Simplifying tipping and improving customer service

Why settle for just one great idea, when you can combine it with another? That’s exactly what the brains behind NQ64 Arcade Bar have done, combining great drinks with classic arcade games to create an experience growing rapidly across the UK. 

From Street Fighter II to Pac-Man, and from cocktails to craft beers, NQ64 sits in the sweet spot of Stranger Things-esque nostalgia for the 1980s and a very modern love for experiential bars. 

Born in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (hence the NQ64 name) in 2019, there are now 11 sites across Britain, including London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Liverpool. Punters have lapped up the chance to enjoy a few drinks while immersing themselves in a retro arcade game or console, and there are plans for further sites. 

First and foremost, we are bar operators – that's our bread and butter,” says Clint Ghent, who has a strong background in running bar chains and was brought in as COO 18 months ago to help support NQ64’s growth aims. “The games are a super important part of the P&L and the experience, with great retro arcade games from all over the world. But we put as much if not more stock into providing a great bar experience: wicked drinks and great atmosphere.” 

While customer experience is, of course, a major focus, Ghent says one of their key goals is to be seen as a desired place to work in the industry. “We consider ourselves a great employer,” he says. “We want to provide great jobs in hospitality.” 

With 190 people currently on the books, Ghent says they are always looking for ways to make NQ64 an attractive working environment. This includes tipping, and this is where Dojo comes in. 

The primary reason for switching payment providers was looking for a better tipping solution for our team,” Ghent says. “Integration was an added benefit, but if we'd found a system with a better tipping capability that didn't integrate, we still would have gone for that. Luckily, Dojo provides the best of both worlds.

Happy tipping, happy customers, happy staff

NQ64 previously used Global Payments, and, like many card machines, it didn’t offer a friendly experience for either the user or the operator when it came to tipping. Too many screens, too much scrolling and not enough clarity. 

So, when The Access Group introduced NQ64 to Dojo during an EPOS rollout, NQ64 jumped at the chance to test out the Dojo machines. Not only did it integrate with its systems, but it offered a really simple, one-screen tipping experience. After a six-week trial, NQ64 rolled Dojo out across all 11 sites. 

We're a good payer, we pay above the real living wage,” says Ghent. “We want our teams to have the opportunity to make as much money as possible. Previously, the solution we had was so clunky for tipping, that it was actually better to turn it off on the card terminals. So we definitely wanted a merit-based system where our teams were earning their tips and feeling the benefit of delivering great service and great experience to our guests.

Dojo’s simple tipping process works like this: the card machines have seven percentage-based values for tipping. Starting at 10% and going up to 25%, the operator selects three default percentages from the seven values – for example, 10%, 12% and 15% - and these percentages are then offered as a choice to the customer. 

So, once the transaction amount is confirmed, the customer is presented with a simple, single screen that asks them if they would like to add a tip with five options: the default three percentages, ‘custom amount’, and ‘No thanks’. Once they’ve selected in just one click, the customer completes the transaction as normal. 

Not only has this speeded up the payment process at NQ64’s busy bars, but it gives their staff the opportunity to experiment with the three percentage choices: some locations may attract better tippers, so would select higher percentage options – say 17.5%, 20% and 22.5% – to offer as choices to their customers.

The results are in

Of course, there’s one thing making the tipping option a friendlier user experience. But is it making a difference? Well, yes. Very much so. 

The early indicators in terms of where we're at is a phenomenal uptick in tipping,” says Ghent. “Our tipping is up over 3,000%, and that is basically worth £300,000 a year to our teams, which is just phenomenal.

Ghent says he’s had NQ64 bar managers come up to him at events to tell him that moving across to Dojo has been such a success that the bar teams feel like they’re being paid twice. 

Our ops guys have worked out that in some sites it’s been worth somewhere between £2.50 and £3 an hour incremental on their rate of pay since moving to Dojo,” says Ghent. “That’s pretty transformative, and definitely a big step in the right direction for us. Tipping has become a small but important part in the equation of becoming a great employer, and it's good for staff to know that we're looking at ways for them to enhance their earnings.

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