Cider Corner: How Simple Things Can Entice Customers Back

Your cidery’s taproom can be as much of a draw for customers as the cider you serve.

Grand Illusion Hard Cider in Carlisle, Pennsylvania prioritizes the intangibles in its taproom as much as it does unique features such as escape rooms, themed menus and special events, owner Chad Kimmel said.

Making sure you understand the demographics of your guests — gender, sexual orientation, income and education — can help you determine what to prioritize regarding your facility, he said.

Paying attention to simple things like cleanliness go a long way in ensuring repeat customers, Kimmel noted.

READ MORE: Cider Corner: How Visual Aids Help Educate and Engage Customers

“Given our heavy female customer base, we make sure our bathrooms are the cleanest they’ve ever seen,” Kimmel said. “We want them to think our bathrooms are cleaner than their own.

“We also take care of our space. I regularly repaint our walls and trim. Like Disney, I don’t want our environment to look like it’s used, I want everything to look as if it was just installed.”

Employees are asked to keep their ears open when serving customers. Giving people what they want is as simple as asking them.

“I ask staff at our quarterly meetings what they are hearing from guests,” Kimmel said. “As for merchandise, we asked our guests what they wanted. I made a list of everything they said, and created the most requested items. 

“Simply put, we want to give our guests what they want.”

Beyond the basics, having novelties not typically seen in other taprooms, bars or restaurants are also key business drivers. 

The magic-themed cidery partners with a local theater company to do murder mysteries and work as impersonators. While it has the regular events that are staples at establishments that serve adult beverages — bingo, trivia, paint nights, craft nights — it has also prioritized creating unique experiences.

“We go over the top in decorations for the holidays,” Kimmel said. “Halloween fits our atmosphere the best, so we go as much ‘Disney’ as we can afford each year, building more and more to our collection. We also added two escape rooms to our third floor space two years ago and the positive impact from those has been very strong.”

Kimmel said the escape rooms, which were added in 2018, serve two purposes. They extend the time a guest stays at the cidery and they increase the chance that guests return with new first-time customers.

“It’s a no brainer,” he said.

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