With the easing of restrictions and the arrival of warmer weather, demand for a spot to enjoy that first, freshly poured pint in the on-trade is high, with record numbers of bookings being reported.
Whether you already have a large garden or are looking to create some outdoor space, now is the time to start your preparations. Drawing on insights from our Star Pubs & Bars network, we have pulled together some top tips to help you reopen successfully outdoors. Heineken customers can also access further support in the Heineken Benefits Bar.
1. Plan ahead to make the most of your space
Before making any changes to your outdoor space, it’s important to consider all planning and licensing requirements, such as selling alcohol and hosting live music.
For instance, you’ll need a pavement licence if you want to put furniture on ground that you don’t own or that forms part of the public highway.
We’d recommend contacting your local planning department with any questions from the get-go, as authorities can vary and permission can take some time.
Car parks are a great way to designate and pivot to drive existing revenue. One of our Star Pubs & Bars spent just £250 converting a car park into a licensed beer garden with 10 new covers and saw sales grow by 125% vs the previous year!
Get creative and use windbreakers and planters to segment your space, keeping it organised and functional for social distancing. Open to all, our Facebook group, The Pub Social, is a great shared space for people working in hospitality, where they can access tangible advice and recommendations from other operators – from choosing the best options for your outdoor area to managing staff to optimising table service.
2. Be ready for all weather
There are few things better than a pint in a sunny pub garden – but as we all know, the great British summer does not guarantee blue skies.
Making the investment to keep your outdoor space viable in all conditions could be the difference between consumers choosing your outlet over a nearby competitor.
Weather-proofing with gazebos, umbrellas and durable outdoor furniture can increase dwell time and consumer spend. We appreciate this comes at a cost so, to help make these investments more manageable, we offer support through the Heineken Buying Club - helping our customers save on everything from waste disposal to staff training to energy bills from leading suppliers.
Including exclusive discounts like 25% off outdoor furniture with Woodberry.
3. Boost appeal
Health and hygiene remains important, with 72% of people wanting to see regular anti-viral cleaning when pubs and bars reopen, so ensure you have enough staff to regularly collect empties and sanitise surfaces. Heineken customers can request safety and reopening POS from POS Direct in the Heineken Benefits Bar, to help communicate the measures they are taking to keep customers and staff safe.
First impressions are everything. You can drive serious footfall and promote dwell time with a smart, clean environment. Adding flowerpots, umbrellas and benches will boost appeal and help draw in passers-by.
Consider using your outdoor space for events and occasions too – perhaps a themed evening with decorations and live music, which you can promote on social media to get people excited to attend.
Outdoor dining is expected to be more popular than ever this summer; consumers are looking for locally sourced, quality food options so consider refining your menu, or creating new, exciting dishes that are quick to prepare and easy to serve outdoors.
For wet-led pubs without kitchens, why not try running a pop-up with a local street food chef – this is a great way to drive footfall and get people talking.
 HEINEKEN Consumer Sentiment, 23rd February 2021. Toluna Start, 20th January 2021, 217 respondents
4. Shout about it!
Boost your online presence and get a conversation going on social media to engage both existing and potential customers. If you’re making improvements to your outlet, creating a new menu, hosting a special event and sprucing up your outdoor space – shout about it!
Consumers are excited to return to the on-trade, so give them something to look forward to; they won’t be visiting if they don’t know what’s on offer.
Your garden should feature at least twice in your nine most recent social posts alongside relevant hashtags like #beergarden. Video content is key and attracts higher engagement than still photos.
Tease customers with a sneak peek of your outdoor space on a sunny day to get people talking and making bookings. For more advice on connecting with your customers via social media, visit The Pub Collective social tips page.
To help our customers continue to run a profitable pub business, Heineken UK has launched the Benefits Bar – your virtual local, serving up the products, services and ideas you want when you need them.
Built on industry experience, including real expertise from our own Star Pubs & Bars network, Heineken UK is uniquely placed as both a supplier to the trade and being in the trade – meaning we truly understand you and your customers.
As well as the commercial support and great brands you expect from your drinks supplier, we’ve gathered all the benefits of working with us into one place at the Heineken Benefits Bar. Because it never stops when you run your own business.
To find out more about partnering with Heineken UK and the benefits we can offer your business, visit: https://www.heineken.co.uk/our-pubs/make-heineken-your-supplier/