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Case Study – Countryman Pub & Dining Wi-Fi

Case Study - Countryman Pub & Dining Wi-Fi

Recently we were asked to help The Countryman Pub & Dining with their broadband and Wi-Fi. Here's a case study on how we consulted with the owners, suppliers and services to create an enterprise level Wi-Fi network with guest portal.

Summary

The Countryman Pub & Dining is a stylish pub and restaurant based just outside the village of Kirkby in Ashfield. Being slightly out of town, the pub had a poor broadband connection and didn’t have any guest Wi-Fi for their clientele. The brief from the owners of the pub was to find a better broadband solution as well as making Wi-Fi available throughout the pub. They also wanted to install a captive portal for guest Wi-Fi and a marketing solution.

Roles

Consultancy       Installation          Networking        Marketing           Wi-Fi

Challenge

The owners of the Countryman not only wanted to make Wi-Fi available throughout the pub, but they wanted it to be of the quality that the pub strives to give their clients from a hospitality perspective. Just having good Wi-Fi throughout the pub wasn’t enough. A good connection was required too, as the 3Mbps line they already had wasn’t enough during busy evenings and weekends. There is also an eye to the future with possible expansion.

Shirley and Pete were also looking for a way to help market the pub going forward. A way to offer promotions to not just new customers but loyal customers too.

Insights

The existing setup at the Countryman was a 4Mbps line that was achieving just 3Mbps at best, and the Wi-Fi was distributed via a low-cost retail router. Access to the internet was poor. Not only this but being in a dip and slightly out of town, mobile coverage wasn’t great either.

They had tried multiple marketing platforms such as MailChimp and even paying for a marketing agency to help but nothing seemed to be working well in terms of return of investment.

Solution

The solution for The Countryman would come in three stages.

  1. Broadband
  2. Wi-Fi
  3. Marketing

1. Broadband

Being in a more out of town setting options were restricted. The Countryman owners had tried to source their own broadband supplier prior to working with Ashfield IT but come up against a brick wall. Standard broadband providers could not provide a reasonable connection speed and leased line costs were high.

Ashfield IT liaised with multiple providers to find a cost effective, reliable, fast broadband connection that could cope with the demands of a full bar and restaurant, private networking and conferencing facilities.

Ashfield IT consulted with the provider, negotiated free installation that included civil works and connection from the road with speeds up to 350Mbps and multiple static IP addresses. Much improved from the current setup. We also negotiated transfer of the existing phone line and liaised with the provider all the way through to installation to ensure minimal impact on the business.

2. Wi-Fi

The retail router currently employed by The Countryman would not cut the mustard for the number of connections that were predicted during busy periods. Given the fastest internet possible, the router would be a serious bottleneck for the clients.

Ashfield IT chose the Ubiquiti Unifi range of networking equipment to provide an affordable enterprise network. First, we devised a plan for the installation of access points throughout the building to ensure good coverage. We also discussed the numbers of users connected concurrently at any particular time to make sure the experience was to the high standards that The Countryman set.

Ubiquiti Unifi Control Panel

The Unifi Control Panel

We provided three access points, a managed network switch and the Unifi gateway along with a cloud controller giving Ashfield IT and The Countryman management full control over the Wi-Fi, both internally and remotely. The Unifi equipment gives industry leading statistics about the devices and network traffic to enable Ashfield IT and The Countryman make informed decisions about how the network is performing.

A private network for staff and bar equipment was activated as well as a guest Wi-Fi portal. This segregates the devices on the two different networks to ensure security remains high. The guest Wi-Fi is driven via a captive portal from BlackBX of which Ashfield IT partner with.

BlackBX

BlackBX are a company based in Edinburgh that provides captive portals for guest network access that establishments such as the Countryman can use to give internet access to their clients. To gain access to the internet, the clients are asked to provide a small amount of information about themselves including an email address. The portal is fully GDPR compliant and allows The Countryman management to market their clients in many different ways.

BlackBX works seamlessly with the Unifi equipment that Ashfield IT used for Wi-Fi access. Setup is a five-minute process and is fully customisable. When the users access the free Wi-Fi network they are presented with a log in page where The Countryman specify the type of information they would like to capture. There is a wonderful image of the pub and their logo to ensure the user that they are indeed connecting to a safe network. Once their details are entered network connectivity is granted.

As well as this wonderful portal and marketing opportunities, the system tracks your clients across multiple sites should you have more than one venue. The same rich experience transfers across to your other venues. If one client has logged in at one venue and visits another, it seamlessly and automatically logs them in and recognises them as an existing client.

3. Marketing

One of the great features of BlackBX is that it remembers the device and the user from their initial log in. Therefore, the next time that client visits the venue, it automatically logs them back into the Wi-Fi. This is advantageous for two reasons. One, it means they don’t have to repeat the initial process which is good for customer satisfaction. But two, BlackBX captures statistics about the clients’ visits.

All of this information can then be used to market the clients that have opted in. The marketing suite is rich with custom reporting to automatically email clients. For example:

  • Email someone 60 minutes after their 1st visit to thank them for trying the pub.
  • Email someone specific on their birthday to invite them to visit the restaurant.
  • Email everyone to give them information about an upcoming event.
  • Target clients that haven’t been to the pub for a period of time.
  • And much more.

The built in marketing suite from BlackBX is a great accompaniment to the guest Wi-Fi and allows The Countryman management to increase the return on investment going forward. It's convenient and far easier to use than some commercial marketing products. Shirley had tried many different platforms and is very happy with BlackBX.

Results

We have taken The Countryman from a slow broadband connection with limited network connectivity to a 350Mbps internet connection, enterprise networking with a built-in marketing solution and captive portal that suits the pubs stylish vision. Clients and staff no longer struggle to get online and the infrastructure we’ve put in place can easily be expanded to suite the needs of ongoing growth. Lastly, yet most importantly, Shirley and Pete can keep seeing a return on their investment with the marketing platform going forward.

It was a pleasure to work with Shirley and Pete and we look forward to implementing the same setup across other pubs with them.

For more information about the networking solutions that Ashfield IT can provide for your business, please feel free to contact us on 01623 375005 or email us at hello@ashfieldit.co.uk.

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