Down at The Pub: Hearty food, good beer and guest WiFi

Who doesn’t love a good pub—comfort, warmth, hearty food and good beer. The Tavern Restaurant Group opened its first pub in 1973 committed to bringing this durable English concept to the US. And it’s been a big success. The Tavern Group now operates three distinct concepts and fourteen restaurants.

Built from the ground up, each pub is a local business as good pubs always are. The Tavern Group provides home office support from Cincinnati and operates local businesses in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

Shannon Purkiss is the Tavern Group’s marketing director. She handles email marketing, social media, PR and anything else needed to get the word out. Her promotions and events have brought excitement and helped grow sales.

48,707
Contacts collected
7,670
Walk-Throughs

The Challenge

The pub concept, although proven, is highly competitive. The English have enjoyed them for centuries, but brew pubs only started to come on strong in the US about 10 years ago. The number of brewpubs opening each year has quadrupled since 2010 and the pace doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

To be successful you have to stand out, and you have to perform. Reviews and online reputation are critical for attracting new customers, and customer experience has to be consistently stellar to keep new customers coming back.

The Tavern Restaurant Group invested early in email marketing as a way to spread the word and promote visits. They used special events like English soccer games to get people in the door. But email marketing programs are only as good as your email list, and the group’s restaurants struggled to capture customer email addresses.

“We were using paper forms to collect customer information. It was
impossible and our list was in bad shape. Our open rates were terrible.” said
Shannon Purkiss, marketing director for the Tavern Restaurant Group.

Intense focus on customer experience and food quality meant the group’s pubs were confident about their ability to satisfy guests. Online reviews were overwhelmingly positive. But like any restaurant, there were occasionally off days that resulted in negative reviews. Unfortunately, in most of these cases managers only learned about the negative experiences when they read the reviews.

“I don’t think I could have packed all our pubs without Zenreach.”

Shannon Perkiss, Marketing Director, The Tavern Restaurant Group

The Solution

Good tools can make a big difference for a business that is doing all the little
things right. The Tavern Restaurant Group ran great local businesses that people loved. They hosted fun events, served amazing food, including award-winning fish and chips, and took good care of their guests. But marketing programs were run ad hoc and relied on tools that didn’t scale well, like paper and pencil.

A light bulb turned on for Shannon when she visited a tradeshow and
learned about WiFi marketing for the first time. She saw how the WiFi signal they already provided in all their restaurants could be used to capture email addresses, and automatically respond to customer visits with emails based on visit behavior. Her creative promotions would not only reach a broader audience, but targeted messages would automatically keep people coming back.

She also saw how her WiFi connection could be used to stay better connected with guest experience and intercept rare occasions when things don’t go well. Guest visits could be used as a trigger to invite feedback—a much better and more immediate solution than comment cards.

The Results

With the contact list growing steadily and automatically, Shannon was able to put energy into events and promotions that brought some English spirit to the US. In fact, Shannon reports that Zenreach saved her about 5 hours a week.

One of her cheekier ideas, a Royal Wedding viewing party, filled the pub at 6am. Crowds that early aren’t unusual for World Cup soccer games, but they’re pretty rare otherwise. She says, “I don’t think I could have packed all our pubs without Zenreach.”

Shannon has had success bringing blokes and birds in during normal drinking hours, too. Good English pub grub is always a draw. When Greene King Brewing, the UK’s largest Pub retailer and maker of Old Speckled Hen, announced The Pub was in the running for best fish and chips in America,
she used Zenreach to get the word out. She sent emails to customers asking
them to vote for them when they became finalists, which helped them win.

When they won, they celebrated. She says, “We held an event at every pub
location and did emails for those as well. Every single pub was filled with people.” Now she has a header for emails that announces the award year-
round. “It reminds people we have the best fish and chips. That was a huge boost in sales for every location.”

Even with such fun events, there are going to be the occasional service
mishaps. Shannon says, “There’s nothing worse than a guest who comes in,
doesn’t have a good experience, doesn’t say anything to the manager or the
server, and leaves.” To counter this, she asks for feedback in emails.

If customers are happy, she can use widgets embedded in the emails to
send them to preferred review sites. If the review is negative, she’s able to
respond and often turns a negative experience into satisfied customer.

Zenreach has given Shannon room to be creative and tools to connect with
customers and given her small team the ability to build a community and
grow sales for all of The Pub’s locations. She says, “Zenreach has really
streamlined things for me. I can track our results better and deliver the kind of experiences that makes customers excited to come back.”