Since The Floodgate opened in Birmingham, it’s quickly become renowned for good food, good drinks and lots of fun. Describing itself as a competitive socialising, “drink and do” venue, the business combines games such as bleachers baseball, pit-pat table golf and curl club curling with an extensive list of drinks and food. All the ingredients for a great night out!
We first put a spotlight on the team behind Floodgate back in 2019 when they were newly opened. They’ve been thrown more than a few curveballs since then. We caught up with Co-Founder Chris again, over two years into their venture to see how they’ve weathered the pandemic, overcome challenges and gone from strength to strength - all while staying true to their playful roots.
The pandemic rollercoaster
While the range of games at Floodgate provides plenty of highs and lows for competitive customers, they’re perhaps nothing compared to the rollercoaster of COVID lockdowns and restrictions that The Floodgate faced starting in March 2020. “What a ride it has been! Strange to think that 4 months after opening, the pandemic hit and we had to shut up shop for most of 2020 and some of 2021,” says Chris.
The constantly changing slate of rules and a big dose of uncertainty meant the team had to be quick on their feet and use all their resources to keep their new business alive.
“There have certainly been a lot of learnings along the way. The biggest of which is the appreciation of our staff and team, we are still here and thriving because of them.”
Getting back to basics
Talking to the Floodgate team, it’s clear that part of their success despite the tough circumstances comes from nailing the basics of their business and focusing on always providing a fantastic customer experience.
“Since reopening we have gone from strength to strength, with people wanting to not only socialise after lockdown but have an experience, and I think we provide that in bucketloads.”
They were also quick to realise that their large outdoor space, The Yard, would be key to getting back into the swing of things after extended periods of closure.
Customers were able to come and have some fun in a safe, outdoor environment, and being able to open while indoor venues remained shut provided some relief financially as cash started flowing again. There were other benefits too. “Having the beer garden space was a big help in letting staff ease back into their roles and also helped customers remember how to socialise again!” explains Chris.
The right kit
The team was lucky to have the outdoor beer garden space available, but they have also gone out of their way to upgrade the technology they use at the venue. Throughout the pandemic, booking, ordering and payment could all be done while maintaining social distancing and complying with the many government regulations.
With many different moving parts to the business, it helps Floodgate to have a way to bring everything together in one system.
“We are Square head to toe in the venue, and the system has been a big help both pre and post-pandemic.”
And when they say head to toe, they mean it. The venue is kitted out with Square hardware throughout, including Square Registers, Square Terminal for taking tableside payments and iPads with Square for Restaurants to keep food and drink orders flowing smoothly. Fans of the venue can buy Square gift cards to treat their friends and family.
Customers book their games online before coming to the venue, and the team uses Square Online with an Appointedd integration. “It is important to have a robust e-commerce solution and I can’t fault it.”
One product that became particularly popular during the pandemic was QR codes. “Since the pandemic, we have had a large increase in QR orders to the table for drinks and snacks which has been a big help to keep people socially distanced.”
One of the advantages of being “head to toe” Square is that while customers are busy focusing on the scoreboard, Floodgate management can keep track of their business in real-time. The information available through the dashboard gives them insights into what’s doing well and where they should focus.
“We noticed growing sales of our craft beer Brooklyn and our in-house beer Bleachers. This has meant we were able to be ahead of the curve and ensure adequate stock for the busy days.”
And it’s not just the data from Square they can see. To keep everything at the venue organised, Floodgate has two key integrations with Appointedd and Marketman. “It makes life much easier that the direct integration with Square does most of the heavy lifting for us. Knowing that systems are talking to each other and booking and stock reports are up to date is a huge help. “
Summed up in a few words? “Couldn’t live without it.”
The next ride
So with the rollercoaster of the last couple of years receding in the rearview, what’s the next challenge for the team at Floodgate? “We are looking forward to an uninterrupted 2022 which will be the first full year the business has traded since the pandemic. We have a new food offering opening in the venue in the next few weeks so watch this space!”
If you fancy trying your hand at baseball, curling or table golf, or are just looking for something a bit different to do while you hang out with friends, you can book games on the Floodgate website. Take a look at their social media to be the first to hear when the team brings something new to the table - keep an eye out for a new street food offering coming soon!
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