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the thirsty bear

Thirsty Bear saves on labour costs with the help of Deputy

United Kingdom
hospitality industry Hospitality

At a glance

  • Business owners unlock cost savings by comparing up-to-date data on upfront labour costs and sales data — making adjustments on the go when necessary
  • Managers save time creating rotas and finding cover
  • Employees can quickly access and manage their shifts via their smartphones

The Story

The idea for the Thirsty Bear, the UK’s first pull your own pint pub, was quickly developed on a train journey to London by business owners Phil Neale and Ali Rees. The pair had spent long queues at the bar the previous night and started to develop their alternative concept for a pub where food is ordered from tablet devices and self service beer taps mean no long wait for service.

You don’t want to go somewhere that’s dead with no atmosphere, but as soon as you go somewhere that’s busy, you spend half your night queuing at the bar.”

"The Thirsty Bear is London’s first fully fledged self service pub where we aim to marry technology with great food and drinks to ensure you have a memorable experience."

The Challenge

Within a couple of years they’d launched Tabology, producing innovative self serve beer taps and tablet devices as well as creative POS solutions. The pair needed a test bed for their new tech so decided to buy their own pub in central London. Running the Thirsty Bear came with its own set of challenges and with little experience managing a pub the pair encountered a steep learning curve when it came to staffing:

We didn’t really have anything in place to make sure that we had the right number of staff at the right times, and therefore we were very inefficient.”

According to Phil the wage bill at the Thirsty Bear was “too high for any pub”. The business needed to operate more efficiently and ensure adequate staff were scheduled for busy periods whilst ensuring overstaffing wasn’t an issue at quieter times of the day.

You can go only a day or two a week where you might be overstaffed at various times and that’s enough to wipe out your profits by the end of the year.

"We didn't really have anything in place to make sure that we had the right number of staff at the right times, and therefore we were very inefficient."

The Solution

The business quickly installed Deputy and integrated with their POS platform. Phil was now able to see staff costs upfront and compare labour and sales costs. In a process that used to take hours to manage the business now had upfront visibility on staff costs and budgets.

“Probably the biggest saving for us is all that manual work we used to do to try and make sure we were getting the staff levels right.”

Deputy sped up the time managers spent creating rotas, allowing them to save templates and copy existing rotas to future weeks. They were also able to better deal with employee absence and finding cover at the last minute.

Instead of having to pick up the phone and start ringing round everyone to see who can come in, managers just send an open shift notification to everyone on their phone and the first person to respond to it picks up the shift.”

Staff now had improved visibility over upcoming shifts and were able to swap shifts with other employees. According to Phil, Deputy brought benefits to “the staff, the manager and the owner, and they were all slightly different”.

Future plans

Moving forward, Phil will continue to advocate for cloud technology within the sector, which allows business to “install different products that integrate together and produce exactly what you need, enabling businesses to pick and choose from different best-of-breed products”.

Phil and Ali will be continuing to build on the Thirsty Bear’s reputation as one of the city’s most tech-savvy pubs. The pair plan to release a new smartphone app that allows users to order directly from their handsets. They’ll also be taking their integration with Deputy to the next level by installing iBeacons that automatically clock staff in and out of shifts when they enter and exit the building.

"The biggest saving from using Deputy is the reduction in all the manual work we used to do to try and make sure we were getting staff levels right."

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