Running a pub seems like it should be simple science. Cheap drinks, a little food, maybe a jukebox in the corner; what else do you need? Well like any other business it takes a lot more than a good idea to make it profitable. The best pubs all offer a sense of community. They make you feel welcome even if it is your first time there. They also offer value over pricier nightclubs or trendy bars. Let’s take a look at how you can make your pub the talk of the town.
Keep Your Regulars
Regulars are the lifeblood of any restaurant or bar, and a pub is no different. Having customers come in on a weekly basis, or even multiple times in a week will provide a consistent revenue base for your pub. You and your employees should work your butts off to create regular customers. Greet customers as they enter your establishment, don’t wait for them to say hello to you. Make them feel welcome! Remember their names and if the opportunity arises engage them in real conversation. Ask about their life, what brought them in, how they like the food/drinks etc. One regular customer can bring in upwards of 10 or more new customers into your pub. After all who doesn’t want to show off their favorite place to eat or drink to their friends and family. Keep customers engaged through social media and offer discounts and loyalty cards to consistently returning customers.
Create a Buzz through Community Events
Creating a buzz through community events can increase the exposure of your business. Want to create a fantasy football league for your pub? Go for it. How about shepherd’s pie-eating contest? I don’t see why not. Try to keep your events inclusive rather than exclusive. You want anybody to see an event and think that they could participate in it. The goal is not only to get customers in the door, but also have them interact with each other. You want your pub to have the reputation of being a place where people can have fun, be themselves, and enjoy a drink. These events also double as marketing tools that can help you expand your business in ways you might not have been aware of before.
Offer Alternative Food and Drink Options
Often times pub owners get stuck in old ways of the past. They feel like offering alternative food or drink options is not authentic. All this does is needlessly drive away what otherwise would be happy paying customers. Having a couple of gluten-free or vegan options on your menu will make sure that no customer feels left out. Ciders have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and having a one or two on tap could add to the appeal of your pub. Delicious alternative-food recipes have also greatly improved in the last 10 years. They can be a nice break from the chicken wings, nachos, and pretzel hegemony you usually find at pubs.
Know your Demographics
This cannot be stressed enough. Planning on opening an authentic English style pub, complete with aged wood and a salty looking bartender in the middle of Beverly Hills probably isn’t a good idea. Wherever you decide to establish your business, you want a clear idea of who you are targeting and the features of the neighborhood you are located in. No street parking? Then you definitely need a place with a parking lot. Working class neighborhood? Perfect for that divey, no-frills pub you always dreamed of. Posh neighborhood with lots of foot traffic? You might want a more modern take on a pub, with more lots of events for every night. Doing research on your target demographic and location will pay off in the long run.
Control Your Cost
Maybe you think running a pub will be like having your own private party every night. You can invite all your friends and drink the night away in merry song and dance. Wrong. A pub is a business like any other, and if you don’t keep a tight rein on your costs, your pub won’t be around for long. Pricing your menu correctly, removing non-profitable items, not over-pouring drinks, and reducing freebies will all boost your bottom line. Use a POS system to keep track of sales. Don’t spend more than you have, and if you are losing money consider cutting hours to reduce your labor costs before raising your prices.
Follow the Rules
When I was younger, I used to work at a restaurant and bar that had a mechanical-bull. My first day on the job, I noticed that all the cups were made of plastic. When I asked a coworker about it she said the restaurant had so many issues with fights and broken glass (see afore-mentioned mechanical-bull) they decided to scrap glassware altogether. One can only imagine some of the legal ramifications that forced the restaurant to switch to plastic. Having a solid legal attorney is a must for any pub, as well as employing a court reporting service to keep accurate records of your court appearances. You don’t want to get caught in a “he said she said” situation. Things like excessive noise or violence, as well as overserving and serving to minors can have your pub shut down and your liquor license revoked. Don’t take a chance and make sure your business is backed up legally.
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