1. Do your research
Jot down all of the things your venue does better than your rivals. Do you offer a wider variety of food? Do you specialise in certain beverages unavailable elsewhere? Are your prices on a par or below your competitors? Be aware of your limitations, too. You should document these strengths and weaknesses in a SWOT analysis, which allows owners to paint a picture of where their establishment stands in the current market.
2. Service touches
Customer service is crucial in all forms of business and the pub sector is not excluded; the first point of contact between server and customer is critical. One tip licensees can follow is to send their staff on a BII Apprenticeship course. The scheme launched a few years ago and offers a nationally-recognised qualification after completion, helping both staff and employer. The more experts you have in the field, the better customer service your establishment can deliver.
3. Convey a consistent message
Not every pub needs to have a distinct, obvious theme but it does need to have a level of consistency. From the pub furniture, the drinks on offer, the food menu, the décor to the background music, a consistent aesthetic is needed to create an authentic atmosphere. Take a look at your pub’s furniture. Is it grotty compared to the slick sheen of the bar? Does it fit in with your pub’s aesthetic? Are you sending a visual message to your customers?
4. Background music
Pubs thrive on social interaction and, as such, it is up to managers and owners to create an environment where conversation can flow as fast as the drinks. You could start experimenting with volume and music genre at various times of the day. Does your establishment lend itself better to quieter, modern music during the day? Do you need to turn up the volume on a Friday evening to get the drinks flowing? Do you even need music during off-peak hours? Start making notes and see how your customers react.
5. Listen to feedback
Listening to feedback – both negative and positive - from punters is crucial to the evolution of your establishment. Knowing their voice makes a difference to the cleanliness, quality, service, maintenance, atmosphere and other areas of the pub helps their peace of mind and allows the pub to maintain or enhance their service. If you implement a change that comes about as a result of a survey, a focus group, a social media comment or other platform, it cements the relationship between customer and business.
The right atmosphere is crucial to the point where it can make or break an establishment, regardless of investment and refurbishment. Ultimately, managers need to be thinking about three things – drink, drinker and the environment. By catering to these three categories, an authentic atmosphere should develop naturally.
This article was written by Trent Pottery, a supplier of furniture for bars and restaurants.