Suzanne Callander takes a look how today’s EPOS solutions can help to improve your business and delight your customers.
Unlike other retail outlets, most pubs and bars have not followed the trend towards consumer self-service so have not benefitted from the efficiencies it can offer. This is because staff interaction with customers is such as big part of defining the ambience of a licenced establishment.
Licenced establishments that employ a waited service model need staff to serve customers at their table. While this can offer a better experience for the customer, labour costs can account for up to 30% of an establishments overheads.
Of course the aim of pubs and bars is to deliver a great customer experience and long waiting times at the bar can be a big turn-off so it is important to get your staffing levels spot on to ensure you maximise your profits and your customer’s experience. EPOS can go a long way to helping you achieve these two goals. An EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) system can offer an efficient way to process and track sales and other business processes – it can identify your best selling items; can provide an overview of staff performance and attendance and can help to highlight individual customer preferences.
When considering a new EPOS system, it is important not to view it in isolation as a payment solution. Take a more holistic approach to adopt a solution that offers far more and that can add real value and insight to your business. Make sure you choose a system that has the ability to expand and grow with your business. Always consider the wider demands and opportunities that could help you improve your business and delight your customers – from portable ordering and payment to Wifi and integration with loyalty schemes. Most importantly, make sure that you choose an integrated solution that allows you to bring previously separate business systems together to make better use of your data.
EPOS can provide operators with a huge amount of data, insight and solutions that can drive sales
“Knowledge is power,” said Stuart McLean, chief executive officer at Zonal. “In today’s competitive market, every pub or bar operator should be investing in a modern EPOS system. It is so much more than just a till. When used to its full potential EPOS can provide operators with a huge amount of data, insight and solutions that can drive sales and enhance the customer experience,”
Recent research from Zonal shows a growing appetite from consumers to use mobile technology as part of their leisure experience. For example, it found that 34% of consumers are interested in using their mobile devices to speed up ordering – a figure that rises to 54% among 18 to 24 year-olds. This resulted in the development of a mobile ordering app. “iOrder is a ‘virtual waiter’ that allows people to browse, order and securely pay for food and drink from their table,” said Stuart. “It converts an iOS mobile device into a portable EPOS system that integrates with our EPOS system and is able to display real time promotions, menu pricing and product availability while also linking with other app functionality, including loyalty schemes.
Five years ago Ashley Moore and Giles Fry, owners of The Snug Kitchens & Cocktails made the decision to invest in an EPOS system which had the flexibility to grow with them, as a step in their plans for further expansion of their pub group. They chose Zonal Retail Data Systems and today all seven of their pubs use Aztec EPoS.
More recently, they introduced iServe which provides the front of house team with access to the EPOS functionality on an iPod or iPad. Now, from anywhere in the bar staff are able to take orders, and print and process payments, providing better customer service. “Our teams have welcomed iServe as it helps reduce the time to take an order and minimises the risk of making mistakes. Because it is integrated with the EPOS system in real-time, our teams can access stock availability, pricing and the latest promotions, giving them greater confidence to interact with guests,” said Steve Elliott, Snug’s business Intelligence manager.
Providing front of house teams with handheld devices can improve efficiency
Wireless is one of the most recent EPOS trends and is proving hugely popular in the hospitality sector. Providing front of house teams with handheld devices can improve efficiency – particularly in food-led establishments. It can streamline the ordering process – automatically sending the order to the kitchen. This way the orders are more likely to be taken and distributed accurately. This means less time spent correcting mistakes which is bound to result in happier customers.
“Giving your waiting staff a tablet will allow orders to be taken quickly and efficiently and can also give them up to the minute information on what items are still available on the menu and how long a customer may have to wait before they receive their order. Instead of having to run back and forth to the kitchen, waiting staff can also quickly find out relevant information about ingredients and food preparation, which is particularly useful for customers with allergies. This can have a significant impact on customer perception of service,” said Owen Chen, CEO at Posiflex Technology. This feature is particularly relevant today to help ensure compliance with the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation.
Traditionally, mobile POS was a costly luxury, available only to larger brands or high street chains. However, an increase in affordable app development means that independent pubs and bars can now benefit too. “Offering patrons access to a waiter with an iPad, and being able to take orders in the beer garden has increased some pubs’ turnover by 30%,” said Jerome Laredo, Lightspeed’s vice president for EMEA and Asia. “It can also improve customer service at the bar. Lightspeed offers an all-in-one point of sale, table management, and analytics platform for pubs and bars of any size. With the right technology, licensees can make their customers happier, and create a must-return-soon experience.”
Commenting on its use of Lightspeed solutions, David Pearse, owner of The Shepherd & Dog in Fulking, East Sussex, said: “We need to keep our customers happy and no one likes to be kept waiting. Lightspeed’s Cloud-based mobile POS systems has helped speed up our ordering system. When customers order at their table the order goes straight into the kitchen, which helps get the food to them faster. They can also pay at the table and all the bills can be pulled up instantly. This has allowed us to turn our tables more quickly. If we can seat more people we can make more money! Since installing the system our revenue has doubled.”
I can look at reports at any time of the day, in the pub or at home and can see what the most popular products are
George Wilson, bar manager at The Shepherd & Dog likes the reports feature of the Lightspeed system. “I can look at reports at any time of the day, in the pub or at home and can see what the most popular products are, what’s selling quickly and what’s not, so it is a great help with ordering.”
A good EPOS system should provide you with more than just a payment solution, it should provide an integrated business solution that allows data to be turned into actionable information. What you choose to do with this information is up to you, but used wisely it could help streamline your stock control and staffing levels as well as providing you with information about your customers that you can use to better target special offers and maybe even introduce a loyalty scheme. The adoption of mobile POS goes a step further and helps improve ordering efficiencies. If you’d like to know more about the benefits that approach can bring click over to Lightspeed’s article: Nine ways mobile point of sale can boost your profits.
So all of this really boils down to the fact that EPOS can provide you with the tools to help improve your business – less queueing for drinks, less waiting for food and bills and better insight into customer preferences – surely all this will make your customers happy!