The Bell Hotel, located in the pretty medieval town of Clare in Suffolk is a beautiful timbered Tudor style coaching inn dating back to the 16th century, offering guests the welcoming combination of country hospitality delivered in a backdrop of traditional authentic surrounds. Within the bar, a dining and function area, The Bell Hotel accommodates over 100 covers per sitting whilst offering 16 rooms of quality overnight accommodation.
Recently under new ownership, The Bell Hotel needed to quickly identify a combined front-of-house transaction and back office management solution that would provide the new owners with immediate visibility across all areas of the business. This in-depth knowledge was deemed as critical to facilitate the businesses’ projected growth and success in the first vital years of operation.
Sally Marshall is the Manager and Part Owner of the Bell Hotel. She elaborates: “We bought The Bell Hotel at the beginning of the year and saw it as an ideal opportunity to develop a family business alongside my parents running Hotel’s accommodation, whilst I cater for front-of-house. I have been in the pub trade now for 13 years, so fully understand the importance of providing an enhanced customer experience to gain new customers and retain the existing regulars.”
Quickly into the tenancy, Sally knew that the inherited standalone cash registers would not offer the level of in-depth accounting into the business that she would require for expansion. Neither would they provide the flexibility to quickly change and enhance the menu as needed to respond to demand. As a Greene King Pub Partner tenant, Sally drew on their group business advice offered to transition to Greene King’s preferred EPoS manufacturer of choice, Casio, recommended to landlords across the UK as an affordable, flexible EPoS supplier to the catering industry.
Critical for a fledgling business was the assurance from Greene King that the Casio EPoS system was accompanied with a realistic price tag and maintenance overhead far lower than traditional PC based EPoS systems.
Casio quickly contacted The Bell Hotel with their installation partner, Microtill, to discuss the project requirements. After an on-site visit, Microtill recommended implementation of three Casio QT-6600’s running Casio’s Business Management Solution (CBMS) software within the main bar, the function room, and the extended front bar. All QT-6600’s were linked to a robust, heat and moisture resistant Casio UP-400 printer installed in the kitchen for faster and seamless cover management.
Within six months of installation, the Casio QT-6600’s helped drive business upwards. Installation occurred in the summer 2012 with all 15 staff receiving hands-on training on usage with most quickly embracing the units’ 15 inch TFT colour touch screen complete with menu items and easy prompts through to the next screen. Microtill initially customised each unit to reflect the menu items but Sally is now able to seamlessly add items on the spot. Sally explains “It was nearly impossible to add items to the old tills. They were pretty static which meant that our menu couldn’t change quickly either. Now it takes me less than five minutes to add an item which provides the flexibility we need to add and take specials off to ensure fewer mistakes and meeting customer expectations.”
With all three Casio QT-6600’s being networked to the kitchen printer, customer wait times have been dramatically decreased further still. No longer do staff have to manually deliver orders from the bar down to the kitchen, whilst food languishes on the serving point waiting for an accompanying dish. Orders are seamlessly sent direct to the kitchen printer and delivered in strict rotation for the chef to process.
But it is the Casio Business Management Solution software installed alongside the hardware that Sally really appreciates, commenting “like any new business, we know that having full visibility and management control is essential in the first few years. Having this depth allows us to understand the marketplace, react quickly to conditions; attract new customers and accurately report takings.”
Within the first year, the Hotel has opted to run monthly stocktakes to reconcile takings against barrels consumed and this level of granularity has provided some interesting results identifying stock anomalies back to Greene King via the unit’s integrated connectivity ports. Using the reports provided by the Casio QT-6600 software, within the first few month after installation, a shortfall in drinks was highlighted, with a member of staff quickly identified and reprimanded for giving drinks away.
Customised reports allow The Bell Hotel to drill down on every drink and menu item consumed and order ingredients appropriately whilst formulating future attractive bar promotions on popular items. Sally explains that this level of management reporting is one of the reasons that wet sales have almost doubled across the year, moving from a model of educated guesswork on consumption to pin point accuracy. Consumption of food has also increased, although not as dramatically. The reputation for ongoing provision of excellent meals is neither created nor recreated overnight. To this end, Sally looks forward to using the CBMS marketing modules to inform customers about forthcoming menu promotions and to highlight the quality of the menu. Sally explains “we are planning on using SMS texting and emails to promote the exciting food menu using a loyalty scheme; and to use social media to reply immediately to Hotel reviews straight from the QT-6600. For recognising trends, by using the CBMS software, we can now identify the drink of the moment, and create appropriate promotions in line with weather, calendar & sporting events etc and we intend to do the same with food items.”
Looking at the Team Viewer application also provides The Bell Hotel with an aid to staffing levels with peak times being quickly identified and appropriately resourced by staff that thrive serving across the busy weekend shifts. The eye on staff management extends to when Sally is not onsite; thanks to Internet connectivity ports, both she and Greene King receive automated emails on overall takings and takings per product each night, so that regardless of location, Sally can keep a handle on the business.
Sally concludes “What we have invested in here represents way more than an enhanced method of transaction capture. Using the QT-6600 has provided an easy to use window on the essence of the business at The Bell Hotel. Better still, it has been implemented at a surprisingly low cost that will pay for itself within the first year with the savings that we have identified through consumption trending, marketing and optimising staff productivity.”