the customer’s credit card is automatically charged using Notch's accounts receivable automation.
Staff who had been previously dedicated to processing credit cards and applying payments were redeployed, and those salaries are now devoted to higher-value work that benefits business growth and are no longer strictly cost-related. Stacey also points out that Notch's accounts receivable solution has positively impacted the business’s cash flow. Faster credit card processing means customers are paying faster, and The Butcher Shoppe’s bank account is benefitting.
Stacey and his team have worked with Notch to further advance the solution and have payments automatically applied to a customer’s account and personalized invoices sent electronically by email.
“Using Notch has been a phenomenal change for us and it has freed up an unbelievable amount of time,” says Stacey. “I would advocate for this technology to anyone in our industry who is still putting pen to paper. While we still do business the old-fashioned way, we’re using technology to help us do our jobs quicker and less administratively. There’s so much room for growth and innovation in the foodservice space. Piece by piece, we’re working in partnership with Notch to bring our industry into the 22nd century and to a better, tech-enabled way of doing business.”
— Stacey Weisberg, President, The Butcher Shoppe