Worthing Masonic Club

The Charmandean builds success with Open Solutions EPoS and Membership software

The Charmandean is Worthing’s, indeed Sussex’s largest Masonic hall. Following an investment of £¾ million refurbishing the interior and upgrading the entrance and reception areas, The Charmandean has become a very busy and profitable venue. It handles up to 600 people in its three major function rooms, each of which can accommodate between 40 and 175 covers, or be connected together to hold 400 guests in one impressive area, with 200 in another room. In addition it has two bars from which to serve drinks.

An EPoS system to match

On a really busy evening, as much as £7,000 can be taken over the bar, so whether it’s 40 or 400 guests, the EPoS till systems used in all three rooms need to be top notch. To ensure all those orders can be handled as fast as possible by a team of both permanent and temporary staff, since 2009 The Charmandean has used the EPoS system developed by Open Solutions.

Bob Ison is the Chairman of the Board of The Charmandean, and part of the team that chose to replace the previous EPoS system comprising four tills connected to a central server holding product sales and prices, with the class leading EPoS tills and membership software developed by Open Solutions.

“We saw the Open Solutions software at work in Hassocks Golf Club,” said Bob, “and we soon realised it was exactly what we needed.” The new software soon proved to be a powerful business tool and in the expert hands of Bob and his staff it has helped to make The Charmandean a thriving and profitable venue.

Why combine membership and EPoS tills?

The lodge has around 600 members locally, all of whom have a ‘bar card’ which each member uses to identify and access their bar account. Having put money into this account, usually £100 with the annual membership subscription and then anything between £5 and £50 at a time, the card acts a bit like a bank card, as the production of this card at the bar to the staff is all that member needs to buy his or her drinks with, assuming there are sufficient funds in their bar account.

A direct result is that instead of cash and the obvious restrictions on purchasing habits, members have far more flexibility, and can use their bank plastic to load their lodge bar card whenever additional funds are required. Putting money onto their account has meant that the business soon found it had an interest-free sum of around £5-6,000 sitting in its bank account, which has the additional benefit of a positive cash flow situation.

Profitable change in behaviour

Bob also noticed a change in his membership’s purchasing behaviour at the bar. “Having a bar card is one of the main benefits not only for the members, but for the business and the club.”

He continued, “The simple fact is that people are less concerned about what things cost when they use plastic, whereas counting out cash from your pocket or wallet is a very different matter. Using cards has lead to an increased likelihood of their buying drinks, and with my business hat on, this is good news for the club’s bottom line.”

Stock checking

Bob can also check the stock checker’s reports, just by comparing them with the product sales analysis. “While we don’t load the system with the suppliers’ invoices for a complete stock check by both the stock ordered and stored, and the sales output per se, we can also compare our sales based stock with the monthly stock check done locally.

“I’ve found it’s always within £80, which in view of our significant monthly takings is very impressive. And it also gives us an extra layer of security of course.”

Discounts for members, full prices for visitors

The Charmandean has a lot of visitors as well as members, and the EPoS system can differentiate between both, enabling members to be given a discount – in this case 20% - for their drinks, while visitors pay the usual RRP. In turn this maximises the margins, while giving members a privilege and extra value from their subscription. “This has certainly helped strengthen our margins,” said Bob, “and created a very good incentive for membership.”

“We did discount before across three categories: one for full Masonic members, one or pseudo-masonic ie. for Ladies’ nights, and one for outside functions, but the old EPoS tills didn’t recognise the different categories, so it meant someone had to tell the staff if he or she was a member. Not the most secure of ways, when you think about it, of running a discount scheme! The Open Solutions software changed all that.”

Top marks for reliability and support

Bob’s been particularly pleased with the software, hardware and support. “The software itself is very good and very well supported by Open Solutions,” said Bob, “and apart from a couple of touch screens that had to be replaced, the hardware’s been exceptionally reliable.”

Remote working and data access

Another benefit for Bob as The Charmandean’s business manager is remote working and access. “I can log in remotely, so I can work from home which is very convenient for me, and run reports, check data, look at the sales figures, and analyse the products between the faster movers and the others. Or simply see who’s the biggest spender!”

He continues, “The sales and product data, given that we carry between 150 to 200 different products, is incredibly useful, as I can see at a glance the analyses of specific events, days, time periods, or product lines.”

Bob summarises his views about the Open Solutions EPoS and Membership software quite easily.

“It’s a fantastic business and management tool for us. It’s extremely reliable and very well supported, and you can’t ask for more than that. Any similar venue or club whether larger or smaller should consider investing in this equipment.”

" I personally believe this type of initiative could work well for most clubs, both large and small, and make a positive difference to a club’s cash-flow and on-going sales revenue."

Ray Seager, Manager, Minster WMC