Pub Mentors: Optimising soft drinks service

Related tags Soft drinks Coca-cola Ben

Pre-transformation: Ben Scott has improved back-bar visibility to maximise soft-drinks sales and lift footfall
Pre-transformation: Ben Scott has improved back-bar visibility to maximise soft-drinks sales and lift footfall
Martin Sampson, out-of-home shopper marketing controller at Coca-Cola Enterprises, reviews progress on improving soft-drink visibility at the Great Lyde in Yeovil, Somerset.

It was great to revisit manager Ben Scott and see the progress he and his team are making at the Great Lyde. With trade consultant Ali Carter’s support, he has achieved big wins in getting more customers through his door more often, and has started to build up a real loyalty with his locals.

Here is a licensee really playing to his strengths. He is a natural entertainer and clearly great with families, so helping to increase the number of them entering his pub is a great move.

The main challenge for Ben is to maximise the experience families get from his food and drink offerings while increasing his return of sales at the same time — and soft drinks can play a vital role in this.

In terms of soft drinks, the action-plan Ben and I agreed on my initial visit was about getting the basics right and understanding that soft drinks are as important as any other category in a pub.

Not doing the basics right will not only have a detrimental effect on the customer experience, but also has the potential to minimise the high revenue and profit opportunity that soft drinks offer to a licensee.

The four key focus areas agreed were:

  • Ensuring quality of serve — making the most of glassware
  • Chilled visibility — increasing chilled space for softs
  • Visibility behind the bar — refreshing space behind the bar
  • Visibility on menu — producing more attractive menus

I am pleased to say that Ben has delivered on all key focus areas, which has greatly benefited his bottom line.

Ensuring quality of serve

Ben has moved from a half-pint serve and now uses branded glassware for soft drinks. He’s also now looking for a larger branded glassware size to upsell to his customers.

Chilled visibility and visibility behind the bar

Ben has acknowledged he was not maximising his visibility enough behind the bar or on menus. Despite having a lot of bar space, Ben did not have enough chilled space for soft drinks in his pub and was serving ambient product with ice.


He has ordered an extra fridge to ensure his soft drinks are visible to consumers and served chilled where possible. Fridges and the back-bar are prime retail areas and should be considered carefully when merchandising.

Visibility on menu

Ben also agreed to include soft drinks on all his menus. These are being printed and will allow customers to see brands and product descriptors more clearly. In tests across 250 pubs last year, there were category uplifts of 5% to 9% simply by including soft drinks on the menu, so we have every confidence that this will help Ben further.

Range review

To ensure Ben can offer parents a range of soft drinks and bottled water for younger family members, he has chosen to broaden his family offer, and introduced a juice drink with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Impressively, Ben sold almost 200 units in the first few weeks.

Ben also reviewed his energy drink performance and invested some of his margin on energy drinks into ‘finished drink’ promotional activity. As a result, he has seen his volume of energy drinks increase by 50% in the past two months.


The Great Lyde took part in the Designated Driver campaign, offering free soft drinks for designated drivers to great effect. Ben advertised it externally and also offered it to all parties booked in for Christmas dinners and parties in his pub.

Ben told us that a third of all parties stayed on for longer as a result of the Designated Driver activity and he benefited from increased revenues.

In summary

While a relatively short period of time has elapsed and some of the initiatives are still being implemented, manager Ben Scott has already seen a significant growth in soft-drinks sales.

Clearly some of this is down to an increase in customers, but he also puts it down to more people buying more often, with spend per head up more than 10%, due to the increased choice and improved visibility. Essentially, he’s getting the basics right.

Ben says he has learnt two important things about soft drinks during the programme: “Firstly, soft drinks are more important to the pub than I ever thought. Previously, I didn’t give them any attention. It is only when I look at my numbers that I see how much they contribute to my business.

“Secondly, small things can make a big difference. One or two changes to my soft drinks range have made a huge difference to the amount I am selling, especially with the increased number of families coming in.

Also, offering free soft drinks to drivers at Christmas had a much bigger impact than I thought it could.

“I am excited about the future and look forward to the new menus coming in and getting my back-bar area working harder for me — both of which can only further improve my turnover.”

  • Pub Mentors is run in association with Coca Cola Enterprises Ltd Open More Business

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