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To run a successful bar, it’s not enough to have good cocktails and a space with an eye-catching design. There are many factors that you must take into account to differentiate yourself from the competition, since there are bars on almost every street.
In this article we give you some tips so that your pub can be more successful than you ever imagined.
Is running a bar profitable?
According to Restaurants Canada, the average profit margin hovers around 3% of operating revenue (source). However, how profitable your bar is ultimately depends on how well you manage your operating costs and run your business.
The truth is that having a bar, although it may be profitable, involves a great effort and many hours of work. Before taking the reins of a bar, it’s important you consider the following aspects:
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Increasingly demanding customers
Increased competition has forced bar owners to make certain innovations and create spaces that are as comfortable as possible. As mentioned, it’s not enough just to have a space with the most demanded products, you have to offer some kind of added value.
For example, you can give your customers the opportunity to try craft beers or organic wines, do pairing tastings, offer combinations of menus or different dishes or specialize in some type of snacks other than the usual ones.
Direct contact with the clients is key to manage a successful bar. The most frequent customers want to feel that they are in a welcoming place, with familiar people. They want to feel valued and treated in a friendly way.
Bars are a place for socializing, which is why customers are most likely to bring friends and acquaintances if your staff is engaging and offers great customer service.
Consider the location for your bar
It’s easy to find quite a few bars in a very short radius. Even so, when choosing a pub for the first time, people tend to go for the one that is closest to their workplace or home. Therefore, a pub must be located in a strategic place where there are enough houses or offices nearby.
What does it take to run a successful bar?
Opening and running a bar can offer great possibilities but with hundreds of thousands of businesses that offer coffee and drinks over the counter, how can you differentiate yourself in this sector? How do you successfully manage a bar?
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your investment:
One of the best things you can do is organize events at your bar. You have many options to choose from, you can book local bands or musicians to play live gigs, invite comedians to do stand-up comedy sessions or even organize a theme party or an open mic night!
Sometimes, this requires a little bit of an investment, but there are some techniques that can help you save some money and still guarantee you have quality events at a low price:
- If you want to organize concerts: invite amateur bands or local music groups. Remember that the genre of music should be aligned with the style of the bar. In most cases, these people will bring their friends, which will guarantee that you have more clients.
- For performances by comedians, you can do the same! Contact artists who are just starting out or amateurs.
This type of event will make your bar attract customers of all ages. For a bar, organizing events gives it notoriety and gives it an edge over the competition. Bring magicians, bands, DJs, renowned bartenders, comedians, entertainers, etc. The possibilities are endless!
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This is one of the most popular selling strategies in bars around the world. A happy hour special can include discounts on drinks, food, or both. Typically, only bars or restaurants that serve alcohol offer happy hours, but non-alcoholic happy hours can work too. Identify what days of the week and what time frames have less influx of customers and try to fill in those slots with offers.
Your happy hour special may include a general discount or discounts on specific dishes and drinks. You can also do different happy hour specials for each day of the week or just have the same offer every time. Many sports bars only offer happy hours on weekdays, since weekends are busier.
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Train your staff for upsells
Highly trained staff will help you boost your sales considerably. Make sure to train them so they:
- Have a deep understanding of the products
- Understand which are the best pairings in wines, beers and drinks
- Know when to suggest wine by the glass or by the bottle and know what alternatives there are to sell more starters or accompaniments.
- Always approach the table with the dessert menu open while suggesting a dessert
- Know when to offer coffees and infusions
- Don’t miss the opportunity to offer sweet wines or liqueurs to finish
Invest in a performant bar inventory system
Investing in an effective bar inventory system will help you increase profits and save you a lot of time. Here are some of the benefits that you will get by investing in a bar inventory system:
- Manage your liquor orders and liquor sales
- Track your inventory directly in the app
- Avoid liquor discrepancies and bar count variances
- Save on labor cost
- Stock data and avoid paperwork
- Identify bar and restaurant liquor errors
- Extend your POS bar inventory features
- Automate your invoicing to suppliers
Offer signature cocktails
Everyone knows the typical cocktails like gin tonics or mojitos, but if you introduce signature cocktails, it will make you stand out from the competition and attract new customers. This will also give you the opportunity to offer these cocktails at a higher price and increase your average bar revenue.
Always stay up to date with the latest cocktail trends and the preferences of your target audience. If most of your customers are office workers or entrepreneurs, you may want to orient your signature cocktails towards drinks like whiskey or vodka. On the other hand, if your clients are students or young people, you can make creations with popular drinks among that public, such as rum or tequila.
How do you attract customers to your bar?
Have you ever entered a bar and saw that it was nearly empty so you decided to leave? We usually go into bars and restaurants where there are people and a vibrant atmosphere.
To avoid having low occupation, here are some tips to attract customers to your bar:
Have a presence on review platforms such as Tripadvisor
People usually browse the internet and check reviews before heading to a bar or restaurant so it’s important that you be proactive when it comes to answering reviews (both good and bad) that your customers publish.
Your business should be on TripAdvisor and Google my Business to increase the influx of customers and your reach:
It’s one of the reference portals for clients. Make sure you upload good photos, keep your data up to date, offer your contact details and respond to negative evaluations.
- Google My Business
If you sign up for Google My Business, your business will appear in local Google results and on Google Maps. This will give you more scope.
Implement loyalty strategies
Take care of your regular customers. Offer them special promotions, loyalty cards, exclusive discounts, etc.
Be active on Facebook or Instagram
It’s essential to create social media profiles for your bar, where you can upload quality photos of events, food, promotions, etc. You can also promote your business by inviting your customers to the page.
Another good idea is to launch exclusive promotions through the page to generate hype and increase expectations about your bar. Create hashtags at events or simply make up a hashtag about your bar and encourage your customers to share it on social media.
In addition to all this, having a website is important. It has to have a modern design and all the technical aspects for it to rank in search engines.
Take advantage of technology
You can offer free Wi-Fi, put up large screens for sporting events or hire exclusive pay channels. This will increase the time customers stay at the bar and the likelihood that they consume more. You can also try to run promotions or theme nights with a popular television series or movie, adapting the food or drink that is offered.
How many employees do you need to run a bar?
If most of the customers usually order simple cocktails or shots, a bartender could serve about 50 customers. If the cocktails are more elaborate, they might cater for 30 people. That being said, there are bartenders that can cater for over 200 people.
Each bar has its own needs, depending on the volume of sales and the size of the premise. The number of employees will vary in relation to these factors but here are the most indispensable positions:
Bar managers are those in charge of running licensed bars. They order supplies and schedule performances and events, in addition to working behind the bar and often serving food. They ensure the bar is profitable and their working hours can be long.
If you’re a bar manager, a bar inventory app is helpful no matter what stage your liquor business is in. If you have just opened up a new bar or restaurant and are not sure where to begin, the Rapid Bar app can help you manage your liquor orders, sales, the inventory of your bar and even help cut down your costs.
Bartenders are guided by recipes for mixing and serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Sometimes these professionals are also responsible for designing and presenting the bar menu.
A barback is a person who assists the waiters or bartenders when bars and restaurants are really busy. Barbacks come in handy when bartenders can’t keep an eye on certain things, like refilling drinks, preparing side dishes or cleaning the bar counter.
Bouncers or security guards control the people who enter the bar. They are also responsible for calming people down in tense situations so that staff and customers can work and enjoy the night.