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It’s a brave man who launches a privately-owned, independent coffee shop in an area surrounded by the likes of Costa, Caffè Nero and Starbucks. But that’s what John Wheeler did and, six years on, business is good.

John puts the secret of his success down to a mixture of quality service from polite and courteous staff, his own blend of fair trade coffee – and the versatility of a revenue generating loyalty card system that’s part of his Aloha point of sale software.

Before opening Coffee Bamber in Darlington’s Cornmill Shopping Centre, John ran a hotel, where he used roomMaster property management software from NFS Technology. So, when he needed a sophisticated point of sale system for his newly-opened coffee shop, he turned again to NFS, who demonstrated and then installed Aloha.

“Day to day, Aloha Quickservice covers every aspect of our point of sale needs and simplifies operations for staff, putting everything at their fingertips on a touch screen,” says John.

“Behind the scenes, it’s ideal for me. I don’t go into the shop every day, but from my home office I can connect to the system remotely, to keep myself up to date and see how business is moving in real time. I can also update new product details and pricing remotely, whilst using Aloha for stock control means our waste is down to one per cent.”

But, for John it’s the way Aloha handles his loyalty card system that has proved to be a winner for generating new customers and keeping them coming back for more.

“We started offering loyalty cards from day one,” says John. “We operate two types. One is a reward card that gives points on what customers buy. This has been tremendously successful, with around 7,000 customers using the cards.”

“The other card is a preferential one for senior citizens. When they hand their card over, they get their normal points, but they also automatically get 10% discount. It saves the trouble or embarrassment of customers having to tell staff that they are senior citizens when they order.”

“For both cards, customers can use their points at any time against partial payment of as little as 40p, right across our full range of products.”

“This is the biggest advantage to the business. Customers are really insistent on getting their points. Once a customer has a card they just keep coming back. And, of course, we can monitor that in the system.”

The importance of loyalty cards to Coffee Bamber was ably demonstrated when their EPOS system went down on a Saturday morning. Staff recorded points manually for addition to accounts, but it was clear that customers didn’t entirely trust that, and were likely to start drifting away. A call to NFS solved the problem fast.

“NFS technologists found another machine for us that had been used for demos,” says John. “They programmed it and sent it to us. In no time we were up and running again. Without NFS’ assistance in finding an EPOS that our cash flow could meet, we would have been in a lot of trouble.”

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