Why are some operators continuing a discount scheme?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade voices: the MA500 online conference is available on demand now
Trade voices: the MA500 online conference is available on demand now

Related tags: Pub food, MA500, Multi-site pub operators, Discounting

The Government-backed Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme helped push trade and some operators have continued their own discount initiatives into winter.
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At this month’s MA500 digital conference (Thursday 1 October), Star Pubs & Bars Just Add Talent manager Beki Davies and Eagle Eye Solutions chief sales officer Al Henderson revealed how and why discount schemes have been extended.

“We run community pubs predominantly in the Just Add Talent model and the majority of those were wet-led so the EOTHO us a really great opportunity to really push food within community pubs where it might not have necessarily always have been the primary reason to visit," Davies said.

“We realised really quickly was our customers really liked coming to the pub to eat. They were Purchasing more week on week, spending more per head and we were engaging with customers who might not necessarily have been to that local community pub previously for food.”

As a result of creating a food offer, this taught Star how to adapt the menu for the future, to ensure customers continued to return.

Good platform

“We had extended our consumer base which gave us a really good platform for making the decision to keep the momentum going for another four weeks so we took out the 50% off soft drinks but maintained from Monday to Wednesday to 50% off [food] until the end of September," Davies continued.

“We made some tweaks to our menu to accommodate the changes in consumer spending pattern like adding some premium items, more upsell items but still kept the menu really simple, quality ingredients and really easy to deliver as we were really mindful of ensuring our kitchens were as Covid-safe as possible.

“With the high volume going through we still wanted to give customers a really quality dish of food and the more items on the menu the more you’re at risk of comprising that position of complexity and more components in the dish can lead to poor quality.”

When it comes to number crunching, while margins have slipped, turnover has improved and including the discount on the new food offer has meant customers have even more reasons to go to their local pub.

“We have taken hit on 50% margin but we are still making more money for ourselves and operators during those days of the week either in July or even February turnover time,” Davies added.

Covering bases

“It has maintained that momentum and ensured customers are still coming back for our food. It says we are clearly giving them a quality experience in an environment they didn’t necessarily all go to a pub for food, they would go for a drink or to watch sport or play darts or pool," she continued.

“Now they are coming to the pub to eat as well, it has extended those reasons to visit. Discounting has enabled customers to trust we can do food.”

However, Eagle Eye’s Henderson warned other operators who are considering a similar discount scheme to ensure measures are targeted.

“It has to be about choice because not everyone is impacted in the same way," he said. "The way we would normally approach with our partners would be mass promotion, untargeted promotion is a bit of a blunt instrument.

“If you can ensure you are gathering customer data off the back of it, so the trade is you can get the discount but if you sign up for our marketing or you’re creating customer identification to try and personalise the message based on what the person has bought.

“Then you can really try and drive the data gathering with the frequency. Getting frequency to more than once every 12 weeks is important and personalisation is a way to do that but you need to start with gathering the how and that can be redeeming a code at till.”

Related topics: MA Leaders Club

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