Times are hard for pubs. Supermarkets can sell alcohol at bargain prices to tempt customers through their doors, while lower-cost, large-screen TVs and competition between TV providers all encourage people to drink at home with their friends rather than head down to the pub. Because of this, pubs need to work to keep people coming through their doors and to get them to spend as much as reasonably possible while they are there. Food sales can be a great help here, so here are 5 top tips to increase them.
Remember the importance of service
It may seem strange to put this first, but what people generally remember about any interaction is how it made them feel. Food critics may rave about the delicious food served in a pub in Dorking, Surrey and possibly overlook middling to poor service, but the average person would far rather eat simple food at a really friendly pub in Dorking, Surrey. In other words, it’s far more important to have a great atmosphere than it is to be a gourmet gastropub.
Be prepared to cater to diverse needs and tastes
These days having at least one vegetarian option per course served is pretty much seen as standard. You may also with to look at potential gluten-free options. It’s also worth remembering that people who enjoy spicy food are generally able to enjoy well-prepared, milder food, but for all the popularity of curry, there are still numerous people who prefer their food to be on the milder side.
Use local produce and producers wherever possible
There are certain global chains which have made their name by serving more or less the same food in every location, but these companies tend to operate on a substantially different business model to most local pubs. Buying local has the added advantage of emphasizing your community credentials. If you’re running a pub in Dorking, Surrey then most of your trade is probably going to come from in and around Dorking, Surrey, so encourage the people nearby to support your local business by supporting the local businesses, which employ your customers (and their neighbours, family, friends…)
Make the most of themed evenings
With events such as pub quizzes, where you control the schedule, you can use strategic timing to encourage people to eat at your venue. With other events, such as football, where you’re up against other options, such as watching it on someone’s home TV, you need to pull out more stops to get their attention and trade. Promotions may help, but you want to stay away from the “race to the bottom”. Remember the importance of atmosphere, people like to be where people like to be (particularly their friends) so make sure that you get each event on camera and have photographs of people having a great time on your social media platform and/or website. It’s OK if you’re not the best at photography, just take as many photographs as you can and choose the best.
Food is about presentation as much as taste
Every good chef knows that food needs to look good (or at least decent) on the plate. These days, it also has to look good on social media, websites and menus, brochures and leaflets. This means that good food photography is an investment. Basically good food photography is what makes customers look at photographs of your food and think “Yum, that looks good.”. Put this together with your “fun” photos from themed evenings (or any other occasion) and you give out a clear message that your pub is the place to go for great food and a great atmosphere.