Have you ever considered what makes you want to keep going back to your favorite local watering hole? The food and drinks, of course, but how did you feel during your visit? What about that experience made you feel special, welcomed, included in the party? The truth is, what is likely driving your return visits are memorable experiences, and connections with the people who make them. This dissection of the ultimate guest experience is the cornerstone of Secret Hopper.
We are delighted to share with you a conversation we had with Andrew Coplon, one of the nicest, coolest, friendliest, swellest guys around. (Seriously, reach out! He’d love to chat with you!)
Andrew Coplon with his family.
The Origin Story
An avid homebrewer, Andrew forged his own path into the beer world, drawn in by a community defined by their enthusiasm and innovation. Before honing in on his passion for helping breweries hone their craft, he spent a few decades running his own food service company, working with sports and entertainment venues all across the country—think baseball, hockey, even monster truck shows.
“I really enjoyed what I was doing but at the end of the day it wasn’t about the baseball games, concerts, the events I was working, it was about managing a staff and creating an experience that people really enjoyed.”
A true entrepreneur, in 2017 Andrew decided, on a whim, to buy the domain of his soon-to-be company—Secret Hopper. “I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be.
We had about 5000 breweries [at the time]. It was growing at an exponential rate and breweries had to do more than make great beer to compete.”
Secret Hopper sticks around for the best experience. A brewery with an excellent guest experience, and a thriving community is synonymous with a successful brewery.
How does it work?
Maybe you’re already familiar with the idea of secret shopping; companies hire people to secretly shop at their business and provide a detailed record of the experience, as a means to ensuring the customer experience is on-point from top to bottom. As a secret “hopper,” the idea is somewhat the same, but of course, with craft beverages. Secret hoppers visit craft establishments (often bringing family and friends with them), order a few beverages and then provide detailed feedback on their experience answering questions such as: Were you greeted when you walked in? Did the bartender offer recommendations? Did they introduce themselves? Did they offer you a menu? Did they suggest you bring home to-go beer at the end of your visit?
Andrew’s secret behind creating a welcoming establishment with memorable experiences: engagement. “One of the things I preach is called the 30 second conversation. You should be able to build a connection with someone in 30 seconds. If you can get someone to like you in a very quick period of time, they will spend more money.” A strong statement with thousands of data points to prove it.
For anyone who has ever patroned a craft establishment, you’ll understand each taproom experience is unique. Secret Hopper takes the time to understand each brewery and customizes their secret hop to help with specific needs. Whether you want your guests to walk out with the best experience they’ve ever had, like Flying Dog brewery out of Maryland, or regularly checking in to ensure your staff engages with every person walking into your space, Secret Hopper will help.
“The first brewery that signed with us was Flying Dog Brewery out in Maryland. They had very unique goals and they wanted the best customer experience you’ve ever had. They literally wanted you to walk out and say, ‘Holy Shit! That is the best f**king experience I’ve ever had.’ That is what they actually told me, it’s what they wanted.“
The New Normal
2020 shook up the craft industry by taking away one of the key elements of creating that 30-second connection: face-to-face conversation. Some days, guests are allowed inside, other days, patio only. Engaging with strangers while donning a mask has been a learning curve for brewery workers and guests alike. With all the changes happening, it’s important to remember that it’s significant for anyone to leave their house and go to a brewery.
Connecting with the people who chose your establishment is more important than ever. Guests are opting to go out less frequently—when they do choose you, make sure it’s an experience that will bring them back again and again. A key component to today’s survival pack should include investing in the best possible service.
“If you’re only going to have the capacity of 25 people, don’t you want 25 people who are going to actually spend money instead of 25 people who are going to sit there and not take initiative to try something else or engage with the staff?”
Hospitality is more important than ever right now. Services like Secret Hopper ensure that businesses are maintaining a high standard of hospitality and creating loyalists that will support them in whatever way they can (and those ways are changing daily!) Try Secret Hopper and level up your hospitality as you move into 2021!
“It’s about helping others, educating others, and creating a culture that includes all walks of life, no matter one’s understanding of beer. If a guest walks out of an establishment with the joy of feeling welcomed, you’ve won.”