Lansdown gets to grips with its membership and bar data
By installing Open Solutions’ EPoS touch screen tills and membership management system, the famous Bath based cricket club is sorting out its membership and bar data, and building a sound basis for a sustainable future.
Running a cricket club on a voluntary basis is far from straightforward, but when you’re not certain whether you’ve got 300 or 600 members, and how many of those you have regular contact with, running it efficiently is simply a non-starter.
Similarly, it’s impossible to manage and improve your bar margins without sales data you can both rely on 100% and which is easy to reconcile with your stocktaking reports. And when your bar staff have to wait for the EPoS system until it’s finished processing a drinks order before the next order can be started, means you can’t speed up your bar service.
Mike Richardson, a member at the Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath, faced precisely this set of circumstances when he went back to help with the club’s financial management. Having identified what the issues were, he and the club’s other committee members then looked around for the right tools to help them find and action the solution they wanted.
Finding the right EPoS system for a cricket club
As Mike explains: “It was easy enough to find retail EPoS systems for bars and restaurants, but we needed one for a club that has members as well as visitors, and whose bar and restaurant is open practically every day at lunchtimes and the bar in the evenings. Suppliers of cheaper EPoS systems weren’t interested in coming and showing us a demo, so we couldn’t ask all sorts of questions, see how it worked or understand if it would provide us with the sort of solution we needed.”
“I’m a member at a golf club as well, but compared to what we needed at the Lansdown their membership and EPoS systems are much more complex. Then we contacted Open Solutions who were very happy to send two senior people to give our committee a demo. What we saw was just what we needed, an EPoS with a membership management system, retail hardened tills and reliable support.”
Getting to grips with the membership situation
The Open Solutions package lets a club set up members’ accounts for them to buy drinks and top up using their bank cards. Mike comments: “Having started with guestimates of as many as 600 ‘members’ according to our website based data, we ordered 200 cards which members had to come to the club and register their details for their new card based accounts at the bar or in the office.”
“Those 200 cards have now all been registered and accounted for, so now we’ve ordered another 200 cards. We’re at last starting to get to grips with our actual membership numbers, who is and who isn’t a fully paid up member, and so on. I think that within a few weeks we’ll know the whole picture in detail thanks to our new system.”
Easy to top up bar accounts, improved cash flow
Mike likes the top up feature: “We’re already benefitting from those card holding members coming to the club to top them up with £30, £40 or £50. Next year we’ll very likely be asking the members to place an amount on their card accounts as part of their membership renewal. Importantly, all this helps to improve the club’s cash flow as well.”
No more credit when someone’s not got enough cash on them
The Lansdown’s previous EPoS system used cash, and of course these days people aren’t carrying nearly as much cash around with them. Mike explains: “We’re all using bank cards now, so inevitably members were coming to the club, finding they were short of cash and because they were known to the staff, being given credit at the bar.”
“A major benefit of the Open Solutions system is that because members can use their bank cards to top up their bar accounts, we’ve stopped the practice of credit. It’s also taken away the headache of people forgetting to pay off their credit, and it’s simplifying our book keeping in the process!”
Flexibility, differentiated discounting, tabs
With the new system, Lansdown members can enjoy a discount while visitors are charged the full RRP, as Mike points out: “The new system’s very flexible in terms of discounts for fully paid up Lansdown Cricket Club members, while charging visitors and guests the RRP. That’s going to help us strengthen our bar margins.”
“We also have a lot of outside functions and parties, and it’s very easy for our bar team to set up a tab which can be settled by the party organiser at the end of the evening, which makes things much easier for everybody – bar staff, guests and the organiser.”
Stock control in real time
Stock control has been problematic in the past, but that’s another issue that’s being resolved, as Mike adds: “As one of our aims is to improve our bar margins, real time stock control – knowing what we’ve sold and what we’re holding in stock – is essential.
“Up to now we’ve relied on a monthly external stock take, but their report then takes a month anyway, so one of the features we were very keen on is the real time stock control reports from the Open Solutions EPoS system. This should put us in control of the actual sales data and reconciling it with the actual stock situation, and in turn know what’s going on in terms of wastage and so on, and if sales of product are being ‘unrecorded’!
Smooth installation and training in three days
What about the installation process? As Mike says: “The installation took just a couple of days. One of the Open Solutions’ engineers downloaded our relevant data and set everything up for us to start using the new system.”
“He did the training as well, and while we can’t yet say we know the new system inside out, in time we will and we can always have some refresher training from Open Solutions down the line.”
Popular with the bar team, faster service
More importantly, The Lansdown’s bar manager and his team really like the new Open Solutions EPoS system. Change isn’t always popular, but this is one change that’s going down really well, as Mike can already see: “Our previous EPoS system was pretty slow, and on top of that the bar staff always had to wait for an order to be processed before they could start the next order.”
“With the new system’s order interruption feature, now the bar team can place several orders simultaneously and the only delay is waiting for the beer or lager to pour. That’s enabling a much faster bar service which our members really appreciate, and it saves needing to run a second till screen.”
“The old touch screens were far too sensitive as well, and I kid you not – a fly could and frequently would land on it and cause all sorts of input and ordering problems! The new touch screen tills are vastly better, and properly retail hardened.”
Features for the future
There are some other features that hold plenty of sales potential in the future, as Mike explains: “We’re very interested in the EPoS based lottery feature and it can also offer us some relatively simple bar promotions.”
“The lottery feature can be run by the EPoS system instead of having to rely on it being done manually and taking up a lot of someone’s time. The EPoS system can take members’ lottery payments at the bar or by standing order out their bar accounts, and then if we want it to, it’ll run the draw itself to see whose numbers win whatever prizes we set up. Potentially, that could mean we generate a significant additional income stream as well.”
“The promotions feature will let us take advantage of any special discounts our drinks suppliers’ offer the club, by letting us pass them on to the members for a particular product and for a limited period of time. We can also do things like offering the bigger spending members higher discounts, or set up ‘Buy four, get one free’ type of promotions. This sort of thing gives us more tools to encourage members’ loyalty and spending, while strengthening our bottom line.”
Mike’s pleased with the way things are going because he and the club can see all their objectives are being achieved. As he comments: “These days, running a cricket club is becoming increasingly challenging: costs are going up while numbers like membership are under pressure, making things much tighter than in previous times. It means we have to have the tools we need to manage the business and its bottom line, while ensuring it’s still a proper club.”
“It’s early days but we’re delighted we decided to install an Open Solutions EPoS and membership management system. We’ll soon know exactly how many members we’ve really got, and can ensure they’ve paid their subscriptions.”
“Our members prefer using their cards because they’re easy to top up and they don’t have to remember to bring cash. Our bar manager’s using the built in real time stock control system and we’re starting to see the benefits of that as well.”
“I like the reports we can now generate in terms of membership, subscriptions, bar sales and so on. And we all like the significantly faster service we now get at the bar!”
Mike summarises: “This is the whole point: as a club, thanks to our new Open Solutions package we’re really getting to grips with our bottom line, and what actions we need to take to ensure The Lansdown remains a successful business as well as a great cricket club.”