Magazine Article | November 15, 2013

Get Your Hospitality Customers' POS Transactions Under Control

By The Business Solutions Network

A retail VAR upgrades a comedy club customer’s POS, helps it improve its cash management, and earns five referrals and other upsell opportunities.

Even though stand-up comedy club Comic Strip Live has been around for 30 years, and keeps its comedy acts fresh with the latest big-name stars in the business, its legacy cash register system was long overdue for an upgrade when it finally reached out to hospitality VAR Manhattan POS following a Web search. “The club operates very differently from a restaurant,” says James Cawdron, owner of Manhattan POS. “The club seats up to 250 people, and most customers come to the club in groups, but they want the beverage tab split up several ways by the end of the show, which causes a major bottleneck — especially if too many people pay with credit cards.” Previously, the club used two credit card swipe systems attached to a dial-up phone line, which took too long to process each transaction. Repeat customers often paid with cash to shorten their checkout times, but this only created a cash-control problem for the club.

POS Shortens Payment Processing Times, Enables Tighter Cash Controls
Cawdron recalls meeting with the buying decision makers at the club, which included two managers and two business partners. “After listening to their business challenges and gaining an understanding of their goals, we recommended a POS solution comprising one Dell OptiPlex server, four Sharp UP-V5500 POS terminal workstations, and Maitre’D software by Posera, all protected by SmartPower power protection,” he says. “We also recommended upgrading their dial-up credit card processing to a high-speed connection through Datacap.”

Within a couple of weeks of its initial engagement with the client, the deal was inked. One of the selling points of the POS system was that the interface could be custom configured to enable quick data entry and customer checkouts. “It’s set up similar to a diner where the wait staff can print checks by cashier,” says Cawdron. “Additionally, the wait staff can close out credit transactions themselves, but all cash transactions go through the bartender.”

The VAR set up one of the POS terminals as a backup for the club’s POS data, which performs a backup in real time. “If something ever happened to the main POS server, the system could failover to the backup and be back online within 30 seconds,” says Cawdron. “It has enough power to run the business for up to 30 days with no noticeable drop in performance.”

The club experienced a dramatic improvement in its customer checkout times, which were noticeable following its next comedy act. Credit card transactions were being processed in three seconds or less, and cash payments were all handled exclusively by the bartender. “The club was surprised at how much its profitability improved,” says Cawdron, who hints that one employee who quit may have been taking advantage of the old system by skimming money during their shifts.

Additional POS Benefits, Upcoming Upsells
One additional benefit the POS system helped with was discounting. “The club has several different levels of discounts the system helps it control, such as special price levels for comedians, employees, patrons, coupons, and pricing based on show times,” says Cawdron. “With the cash drawer system it was using previously, all discounts had to be manually entered and there were no controls over the process.”

The Comic Strip also uses the POS solution to automate its time and attendance processes, which were completely manual previously, and it reported a significant time reduction in employee scheduling and payroll activities. “One of the best confirmations that the customer was happy with our solution and service was the fact that they referred us to a couple other clubs in the tri-state area,” says Cawdron. “Additionally, the area where the Comic Strip is located is bustling with other restaurants and bars, which has already led to additional prospects and sales opportunities in the immediate area.”

Even though the initial implementation has been completed with Comic Strip Live, the VAR is already in talks with the business owners about upgrading the club’s physical security. “Not only is there an opportunity to upgrade the club’s legacy security cameras in the near future, but we’ll be able to tie the video footage with the POS system to provide them with additional controls,” says Cawdron. “For example, a club owner will be able to remotely spot-check POS transactions and confirm that a bartender pouring a shot of Grey Goose vodka is not charging a customer the ‘well’ price. And, once that’s completed, we’re going to talk to them about a gift and loyalty program that will help them reward their most loyal customers and pick up incremental sales during the holiday season for customers buying gift cards.”