We recently caught up with Alistair Myers, Co-Owner of Rafters, in their rather beautiful restaurant, tucked away just 10 minutes from Sheffield city centre. Alistair talked us through the importance of offering experiences and why Toggle is making gifting a breeze for their single location.
"It’s working. It really does work for us."
Let’s set the scene. Rafters is a Michelin listed, fine-dining restaurant who pride themselves on their relaxed atmosphere while serving up incredible dishes cooked and served by a team that genuinely care. They have an impeccable reputation locally, consistently receiving high praise reviews and they’re no stranger to the number one spot on TripAdvisor for restaurants in Sheffield.
Very well it would seem! Alistair kicks things off by telling us how they were initially hesitant to introduce digital gift cards as they didn’t think their customers would be receptive to it. ‘We were the most sceptical about digital because of our customer base, but I now wonder whether it’s actually opened us up to a new audience. We’ve seen more sales of £20 and £30 gifts which is great for cash flow and encourages people to try us. It’s working. It really does work for us.
Before they switched, Rafters didn’t sell gift vouchers in denominations of £20 and £30, just because it didn’t seem worthwhile to sell lower-cost cards once they’d taken into consideration the production cost. Alistair also touched upon the issues around carrying out manual work when it comes to postal orders: ‘since launching Toggle, we’ve seen people switch from physical cards to digital. It’s great that it takes such little effort.’
‘It’s important for us to offer both as we often get people wanting to give them as a wedding present for example, so they want something physical to give them and ours are good for that as they’re packaged up really nicely with a card for you to write a personal message which is then put in a folder and envelope. It’s nice to offer something tactile.’
"Well no problem, I told him he could have it today if he wanted."
Alistair discussed how they like the way Toggle just ticks along in the background without any active input from them. ‘It’s solved the problem of being able to offer them out of hours. A guy emailed me today actually saying he needs a gift voucher for tomorrow. Well no problem, I told him he could have it today if he wanted, just buy online.
Since launching, we haven’t had any teething options and any questions that did come up, the Toggle team jumped on it straight away and ironed things out. It just makes it easy. It’s clean. I can’t say anything bad about it.’
‘We ran a social media competition to celebrate the launch of digital gift cards using the free of charge option which went amazingly. You just had to like the page, like the post and comment tagging your friends and you’d be in with a chance of winning one of 13 gift vouchers ranging from £20-£100. We had over 1000 entries so it worked really well.
Other than social media, we don’t do a huge amount to push gift cards mostly because we don’t need to. We have two major spikes in the year for Christmas and during July/August time, mostly down to wedding gifts. The rest of the time they just tick along nicely. We’re looking forward to seeing a surge for digital cards on Christmas Eve for those last minute shoppers.’
Rafters currently offer two experiences via their Toggle web shop, rather aptly named ‘experience one’ and ‘experience two’; ‘the experiences were born out of two tasting menus. We wanted to brand them as experiences as when you come you don’t just have dinner, you do get a bit of a story about the restaurant and the food. We describe them as journeys. This was developed before gift cards to separate ourselves from competitors. Another reason we offer experiences is that people sometimes don’t want the value of their gift to show and we’re conscious of that.
"It just makes it easy. It’s clean. I can’t say anything bad about it."
The better thing about Toggle is that we can easily amend the costs of our experiences. Sometimes we change the price of our menus and with the old system is difficult to keep tabs on who’s paid what. The great thing about Toggle is that I can just have a quick check on the system and I can see instantly how much they paid and if the price has dropped since then, we’re always honest and we’ll give them a bottle of wine on the house for example.’
All is well in the world of Rafters. They’re looking forward to running more competitions on social media and seeing how we develop. ‘We like using it and we’re really looking forward to the continual development you guys are doing on it...’
Check out Rafters website to mull over their menus, including their experiences, and see their Toggle shop in all its glory: https://www.raftersrestaurant.co.uk/