How The Modern Milkman uses Soldo to get a full overview of spending and minimise admin headaches – all while empowering employees.
Virtual alternative to credit cards
Real-time expense tracking
Scalable finance automation tool
Since launching in 2018, The Modern Milkman’s mission has been to reduce plastic waste by running local milk rounds across the UK. What started with a group of friends quickly grew into a thriving business delivering produce to thousands of customers. Despite the nostalgia at its core, the company has a digital-first approach to finance. We spoke to their financial controller, Marlow Upton, about how they’ve used Soldo to support their growth over the past year.
Demand for delivery services skyrocketed during 2020, making The Modern Milkman a COVID-19 success story. Their fast growth demanded additional help – and managing spending became more challenging as a result. Credit cards could no longer serve the entire business; there were security concerns, reconciliation was a nightmare, and using cash was unsafe. They also needed to give employees a way to access funds and be accountable for their expenses, but only a flexible, virtual solution could offer this.
‘With Soldo we can give people cards and not worry about it. Credit cards are a scary prospect, because there’s a card out there that could charge you thousands. With Soldo we can have cards across the business’.
When the pandemic hit, The Modern Milkman was growing steadily. Like many delivery services, the global shutdown proved to be a golden ticket, and their monthly revenues quadrupled almost overnight.
As a business that operated throughout the pandemic, their initial reaction when lockdown began was to stop using cash. This is how most employees paid for work expenses, and that stopped being viable.
They had a few traditional credit cards, but they couldn’t pass them around the business. ‘The problem with credit cards is that you tend to only give them to senior members of staff’, Marlow says. The security, in particular, is quite difficult to control.
But that’s not the only nor biggest issue Marlow had with this payment method.
Marlow runs finance in the company – his duties include reporting, managing credit cards as well as minor expenses, forecasting, and more. According to him, ‘traditional credit cards are quite challenging to manage’, and reconciliation is ‘normally the hardest thing to do’ at month-end.
In a traditional process, you print off and give somebody a sheet on which to write down their transactions. You get the sheet back two days later, and type in these details so you can match them against that month’s credit card statement.
To get all the data, and understand how and where money was spent, you have to jump through hoops – cards are shared between people with no aggregated view of what’s been spent on them, and you will end up chasing people for receipts.
There’s also the risk of hitting your spend limit with a credit card scheme. An IT person at The Modern Milkman couldn’t purchase a large volume of laptops in one month, for instance, without this happening.
Their staggering expansion necessitated a more flexible solution to help them manage company-wide spending – and that could also keep up with their growth.
Once Soldo was rolled out across the company, they could give out cards to every member of staff for the first time. This benefitted department heads and junior employees alike.
Take this example: in the past, the Head of Marketing had a credit card in their name. But they’d typically give the card to a junior exec to cover their expenses. After that, the junior exec would have to write down the transaction information and pass it on.
With Soldo, this process is a thing of the past.
The finance team can assign cards to people with the balance at zero, and just top them up when needed. This eliminates steps in the spend process, saving everyone time and effort.
Employees are accountable for their expenses because they can keep track of their spending in the Soldo app, and now have a direct line of contact with the finance team.
The company found our virtual cards suited their needs better than plastic cards – they serve the same purpose, but are safer and more environmentally friendly, which agrees with The Modern Milkman’s mission.
‘The lovely thing about Soldo is we can actually dish up quite a lot of virtual cards to lots of users and then manage them ad hoc’.
Unlike with credit cards, they can now track spending in real time, change card limits as they see fit, and get highly detailed transaction information instantly.
On top of that, Soldo’s currency exchange feature makes it easier to purchase and subscribe to the technology they need, half of which is billed in USD.
With Soldo in their finance arsenal, Marlow and his team deal with far less admin work at the end of the month, there’s zero hassle for managers, and employees feel empowered.
Soldo’s integration with Xero, the accounting software used at The Modern Milkman, was a must-have. This, along with auto-tagging and digital receipt management has made processing transactions faster and completely painless. Transaction details flow directly into their accounting software, and are matched instantly with receipts and categories – all captured in Soldo.
‘Soldo is a lot more efficient for us. We’re doing a lot less background processing.’
Changing to an automated system has certainly made the finance team’s job easier: automatic reminders keep employees from forgetting to send in their receipts when they use a card, and automatic top-ups mean the few employees who need to use cards regularly never run out of cash.
Soldo has made expense management drop massively on the worry list. It takes Marlow and one other colleague about 20 minutes a month each to manage card spending – when, in other companies, he had one person working full-time just to reconcile the same number of credit cards.
‘For me, the best thing is the tracking.’ With the visibility that Soldo grants them, they now know exactly how company money is being spent.
Crucially, they have more control and flexibility to support their growth without having to worry about getting a different tool when they get too big.
‘Soldo is a scalable tool, and can grow with the business. Even if we had 80 cards, I think we’d be able to manage that as easily as the 20 cards we currently have’.
The sky’s the limit.