Ballpark Boosts Sales With Real-Time Payment Solution
A lot of work goes into welcoming 1,500 baseball fans at each Brazos Valley Bombers home game. The concession stands have to be stocked with enough food; fan merchandise must be plentiful; and service needs to be top-notch. Of course, the team has to do its part and win.
For Uri Geva, CEO and owner of the Brazos Valley Bombers, a collegiate summer baseball team based in Bryan, TX, having shelves stocked is only part of the game. Selling what’s on those shelves is what scores a home run in his mind. Like players whose bats go silent, sales can be quiet as well, especially if inventory isn’t being managed at a major league level. “We always knew we had improvements to make to our POS system from an inventory and business standpoint,” Geva said. “We knew we needed something to improve upon our concession and merchandise sales, and be able to do more complicated transactions and couponing than our cash registers with a credit card terminal could handle.”
Last December, Geva went to the Baseball Winter Meetings, a gathering of minor league teams and a variety of vendors. There he came across Sterling Payment Technologies and its Bridge Business Intelligence™, a wireless integrated payment system that allows merchants to access real-time sales data on the web and print a variety of sales reports. Bridge also enables merchants to manage their cash registers from an Internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone, including adding, changing and deleting prices and PLUs.
“Right away, we knew it was a system we wanted to use, and we began figuring out how we could add the solution to our budget,” Geva said. Ultimately, he purchased two models of SAM4s electronic cash registers with different capabilities for his various POS locations in the ballpark. Model ER-920 allows up to 100 PLUs on the keyboard and is ideal for concession stands. The SAM4s ER-285 supports 15 PLUs and is being used for Gavel’s ticket booth and merchandise sales. The registers were purchased from CRS, the exclusive U.S. wholesale distributor for SAM4s registers. A Honeywell Voyager 232 bar code scanner is used in the merchandise store and can support up to 10,000 PLUs.
All-In-One Payment Solution
Combined, the ECRs, Bridge Business Intelligence and the mBox wireless modem make up an all-in-one payment solution. The ECRs transmit sales information wirelessly to the Bridge system in real-time with every credit card and cash transaction performed on a register. Bridge captures the individual product sales information, allowing the merchant to track what is being sold, as well as financial sales data. This data includes the PLU code, the number of items sold, per transaction average, register totals and payment type (credit, debit or cash). All this happens without slowing down the merchant’s procedures or speed of transaction.
More Cash Registers Increase Efficiencies
“We not only looked at the project from where we had registers, but where we wanted to add them,” says Geva.
Ultimately, the Bombers went from having ten registers in the ballpark to 13. The ticket office went from none to two (ER-285s); a register was added to the candy stand (ER- 285), which didn’t have one previously; another (ER-920) was installed at the beer stand where there hadn’t been a register. The merchandise station increased from one to two (ER-285), each with a bar code scanner. “We can now track inventory by size, not just color, so we know not only that we sold a blue t-shirt, but a medium blue t-shirt,” Geva said. “This gives us a good sense of what is selling and what is not and what we have to reorder.”
At the concession stand (ER-920), the number of registers actually decreased from eight to six because the Bridge solution
enables the Bombers to serve customers via what Geva calls the “Disney Model.” This is when a customer places an order at one
register with one person but actually gets served by a different person. The SAM4s registers print out the orders that are
fulfilled by a runner. “By placing and fulfilling orders this way, people don’t have to stand in line after they place their order to wait for their food,” Geva explained. “Instead, we’ve split our windows to be order windows and pick-up windows.”
The wait staff also received a new cash register. As Geva explained, the stadium has special seating and suites for its founders, home-plate club and VIPs. This is an all-inclusive package that includes food and beverages. Previously, wait staff would personally take food orders and place the order at a concession window, where they’d wait for the order. Since installing Bridge, the wait staff takes the orders to the beer stand — which is close to the suites — and enters the orders into the register. The order prints out at the concession stand, where the order is prepared while wait staff take other orders.
They then go to the concession stand to pick up the completed order and bring it to the patrons. “This has increased our efficiency because we truly know, in real-time, how much prepaid food is being ordered and how much money that equates to, which lets us know from a cost structure if these plans are cost efficient for us and if the customer is getting a good deal,” Geva said. “On the other hand, it also lets us know if we are losing money by giving away all that free food.”
Real-Time Visibility Ups Patron Spending
Bridge updates inventory online and Geva receives real-time sales updates right on his cell phone, so by the third inning he has a good idea of how much food and merchandise has been sold in the park. “At that point, we can send out ‘hockers’ to hock merchandise throughout the ballpark,” he explained. “So, if we haven’t sold any pizza, candy or hot dogs, we can reduce the price on the fly on these items that we can’t sell the next day. This lets me be a smarter business operator to make sure revenue goals are met at the end of the day.”
Geva added that he will be out of town for some upcoming home games but is able to feel like he’ll be at the
ballpark because the Bridge system will send real-time sales information to his cell phone. While Geva admits that profits tend to be very limited in the world of baseball, he can point to an uptick in per-person spending, thanks to having the ability to be more in tune to real-time food and merchandise sales. Per person spending increased by $1.00 at the park after the first eight home games.
“That increase puts us up about 30 percent over last year,” he said. “And while order accuracy was never an issue with the older registers, customer service is improved thanks to speedier order taking and fulfillment, a percentage increase of about 37 percent.
Geva said he would have a much better idea at the end of the season where improvements can be made for next year.
“Although it took a couple of games to figure out how to use the system to its full potential, we might find that we can be even
smarter about how we use Bridge,” he said. “However, at only one-third of the way through our season, I do know Bridge’s live reporting system gives me a great advantage.” “This has increased our efficiency because we truly know, in real time, how much prepaid food is being ordered and how much money that equates to.”
Uri Geva, CEO and owner of the Brazos Valley Bombers
Article by Cindy H. Dubin
About Sterling Payment Technologies
Sterling is one of the most customer-focused payment processors in the industry, recognized for bringing the latest payment technologies to all types of businesses, quickly and affordably. Sterling offers a complete range of payment services, including credit, debit, PIN debit, fleet, gift card, EBT, check authorization and conversion, as well as proprietary rewards and loyalty programs.
Sterling’s 13-year focus on payment integration has made it a market leader in combining point of sale (POS) technology and value-added business benefits, including custom integrations, high speed wireless connectivity and online management tools, to provide merchants with the industry’s most innovative payment solutions. These include mobile payments, unique financing products for POS purchase, loyalty programs, and cloud based POS sales reporting such as the proprietary Bridge Business Intelligence™ platform.
Today, Sterling has connectivity to more than 1,000 different POS systems, including proprietary technology and middleware for numerous POS applications in hospitals, restaurants, retail, medical, automotive, and business-to-business management systems.