The 1955 Club, Walton-on-Thames
The 1955 Club is a bustling artisan café in the market town of Walton-on-Thames. With three large coffee chains and several independents within a stone’s throw, the 1955 Club is a great example of an independent holding its own against a lot of competition.
Paul Baron, owner of the 1955 Club, inherited his EPOS system when he took over the premises. When he doubled his turnover within two months he knew he needed to upgrade the system. He now has a two till system and two handheld tablets for taking orders outside. He has also recently introduced a plastic loyalty card system, replacing his previous paper cards. They gave out 750 cards within the first 3 weeks.
“To be honest, I was sceptical about how effective loyalty cards would be. People are pretty savvy and collect all your competitors’ cards too. But I have been pleasantly surprised with the new ones we’ve introduced. For a start, they have nice looking design so they stand out from all the others people have in their purses. We’ve been able to replace the two-card system we had before (one for coffees and one for shakes and smoothies) with just the one, and it was easy to load customers’ past points on.”
“You can set the loyalty cards up to work exactly how you want, so we have a points collection system for individual customers, but give direct discounts to people working in local businesses. We’ve increased purchases from the latter group by 50% since we introduced them.”
“It’s possible to collect a lot of customer data from the cards, but we have not gone down that route. We’ve set up the card system so that all our loyalty card holders stay anonymous. They don’t have to hand over any personal data or fill out consent forms, and we don’t have to worry about GDPR compliance.”
Paul has recently added two handheld tablets to his system, to speed up service. Before this waiting staff were travelling long distances between outside tables and tills to input orders.
“The difference they have made is immeasurable. On a busy Saturday we were seeing the waiting times for food orders to come out of the kitchen creeping up throughout the day. We were having to warn customers that there was a 30-minute wait for food. Of course, that’s going to put people off. Now with the handhelds you can save 5 minutes on just getting the order through to the kitchen. They’ve turned the problem on its head and food is coming out of the kitchen more efficiently. Sometimes the waiting staff are running to keep up with the kitchen. By reducing waiting times, I would say we have served at least 10% more seated customers since we introduced them.”
Paul also uses his system to help stock control and manage his menus.
“As a café, there are things we can’t afford to run out of. We can set stock levels for particular items on the system so that it will automatically alert you when you reach that level. I am always looking for ways to improve what we offer. I have set the screens up with multiple layers so I can see exactly how every single item we have on the menu is selling. You know what is popular and we can take off any items that aren’t doing well. You can run reports on pretty much anything. It sounds like it should be complicated but actually it’s easy to set the different screens up. You can add a new item at just one touch, alter the size, colour, anything really. We’ve even got a button so we can offer discounts for members of the emergency services.”