Morpeth RFC

Morpeth RFC rings the changes with Open Solutions’ EPoS

Leading North Eastern rugby club upgrades to the market leading EPoS technology to streamline bar sales, create new promotional opportunities, and improve its membership services

The RFU’s initiative to encourage rugby clubs to deploy FSI’s Game Management System (GMS) software to improve compliance with membership data, has led to many of the UK’s 15,000 rugby clubs re-thinking the existing technology they’re using to manage their bars, memberships and bottom lines.

Installing the latest electronic point of sale (EPoS) and membership loyalty technology is key, as it not only makes it far easier to keep track of all your cash and bar sales, but creates all sorts of income generating opportunities from getting members to use bar cards and accounts instead of hard cash.

However, when it comes to EPoS offerings, there are basic till systems and then there’s the Open Solutions’ EPoS system, one of the most capable and robust available to any club.

The EPoS software has been developed in-house and is based on many years of experience with all sorts of clubs. It’s specifically designed for members’ clubs to reward member/customer loyalty – think in terms of being able to reward your members with a discount, while simultaneously being able to charge the full RRP to visitors, plus all sorts of other membership reward possibilities.

Another major benefit is the EPoS real-time link to the Open Solutions’ back office software that runs the membership database and subscriptions. So whenever one of your members buys a round of drinks, all they need to produce is their special membership bar card and the round comes off their account. When they top their cards up, your club is effectively given a loan making cash flow much more positive.

Everything comes with a full audit trail as well, so members can check their accounts, and the club can always prove ow much they’ve spent! Being linked to the membership database also means the EPoS can automatically check if someone’s the legal age when it comes to buying alcohol…

Morpeth RFC: taking advantage of new IT opportunities

One such club that’s seen the light is Morpeth RFC, whose club house boasts two bars and two function rooms which can be hired for weddings, anniversaries, parties and conferences.

The retirement of their bar stewardess meant losing all her bar management experience working with two old stand-alone cash registers. Added to which, changing the prices on these old tills was often challenging and the manual approach to reconciling everything was error-prone in inexperienced hands.

So alongside the RFU’s GMS software, it made complete sense to install in new EPoS software and hardware as well. In January 2016 after talking to a local golf club that recommended their technology, the club selected Open Solutions’ package, a well proven EPoS and membership loyalty system.

Getting GMS and EPoS to work together

Looking to the future Morpeth’s Bar Chairman Peter Owens was delighted to find that Open Solutions was prepared to explore writing an interface to the GMS software so that running dual membership lists became unnecessary.

In the meantime the RFU’s data requirements are met through GMS whilst Open Solutions’ EPoS system is giving club members a new benefit: club bar cards and accounts they can place a monetary value on, and use to buy drinks at the bar.

Benefits of the bar card driven EPoS system

Introduced mid-season in January 2016, initial take up of bar cards was relatively slow, but will be boosted by the club’s intention to use the EPoS system’s ability to differentiate prices ie. discounts to members while providing full RRP to visitors, a feature which would certainly maximise product margins for all the outside functions and events that want to hire the clubhouse.

Improved cash flow

Nonetheless, over the past eight months the club’s already seen some significant bar management benefits. Cash flow is much more positive, as Peter says, “There’s always more money in our bank account now, because members are putting amounts of money on their cards way in advance of their spending it. Technically it’s a loan or liability, but it helps the club in all sorts of ways.”

Cashless operation, comprehensive analysis and audit trail

Peter’s goal is to get all the club members to use their bar cards, as this would make the club cashless, or virtually cashless, but in the meanwhile every sale is recorded and each one is assigned to a particular member of the bar team.

Consequently, analysing product sales and trends is much easier, as Peter explains,

“Keeping track of everything, every sale, every order, every tab, is now far easier for our bar staff. Because it’s much easier to train temporary staff on our new EPoS system, it reduces the risk of input errors massively.”

Promotional opportunities made simple

Peter comments, “We used a ‘token’ system for people coming to training and matches but Open Solutions have enabled us to now use a bonus point system on our members’ bar cards via their EPoS software.”

“Similarly, we have regular draws and all the intention is to pay the smaller £10 cash prizes as bonus points on winning members’ cards as well, although we still pay cash for the larger ones.”

Installation made simple, bar staff much happier

As Peter describes it, “In terms of the installation, it was fantastic. It took just two days for the Open Solutions team to come and take out the old stuff, install their new touch screen EPoS tills, swap over any data and train our three bar staff to the point where they could hit the ground running on the next bar opening, ie. a training evening and then a busy match day.”

“Our bar and club services manager Gary Stephenson loves the new Open Solutions’ EPoS software, because all the cash now goes through the till so that every penny can be accounted for. We’re so impressed with it that we’re now budgeting for the Open Solutions’ stock control system to be installed next year.”

Even cash handling is going to become easier, as Peter outlines, “Instead of keeping some cash handy in a pint glass, Open Solutions will enable the till to let us pay cash for things like the window cleaning, and thereby be able to account for all cash outgoings as well as normal bar income.”

He continues, “Now that we’ve got used to operating our EPoS system and understanding its capabilities, we’re certainly going to develop and extend special members’ promotions such as ratcheting up the discount rates for our club’s bigger spenders.”

Support: “Absolutely tremendous!”

With nearly eight months of operational experience under their belt now, what does Owens think about the Open Solutions support? “Absolutely tremendous, I couldn’t speak more highly about it. Besides the highly effective training, when support’s needed the user gets straight through to a real person that can talk them through whatever it is they need to do.”

Recommend to another club?

Finally, would Peter Owens and Morpeth RFC recommend Open Solutions to their fellow rugby clubs? “Yes, of course,” says Peter, “and we already have!”

" I can now get all the information I need, and that makes it far more straightforward to manage a very active, busy club with over 1,000 members. That in turn means Farnham RUFC is on a very sound footing as a business as well as a club."

Rebecca Watson, Farnham RUFC General Manager and accountant

" The new Open Solutions technology combines our membership database with the EPoS system, so that with the swipe and proximity readable cards, all the privileges of our three membership categories, eg. a Gold membership, can now be recognised automatically."

Martin Bidlake-Corser, Membership Secretary, Henley RUFC