The Clean Bean
Then, in 2011, he got the opportunity to upgrade from Business Productivity Online Standard Suite to Office 365. This added several new features, including the ability to create private team websites and shared calendars. "Now we have a shared calendar and everyone can see what's going on, plus a document library that everyone can access," says Richards. The system integrates perfectly with Microsoft Office, including Outlook, so Richards doesn't need to train people to use it.
The pub group has seen real benefits from Office 365, including:
Centralised documents. "Now, there's just one access and one system - this is the best way to share the data," says Richards. People can log on from any web browser, check email, check the company calendar, and read or edit documents.
Up-to-date business information. The duty managers from each of the pubs log on daily and update the cashing up sheets. Richards says: "I can wake up in the morning and see how much we made the night before." Similarly, they can update stock records online.
Saving money. Because employees can access Office 365 and work with documents using a web browser, Richards doesn't need to buy extra software for every PC in the business. Instead, he has bought Microsoft Office software for the PCs he uses to manage the business. Richards says: "It's a huge saving and it stops staff using our PCs for personal use."
Less to worry about. With Microsoft taking responsibility for reliability, security, backup, and updates, Richards has less to worry about. He no longer loses sleep over the risk that an in-house server might fail suddenly.
Of course, running a chain of pubs is still a people business. And Office 365 gives Richards more time to see people on-site. But even here, it can help. He says: "A lot of times I left the office without the right documents, but now I can log on to Office 365 and print them out when I get there. It saves me half-hour round trip each time.
The Clean Bean is not a typical laundrette. Combining a coffee shop, Internet access, and a child-friendly garden, it turns a weekly chore into a pleasure. But the company needed a more reliable, sophisticated way to deal with email, diaries, and documents. After experimenting with free webmail and other systems, The Clean Bean switched to Microsoft
. Not only does it cost less than the firm was paying for its previous email system, but it works much better - giving the owner and his family access to email messages, diaries, and documents from any web browser.
On the Gloucester Road in Bristol, you'll find The Clean Bean. It's a laundrette that has evolved to add a coffee shop, free Internet access, and a child-friendly garden. Owner David Magnus says: "It's not your typical launderette. Most of them are old-fashioned, but we want to make life a bit easier and more fun for everyone involved." The laundrette has been open for a year and already one thing is clear-it relies on email for the vast majority of its interactions with other businesses. "We order coffee, soap powder, and almost everything else via email," says Magnus. This meant that The Clean Bean needed a reliable, business-class email system - not a free webmail account.
The business also needed to store, share, and collaborate on key documents, such as promotions templates. But, as with email, they wanted reliable access to them on different PCs and smartphones.
After experimenting with various free and low-cost solutions, Magnus decided to use Microsoft Office 365. This gives him, his family, and staff a reliable email system with a company email address, shared calendar, and central place to store documents.
People can access their email messages, diaries, and documents from any web browser-which works well because the laundrette has several different Internet-connected PCs and Magnus has a PC at home too. They can use Microsoft Outlook 2010 messaging and collaboration client, which, as Magnus says: "is easier for us because it's just what we're used to." They can also access their email messages on their smartphones.
For The Clean Bean, Office 365 has helped in different ways:
Staying in touch. Using email, they can liaise with suppliers and stay in touch with one another. Instead of being tied to a desk or working fixed hours, everyone can deal with email whenever and wherever they like thanks to web, Outlook, and smartphone access. "It's one point of contact," says Magnus.
Organising documents. "We're not big on paperwork," says Magnus. "Office 365 gives us a single home page for all our documents." Everything is available, synchronised, and backed up automatically. Magnus adds: "We like having one place to go to for all the documents we need."
Sharing diary information. The calendar function on Office 365 is "pretty useful for us," says Magnus. He explains that when he's working in the shop it is sometimes hard to remember things, like re-orders or birthdays. But with a shared diary, accessible on PCs and smartphones, "the chances are one of us will get it," he says.
The price is the best thing of all. Magnus says: "At £4 a month, it's half what we used to pay and it's Microsoft doing it, not a small company. It's a no-brainer."
"I like the Microsoft Office 365 experience - it just works." David Magnus. Owner, The Clean Bean.