When leading independent brewer Hall & Woodhouse needed a highly dependable food and beverage management system which could cope with its pubs’ busiest trading days, it turned to Zonal’s Aztec management solution
and its ultra-reliable Z500 series EPoS terminals
Hall & Woodhouse has been a leading independent brewer for over 200 years and is renowned throughout the country for its award-winning Badger Ales. It remains an independent family company and is owned and run by the fifth generation of the Woodhouse family.
In addition to its brewing operations, the company operates pubs all over the south of England, from Somerset and Devon in the West Country to London and Sussex in the east. From modest roots in the 18th century, Hall & Woodhouse has grown into a successful modern business with over 1,500 employees and an annual turnover of almost £100 million.
The company required a food and beverage management system and a new EPoS system for their growing business and a decision was made to install a more sophisticated system. The company evaluated a small number of alternative systems and decided that Zonal would provide the best solution.
Robust and reliable
“I had used Zonal equipment before at previous companies, and had always found that both the software and the hardware were incredibly robust,” explains Martin Scott, Hall & Woodhouse Financial Director.
“We carried out a trial and the Zonal system provided all we needed, and more. We knew we could rely on it to keep on working without any disruptions”.
At the beginning of the project, the company implemented Zonal systems in 40 of its pubs over a period of about three months. Each installation included new EPoS solutions with card payment capabilities in the bars and restaurant, a kitchen management system connecting waiting staff to the food preparation areas, and financial and stock management software in the back office. Each night, management data from the pubs is sent electronically to the Hall & Woodhouse head office for analysis in their proprietary management information system.
Martin explains that because of the nature of Hall and Woodhouse’s food and beverage operations, the most important benefit of Zonal’s system is its rock solid reliability. “A large proportion of the business we do is concentrated on a comparatively small number of big days, Easter, the May bank holidays, and three months in the summer when we are tremendously busy. We can’t afford to have the system crash in one of our pubs because if it did, it would cost us thousands of pounds every time”.
“A bar environment is pretty harsh, but we’ve found the Zonal hardware to be very hard-wearing.”
The company makes use of large numbers of seasonal staff during the busy periods, but thanks to the intuitive nature of Zonal’s software, new staff need only a minimal amount of training before they can use the system.
Zonal’s systems aren’t just dependable; they’ve helped Hall & Woodhouse improve the efficiency of the way its pubs are run in a number of ways, according to Martin. One example of this is the kitchen management system, which enables waiting staff to take orders and send them straight to the kitchens from terminals in the restaurants.
“Our staff don’t have to run up and down stairs to get orders which saves them time. They can instantly see from the terminals when particular items are running low or have run out”
Sound financial sense
Martin has no doubt that the investment will save Hall & Woodhouse money in a fairly short period of time. “The system will certainly give us a rapid payback, but more important to us is the fact that the system works. The cost of the Zonal system pales into insignificance compared to the cost of a till system going down on a busy Sunday lunchtime.”
The advanced features of the system are proving valuable – and the company plans to exploit more of them in the future – but for Hall & Woodhouse it’s the fact that the company can use it as a solid foundation for trading that is all important.
“It’s impossible to stress too much how important it is to us that our systems work, and when we deal with Zonal we know we will get a system that does what is promised, delivered on time and on budget.”