3663 First for Foodservice: the verdict

Related tags Wine Cross keys Wine list

What general areas have you been advising the pubs on?"Our advice focused on three broad areas - food, wine and catering equipment and we were able...

What general areas have you been advising the pubs on?

"Our advice focused on three broad areas - food, wine and catering equipment and we were able to base our recommendations on an in-depth understanding of their total offering.

"The breadth of services that 3663 can offer customers is our key strength and because we weren't limited to one specific part of the business, we were able to look at a number of areas to drive sales and savings, including menu development through value engineering, recommendations on kitchen efficiency and speed to serve, wine expertise, marketing advice and assistance with key consumer issues like sustainability and local sourcing."

What key changes have you advised the licensees to make in your category?

"We set out to help the Sell More Save More outlets to develop a fully integrated food and wine offering. We recommended numerous changes and these ranged from menu engineering such as the assistance given to the Rose & Crown and the Cross Keys with the refinement of their menus right through to how to upsell and market those menus more effectively.

"Our development chefs worked with the teams to develop streamlined offerings that do not compromise on quality but maximise margins. Representatives from ViVAS, our wine business in partnership with expert wine company Bibendum, also worked closely with outlets, in particular The Priory Arms. Julie Fontaine worked with owner Graham to bring a comprehensive range of wines to the pub that would offer variety to customers at a reasonable price. She did staff training and co-hosted a wine tasting with Graham for his customers."

As a category champion, what key messages did you look to tell the four pubs involved?

"Don't try to be everything to everyone - focus, focus, focus. Look critically at your business and address the areas that can deliver strong sales and improved margins, whether it is marketing, training staff to upsell, improving or diversifying your food offering or changing your wine menu to suit changing consumer taste.

"Consumers are now more sensitive to change than ever before and they have become very shrewd with their money. Offer them value for money and they will return. Upsell where possible - give good value with your main dishes, but save some things as extras that your customers can buy.

"Also, by keeping the menu short and manageable, you will have tighter control of your stock levels and more importantly, your cash flow. It is also a good idea to rationalise your ingredients - use similar ingredients in different dishes."

Where your advice has been taken up, how successful have your changes been?

"We met with the pubs, discussed the areas that they believed needed attention and then advised them on other key issues that we felt 3663 could add value to their businesses. Sell More Save More is not an easy programme but the rewards are countless for both parties. We shared in the joy as the changes we recommended delivered returns for the pubs.

"At the Cross Keys and Rose and Crown we were able to assist with the food menu and both outlets saw a positive impact on sales. EPOS data taken from the Cross Keys showed a lift in food sales of 10% after their menu was relaunched in August last year while wine sales increased by a staggering 131%. Annualised this suggests an increase in takings of as much as £7k on wine and £10k on food from one event only, but of course it is also important to keep refreshing the menu through the seasons to keep it relevant.

"Another outlet that we can't stop praising is the Priory Arms. Graham Bulpett's willingness to work with the 3663 and ViVAS teams allowed us to assist him in a number of areas. We were able to work with him to completely revamp the wine list and offer staff training and a wine tasting for his regular customers."

As a company, are there any learnings from working with our pubs that you can take forward to other customers?

"Looking back over the year, the experience has really brought home to us how much having an integrated approach really helps. Complementing your food and wine offering, taking into account your customer base and considering how to make the operational side work with real efficiency in the kitchen, can really help pubs to sell more and save more."

Catherine concludes: "We work on the principle that the advantage of doing business with 3663 is that we have the expertise to work with our customers from many different angles to help them grow, make them more profit or save them more money.

Looking forward, what key messages do you offer pubs as they look to trade their way out of the recession?

* Develop your food offering

Keep it simple - Reduce your selection to a focused range of items that have strong and wide appeal. Good pub fare consists of simple, good ingredients that are well put together

*Improve kitchen efficiency

Having a more focused menu and range helps here too, but it's also key to look at your kitchen layout: Think of it as a production line, is there natural flow? Equip yourself. There are some simple pieces of equipment that can really improve your speed to cook and serve. Make sure you buy quality-second-hand or reconditioned kit can be a risk. It is better to buy equipment that will look after you and spread the cost.

* Maximise your wine offering

Know your customers. Consider the range of wines you sell to ensure there are options that appeal to women, younger consumers, traditional consumers, etc. Think about new ways of ranging. Don't always use red and white and then by price. Look at ranging by country or styles. Match wine to your food menu and refresh your offering with the seasons to keep it tuned to what your customers want to drink through the year.

* Market yourself

Think about the customers you are targeting and what has worked well in the past - there's no point reinventing the wheel. Direct mail can attract new target customers with specific messages e.g. try our new menu, new local dishes, key events coming up. You can do this via e-mail or mail, and link it in with your website - it's easier than you may think. Generate interest with well-planned themes and key calendar events through the year and make sure your customers and potential customers are well aware of them- use lots of different ways to get the message across.

* Go green

Sustainability makes good business sense. Increasing recycling and cutting down on waste will reduce your landfill waste that in turn cuts down on your annual waste bills. Consider having your waste oil collected and converted into bio-diesel to reduce your carbon footprint. Reducing utility bills can mean a big saving. Consider potential cost savings and not just price when you look at kitchen equipment.

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