In the past month we’ve seen awards in Casual Dining, Retailers’ Retailer, Publican and The Times Best Companies. But what does it take to be an award-winning operation? Given many of the winners are Trail customers, we’re in a good position to identify three key ingredients.
As Esquire put it, it’s not just what you’re drinking — it’s where.
The Journal of Retailing argue that prior customer experiences will influence future customer experience, and that this underpins all else. Meaning, if a customer has a bad experience they’re likely to see their next visit (if there is one) through a more negative mindset, impacting that experience for the worse. Thankfully the same can be said for positive visits too!
They outlined 7 main areas that contribute to the customer experience:
Ever found yourself absentmindedly tap-tapping the bar whilst you wait for a well-lubricated customer to finish having it out with the staff? Perhaps you’ve just wished that their kids will just be quiet! Yes, we’re talking about that.
Different customers within the same venue can have a massive impact on each others’ overall experiences, so consider who your target audience is and focus.
We’ve spoken a lot about the future of tech in pubs and bars lately. From gin robots to self-service apps, there is definitely a change afoot. An increasing number of organisations are replacing manual processes with technology aimed at increasing operational efficiency. You’ve seen wagamama’s new walk out and pay app, right?
You only have to look to The New World Trading Company to understand the positive impact that outstanding, and somewhat novel, interior design can have on the bottom line. They’ve been luring people off their sofas with a bottle of plonk and out into their bars with lustrous, organic themes in their Botanist and Florist Bars, just to name a couple!
The Botanist isn’t just about quirky decor — they extend the theme into everything they do, from the staff uniforms to the food served swinging from a wrought iron hook, and cocktails surrounded by flora and dry ice. Every touch point is made to feel magical — this is “experience”, their variety of it, encapsulated.
For BrewDog its industrial, metal cladding, raw wood furnishings, and bold, angry product design that sets them apart, and attracts their own brand of customer — and their loyalty.
Think Wetherspoons vs The Alchemist. Each will attract their own audiences based solely on what they are, and are not, willing to spend.
The rise of these experiential venues are proof, however, that you don’t have to offer big (or any) discounts, to get customers through the door. In some cases offering discounts can actually devalue a brand.
The rise of the conscientious consumer means that brands are having to do good as well as be good. Philanthropic initiatives for staff, the local community, environment, charities (just some examples) all help to get brands noticed beyond their four walls.
These endeavours can have a massive impact on its customers’ opinion of them, before they’ve even set foot through the door.
Brand loyalty has been well documented among the Millennials, and although GenZ are recorded to be slightly less committed to brands, it clear that the love for a unique brand is still going strong.
We wrote recently about the importance of the supply-profit chain in today’s challenging hospitality landscape.
The core principle is that value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees. Employee satisfaction, in turn, results primarily from high-quality support and simple tools that enable staff to deliver a better customer experience.
In an industry with a savvy, largely under 25 workforce and exceptionally high staff turnover, hospitality businesses are pulling out all of the stops to make themselves somewhere that their staff want to work, but are also proud to work at.
So, we know that a strong, unique brand creating unique experiences, via engaged staff is our ultimate winning combo. Hurrah!
Once you’ve got the magic formula, however, how can you ensure that it’s replicated consistently and accurately across multiple venues, and through high staff turnover?
Staff handbooks, brand guidelines, labels and posters, log book after log book. Beyond initial training this is more often than not what businesses are left with to safeguard the standards that were so painstakingly, lovingly, cultivated and reproduced. There is an alternative though.
From operations apps like Trail, to EPOS systems and HR management platforms, there are a wealth of services out there designed to streamline business activity, by making good practices habitual.
Our app, for example, guides teams through their day with smart checklists that are delivered to the right people at the right time. Compliance logs and incident reports can all be submitted digitally and are safely stored in the cloud for easy reference at any time.
With all those little things that make up your unique customer experience actioned, and the paperwork that slows your team down gone, your staff are freed up to concentrate on the really important bit — looking after the customers and therefore your bottom line.
Four of our customers were recently listed in The Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.
This is a massive achievement in an industry where unsociable hours, historically low pay, and genuinely hard graft is rife.
How do they do it?
The New World Trading Company (7th)
The Alchemist (36th)
Buzzworks Holdings (66th)
So, it looks like personal development, gamification and staff incentives are all pretty big winners for these brands, who all have a very young workforce — typically under 22.