Tap into profit: dispense report

Improving draught and cellar management can make money for your bar

With competition fierce in the bar and pub trade, it is more important than ever to make sure customers are happy with the quality of the beer, cider and soft drinks they are served. Not only is it essential to have a good cellar management system, but staff need to be properly trained, says Bill Tripp, key account manager at Innserve, a specialist in the supply, installation and maintenance of dispense systems. “A single drip tray of waste per day per line in a standard pub can cost up to £14,000 a year in lost sales, a significant amount of money,” he explains. “Cellar management training has a direct impact on minimising waste and optimising the quality of draught beers while also ensuring customers get the best experience and the best pint.”

If line cleaning schedules slip, the quality of the pint drops and it will lead to fobbing, where too much gas causes foaming, Bill adds. “A proactive approach should be taken when it comes to cellar management,” he insists. “Lines should be cleaned every seven days and the cellar temperature should constantly be monitored to ensure it is correct. Staff and supervisors should all have a full understanding of how a cellar works and how to make equipment work efficiently.”

Research has shown that good-quality drinks dispense and cellar management training can improve yields by about three per cent and sales by seven per cent. “Effective cellar management can also be seen with a pub’s customers, as they will be enjoying great draught products, talking about them and telling their friends, leading to increased turnover and profits,” Bill adds.

Beer that has been traditionally brewed and matured in the barrel should be looked after with the same amount of care as fine wine, says Conrad Boucher, general manager of Beer Piper, a leading provider of automated beer line-cleaning systems. “Those beer lines can harbour bacteria that make your beer cloudy and taste of vinegar, smell faintly of rotten eggs or buttery butterscotch,” he points out. There is also the risk of “beer stones” caused by calcium in the grains and water combining with the oxalic acids or salts in the hops to produce hard deposits that can build up and flake off into the beer.

“Beer lines can and should be cleaned regularly, and use of an automated system allows this to be carried out quickly and conveniently during opening hours with no wastage,” Conrad adds. “While most bars make sure the areas on show to their customers are clean and welcoming, it’s careful and regular cleaning of the beer lines that ensures your pint is perfect.”

Licensees should also take steps to ensure they are not wasting money through wasting energy, points out Chris Moore, trading director at pub company Star Pubs & Bars. “The energy used for cooling drinks in a typical leased pub can be up to 20 per cent of the total energy cost and more than half of this goes into cellar cooling,” he says.

As well as providing training in draught quality and dispense, the company helps its lessees to look at ways of reducing their energy bills. Advice includes not locating any appliances or white goods in the cellar or beer store. “Equipment such as icemakers and refrigerators actually produce heat so will work against your cellar cooling,” Chris explains. Insulation should also be upgraded to doors, ceilings and any pipework which passes through the chilled area. “Regularly service and maintain cellar cooling equipment,” he adds. “Evaporators and heat-rejection coils require regular cleaning to allow free airflow and economic operation. Condenser trays should be emptied to avoid water fouling the coil.”

Investing in the right cellar management system can bring benefits to the bottom line. The Broadway Bar and Grill, close to Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge and a popular haunt for matchday supporters, is netting an extra £30,000 per year – equating to £80 per day – since it installed Vianet’s iDraught bar and cellar management system.

The three-storey bar and restaurant on Fulham Broadway generates sales of around £18,000 a week on draught – about 60 per cent of its revenue. With such large volumes, there is greater chance of wastage through problems such spillages, faulty dispense equipment and other problems, which could be costly for a venue that takes around £13,000 on home matchdays.

In spring last year, the bar installed the iDraught cellar and bar management system from Vianet Group. “It’s a phenomenal system and I’m surprised it isn’t in every pub in the country,” says Olly Smith, manager at the Broadway Bar and Grill. “It gives us a clear snapshot of our entire bar and cellar operation which, as we are a large venue with so many tills and pumps across three floors, is really beneficial. It quickly highlights any problems that occur with the dispense equipment or in the cellar, and this allows us to identify and fix them quickly.

“We’ve worked out that iDraught is saving us around £80 a day through reducing draught wastage. It also allows us to compare our till figures with what we have poured so that we can quickly see if the two correlate or if we have a problem. iDraught have also given training to all of our staff and everyone is comfortable with using the system.”

Live in over 2,500 UK bars and increasing, iDraught gives operators a window on every part of the draught beer journey, from cellar to glass, providing detailed but easy-to-understand information about beer and cellar temperature, pouring yields, regularity of line cleaning and font use. “In short, it gives operators the information they need to maximise their bar operation, says Steven Alton, managing director (commercial) at Vianet Group. “With the more challenging trading environment of recent times, the iDraught system is gaining traction as pub and bar companies adopt an increasingly sophisticated approach to cellar and bar operations. Such is the power of the system that it is typically adding two to five per cent to gross profit margins on draught products.”

Case study: Star Pubs & Bars

Heineken UK’s Pourtal tap system has been introduced at pubs in the Star Pubs & Bars estate to help outlets create the perfect head. The new tap is designed to encourage bar staff to pull a pint of Foster’s, Amstel, Heineken and Tiger by pouring it at a 45 degree angle to initially create as little head as possible. It then allows them to add the perfect head by simply pushing forward the tap to drive beer through a smaller second nozzle, creating tiny bubbles that lock in taste.

Chris Moore, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars, says: “Installing equipment to improve beer quality is not enough to make a difference. If the Pourtal tap is used incorrectly, consumers will not see the difference. When used properly and with appropriate glassware, however, the perfect pint is produced, which in our experience has resulted in a four per cent increase in beer sales.”

Case study: The Voodoo Lounge

The Voodoo Lounge in Southampton has become the biggest customer to date for the Vodka One draught vodka dispense system from drinks company Hi-Spirits. After being opened by South Coast Clubs a year ago, the 1,000-capacity venue has installed 11 Vodka One fonts across five bars.

The font dispenses one shot of chilled premium vodka in one second, which has been ideal for a bar where they sell the equivalent of 500 70cl bottles of vodka every week. “The vast majority of our vodka sales are a shot with a mixer, or in a bomb serve with a liqueur,” says the bar’s general manager Toby Loney. “It’s clear that our spirits service has speeded up significantly, and we’ve also dramatically reduced wastage. Like any bar we need to maximise sales at our busiest times, and we’re now serving customers much faster.”

The Vodka One font is served by two five-litre PET containers of Vodka One, which means very few changeovers. Vodka One’s link to the epos system also improves stock control, reducing losses through staff error or fraud. Loney adds: “When you lose a shot to theft, it’s not the cost of the product that you really lose but the sale price. The investment in installing Vodka One is more than compensated for by the combination of reduced losses and increased sales.”

Hi-Spirits chairman Jeremy Hill adds: “What we’ve learnt from bars that have already installed Vodka One is that the system really pays for itself at the busiest trading times. The difference that increased volume sales and fewer bottlenecks at the bar on a Friday or Saturday evening makes to the bottom line can be substantial, not only in terms of vodka sales, but through the other drinks that staff have more time to serve.”

First publishing in the February 2013 issue of Bar magazine.

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