Over 90 Colleges and Universities are now using Symphony

As the teams behind the UK’s campus cafés and conference halls are doubtlessly aware, their market is rapidly changing. From what customers eat, to the how, the where and with whom, the days of the functional canteen lie firmly in the past.

With a necessarily captive, yet notoriously hard-to-please market, University catering teams are going to huge lengths to excite, inspire and satisfy. Think grab’n’go, think freshly squeezed juices, think sushi and cappuccinos. A broader and more interesting offer on menus strains ordering, stock control and – amid escalating and eye-watering supplier invoices – pricing. So, how can caterers make life easier?

MCR Systems Symphony solution is a suite of applications controlling electronic point of sale, stock management, loyalty, cashless payment and pre-ordering.  With over 90 University and College clients in the UK, MCR Systems fully understand the needs of the Education sector and continue to develop and enhance the Symphony solution.

The system provides users comprehensive and fully integrated control of all front-of-house operations from a web hosted back-of-house system. Its benefits are numerous, being reactive and pre-emptive in being able to respond to customer activity, while also being able to forecast and guide it.

It allows a University catering operation to be as dynamic with their offer as in retail, the back office control of all POS activity, ensures users benefit from accurate pricing, change and adapt the pricing of their offer and build promotional activity directed at the way in which their clients are using the catering outlets.

SymPAY is the one-card cashless payment system. Not only can it be used to pay for goods in catering and retail outlets, but it can also help with the washing in the laundry room, the printing and photocopying in the library and for tickets on the bus into town. The card can be a physical card or an e-card using the SymPAY Mobile App.
The card system affords its users freedom, it enables unprecedented back office control. It becomes a vehicle to control entitlements, and on an administrative level, the system allows the delivery of business critical data efficiently and quickly, so it’s possible to offer real-time, dynamic promotions based on customer activity.

The web-loading function means that a card can be credited via a secure Internet site, both by students and their parents or guardians. Parents especially have been very supportive of the system as it allows them to inject funds that are strictly ring-fenced for ‘sensible’ purchases, such as travel to and from the campus, photocopying and printing and meals, and can’t be used outside the University.

Additional ‘purses’ can be used for students who have opted for catered facilities, where the purse is filled with their weekly food entitlement. Most importantly, and perhaps one of SymPAY's greatest assets, is down to the division of funds in the purse system, which means students are simply unable to cash in their food credits behind the bar. Yet with an additional purse for loyalty points on certain lines in catering and retail outlets, the system means operations teams can guide the students and staff to redeem their points during, say, that afternoon lull.

Via the card-over-cash and loyalty schemes that the purse system enables, all monitored by the back office, the card can be fuel for the fire of that all important bottom-line profit. With all University clients the ‘SymPAY card’ system has done exactly that, with significant increases in bottom-line profit and spend per head. This has worked in two ways. The University uses a user-defined promotions module in the back office application to monitor and adapt to student eating habits. At the other end of the scale, it means purchasing, stock and portioning can be more effectively controlled.

University of Sheffield MCR Systems SymPAY delivers integrated EPoS, Loyalty and Cashless Payments
The Commercial Services department is responsible for the operation of a wide range of catering and hospitality facilities across the University including bars, restaurants, coffee shops, private function rooms and traditional dining rooms.  Services provided include prepaid student dining, restaurant dining, delivered catering and conference and function service.

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