It is, of course, a notoriously quiet time for the pub industry. I have been wracking my brains for suitable ‘top tips’. I have concluded that visits to my local pub do give me a tremendous boost. I enjoy the sociability and camaraderie.
Here are some things that I like and frankly do not like about visiting pubs:
- Bad beer. This is a personal one; my local is a great community boozer but the quality of beer is unreliable. Steve, the landlord, knows his market and most of the men drink lager and come in to watch live sport. I suspect many beer drinkers go elsewhere in the village and I would certainly visit more often if the beer were better. Remember the mandatory condition about the availability of small measures (in the case of beer, half a pint); staff ‑ should also be aware of this.
- Know your market and concentrate on what you do well. Steve does this; he does not do much food and provides chips on busy football nights for regulars, which is greatly appreciated. He does the basics really well. To enter some pubs, one has to negotiate a forest of coloured chalkboards advertising so many initiatives, such as ‘steak night’, ‘curry Mondays’, ‘quiz night’, ‘live bands’, etc. As a consumer, is that a pub whose message is not particularly clear and perhaps does not do the core pub priorities well? Do you know your regulars, their names and something about them? Do your staff know what your regulars drink ? These little social niceties can make a significant difference and add to the warm welcome and encourage repeat business. Remember the importance of staff training in relation to licensing matters; increasingly this is a condition on your premises licence and the authorities can look for proof, and refresher training is good practice.
- Poor service. Undoubtedly this has improved across the industry but there are still rude bar people who greet visitors with a nod and a grunt. This is very off-putting for customers, particularly new ones. There are also staff who clearly have not been trained in the basics, greeting customers and the mechanics of pouring good beer and increasingly importantly mixing cocktails and spirits. Are there enough staff on? It is frustrating when looking forward to a beer, arriving at a pub already stressed and it being three deep at the bar simply because there are not enough staff members. Remember that apart from customer care, a crowded bar with frustrated customers can lead to problems and is a classic crime and disorder ‘potential flashpoint’.
- What do women want? Some community pubs can be very much directed towards blokes and certainly mine is. I am sure more women would be attracted if there were a better range of spirits and more comfortable seats. And don’t forget to make sure the toilets are of sufficient quality? Remember that British Standard and health and safety rules apply to toilet accommodation, wash hand basins, etc. and that there could be a spot check from your local environmental health officer at any time.
I sometimes think that much e‑ ort is spent on various marketing initiatives rather than concentrating on creating an atmosphere that is appropriate for the target market, good customer service, well trained management and staff who serve you efficiently and make you feel welcome. These are reasons to visit pubs, which I believe are sometimes overlooked.
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