GRA Love the Dogs
"Thanks to a combination of feature-rich enterprise software for front-of-house and our back-office from IBS and high-performance touchscreens from J2, we are completely in control of our business."
Mike Stapley, Finance Director, GRA Love the Dogs
With attendances reaching three million and £2.5 billion wagered each year, greyhound racing remains one of the country's most popular spectator sports. Even at a time when disposable income is under pressure, the traditional past-time of ‘going to the dogs’ has proved it has perennial appeal.
GRA Love the Dogs, a leading operator of greyhound racing stadia, welcomes families, friends and corporate groups to its Oxford, Wimbledon, Birmingham Perry Barr, Birmingham Hall Green and Manchester Belle Vue venues. Illuminated tracks make each an ideal night-out destination. A range of trackside, restaurant or private dining packages offer high-quality service and options that range from quick-serve food served on the concourse through to fine dining in executive suites and VIP boxes.
In spite of its enduring appeal, the greyhound racing industry needs to work hard to compete with a multitude of other leisure options. To keep in pole position in its market, GRA Love the Dogs set about considering how it could increase business efficiencies and profitability and offer a level of service that would see guests returning and recommending a GRA experience to their friends.
GRA Love the Dogs first partnered with EPoS and enterprise management solutions company, IBS Systems, 10 years ago. More recently, GRA decided to upgrade its ROM-based terminals to new PC-based touchscreen EPoS terminals from J2 Retail Systems as part of a major upgrading of its EPoS capability.
Gareth Powell, Managing Director of IBS Systems, explains: “As an experienced user of our EPoS software, GRA was keen to take advantage of our latest generation of front-of-house and back-office products, all of which are web-based and available via cloud computing. To do this, GRA needed higher performance terminals.”
“This is where J2 came in. Its J2 630s were the first to market with Solid State Storage Drives (SSDs) as standard. This delivers the processing speeds needed to access our ‘in the cloud’ applications. We now only recommend SSDs, and we think the J2 630 is the best machine. It’s very fast and. with its dual core processor and SSDs, the whole terminal is fanless. That makes for greater reliability, an increased lifespan and a lower cost of ownership.”
GRA Love the Dogs has J2’s installed across its estate, at 110 catering points-of-sale. Many of the J2 630s are equipped with the True Flat Resistive (TFR) bezel-free touchscreens which J2 recently brought to market, described as “a super terminal” by Powell. All the installation, configuration, training and support have been being provided by the IBS installation teams led by dedicated project managers.
• J2 630 touchscreens are powerful, high-performance terminals and give GRA the speed of response to exploit IBS’ web-based software
• The point-of-service is simple and easy to use, very fast, with everything defined to touch buttons
• With IBS POSLink and StockLink available ‘in the cloud’, GRA gets immediate and constant access to real-time data, which aids rapid decision-making
• Both solutions are feature-rich and tailored to all the elements of the GRA business – from volume fast-serve to fine-dining
• The IBS enterprise management system means that mission-critical data is consolidated and can be analysed by venue or as a group for increased business control
GRA Love the Dogs runs both front-of-house and back-office solutions from IBS. Says Gareth Powell: “We’ve been writing software for 20 years and all our new developments are ‘in the cloud’. Our two primary solutions, POSLink touchscreen technology and StockLink, are available as hosted web-based applications and licensed on a price-per-user model. This approach gives our smaller clients the advantage of enterprise-level services at a fraction of the cost of running them inhouse. Plus they can rely on the security and reliability of the applications we manage for them at our data centre.”
When it comes to EPoS hardware, Gareth Powell has no hesitation in recommending J2. “We like the versatility that J2’s ‘all in the head’ concept gives. Some customers wall-mount their terminals outside seating areas. Others pole-mount them to make more room on the counters. It’s a flexible approach to installing EPoS. “
The J2 terminals run as true PCs, running IBS’ POSLink. This software offers a multitude of functions that are easily accessed via each touchscreen terminal and can be configured for the particular needs of fast concourse food service, seated meals in public restaurant and more formal catering in the boxes and VIP suites. Designed for both single and multi-site operations, POSLink is ideal for the business mix that GRA operates. It encompasses traditional table service and handheld ordering and comes with add-ons to manage table reservations and utilisation, plus a kitchen video monitoring system.
“POSLink is particularly good for pre-booked tables and deposits. GRA does a lot of this and the system handles it perfectly. Then there’s one-button integration between POSLink and our back-office enterprise system, StockLink. The whole solution is online and operating in real time. Two seconds after a till transaction has been processed it’s recorded on the head office system. That means lots of control.”
POSLink offers a plug-in marketing and promotions module. “In an environment where you want to encourage return visits, our online loyalty system equips GRA to do lots of marketing, and run a range of offers and promotions such as ‘points for pounds’.”
Control and security are provided through both front and back-office operations. At point of sale, the IBS software captures and reports on all types of transactions including ‘voids’ and ‘no sales’ so that any anomalies can be easily pinpointed. It manages the voucher system securely. In the back-office, the software manages costing and recipe planning which results in tighter management.
In the past, the five GRA venues operated as individual stadia. Now, thanks to IBS’ head-office system, the venues are all linked together for the purposes of management and reporting. “Our management team analyse performance by individual stadium or collectively across the whole group. Access to transactional data is available from every terminal in every location in every stadium. That adds up to complete business visibility and control,” says Stapley.
StockLink provides a number of modules that, together, manage the entire business. An important element is Business Intelligence, the latest addition to the IBS suite. Says Powell: “This enables GRA to create lots of reports using BI drilldowns. It collects and analyses sales and stock data, providing time-critical data and reports to drive the business. Its scope ranges from choosing the right product mix, through to managing bookings and billing, ledgers and deposits."
Full transactional analysis enables GRA to see who is buying what, when, and reveals average spend per cover and per table. “We can do it all. Our new system is a truly flexible business asset for all our senior people – feeding them the information, trends and intelligence they need to do their jobs more effectively,” concludes Mike Stapley.
About Intelligent Business Systems
IBS is the professional’s choice for EPoS and enterprise management solutions. Its core proposition – easy-to-use, high-quality, affordable EPoS and enterprise management solutions – enables hospitality, catering, leisure and retail organisations to improve how they run, manage and direct their businesses.
Sector-specific knowledge encompasses bars, pubs, hotels, fine dining, fast food, café, museums, theme parks, tourist attractions, contract catering and educational establishments. The company is well established within the UK, European and North American markets.
IBS' in-house developed solutions combine the feature-rich POSLink touchscreen point-of-sale software, the versatile modular StockLink back-office software, sophisticated, robust and easy-to-use tills, terminals, handhelds, kitchen printers and associated hardware. All IBS' solutions, now available as ‘in the cloud’ web-based applications, deliver measurable benefits that include accurate, real-time business intelligence and reporting to drive decision-making.
Intelligent Business Systems
St James Road
Tel: +44 (0) 1280 709 400
Fax: +44 (0) 1280 704 315
Sector: Leisure (Greyhound Racing Stadium)