Look around at the UK’s bar scene and it’s easy to see that lots of places have a particular kind of customer in mind. It might be lads out for the night, couples who want more of a gastropub experience or the after-work crowd who just want to unwind over a couple of drinks after a hard day.
While having a focus on one particular type of customer might work for some places it’s probably a better idea to spread your net a little wider to try to attract different groups at different times of the week or the day. So here are six different groups that you might want to lure in, and how you can get them through the door.
Over the last few decades pub and bar food in this country has undergone a total transformation. Where it used to be a pickled egg and a packet of pork scratchings, today it’s more likely to be smashed avocado on sourdough and other artisan delights. To encourage foodies to your bar why not hold the occasional food festival, for example make it seafood week or put on a show of special charcuterie with the producers themselves in attendance?
Then, to seal the deal, you could add in a happy hour element with two for one on small sharing plates between 6pm and 7pm. This might even succeed in attracting the parents of young children who won’t mind paying for a baby sitter for an hour or two in the early evening while they pop out for a quick bite to eat.
If your business sees quite a lull in the afternoon hours then this is the perfect time to start to attract the older generation. After all, they’re probably retired with time on their hands and many would welcome the chance for a sociable outing in the middle of the week.
So how do you attract them? Simple, with that age-old favourite of a game of bingo. It’s a quick and easy game to play and even if you don’t know the rules it’s simple enough to pick up. All you need to do is get in a supply of bingo cards, a set of bingo numbered balls and some free dibbers and way you go. (The glittery bingo caller’s jacket is optional).
Then, to keep the players coming back, you can use some of the tricks of the online sites to make people feel special by becoming a VIP bingo player with the chance to play free games and win bonus prizes too.
The Under 30s
Unless you’ve been living a cave for the last few years, you’ll have noticed that social media is kind of a big thing these days. You might think that this is all for the big brands to exploit but even an independent bar can too.
All you have to do is start attracting one or two social media users and wait for them to spread the word, whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. One of the best ways you can do this is by offering an incentive to mention your pub or bar in a post. This could be the chance to enter a prize draw or even a discount on drinks or food. Then, as your reputation starts to spread, you’ll find more and more young faces (over 18, of course) lining up at the bar.
No, we’re not suggesting that you get your customers running, swimming and cycling round the bar. But you can attract the more competitive members of your community to take on a three-way challenge to see who will emerge victorious. It could be pool, darts and dominoes or any other three-way competition and you could arrange it so either teams or individuals compete.
But remember that the idea is to keep everything fun and not too competitive so handing out spot prizes could be the ideal way to make sure everything’s played in the right spirit.
If you also want to add another element, maybe it would be a good opportunity to link the event to some charity fundraising – and this might even help to get some free publicity in the local paper too.
Of course, not everyone’s a fan of either watching or participating in sports but you can cater for them too. For example, when the rest of the world’s getting excited about a sporting event why not go the other way and declare your bar a sport-free zone instead?
It might sound counter-intuitive but you’d be surprised by how many people would welcome the chance to enjoy a drink in peace without excited commentary blaring out of the TV. Maybe you could also lay on some other, more peaceful activities for the people who come along, for example setting up a reading corner with newspapers – but with the sports pages removed, of course!
If anything has eclipsed the rise and rise of craft beer in the last few years it’s been the gin revolution. Both have introduced a whole new demographic to seeking out the more unusual of these drinks and the perfect way to attract fans would be to hold a beer or gin festival at your pub or bar. Maybe just choose drinks from a particular part of the country or hold a contest pitching, say, Cornwall against Yorkshire. Then gather together tasting comments and scores from customers and announce the ultimate winner at the end of the festival. You could also theme the food for the areas that the drinks come from to turn it into even more of an event.
So hopefully, these suggestions have given you a few ideas about how to boost foot fall in your pub or bar, especially at the times of day, week or even year when it’s a little quiet. And, let’s face it, with the industry under the pressure it currently faces, every little helps.