Growing company Dolce moves with the times

Sage Intacct is the perfect choice for school catering company

16th September 2021

Dolce is an award-winning, family-run education caterer with over 20 years experience of creating healthy home-cooked meals in schools. We spoke to Jayne Hoather, Finance Director, about how they continue to grow and innovate despite the issues caused by the pandemic.

A family company 

Established in 1999, Jayne explains how Dolce has been at the forefront of catering innovation ever since. “Dan Curtis, who founded Dolce, was very passionate about bringing healthy school meals to schools. He knew then that full tummies help kids learn better due to higher concentration levels after a substantial meal. With his background as a chef in Italian restaurants, he was determined to bring his passion for always using raw ingredients to modem school dining halls - something that was missing from many schools at that time” 

The company is now run by two of Dan’s sons, with a third son heavily involved, and this sense of connection is felt by Jayne. “Scott's the Managing Director and Adam is Sales and Marketing Director. His other son, Dugald, runs a software company that is intertwined with Dolce. It gives the whole company quite a nice feel, like being in a big family.” 

The pandemic was an obvious blow for Dolce. Never would the company have expected schools to close and their income to take such a hit. Quick to respond, they provided grab bags and meals for vulnerable children as well as those of key workers, but as Jayne explains, it was a difficult time. “We've had a tough year, our financial results last year were not favourable. School meals are part of the school community and children should be eating together. The sooner we can get that sense of family and community back the better it will be for everyone.” 

Updating inefficient processes 

Jayne joined the company in December, and saw a classic example of a business that has grown quickly, but their processes and systems haven't caught up. They currently run Sage 50 alongside a myriad of spreadsheets, and it was clear to Jayne they needed to upgrade. “We're in a world of disparate systems not talking to each other. The information we are able to extract is sometimes inconsistent, and often conflicting. We can't sustain our business in this way, with the number of sites we have and complexities we face, so it’s time for an upgrade” 

Jayne looked at various products across the market, but after Datel showed them a demo of Sage Intacct she was immediately impressed. “Sage Intacct stood out for me as the most flexible in terms of dashboards and reporting. I was really drawn to how granular you can go into the detail; segmenting by region, customer, sector, and contract type right from the source data.”

A Cloud-based solution 

An absolute must for Dolce is that their new system is Cloud based. Many team members work remotely, and Jayne wants them to have a view of their data, not only so they can make informed decisions, but feel involved in the business. “As well as being future proof, one of the main reasons we wanted a Cloud system was so our Ops teams could access better information. With Intacct they can just login on their browser and all the data is there. They can drill into it, even going down to the transaction level if they want to. It's going to be a massive culture shift for us as a business to have that, but it's going to be really powerful.” 

Jayne and the team are approaching the integration in phases; first automating what they can, followed by integrating other data sources so they feed seamlessly into reporting. Once complete, she is sure of the business-wide benefits Intacct will bring; “Being more efficient and removing manual processes is going to allow us to focus on the important work - adapting our business and driving performance.”