We have had the opportunity to share the income on gaming machines for many years, yet many retailers haven chosen not to, driven by a buying culture which pervades pub retailing.  This is ideal for drink and other necessary supplies, but it has never been entirely suited to produce a positive culture to mutually develop gaming income, particularly in a digital world.

Let’s be honest, rents are generally the game if you want to play safe and exert overbearing control on the supply chain.

As Spock might say’ “Highly Illogical!”

As we emerge form lockdown, the final frontier for gaming terms is staring much of the industry in the face. We have been through this unprecedented time together and now is the time to work in unison to rebuild positive habits and income. However, it can be hard to accept sharing as a philosophy.

The worn-out argument that having a rent card gives you greater control over your income and the supplier is old hat nowadays. Those who have share terms, with or without a front money; with or without a cap and collar; with or without variable shares; who work with their suppliers and review and innovate share terms, create a positive culture and invariably grow income, increase machine density and give the player what they want.

With the challenges of sanitisation, distancing and general uncertainty about the ephemeral guidelines, playing machines is way below the beer sales radar. However, let’s not forget the relative importance of this income to the typical tenant’s profit, and indeed many managed businesses post Covid-19.

Everyone has worked really, really hard to build digital machine density and convince the sceptics to be brave and try digital on tenancy changes, or just on gut feel, coupled with some improvement in information provision (although retailer training about gaming is still generally under par). 

Let’s not allow machines just to be pulled off site too quickly via some zoom review meeting because they are on rent and in shortfall. Simple solution; remove the shortfall with appropriate share terms!

We don’t want to lose the ground we have fought so hard to win

If you are not fully convinced by the argument, nothing is forever, at least evaluate share terms and work with the supply chain to evolve your own optimum, mutually advantageous arrangements and leave the old rental frontier behind.

Similarly, pool tables. Of course, there’s pressure for space for drinking, but we are now down to one meter plus distancing and falling. Like travel corridors and quarantine periods, they change on a political whim as much as the science. So, let’s not be hasty in tying up the supplier’s valuable resource in trying to get two staff to site to pull it out. If it is really essential, furlough it in a corner of the pub on its side, until the next guidelines emerge on some random Monday. It can be then put back together and generate the income that many pubs rely on. 

You could introduce a simple online pool pre-booking system, promote the offer and use the space positively instead. Many daytime customers are pool players and it will not be too long before teams are back. Put that on share terms too!

It is the moment to be Pub Pioneers again and as Leonard Nimoy once said, “The miracle is this: The more we share the more we have.”

First published June 23 2020