Movers & Shakers in the Hospitality Business: Tom De Pauw.

Tom De Pauw, a passionate hospitality entrepreneur... and his take on digitalisation.

Do we need to introduce Tom De Pauw? As managing director of AAPI and founder of Horecafocus, Tom has been the reference when it comes to personnel management for years. Tom is also a pioneer in the professionalisation and digitalisation of the hospitality industry in general. A fascinating interview with a passionate hospitality entrepreneur.

Tom, how do you look at digitalisation in the hospitality industry?

You have innovation, disruption on the one hand and recurring business on the other. You have the start-up and the spin-off that bring an innovative, and often disruptive product to the market. On the other hand, you have the long-standing economy with the big bombasts who collectively own 95% of the HR and Payroll market. It will therefore be important to see how innovatively both worlds will work together with only 1 goal in mind; the ultimate solution tailored to the hospitality entrepreneur to be profitable in a labour-intensive sector with the highest payroll costs.

The worst thing that can happen to the sector is that all the bombasts adopt all the innovative tools. I cannot be any clearer.

Perhaps I should also mention that the Federatie Horeca Vlaanderen and organisations like the B.R.A (Belgian Restaurant Association) have a big role to play. They too should qualitatively spread the message of 'digitalisation' and support the digital transformation through all kinds of training initiatives.

Yet we do see collaborations; AAPI works closely with Growzer, for example?

True, occasionally companies and/or start-ups find each other. These are companies with a common DNA, who want to strengthen each other and where there is a huge synergy. Growzer's strong point is definitely digital ordering, stock management, smart menu engineering and their maximum cost control.

Moreover, there is obvious hospitality expertise in this package, which is where Frank de Meulder's input has undoubtedly been very important and still is by the way. You have to be able to grasp the DNA of the sector, otherwise you can never solve the problems. Meanwhile, they have also brought in some big names like Otomat and Bavet, as early adopters, and that naturally attracts other entrepreneurs. With AAPI, we seamlessly link to Growzer, which allows us to give the entrepreneur a quick overview of their winners, runners, sleepers and.... sadly, losers from our AAPI dashboard.

Could you perhaps briefly outline what AAPI can do for an entrepreneur?

AAPI is the heartbeat of any business. Through the dashboard, you get real-time visibility into the health of your hospitality business. Every minute, we map out your costs and benefits and give you useful notifications via smart sensors, allowing you to make proactive adjustments in terms of your staff costs and F&B.

With AAPI, you make your planning efficiently and a hospitality entrepreneur automates his payroll calculation 100%. I sometimes refer to it as Belgium's first digital social secretariat. AAPI links your personnel costs, fixed costs and F&B costs to your turnover via numerous links with social secretariats, accounting tools, cash suppliers and GROWZER.

There are obviously still some pain points in the industry, where do you see progress?

Cross-media and the fact that a lot of applications can now be controlled with the smartphone (both IOS and ANDROID) was a game changer. If we manage to give our tools a lifestyle sauce and make management fun, we will have more impact. From necessary evil to sexy.

Furthermore, AAPI and other tools also increasingly allow in-depth analysis based on big data, which can help run a business better.

Where does your personal ambition still lie Tom?

First, I want to achieve that the hospitality entrepreneur of tomorrow can focus 100% on his time, talent and money. Secondly, I want to connect. After all, collaborations between competing colleagues are crucial for the profitability of the hospitality entrepreneur. This 'connecting' also manifests itself in the fact that AAPI links with a lot of external packages and POS constructors such as Yuki, Growzer, Crewplanner, Lightspeed, Untill, Trivec, ....

Furthermore, I also want to continue raising awareness in the sector about the importance of digitalisation. Despite the fact that a lot of hospitality businesses are struggling to operate profitably, the time is ripe to invest in tools that can help them make their business profitable with less red tape as an extra motivator.

With AAPI, we offer a FULL CIRCLE insight into the cost structure of a hospitality business, with one login and with one dashboard. It should be and remain that simple.

Moreover, start-up also remains crucial. People need to learn how to work with it, so proper onboarding and guidance is incredibly important. Something that both we and Growzer have patently understood. We sometimes call it the FIGITAL approach, or physical support for digital transformation.

Finally, I no longer believe in the traditional approach of a social secretariat. Legislation is becoming increasingly complex. So I still strongly believe in focusing on one sector. Arranging the entire flow from data capture, to dashboarding, a link with the till and correct payroll, etc ... from A to Z in the easiest possible way for the entrepreneur, that's what I keep fighting for.


Foodservice Community

Which passionate hospitality professionals want to be in front of Thomas 'Switn' Sweertvaegher's lens?