Loyverse POS Tips for Diving and Activity Centres

If you are running a small diving or activity centre, then you can sometimes think that you are ‘not quite big enough’ for a high-tech solution. My diving centre in Gran Canaria only does about five to ten transactions a day, so for many years it was easy enough to have a manual (paper) system for recording sales. With 85% of the transactions by credit card, a traditional ‘cash till’ was not exactly the right solution, and until recently most of the pc/desktop systems were either a bit inflexible or had a price tag which did not make them cost-effective.

There were four main problems that I wanted to solve with a new solution:

  • Mis-pricing was costing me an estimated €100 a month .. not a fortune but €1200 a year adds up.
  • Most divers were not bothered about not having a printed receipt but a few people did ask for one.
  • Working out bills for multiple days was more time-consuming and did not look professional.
  • It was time-consuming to transfer the detail of the transactions into my spreadsheet to do more detailed analysis at the end of each day.

However software authors are constantly creating and releasing new products, and with the dropping cost of tablets and small printers I thought it was time to do some more research.

That research led me to the ‘Loyverse package which has been designed as a simple POS (Point of Sale) for small bars and restaurants. At first I was a bit unsure, as if anything it seemed ‘too simple’ for my business, but after a few days I was beginning to understand the power of the package.

Now that we have completed the first month I am very happy with the system, and it has given me some unexpected benefits as well.

So how did I set Loyverse up for my Dive Centre?

There are two sides to the Loyverse system, the POS device and the Back Office configuration. I used my normal laptop for the Back Office and purchased a new small 8-inch tablet (an Acer Iconia One 8″) for the hand-held device and a Bluetooth-enabled till-roll printer (both from Amazon.co.uk). The configuration of both was very easy, loading the Loyverse POS package from the Google PlayStore, and simply plugging the printer into a power socket.

The bulk of the work in setting up the system comes when you start to set up the products. Here I found that the terminology used was a bit misleading for me, having spent many years in IT, but when you start to understand their structure it becomes easy to mirror your business onto the system.

The main structural element in Loyverse is the ‘ITEM’, but I think of it as a ‘GROUP CODE’ rather than an individual product or service. For each ITEM you can then have several VARIANTS, and this is where you can enter individual products or services.

So for example, our top-level items include ‘1 day of Diving’ ‘2 days of diving’, ‘Introductory Dive’, ‘PADI Open Water Course’ and ‘T-shirts’, while the second level (VARIANTS) has ‘1day, 2 dives’, ‘1day 1dive’, ‘1day 2 dives & equipment hire’ etc. This makes it very quick and intuitive to use on the tablet .. First, select the Product group, and then by setting up ‘common case’ Variants select the one that matches the customer.

The ITEMS are shown on the main screen

A nice trick is to then use the ‘Modifiers’. After a bit of experimentation I set up a Modifier called ‘Dived With’ which has itself five options . ‘You Dived with Brian’ for me and one for every other member of the team.. all with a price of zero. When you select the Variants, you can switch this on or off, for example on ‘1 day of diving’ it is enabled, and on the final receipt it will then tell the customer who they dived with. There is another advantage in that if we have any questions later about the dive, we can track back quickly through the receipts to confirm who the instructor was.

One of the benefits I had not expected was to be able to easily link receipts to individual customers by their e-mail address. You can either type the name and or email in when you set up the receipts, or set up an import. 85% of our bookings (and so our receipts) come from Internet bookings, so with a bit of tweaking I can get the forward bookings exported from my booking system, and then import them into the Loyverse progrmme. Again it makes it very easy to later find or review an individual receipt.

So what are the benefits?

The implementation had a few hiccups but nothing serious. This is probably one of the easiest systems I have set up for many years! There are some features I would like but essentially by keeping the core product fairly simple it is easy to use, and it looks very professional. It looks smart, professional and exact.

As everything can be done on the tablet it allows more staff freedom, we can move around the centre and sit down with the customer to do the receipts, so no more queing to pay at the front desk. Putting the instructor name on the receipts, as well as the customer name, improves the personalisation of the receipt, and we can also email the receipt straight to the customer.

We can prepare the bills in advance (i.e. while the activity is taking place) and then as customers come to pay can show them on screen the breakdown of the costs, split bills, add discounts or save them for a later date if the customer boooks more days.

By loading other links on the tablet we can use it to discuss weather, check the tides, use Google maps to suggest places to visit or to eat and access other information to give the customer an overall good service.

The Back-office also gives more than I originally expected. From the simple looking reports menu I can get an immediate month to date figure, or daily figures, or dig into the detail of individual days, receipts etc. By exporting the sales into a spreadsheet, I can now quickly reformat the data to fit straight into my original spreadsheet, so my annual summary still is comparable with previous years.

Finally, not only does the system help avoid mis-pricing but it allows me to easily change and increase pricing. I estimate that the system will increase my takings by about 2-3% this year through careful pricing actions. We are getting a second tablet so we can do payments in parallel and look at other ways we can take the information to our customers on the tablets, rather than them clustering around our desktops and laptops.

In summary then the Loyverse POS sale system should be an obvious choice for a small to medium sized diving or activity centre. It has a stable well laid out interface which is easy for both staff and customers to use and understand. It will do all the basic operations including refunds, splitting orders, recording cash and credit card sales, and you can export the data back into other systems if you want more detailed analysis.