Popular WA vineyard, The Lake House’s customer-centric approach has delivered great results but now the owners want to expand their reach. Could social media be the answer?
After spending ten years holidaying in WA’s picturesque wine region of Denmark, partners Leanne Rogers and Garry Capelli decided to pick up stumps, leave the bright lights of Perth behind and search for a place to call home in the township they loved.
Their quest led them to a rural property on the outskirts of Denmark. The couple immediately fell in love with the old vineyard with its rundown buildings and wilting vines and instantly slapped down their cash and signed on the dotted line. Despite having no grounding in viniculture or hospitality, the pair decided to give winemaking a crack and reopen the cellar door. Twelve years later and The Lake House, Denmark is one of the local area’s tourist drawcards. A thriving business that includes a vineyard, cellar door, café and restaurant as well as a line of gourmet condiments and spa products.
Whilst Rogers admits to a passion for food and wine she tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB) it is living in Denmark that has been her inspiration.
“Our passion for wine has come about from being in Denmark and owning a vineyard. Getting to be involved in the whole process from growing the grapes to harvesting, crushing and then bottling is a great experience.”
That ‘great experience’ has blossomed into a real passion project for the couple. Despite Rogers’ admission they were never really looking for a vineyard when they moved to the area, the allure of the 100-acre property with its lake and two houses had been too good to refuse.
“Without any previous experience in wine or hospitality, and an ‘it can’t be that hard attitude’ attitude, we set about learning everything we could about looking after a vineyard, growing grapes and making wine and in September 2006 with our first vintage bottled we opened the cellar door and restaurant, ” she explains.
“Now 12 years on we have four wine ranges with 28 wines plus a very popular cellar door and restaurant, Vinofood condiments and WineSpa body care products. We have a 5 Red Star Winery Rating with James Halliday for the past three years plus in 2017 we were inducted into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame for Excellence in Food Tourism (after winning gold for three consecutive years in this category). In 2017 we received a Gold medal at the WA Tourism Awards for Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services (our 2nd gold in this category) and a Silver medal for Tourism Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries.”
Not bad going for a couple of novices…
Medals and awards aside, Rogers attributes much of The Lake House Denmark’s success to their ability to provide a fantastic experience for their customers.
Small business expert David Koch agrees. “The Lake House owners have taken their own passion for the area – the fabulous food and wine and fantastic scenery and turned that into an experience to remember.”
Fittingly, Rogers tells KBB the Lake House mantra is to provide memorable ‘Lake House Moments’.
“We want to enrich people’s lives, every time they visit our cellar door and restaurant, sip our wines, tastes our Vinofood condiments or use our WineSpa body products. This is ‘why’ we do what we do,” she explains.
Rogers’ credo seems to be working. Awards aside, The Lake House is amongst one of the most popular vineyards to visit in Denmark, but Koch suggests the couple could increase their reach even further.
“You can’t be a business these days without an effective website and a great social media strategy,” Koch says. “The Lake House website is terrific. It shows off the picturesque setting and all the wonderful products Leanne and Gary have developed but they could really leverage more of their brand’s credibility and popularity by having a more active presence on social media. Great products will always keep a customer coming back for more, but The Lake House could really extend their competitive edge and attract more visitors and customers if they implemented a social media strategy.”
Rogers agrees that the internet has been a great leveller for small business owners everywhere. She understands that having a strong online presence is important for their business, acknowledging their website has helped their business thrive. “Being located in a regional area is no longer an issue as you can market to the whole world,” she says.
Still, she agrees with Koch that there are some elements of The Lake House’s marketing she could do better.
“I think that being more consistent and putting a bit more time into the online world, would really help us,” she adds.
Koch suggests there are numerous ways in which The Lake House could improve their social reach.
“Busy business owners like Leanne often don’t have time to maintain a consistent approach to their social media. One of the biggest and most important lessons for a business owner to learn is they don’t have to do everything themselves. Letting go of their social media and handing it over to a social media manager could be the first step to extending their reach,” Koch says.
Whilst Rogers says she has a grasp on Google Adwords, she’s far from an expert when it comes to targeting an audience on social media, but the vineyard owner says she doesn’t have time to perfect her skills.
“The cellar door and restaurant take up a huge amount of time, whereas the online world can take a back seat especially during the busy tourist season,” she says.
Koch says, to continue with this approach would be ill-advised.
“In today’s constantly connected world it is a big mistake to ignore your social media,” he says. “Implementing a strategy and schedule would really help Leanne and Gary grow their business and utilizing the experience of a social media expert could help them grow their social media and maximize their ad spend.”
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