Local business looks for new ways to drive customers to store

Since 2010, Cold Rock on Hibberson Street in Gungahlin has been a popular spot for Canberrans to treat themselves.

Cold Rock offers a family-friendly, fun atmosphere in which to make a selection from around 35 ice-cream flavours and over 45 mix-ins, try a famous supershake, or in the colder months their range of hot waffles with your choice of ice cream and toppings, and thick hot chocolates.

Open from morning until late, Cold Rock Gungahlin is also an after-dinner dessert destination of choice for people dining at local hospitality venues.

The idea of customising a snack or dessert has proved popular in the ACT and around the world, with the Cold Rock brand spreading across the globe.

The owner of the Gungahlin Cold Rock franchise, Ben Meek says the concept has been warmly embraced in Canberra, particularly on warmer days.

“We are very busy in summer,” Mr Meek said. “But we look for ways to attract customers all year and demand doesn’t drop off as much as you might think in winter.”

This winter, Cold Rock Gungahlin is offering indulgences such as hotrock fantasies, hot fudge sundaes and waffles, as well as its crowd-pleasing hot chocolates that range in flavour from the classics through to bugglegum or cake batter.

Ben’s marketing savvy is proving important to the business following the closure of Hibberson Street to traffic due to light rail construction.

Through the Light Rail Business Link Program, Ben undertook marketing training to help his business adapt during the construction period.

“A longer closure notification period would have been good and there are still things we don’t know. For example, the closure has seen my business lose most of its outdoor seating and I don’t yet know if I will get it back.

“The challenge from the construction work is that it can discourage people from simply wandering down the street and stopping into shops. We have to position ourselves to draw people to the Gungahlin Marketplace and then encourage cross-pollination,” Mr Meek said

Cold Rock has already seen this pollination in action and is keen to maintain it during construction. “We get families coming to do their grocery shopping and they will come in and have a coffee together and then one parent will spend some more time here with the kids, while the other parent does the weekly food shop. It means the morning out is fun for the kids and the family gets to spend time together.”

Cold Rock has also cleverly offered deals to the light rail construction workers to encourage them to drop in.

The advocacy of the Light Rail Business Link Program for Hibberson Street businesses helped Canberra Metro prioritise and address the specific needs of businesses on the Hibberson Street retail strip in their construction implementation.

Mr Meek said Canberra Metro has fulfilled its role and done everything that can be expected of them to date, including working with businesses to design signage that has been hung on construction fences to direct people to stores in the Marketplace.

Ben does see potential for light rail to contribute to his business once it is completed. “While I don’t imagine a big uptick in trade from commuters,” Mr Meek said, “Light rail will lead to more people living in the Gungahlin area and that will have a flow-on effect. I also think it will help attract greater commercial activity, including the cinema in the next couple of years, and in turn this will be a drawcard which will bring more customers to the town centre.”

One goal of the Light Rail Business Link Program is to keep businesses operating throughout the construction process so they are able to reap the benefits light rail will offer. If any local businesses require support due to light rail construction, please get in touch with Program Manager Lisa Morisset on 6247 4199.

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