Established in 1779, Brakspear has over 130 premium pubs and bedrooms across the whole of the UK. With over 240 years of true British Pub experience, customers who drink and dine at any one of the pubs are welcomed with a family warmth and care which has run through the generations since the get-go. Everything about Brakspear shouts authenticity and going the extra mile, despite which side of the bar you’re standing, it’s the same for its staff, pub tenants and pub customers.
A consistent and engaged customer and employee experience is at the forefront of everything which Brakspear does. All the pubs boast their own personality, yet have the same long-standing history and values ingrained in its management style, to it’s hearty food and fine ales, it’s ambiance and making sure everyone feels welcome, whether you’re having a quick pint or you’re a new member of the team.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Sophie Johnson, Operations Manager at Brakspear Pubs, about why music is fundamental to their business model and how it helps create an experience for all its customers, no matter which location.
Why is music important across all of its pubs?
Personalised music and playlists create a consistent atmosphere across the portfolio of pubs, as well as contributes to the experience of the guests. Customers know that each time they return, they will be greeted with a bespoke ambiance tailored to the venue. Each pub has its own look, feel and ambiance, tailored to the geographic location, the type of clientele, the history of the building and the vibe its manager wants to emulate. For Brakspear, it is business critical to ensure the right type of genre is played at each of its pubs in order to maintain its reputation. For example, Sheep on Sheep Street has unbridled character featuring a modern, contemporary and trendy vibe, whereas the Porch House is a quintessentially Cotswold tavern, boasting a classic country charm.
Take a listen to a modern-pop playlist for Brakspear Pubs
The biggest challenge across the Brakspear group is ensuring that the right sounds / music is played at the right time slots to coincide with busier times, according to Johnson. There is no one-size fits all schedule when it comes to music, as each venue has its own peaks and lulls in terms of guests coming and leaving. For some of the venues, there is a live pianist on a Sunday enhancing that homely vibe where customers are enticed to stay longer, whereas other pubs have their rush period between 5-7PM when work finishes and everyone heads down to their local for a pint or two. For Brakspear having so many pubs in its portfolio, ensuring the right music is played for the right clientele can make or break their business, and be the deal breaker between retaining customers and bigger orders.
The team at Ambie are very friendly and supportive people who understand what we are trying to achieve.
Ambie was the perfect music partner for Brakspear as it ticked all the boxes which they were looking for. Together with the various teams / pub managers at Brakspear, Ambie was briefed in about about the ins and outs of the brand as a whole, its values and goals it wished to achieve in terms of music, as well as the identity of each venue itself.
Ambie’s Curation Team took the multiple, unique briefs and provided a completely tailored solution for Brakspear which is constantly growing and evolving. Each one of their pubs, except those tenanted out, has their own player per site, meaning each venue has its own personalised music and a tailored schedule when to play what. For example, during peak times the music will differ to when there’s a lull in customers, to ensure the correct ambiance is live and dependable.
The Impact of tailored music
The music service provided by Ambie has been a raving success for both its venue managers / staff as well as its broad-ranging customer base. The staff are feeling energised, positive and motivated on a daily basis having music which reflects the brand and which is consistent.
Management always have that peace of mind knowing they’ll receive seamless 24/7 support from Ambie on both a technical and curation level. Time and time again, the curation team has taken the feedback on, and ensured playlists were updated in a timely fashion and song choices remained relevant, up-to-date and on brand. Customers do often compliment the choice of music to the bar staff or pub manager, asking where it can be found, which is testament to a perfectly compatible relationship between the Ambie and Braskpear teams.
How did COVID-19 impact Brakespear’s business?
As with all Service-based people-led businesses in the industry, Brakspear has felt (and continues to feel) the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and the pandemic with a decreased turnover in 2020 compared to the previous year. All of it’s pubs, restaurants and inns were forced to close three times, and when re-opened, had to operate under strict trading restrictions. During the peak season over the summer months, they were challenged with significant staff shortages, price rises, as well as supply chain and logistical issues.
Music is a powerful tool which was used by the various team leads to boost the morale of its staff members, as well as create an atmosphere for its clientele when times were bleak. Music helped uplift everyone on its sites as well as encouraged a sense of togetherness, unity and a previously-known way of mingling.