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Mitchells and Butlers is one of the largest operators of pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK. It runs some of the country’s best-loved brands including All Bar One, Browns, Harvester, O’Neil’s, Miller & Carter and Toby Carvery.

With more than 1,700 outlets, Mitchells and Butlers employs around 44,000 members of staff across its 13 brands. As a result, the company has a mobile workforce and employees often have to travel.

Speeding up reimbursement

Previously expense reimbursement was largely paper-based where employees would collect receipts throughout the month and then post them for approval. The process for retail managers varied slightly, instead they would use petty cash or their own funds to pay for out-of-pocket expenses and invoice the claims back.

Lauren Collier, Reward & Policy Manager at Mitchells & Butlers explains: “It was a dated system and time consuming for our employees. It also meant that payments were slow to clear and from a business perspective, we faced challenges gathering insights into company spend.”

With the opportunity to make a change, Mitchells & Butlers looked for a modern and user-friendly solution. “Speed was important to our managers,” Lauren says. “We wanted something that would be easy to use, speed up the reimbursement process and give us peace of mind.”

Expenses anytime anywhere

On average Mitchells & Butlers processes around 2,000 expense claims a month. The sheer volume of claims meant that the finance team were keen to invest in a cloud-based online platform to streamline the process. Implementing Selenity Expenses has made a huge difference to the way they manage, approve and reimburse expenses. Lauren says the company has increased its transparency of claims ten-fold, employees are being paid much quicker and they have more clarity on VAT spend.

“With the Expenses Mobile app, our corporate employees and managers can submit expense claims on the go. They just take a picture of a receipt and upload it. From a user experience perspective our employees are really happy with Selenity Expenses, some of the other systems and services we’ve used in the past haven’t been so sophisticated or straightforward. The fact that the technology is easy to use makes such a difference.”

Providing peace of mind with Expenses Expedite

Mitchells & Butlers are also using the outsourced expenses service, Expenses Expedite. This means that all expenses are submitted to the Expenses Expedite team for validation, to ensure that claims are fully compliant with the company’s policy and meet HMRC legislation.

Lauren adds: “With such a large volume of claims we wanted reassurance that every submission was compliant – the Expenses Expedite service gives us that peace of mind. It eases the burden on our internal team, provides us with an auditable review of our claims and also helps to coach our staff on best practice.”

All claims go through a rigorous 16-point check to assess whether they are compliant. This includes, amongst others things, examining receipts, identifying VAT and invoice numbers as well ensuring the item description matches the claim. If any errors are identified during validation, then the claim is simply sent back to the employee for more information. Once approved by the Selenity Expenses Expedite team, employees are reimbursed the next day.

“Our managers now have the security of knowing that as long as they’ve expensed items correctly, their money can be back with them the following day. For our finance team, the service frees them up to focus on more valuable areas, as they know such a high standard is being maintained by the Selenity Expenses Expedite service,” says Lauren.

For Mitchells and Butlers, one of the biggest advantages of using Expenses Expedite is that their line managers and finance team no longer need to spend hours reviewing and approving receipts. This also means that the company is recovering the maximum amount of VAT on goods and services employees buy.

Gathering data and insights

As well as helping to save time, the platform has also helped to deliver business insights through its reporting functionality.

“I work with a lot of different systems day-to-day and this report builder is excellent, it’s really straightforward to use and user-friendly. Our finance team regularly interrogate the data and have been able to identify areas for cost-savings. By dialling into areas of high spend, like hotels for example, we’ve been able to make changes and encourage employees to make the most of existing supplier relationships that previously went underused.”

Another aspect that Lauren highlights is the insight and guidance Mitchells & Butlers have received from the Selenity Expenses Expedite service. “Our relationship with the team is very much a partnership and the team have been great at helping us to identify opportunities. From VAT reclamation to general system usability, their insights and customisable features have allowed us to drive behaviour change and make the system really work for us in the way we need.”

Support when you need it

“The support we’ve received has been fantastic. The team clearly want to do their absolute best for their customers and are always ready to help in whatever way they can. We often get a response within minutes from Circle support, they’re so quick to respond – I’ve never seen anything like it!

“Also, the ongoing training sessions and webinars offered by Allocate are very beneficial and are certainly helping us to make sure we’re getting the most out of the system.”

Key benefits

  • Mobile app to submit and approve business purchases on the move
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use software
  • Faster reimbursement of employee expenses
  • Data driven insights
  • Peace of mind that expenses are HMRC compliant