The Gardeners Arms is a free-house, dog and child friendly pub offering home-cooked food based in the village of Alderton near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

The Gardeners Arms has been run by Mike and Wendy Wakeman for over 15 years. When they first took over the pub, trade was booming. However, like many over the past decade they were hit hard, first by the smoking ban and then by the recession.

They approached Exceptional Thinking because they had lots of ideas but weren’t sure what would work and needed us to put together a strategy for them. They also wanted a plan that would enable them to grow their business and attract more customers.

We helped them to re-evaluate what they are doing and reprioritise the focus their business needs. We also developed a strategy to help them to identify and exploit market opportunities and increase their revenue. This involved brand development, email marketing, a customer loyalty scheme, social media marketing and telemarketing. The results have been an average increase in year on year growth and improved audience awareness. One particular new growth area that we have helped them discover and tap into is the vegan market. They now offer a range of vegan menus and even have a Christmas menu available.

Their success also meant that last year they were able to refurbish the pub and bring the interior more up to date. Mike said: ‘After 15 years thanks to Exceptional Thinking, we’ve changed our focus and are actually growing and have moved the business forward’. They also now have the time to focus on operations and are constantly looking to improve their offerings by building relations with local suppliers such as Prescott Brewery and Battledown Brewery.

Over the coming months we will be continuing to work with the Gardeners Arms on promoting the vegan menu. We will also be revamping their printed menus and focusing on local ingredients from local suppliers. As Wendy said: ‘We love that Exceptional Thinking are adaptable and come up with great ideas. Plus they get the job done, whatever the task’.

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