Catch a taxi to The Gun for free: using joint venture partnerships to boost lunchtime trade

The Gun offers a free taxi service for customers based in Canary Wharf or the Isle of Dogs who want to have lunch there

In our new-look Ideas from your Peers column, we evaluate the effectiveness of special offer, promotions and initiatives that hospitality businesses are running in an attempt to boost business. This week, we’re looking at ETM Group’s Docklands pub, The Gun - which aimed to bring in more lunchtime trade from city workers by offering a free taxi service.

The idea:

Launched in Apriland still running today, The Gun offers a free taxi service for customers who want to have lunch there. Customers based in Canary Wharf or the Isle of Dogs can arrange for a personal driver to take them and up to seven others to the pub and then back again for free. The venue specifies that users of the service order two courses from the a la carte menu each.

“We have set up a partnership with a local taxi company who offer us a good rate due to the volume of bookings we send their way,” said Tom Martin, co-owner of the ETM Group.

Why this promotion?

Martin added: “The Gun’s location is superb, right on the river’s edge in Docklands with fabulous views of the Thames, the O2 Arena and Greenwich Park in the distance. 

“We are only about a 15- minute walk from Canada Square in the centre of Canary Wharf where our nearest tube station is but ‘time is of the essence' nowadays which means people need to get to their lunch venue quickly.

“So, to get our customers over to us in a smooth, effortless and fast fashion, we decided to provide a free cab service in order to increase our lunchtime trade.”

How effective has it been?

“Our lunch trade has increased by 25 per cent (an average 20 customers per day) and customer feedback has been fantastic. The initiative has been hugely successful and we are thrilled with the results.

“Our other venues are located in central locations but if we were to open a venue where the distance from the closest transport link, residential area or offices could have an effect on footfall then we would certainly roll this out again.

“When we first launched the service we limited the offer to Monday – Wednesday but we quickly changed it to include Thursday and Friday when we realised how impactful the offer was.” 

Experts view:

Caroline Cooper, founder of Zeal Coaching, which helps to give hospitality clients a ‘competitive edge’, said: “As with any promotion, businesses need to consider when they want or need to boost business.

“For some, this might be their mid-week evening trade, others lunchtime on certain days of the week. The taxi idea is one of a whole host of potential joint venture partnerships that pubs and restaurants could consider as a win-win-win for the business, the customer and the supplier.”

Could this work for your business?

“I think that anything that helps you stand out from the crowd is going to help,” added Cooper. “Not just to attract new business, but to give you that edge in retaining the loyalty of your existing customers.

“And what a great way to give extra value and reward that loyalty; assuming that you’ve got these existing customers on your database, it’s an easy way to prompt additional visits.”

Words of caution…

“As with any of your suppliers, ensure they can meet you standards of quality and service consistently; being kept waiting for half an hour at the end of their otherwise great evening and then being taken home in a dirty cab with a rude driver will do nothing to build customer loyalty or your reputation. 

“Also, as with any offer, make sure you and your communication makes it very clear what qualifies a customer to use the service. A swift half-pint on their way home presumably wouldn’t qualify, nor a 25-mile hike down the motorway.”

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