[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]The inner city entertainment scene is on the march. In the major capital cities of Australia the traditional style of pub has all but disappeared, with properties radically modernised (or just as radically restored) to offer sophisticated cocktail, bar snack and restaurant service. But that revolution has now pretty well run its course. A new breed of young, imaginative businessmen is now rewriting the book on hospitality, with a fresh style of small bar. Intimate but just a little bit edgy, and catering to the affluent Millennial Generation, these bars set out to offer the home-from-home that the best of the traditional pubs provided their patrons back in the day, but with boutique spirits shelves and an uncompromising approach to culinary excellence.
House of Pocket’s (formerly Pocket Group) Karl Schlothauer and Christophe Lehoux are typical of this cohort, except that in their case they have spotted the latent potential of the growing outer city communities. Pocket Group began with bars in the familiar territory of Darlinghurst and the city of Sydney. Eschewing customary branding practice, the guys at HoP created a unique look for each venue, relying on service, ambience and the excellence of their food and beverages to do the heavy lifting that has established them as a distinctive brand. They then bucked the “inner-city” trend by opening Pocket Terrigal. Judging by the reviews, it’s brought a welcome breath of fresh air and sophistication to the Central Coast. It was followed by another out-of-town venue – Crooked Tailor, in Castle Hill, as well as their most ambitious venture yet – a whisky bar in Paris called Lockwood.
Almost from the start, HoP have used Bepoz point-of-sale systems. A good point of sale system is a must-have for today’s hospitality providers, and I wanted to hear, from a user’s point of view, the part played in growing the business. I caught up with Karl, in Adelaide, scoping out potential venues for further expansion.
TFP – Have you used Bepoz POS from the start?
KS – No, we began with an American system in the first place.
TFP – So why switch to Bepoz?
KS – Well, we looked at the Bepoz product, and it was just so much simpler and more intuitive to use than what we had. The interface is well designed, and it makes training that much easier.
TFP – Anything else?
KS – The back of house reporting is also really great – it takes a lot of the sweat out of managing a venue.
TFP – So you stuck with Bepoz Point of Sale for your subsequent venues?
KS – No, with our next bar we tried another POS, but it was basically the same story and before long we went back and installed Bepoz.
TFP – And that was it – you’ve been with Bepoz ever since?
KS – Yeah, that’s about it. But to tell you the truth, even if the Bepoz Point of Sale had been no better than its rivals’, I think we’d still be going with them.
TFP – Why’s that?
KS – The customer service Bepoz give us. It’s 5 star. We haven’t had a problem that hasn’t been fixed promptly and efficiently, and that’s crucial in a business like ours.
TFP – When your business is growing, presumably your POS system needs to expand to keep pace – adding terminals, and so on?
KS – The scalability of the Bepoz product is one of its great beauties. Whenever we need to add capability, we just ring Sherif, our account manager at Bepoz, tell him what we need, and he fixes it.
TFP – You’re in the process of adding Head Office capability to your POS, aren’t you? What’s the motivation for that?
KS – Well, we’re getting to be a sizeable group now, and although we’ve taken care to give each bar its own look and feel, the truth is that behind the scenes we need them to have as much as possible in common, if we’re to enjoy the benefits of scale. Having a Head Office package will allow us to update pricing and other parameters group-wide. We’ll be able to create our menus and other venue-specific material individually for each bar. It’ll also let us share information about our patrons – loyalty programs, vouchers, and so on. And we’ll be able to monitor and control things like staff activities, stock levels and purchasing for all our venues from a single workstation. It’s very important to us that each of our bars continue to have a distinct identity, and the Bepoz Head Office software supports that.
TFP – So what about the future?
KS – One thing on my to do list is to exploit our system’s potential for integrating with our Social Media campaigns. Personalisation is a key aspect of the House of Pocket strategy, so anything that can help us connect more directly and individually with our patrons – birthdays, loyalty programs, vouchers, et cetera, is most welcome.
TFP – Karl, thanks for your time.[/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Tom Forrester-Paton is a commercial writer and voice artist. He conducted this interview for Bepoz Retail Solutions.[/vc_column][/vc_row]