EPOS for Nightclubs
You want offer the maximum guest experience in the nightclub business and at the heart off your customer service offering should be a trail-blazing EPOS (Electronic Point-of-Sale) system. The nightclub offers some unique challenges in the area of EPOS, not the least being the hours of operation.
It is critical to have a reliable EPOS system that keeps running during the busiest of periods and late into the night, so first of all, check out the level of maintenance support any potential supplier offers. Do they provide 24/7 back up and support? Do they have engineers on call if a problem can't be resolved without a site visit? These are essential offerings for any company that is going to supply a nightclub EPOS system.
EPOS and Security
Central to your business is of course your bar areas and nearly all good leisure focused EPOS systems will provide a great level of accurate stock control, allowing you to rapidly identify issues such as theft of cash or stock, or “sweethearting” - the practice of cheap or free drinks given to friends of staff. But did you know that security can be vastly improved by EPOS systems that include CCTV? These sophisticated systems not only provide for overall club security, both inside and out, but crucially also cover your bar service areas.
Where you have (unfortunate) suspicions, EPOS combined with CCTV even allows you to view footage of individual transactions actually taking place, all at touch of a button.
Speed of Service
Of course, sales are increased by great service, so it is essential to provide sufficient EPOS terminals throughout your sales areas. All will be centrally linked, so back office cash and payment reconciliation, plus in-depth sales and stock reporting are accomplished with ease. In particular, if you have multiple bar locations, do look for a system that has the ability to transfer stock between bars. The more you know about where your stock is located and who is selling it, the more easily you will identify any problems with particular staff members or locations.
Also central to providing great service is staff training and confidence in operating point-of-sale equipment. There is nothing more frustrating for customers than waiting at a bar, while staff struggle with equipment they don't understand, so plan for proper staff training; choose a system that is easy to learn and intuitive to operate; and check out your chosen suppliers' documentation and training materials or offerings.
Whilst talking about staff, don't forget that a modern EPOS system has a role to play here too. Firstly, staff can be identified to tills by using swipe cards or touch keys - meaning you can monitor individual staff sales and performance. This allows you to reward your best staff should you wish, or to offer further training and encouragement to under-performing staff members. The EPOS terminals can also be used as a means for staff to clock on and off and will then provide essential time related data for your payroll.
Taking payment can also be a potential bottleneck at a bar, so ensure your chosen EPOS system incorporates its own card payment taking technology. Having an integrated system rather than separate card payment devices is generally faster, creates a less cluttered rear of bar working environment - and is one less system to reconcile.
Do look out for the up and coming “contactless” technologies, which are ideal for processing numerous smaller sales. This enables a customer to pay for transactions up to a maximum of £10 or £15 without entering a PIN, simply by momentarily placing their card on a touchpad. As at 2011, there are some five million contactless cards already issued in the UK, around one in seven - so your customers will become increasingly used to this payment method and will come to expect it. It's a great time saver - both for your customers and your staff!
If your operation offers a somewhat more exotic choice of drinks from the bar, stock control and pricing can become a complex issue. Just how much of what goes into each cocktail and what should be the price of each combination? No problem for a modern EPOS system, as most will easily handle multi-ingredient stock control, even allowing individual “recipes” to be programmed.
Also, choose a system that can run differing price tariffs on different days or times of day. This is a great facility to attract those extra clubbers for longer periods of attendance, with special offers such as Student Discount nights or early entry pricing promotions.
If your nightclub offers any form of table service, be it for drinks or food, a tremendous benefit of the latest in EPOS technology is to set your waiting staff free with handheld Wireless EPOS terminals. These roaming terminals are great devices in many ways: they can send drinks orders direct to the bar, so they can be delivered by bar staff or be ready for collection by wait staff; any food orders can be sent direct to the relevant kitchen prep areas. As orders are captured at point of sale, wireless terminals tend to eliminate errors and omissions and your staff also have access to full information and pricing from your menu or drinks list, including instant availability levels - a real time-saving bonus for kitchen items or the wine cellar.
Systems aimed specifically at restaurants and other food outlets also provide modules for table planning and waiting staff management, which can be very useful additions if your club has a substantial food offering. Optional modules are also available on the dry sales side, for kitchen stock control plus recipe and menu management.
Ticketing, Door & Promotion
Obviously, one major difference between a nightclub and a pub or an ordinary bar is in the area of door-entry charges, ticketing and in some cases, advance bookings. As you are taking money or tickets on the door, you will want EPOS terminals at point of entry, so you can protect that valuable entry revenue and take payments securely and rapidly, at the same time reducing queues. Every minute that a guest is stood in your queue is a minute lost, when you could be making additional sales - so aim to process those door payments as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Specialized EPOS systems will also monitor entries and exits, allowing you to record and report on occupancy for Health, Safety, Licensing and Fire limits. For casinos or other restricted membership clubs, EPOS terminals at the door can display previously recorded photo ID by swiping the guests membership card, aiding in positive identification of welcome guests - and the exclusion of those who are either not members, or are no longer welcome.
Where entry tickets are pre-booked, the integrated EPOS system comes into its own as a true marketing tool. By advance selling, you automatically capture contact details for your customers, be it a name and address, an email address or a mobile phone number. This puts you in touch with your customers and provides the perfect database for further promotional opportunities. Where ticket sales are online, ensure your EPOS system can integrate with the online web sales system, so that ticket revenue can be accounted for and reconciled along with the rest of your nightclub's operation.
Even cash customers are worth encouraging to provide you with their contact details and further build that marketing database. Offer them the chance to fill in a flyer, or even easier, drop their business cards into a box (maybe for the chance of a prize?) Or collect a simple email address or mobile number on entry - anything that puts you further in touch with your guests, as this will enable you to use your EPOS database to mount larger and larger promotions, either by SMS text, email or a postal campaign.
Loyalty cards are another great customer offering and a good EPOS system will easily process both their issuing and subsequent use. In exchange for the loyalty card, you will again you capture your guests' contact details. A properly implemented loyalty card scheme will make your nightclub stand out from the crowd, by telling your guests they are part of a semi-exclusive club, that rewards them with better deals than casual visitors.
Loyalty Card schemes can be purely membership based, or incentivised, where your guests can earn points on their purchases, to redeem in some way later. They can even be revenue earning - some clubs sell their loyalty cards for a small up-front fee and offer discounts on admission charges and even VIP priority entry. All good EPOS systems handle loyalty cards and are able to offer discounts and other special offers based on membership of your loyalty card scheme.
EPOS can also produce and process gift cards or if you don't wish to do this yourself, there are national schemes you can join, whose cards your EPOS system will also recognise and process.
Once again, technology is moving fast in the area of advance ticketing so do consider systems that allow clubbers to print their own bar-coded tickets at home or receive e-tickets direct to their mobile phones. These new methods are totally secure, efficient at the point of entry and save time, resources and money.
A final word about equipment
We started by talking about reliability and back up, so will close with a few more words on the same subject. Any bar is a challenging environment for electronic equipment, so do choose a system that is up for the job - long term. Touch screens obviously avoid the usual problems with keyboards and liquids and are also fast, easy to operate and popular with staff. But with recent advances in electronic technologies, also look for systems that use solid state drives, many of which are also fanless - meaning no moving parts and vastly increased reliability.
Also, don't forget that your EPOS system and its associated database contain information that is vital to your business, so establish and implement proper back up procedures. Ask your chosen supplier about an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) option that will keep your system running even if the power fails, allowing vital minutes for an ordered shut down and further protecting that essential data.
Why not get in touch to discuss your nightclub's requirements?
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