The Devonshire Arms is a family-run, local pub in Derbyshire. As with all hospitality businesses, Covid-19 brought about the swift closure of its doors and a search for what ‘the new normal’ might look like. The pub was one of many businesses to become Togglers after the first lockdown was announced in March and have been a real success story for the platform. We spoke with Manager Hugh in the summer to understand more about how they managed to drive so many sales during the spring lockdown - the team sold £25,000 worth of gift cards and switched the offer off because it was so popular.
And we’ve caught up with Hugh again as the Devonshire Arms has more than doubled its gift card sales during the November lockdown.
Hugh explains: “Back in the first lockdown, it got to a point where we had to turn the offer off because it was selling too well. We were concerned that, if everybody redeemed their gift cards in the first two or three weeks after lockdown was lifted, we would be left with no turnover. But once the doors reopened, it was a steady stream of redemptions and cash flow has held up throughout the summer and autumn.”
The pub sits on the only junction in Middle Handley, a stone-built hamlet that is, in owner John’s words, “10 minutes from everywhere”. Encircled by Chesterfield, Sheffield and their periphery villages, father and daughter John and Alex have built an impressive loyal customer base from people in the surrounding areas.
Hugh adds: “We’ve only been open for three years but we're very lucky to have a core group of local people who use the restaurant on a regular basis and drink in the pub, and we also have hotel guests who’ve previously stayed with us and wanted to provide their support during lockdown.”
“We had a really compelling gift card offer - spend £25 and receive a £50 gift card - and just used social media and email to communicate it to our customers.”
“So, moving on to this lockdown, we decided to go for the same offer again. We learned a lot after the first lockdown lifted and the rate of redemptions, so we weren't worried about letting the offer run again for the duration of November lockdown.”
“We honestly didn't think we'd get anywhere near the level of support as we did last time. £25,000 of sales was a real surprise in spring - so to generate £64,000 in November was absolutely incredible! It’s a huge amount for our business.”
“It’s also a great confidence boost for us all, knowing that there's a lot of people out there who want to support us.”
“We'll definitely continue to use to Toggle and will be expanding into physical gift cards. The team is really great to work with. You’re so easy to get hold of and quick to resolve any issues, so it means we’ve had no difficulty running the system. Everything just works - which isn’t a given with technology - and you’re like an extension of our team, always willing and interested in solving our problems.”
“Our Toggle-powered store has generated an unbelievable amount of revenue for the business at a time when the doors have been closed, the platform is really easy to use and navigate, and the team is really friendly and helpful. These are the three key reasons why we love Toggle.”