Revolutionising Customer Experience At Historical Landmark Attraction
Established in 2000, Smithills Open Farm is the latest incarnation of over 100 years of Grimshaw family businesses to occupy part of the historic Smithills Hall Country Estate in the Lancashire countryside. The Open Farm is the product of encouragement by the local Bolton Council and the decline of the commercial dairy industry over the previous decade. As the family relied on the milk production of their 120-strong herd, and the supermarkets were all but controlling their income, the farm was opened to the public in the spring of 2001 in an attempt to appease the council and help fund the farm.
From this time, the Open Farm as a visitor and tourist attraction has gone from strength-to-strength, becoming a firm favourite with schools in the region and day-trippers alike. Offering hands-on educational teaching and constantly diversifying to meet demand and offer their customers something new, Smithills has become the go-to family day out.
We offer the opportunity for visitors to come and see or animals close-up. They can stroke all of our animals and see an actual working dairy farm. They can even try our hand-made ice cream and take some our excellent milk home for their cornflakes.
Reason For Change
Having expanded rapidly to a 160k visitor site, the original till solution that Smithills had installed was becoming slow and unsuitable. The managers at Smithills knew that in order to effectively grow their business and cope with the evolving demand of their customers they needed to address their problems with a new, integrated EPOS system.
One of the main problems was that we were having long queues at the main entrance, and our old system was struggling to keep up and cope with the demand. Cashing-up at the end of the day – just simple things like that – were proving to be a difficult task.by Carl Grimshaw, Operations Manager, Smithills Open Farm
Being part of the National Farm Attractions Network (NFAN), Smithills knew of developments within the Farm Attractions industry and the new demands from customers that their current system just wasn’t able to support. Online booking of tickets had become the norm and enhanced analysis of transaction and stock information was paramount to the sustained growth of the business, coupled with the ambition to make it happen.
Smithills Open Farm is a multi-discipline site offering year-round services to their customers including organised school trips and general pubic admissions, but also discreet seasonal events and children’s parties.
With many different outlets and scenarios where transactions can happen and the potential for a large amount of transactions with any one set of admissions the farm had a list of pain points that needed addressing. Not only did they need a robust and lightning-fast solution to remove the bottleneck at their admissions desk, but with ideas of expanding they needed to be able to get accurate and on-demand reporting from all of their individual outlets.
From physical infrastructure and on-site connectivity upgrades, to implementing the UK’s leading online ticketing platform, integrated loyalty and portable queue-busting solution, Smithills had a complete overhaul of their systems.
“We needed a company that could sort everything out. Installation, the internet, cabling etc. Not only that, but we needed them to be able to work outside of our trading hours, and also be good, fast and offer and efficient service. HBP offered all those services, and we’re than happy with the customer service that they provided.”
Implementing KCPOS has created a single platform across the business, allowing for the synchronisation of data from all the tills in the admissions kiosks and cafes, to leading online ticketing platform: Digitickets to their in-house back-office management software.
“All the staff have taken to the new system. They find it much easier and it’s much quicker. Us as management find it much easier to analyse the data, and to find out from the data exactly what we need to on a more regular basis.”
The solution has allowed Smithills to meet the demand of their customers and has brought their entire business up-to-date with state-of-the-art tills and tablets, with the immediate benefit of a super-fast, super-easy-to-use platform. The management can now make on-demand, informed decisions on the current performance of their business and set plans in motion to grow in-line with their ambition. Enhanced loyalty, group bookings and online ticketing has led to rising footfall, reduction in queues and nearly 1000 party bookings in a year.
“Whenever we ring them they’re very good at answering any queries that we may have. The service that we get from them is very very good and we’re very happy with it.”
Having just bought-out an existing milk round, Smithills have already grown their deliveries to over 600 incurring the need for another milk truck. As this demand increases and they look to diversify further to offer new and existing customers more dairy products, expansion with the farm continues. An additional café site and an all-new play barn is scheduled for the 2019-2020 season.
The way that Smithills can now manage their business more efficiently will enable them to grow quicker and rely on the data that their systems are collecting. As well as supporting their system, the team at Smithills report that they are now working with a partner that understands their goals and will support them moving forward.
“The relationship that we have with HBP were more than happy with. We need it to grow with us, and I’m sure it will.”