5 Tips for a More Successful Bar

Starting a bar is hard work. In between developing a loyal audience, figuring out the menu and marketing your new business venture, getting off the ground might be more important right now than becoming the new hangout hotspot in your area.

For any bar owner looking to make their business more profitable, here are five tips that will help turn any bar into a success.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

You can’t please everyone and if you try, you’ll end up appealing to no one. That’s why it’s so important to establish your target customer base and stick to it. One important demographic that shouldn’t be ruled out: Millennials.

That generation isn’t in high school anymore, and those twenty- and thirty-somethings allocate a quarter of their spending money to bars and restaurants. They go out to eat more than any other generation on average, and they appreciate the late night scene. With all of this in mind, you can market to Millennials specifically by incorporating things like a late night happy hour menu and by getting on their favorite social media. If you aren’t promoting yourself on apps like Snapchat and Instagram, you’re missing out a significant chunk of your potential audience. Utilize techniques like Facebook Live and Instagram stories, which can boost engagement up to six times on average.

The best way to source information from your target audience? Directly from them. Ask them about their experience with you, their likes and dislikes, and then give them a space to leave reviews so you understand how to better meet their needs and expectations. Afraid of the power of negative reviews? Don’t be. People need space to vent and you’re better off giving them a place to do it where you can monitor and respond to their feedback.

2. Set the Scene

Take a walk through your bar as though you’re a customer. When you know what it’s like from the other side, you can better control the guest experience. Firstly, optimize the layout of your bar depending on what kind of establishment you want it to be. Do you want a lot of standing room? That will affect how many bar stools and tables you purchase. Do you want to give people room to dance? Where will you clear enough space to allow that, and how will you encourage it in other ways like music?

If you have the room, consider building an outdoor seating area as those are shown to increase revenue by up to 30%. Many craft breweries have found success with beer gardens, while others set tables on the sidewalk outside their business. Patio and deck seating are also increasingly popular, as you can arrange a screen to keep out the weather and use the extra seating in three seasons out of the year. Outdoor seating also increases your chances of garnering foot traffic from people who see your bar’s congenial vibe when they’re walking by on the street.

Music is also imperative to strengthening your brand. A good playlist not only determines the ambience, but also affects the demographics who will be drawn to visit your establishment. Your playlist dictates profit to a startling degree: Fast, upbeat music increases table turn time even though customers don’t feel any more rushed, so you can use that to your advantage on busy nights. Meanwhile, slow music amplifies check sizes during off-peak hours by encouraging guests to linger, generally buying more drinks and snacks in the process. You can encourage up to 40% more spending this way. Music is a powerful thing.

3. Upgrade Technology

It’s 2020, and technology is the name of the game whether you want to admit it or not. It’s crucial to have the most up-to-date, high-tech devices on the market so that your customers remain satisfied with the level of self-service and automation that they’ve come to expect. These devices also improve your efficiency and profitability.

At eatOS, we offer Point of Sale and associated devices that keep your bar running smoothly. With us, you’ll be able to:

  • Manage your employees more efficiently by scheduling their shifts and doing payroll from one handy, comprehensive screen.
  • Use the attendance application to streamline service. Let employees clock in on their phones to reduce floor traffic so they can get back to their jobs quicker—and with geofencing technology powered by GPS, they’re only able to clock in while on the premises which significantly reduces time card fraud.
  • Guarantee transaction and data security with our cloud-based technology.
  • Automatically backup your data to the cloud. It even works offline so you don’t have to stop service for a power outage, network connectivity issues or anything else. Our POS automatically syncs offline storage across your devices as soon as you’re back online, so you won’t ever miss a beat.

Get a demo and see how eatOS will launch your bar into the future.

4. Curate Your Menu

Menu management isn’t simple, but it is one of the most necessary aspects of owning any hospitality industry establishment. Making sure that your menu optimizes sales is perhaps one of the biggest drivers of success.

Descriptions will increase sales of any item by nearly 30%, for example giving your drinks names like “Mad-House Margarita Special” instead of just “Margarita.” Creating a signature house drink is also critical, as it gives guests something special to order at your bar that they can’t get anywhere else. People also tend to spend more when the menu is devoid of zeroes or dollar signs, which is another good tip to keep in mind.

Additionally, training your staff on how to upsell to each and every guest will have a massive effect on your bottom line. Asking guests if they would like to try something new has a 60% success rate—and even greater if you give them a reason, even one that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you ask someone if they would like to try the house special “because it goes well with warm weather and everybody’s trying them tonight,” you have a 93% chance that the customer will accept the drink.

To that same end, samples have an extremely positive impact on overall sales, increasing them as much as 2000%. Incorporate free samples into your business model and people are much more likely to open their wallets at the bar. Make sure that there’s something for everyone, too; more and more, people are coming in with dietary restrictions whether because it’s an allergy or a lifestyle choice. Either way, curate a menu that gives everyone something to rave about.

5. Be a Good Neighbor

Make friends with your competition. What? Though it might seem counterintuitive, other bars in the area are extremely good indicators of what works, what doesn’t work and what you can improve on to draw customers’ attention over to you.

Ask questions like: What do you personally like in a bar? What do you wish your favorite watering hole would do differently? Approach your neighbors from a customer perspective to learn how to shape your bar into an establishment that you’d want to go to. It’s helpful to view business from an outsider’s lens to make sure you’re staying true to your initial vision of creating a great place for people to hang out.

Making friends with nearby bars can also be a great business opportunity for everyone. Get together and discuss how you can work with each other on promotions and marketing campaigns that ultimately benefit both businesses. Don’t get competitive—get friendly. Keep the competition closer, right?

Starting a bar is no simple task. With these five tips and tricks, you can optimize your menu, technology, customer marketing strategy, atmosphere and overall business to guarantee your bar is set up for success.

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