Back To School

The new school year has started, so not only are there four and five year olds embarking on new adventures, but teens starting college and university. Students today have arguably higher expectations when it comes to their college and university common rooms, so you need to make sure yours is up to scratch.

To inspire you, take a look at our top 5 recommendations:

Pool tables 

Popular not only with sporty students, pool is a great way of encouraging students to take some time out and mix with others. It can be a great way for students to de-stress, especially during exams and when they’re overloaded with coursework. Have one or two pool tables in your common room can bring a smile to the faces of mature students too, they have wide appeal. Why not hire a pool table initially? They don’t have to have a standard green cloth top either, why not opt for red, purple or a colour to match your school colours?

Juke boxes

If you want to create a space that’s fun and vibrant, having good music is key. Rather than having the radio constantly on, why not get a digital juke box, so the students can choose what they want to listen to, and when?

Magazine rack

Having a magazine rack with a range of newspapers and magazines readily available, will be a great asset to any room. Make sure you stock a range of different publications so they have wide appeal, and remove any that get tatty or damaged. Some may go walkabout, but if you put a sign up requesting students keep them in the common room, any losses should be minimal.

Comfortable seating 

A common room is a place to socialise and relax, so the seating you choose should reflect this. Your sofas should be large enough for a group of students to sit on together, and you should have other chairs and beanbags dotted around the room. It’s a good idea to have at least one table, for those wanting to eat or study.


It’s common sense, but if you want your common room to be left tidy, you need to make sure that there are plenty of bins available for the students to deposit any rubbish. During the course of the day, small bins will tend to get filled, so you’ll have to ask your cleaning staff to empty them regularly.

Manco Automatics

For more ideas on how you can entertain your students in your common rooms or SU, check out the full range of products available to hire and buy from our website >


Fruit machines – a beginner’s guide

Pub fruit machines are an ever-present source of entertainment ranging from classic one-armed bandits that have become collectors’ items, to high-stakes video slot machines that are restricted to adult players only.

The first fruit machine is credited to American inventor Charles Fey and was completed in 1895. It didn’t actually feature any fruit, but had three reels featuring symbols such as a heart, spade, diamond, star, horseshoe or a bell – the Liberty Bell that gave the machine its name.

Over the years since, designs have changed to include more reels and different symbols, plus plenty of features and side games, but the basic concept of a slot machine still owes a lot to the original Liberty Bell design by Charles Fey.

How to play a pub fruit machine

Modern pub fruit machines are computerised but the basic gameplay is the same as ever. Put the correct amount of money in the coin slot and press the Start button (or pull the lever on an old-style one-armed bandit) to spin the reels.

A basic win usually consists of the same three symbols matched up across the middle row, but there are lots of other ways to win on modern fruit machines, so take a moment to look at what’s lit up and what it’s worth before you decide to collect.

You can unlock extra features by completing the ‘trail’ (usually seen just above the ‘hold’ buttons) or sometimes by landing on a certain combination of feature symbols over one or several spins.

How to win on a slot machine

The big prizes on modern slot machines are one of the reasons why children are not allowed to play on them, but they add to the excitement for adults.

A fruit machine usually has lots of different ways to win – in fact most of those flashing lights are a win of one kind or another – and often it’s about knowing what to collect, and when.

For example, even a basic win worth tens of pence could be a way to unlock the main feature, if you successfully gamble, or you might prefer just to take the money immediately.

When you’re playing the feature, learn as you go along, and you’ll be more familiar the next time you play the same machine.

Look out for the times when you have a choice of what to collect – and if you’re coming up to a potential ‘game over’ space, decide whether it’s worth the risk or whether you should cash out early.

Challenges and opportunities for the pub and club trade in 2017

Pubs and clubs have had a rollercoaster ride in recent years, but for those that have weathered the storm, 2017 is likely to bring a return to better conditions.

After a challenging 2016, many Britons are looking to have some good simple fun, and the UK’s pubs are renowned the world over as being a uniquely British place to relax with friends.

To really make the most of this, pubs and clubs need to be ready to embrace new customers, with enough entertainment to keep people occupied when they need something more to do than just sit, drink and chat.

Pub gaming machines are the perfect way to do this, and even just a few fruit machines placed around your bar area will soon engage customers and start adding to your takings too.

But to cater for a larger audience, there are other options to consider, such as pub pool tables which can entertain two players, or four playing doubles, plus their spectators.

Quiz machines also tend to attract groups rather than individuals, and there’s no limit on the number of people you’ll see huddled around these gaming machines, as long as they can all see the screen!

And finally, jukeboxes are a sure bet in the most literal sense, as customers who don’t like gambling can instead put their money in the jukebox and know exactly what they will get in return.

They give you some insight into the kind of music your patrons most want to hear, put your customers in direct control of it, and have the further advantage that when one person pays into a jukebox, everybody gets to enjoy the music.

With many pub fruit machines and pool tables available on profit-sharing arrangements, rather than a fixed rental fee, you don’t have to face the challenge of paying upfront until you are certain of how much profit your gaming machines will make over the long term.

This makes them a win-win for you, just like the jukebox is for your customers – a no-risk investment with the promise of an immediate return.

Whatever the next 12 months might bring for British pubs and clubs, you won’t get too many opportunities to make a positive return from a no-risk investment.

And there’s no better time to install pub gaming machines than in the brief post-Christmas lull, so they are ready to welcome your customers back once the turkey has settled and the tinsel is packed away.

Getting ready for party season

Now is the time to start thinking about how you can make your venue stand out from the crowd this party season. People are already getting excited about Christmas, thanks in part to Christmas decorations, mince pies and tins of chocolates already being in the shops. Before then though, you’ve got Halloween and Bonfire night to plan for.

Digital juke boxes

Every good party needs music to sing along and dance to. Trying to cater for everyone’s tastes can be tricky if you’re relying on just a CD behind your bar but if you have an attractive digital juke box in one corner, your customers will be able to pick their own tracks. You can choose whether to profit share or rent.


Get out your decorations from last year and bin any that are damaged or look like they’ve seen better days. It’s worth investing in some good quality decorations that will last you many years. Think about your windows, you want them to entice people passing to come inside. Lightening is very important as it helps create the right atmosphere.

Safety considerations

If you’re going to be holding a bonfire and firework display, then you’ll need to think about safety and let the relevant authorities know as soon as possible. Click here to find out more >


Does your current layout need rethinking for the party season? Would moving some tables and stools create more space that you could put to better use? Perhaps you could introduce a pool table or two, pull tab machines and/or fruit machines? Not only would your customers like them but they should help generate more income too. If you already have some, maybe now is the time to get them serviced as you don’t want them to breakdown in the run-up to Christmas.


Will you need to hire more staff for the party season? Perhaps now is the time to start recruiting so you can make sure they’re up to speed by the time things get busy. You might also want to think about ways your staff can compliment your décor. Perhaps they could wear Christmas jumpers or t-shirts?

Get help

To find out how you can make the most of your available space and improve your profitability, give Manco Automatics a call on 0161 870 7777. You can hire or buy jukeboxes, fruit machines, pool tables, quiz machines and pull tabs. We also offer a maintenance service.

What does the polymer £5 note mean for fruit machines?

The 12-sided pound coin has been making headlines for months now as, when it is introduced in March 2017, fruit machines and other coin-operated gaming machines will need a software or hardware update in order to accept it.

But even before then, the new £5 note to be issued this September will be printed on polymer – giving it a plastic rather than papery texture, and again needing some work to upgrade fruit machines with note slots.

The new fiver arrives in September 2016 as the first polymer banknote issued by the Bank of England, and will be followed by the £10 note in 2017 and the £20 before the end of the decade.

Eventually all notes in those three denominations will be polymer, not paper – but what does this mean for coin-operated (and note-operated) gaming machines?

The answer is that it depends on the slot machines you already have, and on the note slot hardware and operating software installed in them.

Some may need a software update or a new hardware slot, while others will unfortunately be unable to upgrade, and will need to be replaced – Manco Automatics can help you to work out what you need.

Bear in mind that this is a nationwide change of currency, and that means every note-operated gaming machine in the country is affected, which is a lot of upgrades and replacements.

There will be a run on the manufacturers and on companies able to carry out the necessary maintenance work, especially around September as many owners and operators will leave it until the last minute to make arrangements.

Don’t be left with a fruit machine that only accepts expired currency – get Manco to look at yours today and you can beat the rush, while making sure the replacement parts or new machines you need are not out of stock.

Manco Automatics Ltd