Digitalisation on a plate | Damien Low, Passion For Food

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    13 June 2018

    Key Takeaways

    • With 100 employees to manage, HReasily calculates salary and CPF contributions automatically, eliminating the risk of human errors.
    • Data from HReasily are exported for crediting of salaries, thus removing the need for manual cheque issuance.
    • HReasily generates itemised payslips as required by Ministry of Manpower, providing greater transparency between the staff and the owners.

    In 2009, Damien Low and his uncle William opened a simple gelato parlour, blending Italian ice-cream with Singapore flavours. Bak kwa, salted egg yolk and mao shan wang gelato are some of the tantalising treats served at Ice Edge café along Kovan Road.

    But after meeting a friend, a chef who specialises in Italian cuisine and learning his recipes, they decided to expand their menu beyond desserts. Today, the partners also dish out Italian favourites such as pasta and pizza.

    Damien is the brain behind most of the food items, especially the gelatos that the cafe is best known for. "We learnt that actually almost everything can be produced as a gelato. Whatever flavour you want, we can make it into gelato, as long as you know the recipe," he explained.

    Similar to how their menu expanded, their business also boomed over the years. What started with just eight employees at a single café has now expanded into four eateries around Singapore, with about a hundred employees. They are grouped under the company Passion for Food, which the owners established in 2015.

    Growing the business came with teething problems. For one, day-to-day operations were getting more complex.

    "Our accounts were initially very simple, but it got more complicated as the business grew. We started to hire more employees and more time and effort are needed to keep track of the payments and salary details," said Damien. Previously he was only relying on an excel spreadsheet to keep tabs on numbers for around 20 employees.

    He had to go through the dreary process of manually calculating salary and CPF contribution for each of his employees, which got more difficult as manpower increased. He also had to manually create files for reporting to CPF and IRAS.

     

    Sometimes I make mistakes and need to go through everything to make corrections. It was very time consuming and tedious.

     

    UOB Business Banking had just the solution for them. Their relationship manager recommended payroll service and HReasily - one of the five digital applications within UOB BizSmart to automate their payroll process. To facilitate the payroll setup, a UOB manager went to their office to open personal accounts for all their employees, eliminating the need for them to visit the branch personally.

    "At different milestones, they (UOB) gave us recommendations for how we can tap into technology to streamline processes to reduce our workload," said Damien.

     

    From Left: Ice Edge Café – the very first restaurant opened in 2009. Over the years, their payroll process became complicated as the number of employees grew from eight to over a hundred; To solve their problem, UOB relationship manager recommended payroll service and HReasily to help automate their payroll process

     

    Damien now makes salary payouts through UOB Payroll service instead of manually issuing cheques every month. He simply uploads the exported data from HReasily onto the UOB Business Internet Banking platform and the employees' salaries get credited immediately the next working day.

    HReasily also automates CPF submissions for his employees, which is another benefit as the company used to rush for submission deadlines. Previously, Damien had to log on to the CPF website to input the numbers for each employee to calculate their contributions, which he shared was particularly tedious.

    "Now, I just need to upload a file and it's done," he said.

     

    From Left: HReasily calculates salary and CPF contribution automatically, eliminating the risk of human errors and ensuring CPF and IRAS submissions are done on time; Employees now access into HReasily app to view their itemized payslips, as required by the Ministry of Manpower

     

    A cost-effective way to find new customers

    In Singapore, customers are increasingly found online - the city-state is ranked third globally in terms of social media penetration, and two out of three Singaporeans say they have a social networking and internet habit1. This is good news for SMEs with limited budgets because digital marketing offers a host of cost-effective ways to reach potential customers.

    Even a small business can develop a voice, earn customer loyalty, and convert prospects into customers online. Here are a few ways to get started on digital marketing.

     

    With HReasily, it is easier for employees to keep track of their salary as well. Employees now receive automatic email notifications when their salaries are credited. They can also print and view their payslips that are itemised into basic pay, overtime and CPF contribution, as required by the Ministry of Manpower.

    "They are given simple steps on how to access and use their own HReasily app, and feedback has been good," said Damien.

     

    The application is quite straightforward and easy to use, and there have been no mistakes mentioned by the employees regarding their salaries so far," A K Hisham, manager of Passion for Food.

     

    With plans to expand the business further, Damien believes UOB Payroll service and HReasily will help in streamlining the backend operations, giving him more time to strategise his business and focus on his true passion - developing new gelato flavours.

     

     

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