How Soho Live Music Club went from one to three venues in a matter of weeks using Square

Discover how Square helped them grow from one venue and a couple of employees to 3 venues, over 40 members of staff and more than 120 contracted musicians.

Square products used by Soho Live Music Club

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What began as George inviting his friends and fellow musicians over to jam in his townhouse in Soho and drink whiskey soon transformed into a fully-fledged cocktail bar and performance venue, where groups like the swing band Koko Collective take to the stage, and musicians, young and old, mingle with audiences on the floor.

Since then, he’s opened two more successful music venues: The recording studio/cabaret performance space, Boulevard Soho, and the weekly jam and improv showcase, The Shed.

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Challenges and how Square offered solutions

1. Fast scaling: When George took over his additional two venues, he had a music festival planned and wanted things to move fast. With 3-4 weeks to get performers on the stage and 30 new hires trained up, he was very appreciative of how intuitive and easy-to-navigate the Square hardware and software was – and he was able to get employees up and running with Square devices in no time.

“Square being so intuitive meant the staff members could just pick up the Square Terminal and use it within 10 minutes”

- George Hudson, Founder, Soho Live Music Club

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2. Moving operations to new locations: Thanks to the mobility of Square hardware, it was easy for staff to literally pick up the terminals and card readers and move to the new venues. While existing staff were bringing the systems over, the new staff were getting the hang of Square devices and good to serve in minutes. This helped dramatically bring down friction for George when it came to making the move into new spaces.

3. Employee management: Having a large number of staff working across different venues can make it harder to stay on top of employee management. But with Square, individual employee performances can be monitored from anywhere with sales reports. Plus, there’s even the option for staff to clock in and clock out using the software.

4. Multi-venue management: It’s easy for managers to adjust the menu for all venues from one place as well as add and take away items for each location.

“It’s really useful to see everything in one place. You can set up items in one place and have them be available across different terminals in different locations”

- George Hudson, Founder, Soho Live Music Club

Implementation and switching experience

George first came across Square when he was studying in the US, and the sleek, miniature white card readers stuck with him – in fact, he actually thought of it as a “space age way to take payments”. He followed the company until it came to the UK, and then jumped at the chance to start using Square in his business. In fact, Soho Live Music Club was the first bar in Europe to use Square – and Jack Dorsey (Square co-founder) himself came to the venue to do the launch.

Before, he was using what he describes as clunky, old-fashioned payment technology and so making the switch to having the mobile Square Reader was a game changer for the bar, making it far easier to run operations.

“I find that with the Square Terminal, it’s a lot less clunky than your traditional point of sale systems. The fact that you can move with it makes it really handy”

- Antonio, General Manager

Square’s impact on business as told by Soho Live Music Club

1. Makes employees’ lives easier: As the general manager at Soho Live Music Club puts it “Square Terminals are easy to use which is really handy for the staff”. Using the dashboard app, managers can see how well each employee is performing, analytics George uses to send praise to staff doing the best and create a little healthy competition between venues.

2. Reporting and managing multiple locations: Square’s reporting aspects make managing multiple locations a breeze, as the menu and other operations can be changed on the fly from anywhere and you can easily see what’s selling well and what needs restocking. George is also a fan of how reporting is shown with percentages in green and red, making it easy to understand what’s going well and what needs work. The permission features in Square are also helpful for running the venues, as different managers and employees need access at various different levels.

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3. Helping to grow to new locations: As George says, “Square really did help us grow from one to multiple locations”. The team went from having around 1,000 customers a week at the Piano Bar Soho, to around 6,500 across multiple venues, meaning they needed a payment system they could rely on – which they found with Square.

“It’s very important for us to have a system that doesn’t let us down when we’re dealing with that many customers, and Square doesn’t”

- George Hudson, Founder, Soho Live Music Club

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4. Minimal training investment: Hospitality is an industry with a high staff turnover but thankfully, with Square, staff training is simplified. As Antonio puts it: “I find the Square POS system really easy to use and kind of intuitive when training staff”. Meaning even those on a short trial shift can get the hang of taking payments quickly.

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Soho Live Music Club is a great example of how following your passion and building a community can lead to a flourishing business. Find out what Square can also do for your business by getting in contact with us below:

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