Founded in 1997, YO! Sushi brought the concept of a Japanese ‘kaiten’ sushi bar that delivered food to customers via a conveyor belt travelling 8cm per second to the masses, and became the original and most famous sushi brand in the UK.
By 2001, YO! Sushi was the market leader in sushi restaurants and (we like to think!) inspired supermarkets to start selling packaged sushi to the Great British Public, allowing people in areas where YO! Sushi restaurants hadn’t arrived yet to take their first steps in discovering how tasty and healthy sushi can be.
In the last 13 years we have grown from a London-only sushi brand to an international iconic success with over 70 restaurants worldwide. YO! Sushi is privately owned by Quilvest and the YO! Sushi senior management team in the UK, and we work with the very best franchise partners to bring YO! Sushi to locations internationally.
We serve over 5 million customers a year throughout the UK and across the globe in Dublin, Sintra, Dubai, and Kuwait.
Original Business Challenge – Needed to support expanding multi-site business, reduce overheads and overcome the limitations of an unmanageable, ageing telephony system.
All of the UK based restaurants, with the exception of Gatwick Airport, are owned and operated by YO! Sushi from its headquarters in London. The manager of each establishment has responsibility for sourcing fresh ingredients locally, but all other functions such as administration, payroll and pricing are conducted centrally.
Back in 2008, as the number of YO! Sushi’s restaurants increased it became apparent that the company needed to implement a technology solution that could embrace all their operational activities, such as credit card processing, Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS), telephony and data into a single IP based MPLS network.
This would provide a number of benefits, including the ability to manage the whole of the IT network as a single entity, a massive reduction in BT line costs, the ability to converge their entire workforce onto a single telephony network, and reduce the mobile phone costs of regional managers and other employees who needed to travel between outlets. The key technical challenge however was their incumbent traditional circuit-switched telephony system which was designed to work autonomously and therefore could not be integrated into a single managed solution.
IT Manager at YO! Sushi, Billy Waters explains the problem, “At the time we had 20 outlets, located mostly around the London area and each one had a key system installed which was linked back to our head office via BT exchange lines. For example a typical restaurant would have two lines for the telephony, one for the fax, 2 for the credit card processing plus an ADSL line. Furthermore, as the key systems became older they became more and more support-intensive, every time there was a problem or we needed to reconfigure an extension it required a site visit from a third-party maintainer. The on-going costs of the line rental and telephony maintenance was becoming a significant overhead to the business and as we had plans to double the number of outlets within two years this was an appropriate time to review our overall telecommunications strategy.”
The Solution- A software based unified telephony solution from Swyx that could utilise existing MPLS network
He continues, “Our IT partner GP Network Solutions Ltd (now part of Elite Telecom) had successfully rolled out an innovative MPLS network to all our restaurants so we were able to migrate all services such as EPOS, Internet and credit card services on to a stable single backbone that would provide high Quality of Service and built-in redundancy. So it made sense for us to leverage this investment to accommodate our telephony traffic as well. Elite understood exactly what we were trying to achieve and introduced us to Swyx, a unified communications solution that was based purely on IP and could be integrated directly into our servers located at head office.”
Although impressed with the Swyx solution, YO! Sushi decided to also review other IP telephony offerings on the market, including Avaya’s IP office. Waters explains the selection decision, “There were a number of excellent IP based products on the market, however what we liked about the Swyx solution was that it is based on software licenses rather than hardware, therefore in an expanding operation such as ours, rolling out new users would be very straightforward and could be handled centrally without third-party support. Furthermore, it was very easy to use, and other options such teleconferencing, auto attendant, and its script editing features were included within the basic price making it not only a compelling technical proposition, but also very good value for money.”
7 Years On – The key features & benefits - An easy to manage telephony infrastructure, that has reduced the operating costs, improved staff availability and facilitated roll-outs of new restaurants
According to Waters as an early adopter of software-based IP telephony the implementation of SwyxWare has achieved all the criteria set out by the company and has delivered year on year cost savings and operational benefits since it was implemented seven years ago. Waters comments on what the company has achieved so far, “The implementation of SwyxWare has been a great success, we have dramatically reduced our telecommunications costs and improved our overall efficiency.”
Waters adds, “We have an aggressive expansion plan that on average results in 10 new restaurants being opened every year in the UK, therefore our technology installations always have to meet a tight schedule. Using SwyxWare as a unified communications solution based on IT has simplified the process allowing us to plan each new site ahead of time, allocate numbers and provide communications on day one, without the need for third-party carrier intervention.”
Summary of key benefits
- Significantly reduced the overall telecommunications costs as the company no longer needs to pay for multiple line rental and all the calls between head office and the restaurants are now free.
- Improved the accessibility of staff as they have access to the corporate PBX system regardless of their location
- Significantly reduced the monthly maintenance charges as all moves and changes can be carried out remotely from head office
- Easier to manage moves and changes such as additional users – simply add another licence – no additional hardware required
- The conferencing facility has allowed operations, regional and site managers to take advantage of weekly and other adhoc ‘virtual meetings’ without the need to travel or subscribe to a ‘paid-for’ third party service.
- During busy periods the voicemail facility has allowed restaurant managers to manage their calls and prioritise their workload
- Allowed the company to plan its roll-out of new restaurants ahead of time, allocating numbers and resources, without relying on third-party telecommunications carriers.
- Built-in business continuity with option to re-route voice/data traffic via MPLS network
Billy Waters concludes, “The system paid for itself within the first two years and we have made year on year savings for existing and new sites since it was first installed in 2008. Roll-outs are faster because we don’t have to order or wait for additional lines from BT and all employees such as operation managers, regional managers and site managers regularly take advantage of SwyxWare’s built-in conferencing which is free. The beauty of a software-based system like Swyx is that for new users you don’t need additional hardware, you simply just add another licence, so it’s easy to expand and is always up to date.”
On Elite Telecom, “SwyxWare requires very little support and most changes and upgrades can be done in-house. If we ever do need any additional advice or assistance we know we can count on Elite with whom we have a very good relationship and have worked with for many years.”
YO! Sushi now has 150 Swyx users across its organisation and 75 UK restaurants (at the end of 2014) with plans for continued expansion in 2015 and beyond.
Swyx Partner: Elite Telecom