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Embracing sports and boosting profits

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Embracing sports and boosting profits

May is a bumper month for football, with fans looking forward to the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup final on the 27th. Sporting events will be a key driver of foot traffic in locals across the nation, with many pubs hoping to make the most of their TV sport subscription packages. Maximising the value of these sporting opportunities in your pub will have a tangible effect on your profitability and if played well, can improve customer retention.

Get ready

Embracing sports and boosting profits
  • Plan what sports you plan to show
  • Consider investing in a TV sports package subscription
  • Think about offering food promotions

Firstly if you’re screening sports through Sky or BT you need a license. Many establishments choosing to bypass the associated costs to illegally stream live matches have faced fines up to £65k. There are however a number of live sporting events shown on terrestrial TV throughout the year including the Grand National, Wimbledon and rugby internationals. To screen these events you simply need a standard television licence for the premises. This must be separate from a TV licence covering any living accommodation on site.

Deciding whether to pursue or renew a subscription for your pub is certainly a big decision. The pricing structures of these live sport packages are based on the rateable value of your pub and it could end up costing you in excess of £2k per month. While the initial outlay may be eye watering, big sporting events do pull in the crowds. Sky reported pubs screening 2015/16 Champions League matches experienced a 41% uplift in wet sales. The same report also suggested 69% of people will usually return to the same pub to watch live sports. A good sports package accompanied by a lively atmosphere can guarantee loyal custom throughout the sporting calendar.

If you're planning to hold an event which will encourage an influx in custom, it makes good business sense to check your prices. When was the last time you checked your margins? Many landlords are guilty of not reviewing this data often enough, or fail to adjust prices to accommodate other rising costs. A back seat approach to costing will quickly eat into profits. Having access to insightful reporting features through your EPOS system is an invaluable tool in identifying products where there's room to increase prices, or change out for products with better margins.

Another good way to encourage spend is by offering food. Sporting events call for snacky dishes and light bites, such as nachos, chips and sandwiches. These are great foods to serve on events such as match days because no one is expecting fine dining, they want quick and easy dishes they can eat with their hands. Food offers more flexibility on margins, such as making savings buying produce in bulk or encouraging additional sales through promotions. Spicy and salty food options also encourage customers to drink more. Offering a limited menu will take the pressure off the kitchen and ensure a quick and easy service your customer will appreciate.

Promotions are always popular with customers looking for a good deal. These work especially well on match days when people head to the pub in groups and are looking to share the cost. Offering pitchers of beer is an ideal promotion, saving time and encouraging upselling amongst groups. Multi-buy promotions are an ideal way to get rid of excess or unpopular stock, such as bottle buckets with 4 for £10 deals. These kinds of sharing deals add to the camaraderie of the event and the same can be done with food, such as offering sharing platters, whole pizzas or big bowls of chips and dips.

Get Set

Embracing sports and boosting profits
  • Advertise your plans across social media, in-house adverts and word of mouth
  • Run competitions across your social media channels
  • Send out email promotions

Planning your sports screening is essential to ensuring you identify all available opportunities to maximise profitability. The preparation stage is key to driving footfall and once those customers are in your establishment, boosting spend per head. Skys OHH Establishment Survey found people spend twice as long in pubs when sport is being shown. Increasing your customers dwell time means they will ultimately spend more money, so letting those customers know you will be screening events is key to getting them through the door in the first place!

People who don’t regularly go out drinking will often seek out pubs to watch the football with family and friends, especially games of importance, such as international games and finals. This is an opportunity to turn a new customer into a loyal one. Marketing your event through as many channels as possible will ensure your message reaches those people beyond your circle of regulars.

Social media is a great tool for reaching large audiences and advertising events for free. If your business doesn't already have a company Twitter and Facebook this is the perfect time to gain followers and broaden your social footprint. Advertise what events you plan on screening and what promotions you plan on running alongside them. Incentivise people to spread the news by running a competition or a giveaway, such as a free pitcher of beer. This is low cost and encourages users to share your content. Posts with images tend to receive more engagement so team all the necessary information, including time and date, with an accompanying picture.

Advertising matches in-house is an effective way of spreading the word amongst your existing clientele, who in turn can tell their friends. Some pubs like to decorate the outside of their establishment with flags and banners to highlight upcoming games. Advertising matches on A-boards, wall mounts and window signage is a more understated but has the same effect. Don’t neglect inside - posters, table toppers and menu inserts are all ways to let your customers know of planned events.

Email marketing is a really effective way of encouraging customer retention, with Experien Cheetah Mail reporting each email address acquired having an approximate value of £84.50. The promise of offers and promotions can persuade customers to part with their contact details. By collecting contacts through your website, social media or even a signup sheet on the bar, you can create and send targeted marketing campaigns out to customers, letting them know about upcoming events and promotions. Creating engaging and professional newsletters needn’t be an arduous task. Epos Now integration partners, MailChimp, affords users editable templates, which can be styled to your own branding and record detailed analytics on the success of your campaigns.


Embracing sports and boosting profits
  • Encourage responsible drinking
  • Ensure you have enough stock to meet demand
  • Rota on extra staff if required
  • Ease congestion at the bar by offering table service

All that lies between you, a great customer experience and a growing profit margin is a successful execution on the day. A key element of this is having enough stock to meet demand. EPOS reporting allows you to look at back at previous event data and predict how busy you’ll be and how much stock is required. This feature affords valuable foresight, ensuring you're not sitting on stock and impeding cash flow. If you’ve no past data to refer to, it’s best to play it safe and over order. Saying, “We’ve run out” is damaging to your business’ reputation, particularly if you’ve built expectations promoting your event. It appears unprofessional and ill-prepared, especially if you run low on key stock items, such as larger during football or Pimms during Wimbledon, for example. Epos Now has an intelligent inventory management feature that can set alerts or automate ordering when stock runs low. This ensures you never over/under-order stock while saving you hours of admin time per week.

The joy of holding these events is the electric atmosphere generated, with everyone sharing in moments of collective celebration or disappointment. Unfortunately, it’s not unknown for good natured boisterous fans to become rowdy, rude and/or violent depending on intoxication, provocation or the sporting result. Nipping any negative behaviour in the bud is essential to future-proofing your business. This kind of behaviour not only endangers your customers, staff and property but also your business potential. Promoting responsible drinking will go a long way in reducing potential problems. Ensuring staff are well trained on checking ID, having water available at the bar and refusing to serve intoxicated customers will reduce the likelihood alcohol related issues arising.

With tensions running high it’s imperative to have a smooth a service as possible. Jostling elbows, spilt pints and knocked tables are frustrating for everyone. Carlsberg analysis of the Euros shows 77% of customers don’t want to queue at the bar, with punters losing interest after a maximum of 5 minutes. An intuitive EPOS with logical user journeys ensures orders can be input with speed and accuracy. Epos Now’s Athena software cuts the average transaction time by 50%, allowing you to move on and serve the next customer. Drafting in additional staff to help ease a burgeoning bar is also an option. Athena's uncluttered design means staff can be trained and ready to serve in less than 15 minutes!

Alternatively, why not offer a table service? This will ease congestion at the bar and offer customers an additional service. This can be facilitated through a tab system, which risks potential walkouts, or use a mobile POS or contactless card terminals to pay at the table side. This may require some rearranging of furniture to get the feng shui right in terms of mobility between tables and facilitating unobstructed views, but your staff and customers will thank you for it. Restricted viewing hinders the customer experience, undermining all your efforts. Providing your customers with high-quality images and sound should be a priority.


Embracing sports and boosting profits

Screening sporting events affords your business an opportunity to boost profitability all year round. Preparation and planning are key to executing events successfully, allowing you to maximise your profit potential. By investing your efforts on marketing through multiple platforms you can bring new customers in. However, it’s delivering on those expectations you raised through your marketing activity that will secure customer loyalty. Good quality food, drinks and service coupled with a great atmosphere will ensure your pub is the first choice, every time.


Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.

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