The U.S. business climate is changing rapidly. One of the biggest trends is larger companies using data to become more competitive. These days, big businesses have entire teams dedicated to using data to attract new customers, improve the customer experience, and run the business more efficiently.
This is a new challenge for small business owners, who have fought an uphill battle against bigger competitors for decades and don’t have the time or resources to build out the same sophisticated teams. Still, some local businesses are finding ways to use data in the flow of everyday business operations and thrive in ways they couldn’t in years past, even amid unprecedented competitive pressure.
Located in northwest Washington, D.C., Irish Channel Pub is using data and small business software to modernize its business without making things too complex or time-consuming. Manager Debbie Horne uses Womply Insights to quickly and easily see how the pub is faring compared to other local restaurants, tailor promotions to get more customers, and take control of what patrons say about the business online.
Like many small businesses, Irish Channel Pub’s greatest competitive strengths lie in providing a unique customer experience that larger chains can’t match. Founded about 17 years ago by Tom Stack, who immigrated from County Cork, Ireland, the restaurant offers a traditional Irish pub experience, complete with shepherd’s pie, soccer games playing on nine big-screen TVs, and of course, Guinness on tap.
“Many of our customers are regulars, including some people who come in every day for lunch, happy hour, or dinner,” Debbie says. “Some people just come in to see our bartender, who’s from Ireland and is great with our guests. We also get a lot of tourists and new locals, since we’re located in a very transient part of D.C.”
Like most small business operators, Debbie has relied on her gut and traditional local business practices for a long time. Irish Channel Pub is connected to a hotel, so the restaurant has been able to count on a steady stream of patrons from the convenience factor alone. As restaurants have become more discoverable via Yelp, Google, and other consumer websites, the pub has had to do more to ensure it’s not losing business to competitors in the area.
These days, Debbie finds power in knowing how the pub stacks up in comparison to other local bars and restaurants in terms of revenue trends. She uses the Leaderboard feature in Insights to see where Irish Channel Pub ranks and watches the company’s position over time. This helps her know if a trend in sales is seasonal or if customers are just heading elsewhere.
“It’s extremely useful to see if trends we’re seeing are affecting other local restaurants, as well,” Debbie says. “It helps us know if we should be doing more to get customers into the restaurant. Because of the information we get from Womply, we’re upping our game on social media.”
Specifically, Debbie and the rest of the team have been running Facebook ads to promote daily specials and happy hours, and highlight the pub’s fun environment with photos and videos. She also uses the Day of the Week tool to really see which days are the best for sales and plan her promotions accordingly.
“If I see that we’re slow on Sundays, for example, I’ll try to get more people into the pub with a special for that particular day,” she says. “It helps us even out the foot traffic and keep our staff busy all the time.”
Above all, Debbie uses Womply to read and respond to customer reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor from one place. Online reviews have changed the way local businesses interact with patrons, with customers taking more control of how people view the business through the feedback they post. Now, small businesses like Irish Channel Pub are finding ways to level the playing field with technology.
Debbie gets an email from Womply every time someone reviews the pub on any social media website, which is usually 5-10 times per week. From there, she responds to positive and negative reviews alike from inside the Womply platform to save time logging into multiple sites.
“Responding right away makes a difference,” Debbie says. “I’ve had people who posted a bad review say they didn’t expect a response, so they’ll give us another try. It’s a great way to get people back into the restaurant.”
Next time you’re in the nation’s capital, stop into Irish Channel Pub at 500 H Street NW and try a traditional Irish meal like corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, or fish and chips (and check out the pub’s gallery in the meantime). If you want to run a better business in less time with Womply, talk to your credit card processor or request more information.