Tes takes us behind the scenes at Troncmasters


We know setting up outsourced troncs is serious work. It needs a deft understanding of the law, payroll and how the hospitality industry works.

That’s why Tes Stow is a perfect addition to the Troncmasters team. A Senior Implementation Consultant, she’s one of the first people you speak to after you’ve signed up for our services, making your intricate onboarding process feel easy.

But what does this onboarding involve? Let’s find out. Tes’ continent-hopping decades of expertise in hospitality and payroll make her the perfect Troncmasters tour guide.

Why do people in the hospitality sector use a tronc?

“Everyone benefits from a tronc,” Tes says. “Both the staff and the hospitality business save on national insurance contributions. This is because a tronc means tips and service charges are not handled by the business and therefore qualify for exemption.”

There is another, more pressing factor too. “A new Tips Law will soon be coming into effect. That means businesses must maximise any voluntary tips and gratuities staff are entitled to.”

But why outsource your tronc? “They’re really complex,” Tes explains. “Some businesses try to go it alone, and manage the allocation of tips and gratuities themselves, but then find the effort and legal obligations way too much for their busy staff. It doesn’t take long before you start worrying that you’re non-compliant.”

Get your tronc wrong, and HMRC can ask for up to four years of unpaid National Insurance contributions.

What does a tronc need to have?

To work well, a tronc often needs:

  • A troncmaster (someone who must not have hire-and-fire power in the business or be part of the leadership). They decide on the rules of the tronc.
  • A deputy troncmaster to cover the troncmaster’s absence.
  • A tronc admin that can report to the troncmaster and look after the legalities and paperwork.
  • A bespoke tronc plan.

And some large tronc schemes may need:

  • A tronc committee made up of staff that represent worker feedback regarding the tronc system.

All these can be outsourced, except for the tronc committee. We establish an independent troncmaster that will work with the tronc committee (helping set up a tronc committee if it’s needed) and provide all other support.

A call to action

“As soon as someone signs up to Troncmasters, our team jumps into action, setting up a tronc system for the business’s staff. It’s important everyone saves money as soon as possible,” Tes says.

For some, that starts with an in-person visit; for others, it’s a Teams or phone call that works around their shift. “Our approach is different for every client because every client is different,” Tes adds. “The staff you work with to establish a tronc are on the frontlines of service. They can work all kinds of hours, with different demands on their time.

“What’s important is we develop a strong working relationship with them and discuss all the different information we need – as well as what the tronc’s distribution is going to look like.”

Calibrating the tronc to the client

“Depending on the size of the client – which can range from small cafés, bars, and restaurants to large hotel and brewery chains – onboarding might also involve some data modelling,” Tes says.

“Then, with everything in place, we establish ourselves as the independent troncmaster, set out the tronc rules and might also assemble a tronc committee.

“From there, we regularly check in with the staff, and we keep on top of tronc calculations. Depending on your chosen Troncmasters service, we either process that data as part of your outsourced payroll or pass it to your business.

“Regardless of your chosen service, we make sure you and your staff have a good understanding of how your tronc will work and how to stay compliant.”

What’s a working day like for the team at Troncmasters?

“No two days are the same,” Tes explains. “We could be travelling to a client, working with another on Teams, carrying out calculations, gathering data, improving processes, liaising with payroll departments or helping tronc committees.

“My fellow Senior Implementation Officer, Norica, and I also process the first few months of a client’s tronc, making sure everything is running smoothly and that they’re happy before the wider Troncmasters team looks after them long term.”

Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of double-checking. Troncmasters uses its people power to establish collaborative tronc checks, and its expertise in software development to code innovative tech solutions – something in-house staff would inevitably struggle to do.

A carefully picked team

The front-row team at Troncmasters is made of the “right stuff”: a mix of life experience, time served in hospitality and intricate payroll know-how. “We’ve got a great team,” Tes says. “When I say my favourite thing about the job is the people, I mean clients and my colleagues.”

Tes started her working life in South Africa at the Spur Steak Ranch. She says top-notch customer service was crucial to what was, back then, a job that thrived on tips and commission. On moving to the UK, she worked in traditional pubs, which she says, “still have a special place in my heart.”

She stepped away from front-of-house hospitality when payroll caught her interest.

From stuffing envelopes to customer service leader

Tes’ start in payroll was a humble one. It began in the post room at PayCheck, stuffing envelopes. It was intended she temp at the business for a couple of weeks.

Tes stayed with the company 17 years.

She rose through the ranks, becoming fast friends with our now Lead Troncmaster, Katie Linstead, and Norica, who also worked there. Tes took on more and more responsibilities, eventually becoming Head of Client Services.

What’s the secret to her success? “Great payroll service demands you have a good problem-solving, people-first approach,” Tes says.

“And I’ve always enjoyed working with people in hospitality and hospitality management. You meet staff from every walk of life working in every possible setting. You get to understand their unique world and it’s always rewarding to help them get through any challenges they might have.”

The right insight at the right time

When she was hand-picked by Katie Linstead to join Troncmasters, she was more than happy to team up once again with her and Norica.

“We’re helping people at the right time – you have to get tips allocation correct nowadays, and it’s difficult,” Tes comments.

“And because of our backgrounds, we always have one eye on helping payroll teams. We’ve walked in their shoes. We understand their deadlines and always make sure they have what they need in the format they want.

“Troncmasters is about taking your stress away. Troncs are what we do best – nothing about them takes us by surprise, and nothing will.”

Find out more

To learn more about Troncmasters and its money-saving services, click here.

Or get in touch for some advice on setting up a tronc, and how you can save your business and staff from overpaying National Insurance. Call us on 03331 122610