Chance & Counters
Our deep dive profiles take an inside look at how businesses throughout the UK are taking a long, hard look at important considerations such as customer experience, finding the best new hires, motivating staff and investing in new technology. This time round it's the turn of Chance & Counters, a board game café with a very clear vision of what it wants to be.
Planning – 7 min read
How Chance & Counters used personal experience to carve out a niche
People and team – 3 min read
Using role-play in job interviews helps test instinct
Sales and growth – 4 min read
How pop-ups provided a clever gateway into cities for new sites
Leadership and strategy – 3 min read
The secret to hospitality success? Creating a welcoming space
Step inside Chance & Counters and hear from three different members of the team about the crucial elements to its long-term future – food and drink, location and USP.
The food and drink proposition can either be entirely forgettable or actually be the thing that gets customers returning time and time again. Chance & Counters really thought about how they'd do it differently – partnering with hyper-local suppliers and staying fresh.
With locations in Bristol, Birmingham and Cardiff, find out how Chance & Counters went about selecting the location of new sites using smart competitor research and at at time when it couldn't afford to get those big decisions wrong.
Being a board game-based bar/café is pretty niche, but it's not stopping Chance & Counters from building a solid customer base. Discover how they've cleverly created hooks to keep visitors coming back in multiple cities throughout the UK.
A story in pictures
Scroll through the gallery below to find out why the story of how Chance & Counters used nice-to-haves to build a unique business is something all companies could learn from.
Having gaming expertise on the team was crucial for Chance & Counters. The team persuaded friend and avid gamer Dicky Duerden to join their Bristol team when the first café opened. Duerden remains the head of games and also handles much of the café’s marketing and PR.
The custom gaming tables at Chance & Counters differentiate the café from other local pubs and bars that stock board games. “The nice-to-haves have been good for us because they create a picture of a place that’s designed for a purpose,” co-founder Steve Cownie explained.
The café’s custom gaming tables come with a second shelf to store board game boxes and other gaming paraphernalia. Drinks holders give customers more space to play sprawling multi-player games – and ensure there are fewer spillages for staff.
Custom T-shirts make the Chance & Counters brand feel familiar and help customers to identify staff.
To cater to avid gamers, the café regularly updates the selection of games and invites customers to test brand new games on the first Wednesday of the month. Many of the new games are developed by Chance & Counters staff or local creators.
The shelf of board games is divided into smaller sections, making it easier for staff to segment games. Customers can choose board games by factors like speed or number of players.
The open kitchen might have posed a regulatory challenge when Chance & Counters opened, but it adds to the warm, friendly atmosphere the team wanted to achieve. As customers take their seats at lunchtime, they walk past bubbling pots of homemade soup and stew.
Partnerships with local breweries and distilleries helped to ingrain Chance & Counters into the community of independent Bristol businesses. Many of these partnerships have led to successful collaborative events, like the café’s popular Prohibition nights.