A newly launched company has designed an app that makes bellying up to the bar a breeze. Created by Brandon Noel, BarMembership is a program designed to meet the requirements of a unique North Carolina law.
Technically, establishments that serve alcohol and don’t serve food, or make less than 30 percent of their revenue from food sales, are known as private membership clubs. The most common private membership clubs are bars and nightclubs.
Such establishments are required to track their clientele in some way, either through sign-in sheets or membership cards. New members, or members who have lost their cards, must pay a fee – usually nominal – to be granted membership.
BarMembership is a multi-functional application that cuts paper membership cards out of the picture and aids private membership clubs in staying in compliance with ALE regulations, company officials said.
The tech platform, which launched in March, already has a large user base, Noel said.
“So we are at over 17,000 individual people who have joined private membership clubs through our system from across the state,” he said.
Under the system, bar and nightclub owners can log onto the web portal to register for the service. After inputting an Alcoholic Beverage Control-issued file number,
BarMembership allows businesses to utilize their services for $10 a month, according to the company’s website.
An app then lets bouncers scan the barcode on the back of a driver’s license to autofill new-member applications for attendees of the bar.
The whole process takes about 20 seconds, according to Noel.
BarMembership also features an iPad-compatible portal, allowing business owners to turn iPads into kiosks for easy new member sign-ups and check-ins.
“Currently, bars and nightclubs have boxes and boxes of old applications stored on premise, and the piles only get bigger. Our system constitutes an organization’s permanent records and is obviously completely paperless,” Noel said.
User information is saved in the club’s system permanently, with customer’s memberships requiring renewal every 12 months in accordance with North Carolina law.
Renewal does not require that patrons fill out a new application, but they must repay the membership fee to remain active. BarMembership keeps track of all of this information for business owners, color-coding memberships due to expire and reminding customers to renew at check-in, Noel said.
In addition, when private membership clubs are required to present their records to state Alcohol Law Enforcement officials, BarMembership synthesizes the information and instantly puts it into the format required.
Apart from digitalizing the antiquated concept of paper membership cards, BarMembership also has a section for marketing analytics that can tell business owners demographics about their clientele, growth of new customers, frequency of returning customers and peak business hours, according to the application’s website.
Noel did not randomly choose Wilmington as the base of his company. He graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2002 with a degree at communication studies and is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
The company is now based out of tekMountain and is dedicated to keeping a local focus, Noel said.
In accordance with that, Noel and his business partners, Amgaa Purevjal and Ray Rothschild, have stayed local in their design of a custom ID bracket to allow their kiosk app to run as efficiently as possible.
The bracket attaches to the back of the iPad holder and is made from steel manufactured in Wilmington by Eastern Metal Works.
“We make specific and purposeful decisions on how we purchase,” Noel said, “so as to contribute to the Wilmington and North Carolina economy.”