RISING costs remain a concern for many operators in the Scottish trade.
From increases in payroll and the price of products to the potential for a sizeable rise in business rates, the cost base of many bars, restaurants and hotels is getting bigger, with the latest SLTA survey revealing 71% have seen an increase in utilities.
It is, therefore, more important than ever that operators have a tight grip on the financials of their business.
A comprehensive EPOS system is crucial to achieving this, according to Scott McGillivray, managing director of Sims Automatics, which supplies a range of licensed trade equipment and technology, including EPOS, CCTV and digital jukeboxes.
According to McGillivray, the latest technology can not only give operators the edge over competitors, it can help ensure their business is “streamlined, efficient and more profitable”.
“Technology is an essential tool in improving your business and profits,” he said.
“Our latest touchscreen EPOS system provides our customers with an easy-to-use interface which automates tasks, generates sales and financial reports, provides stock and staff management and creates product analysis.
“The data processed from this EPOS system can be analysed and converted into personalised marketing offers to drive additional revenue and increase customer loyalty.”
The role a fully integrated EPOS system can play in helping operators “drive operating efficiencies and reduce costs” was highlighted by Clive Consterdine, sales and marketing director at Zonal.
Rather than treating EPOS as a stand-alone system, Consterdine advised that it should be considered “part of the overall technology infrastructure” and cover “every step of the operating and guest journey”, from table management, stock control and kitchen management to mobile ordering and payment and customer feedback.
A bespoke system can also help give a venue the edge on competitors.
According to Posera, the firm behind Maitre’D, a tailored EPOS system with screens that can be customised can “help staff work faster and smarter”.
“Technology has evolved a great deal to include many bells and whistles; it’s important to choose equipment that meets your requirements and keeps up with your expanding business,” said a spokeswoman for the company.
Evolving technology has also brought down the price of EPOS systems, according to Gavin MacDonald of EPOS North.
“We have found in the last few years the price for our hardware has fallen to nearly half the price, which is good news not only for us, but for our customers as we can pass the savings on,” said MacDonald.
As technology evolves, it’s important operators choose a system that can grow their business. This was underlined by Hervé Bouchard, director of Alliance Till Systems, who said investing in EPOS that can be altered to suit the needs of a business can pay dividends.
“Technology does indeed evolve at pace and whilst it is desirable to review the setup you have in your premises every two to three years, it is crucial you want to choose a solution in the first place which can be upgraded when new features become available, rather than invest in a new solution,” said Bouchard.
Mike McCabe of Markadis agreed that operators should invest in technology that can meet changing demand, adding that operators should regularly assess how their equipment meets their business’ needs.
“Businesses should review the success of the integrated technology at least quarterly and to ensure that their technology has the ability to adapt to changes in customer trends and preferences,” said McCabe.
Apps are also playing an increasingly important role in the licensed trade and hospitality sector.
Julie Grieve, chief executive and founder of Information Apps, the firm behind the Criton app service, said operators “have to connect with today’s digital-savvy consumers” who want to be able to access information “when they want it, how they want it, instantly and on the move”.
“Apps that are free to download, and easily updated by the bar or restaurant owner, mean that the latest menus, cocktails and prices are always at a customer’s fingertips,” said Grieve.
“Using cloud-based services that are accessed on a subscription basis through apps opens up huge opportunities for bar or restaurant owners.”
Graeme Horsfall, general manager at Intelligentpos, agreed.
“If you need to write a menu, sign a contract, manage a newsletter, sales, stock or bookings system, there’s a free downloadable app that can help,” he said. “It’s now quite easy to find apps that allow you to run your business directly from an iPad, and the choice is getting wider.
“The advantage of technology today is that it can empower any aspiring young or established business to achieve more, often at less cost.”
Advancements in technology have also had a positive impact in other areas of licensed premises – from back-bar fridges to glasswashers.
Harry Millan, managing director of Millan Services, said the efficiency and features of day-to-day equipment has “improved tremendously over the last few years”.
“Glasswashers, for instance, use half the amount of water than the old machines, and the latest model we have just recently introduced to the trade now comes with three different wash cycles, thus saving power when not necessary,” he said.
“The best news of all for publicans is that pricing has either remained the same or, in some instances, has actually got cheaper.”