With increasing competition in the hospitality industry, as well as rising food and labour costs, it is becoming hard for today’s bar and restaurant owners to lift off the bottom line. There are technological solutions as well as those more palatable that can help your bar or restaurant remain competitive within the sluggish economy.
Don’t run idle
Once you have secured a steady stream of patrons, it is too easy to take a step back and keep the business running idle. However, that kind of thinking can also lead to stagnation and falling behind. Social networks and review sites like TripAdvisor can make negative comments spread like a blazing inferno. Staying ahead of what your customers think and ask from you is the key to running a successful bar.
Open to technology
Many restaurants and bars are now embracing customer-interfacing technologies. Time is money, and free time is even more expensive. Rather than waiting for a busy waiter, many customers would pay their own tab. OpenTable and UrbanSpoon are the examples of electronic reservation systems that are beginning to replace reservation books. Some restaurants even go further and place tablets at the table so their customers can browse the menus and pay their bill.
Create a signature drink
Going with a theme in your bar can help you stand out among many generic bar establishment that you’re competing with. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Irish pub, tropical bar, or a 1950s-themed joint, you can always reinforce the theme with signature drinks and food. If you are located near a campus, target your customers with cheap drinks and informal setting. If you manage a country club, make sure you don’t run out of top-shelf drinks and your waiters know their wines.
Something for everyone
Soda and water shouldn’t be the only alcohol-free drinks in your offer. Designated drivers would appreciate virgin daiquiris, smoothies, Italian sodas, and especially coffee and frappe beverages. If you host an open bar, offer discounts and perhaps a few freebies to designated divers. Otherwise, if you run a specialized establishment like a beer garden or wine bar, make sure you add a few options outside of your theme. From time to time a non-beer drinker will enter your tap room, so have some wine at hand.
Invest in interior and outdoor features
Having a comfortable furniture is important for persuading customers to make a return call to your bar or restaurant. According to a research by Mintel, the only issue that outranks the comfort is the variety of items available on the menu. When it comes to first impression lighting is more important than you might expect. Apply different layers of light, like ambient lighting, task lighting and spotlighting that accent the architectural and décor features.
If your bar has an outdoor sitting area, invest in comfortable outdoor furniture and sunscreens. As for the shade structures, rotating cantilever umbrellas, as those offered by Sydney Shade, are durable, visually appealing and can be suspended from the horizontal arm attached to the main vertical pole. What this practically means is that you’ll have plenty of room under the shaded areas to place tables, chairs and sun lounges.
First in, first out
Keep up a strict FIFO (First in, First out) policy. It means that you should use your oldest stock first so you don’t have to discard any items that went over their ‘best before’ expiration date. One way of doing this is by recording the date you received any perishable stock, perhaps by writing on the packaging so you can see it easily, and always using the oldest.
Always encourage your customers to leave testimonials and positive comments about your venue. People believe what they hear from people they trust. For some, it will be the reinvented menu, for others the pleasant atmosphere on weary Friday nights.