10 things your competitors can teach you about running a pub

There are a lot of pubs across the UK that are closing, however, there is still a large market that new business owners can tap into!

In general, many licensed premises seem to be migrating to larger properties where it’s possible to develop a more varied and ‘experiential’ offer for their customers. Keeping on top of trends will keep your doors open.

So let’s look at 10 things flourishing pubs already do to bring back the crowds.

  1. Screen sports

The connection between drinking and watching sport is as strong as ever. And given the retreat of major sports like football, rugby and cricket from free-to-air channels, it’s no surprise pubs screening major internationals and matches involving top teams do great business.

You could take advantage of the increased interest in sports such as cycling and the rise of women’s football and US sports like NFL, baseball and ice hockey. Screening these sports in your pub can add further to a rich palette of sporting options likely to build a strong following in any pub.

  1. Pets welcome

Making your establishment pet-friendly can attract a broader clientele and, with careful planning, need not contravene the elements of good hygiene. Drinking bowls for thirsty animals and easy access to outside spaces are the primary requirements for pet owners keen to share their leisure time with four-legged friends.

Generally speaking, you should have zones where pets are welcome along with their owners. That means those who have allergies, or who are not especially fond of animals, can also enjoy your pub facilities without feeling intimidated.

It’s also sensible to make your pet house rules very clear from the outset, otherwise you may invite disputes.

  1. Food trends

Customers are far more adventurous than in previous years so don’t feel shy about serving something other than the traditional pub fair. However, your customers will be able to tell if it’s not authentic, so stick to what you know!

There is also a staggering rise in the number of people who are opting for meat-free diets. It’s important, therefore, to think about adding options to your menu that will cater to them!

  1. Beer trends

Craft beers of all kinds continue to grow in popularity and attract avid enthusiasts. There are varied opportunities for you to host ‘tastings’ and introduce ‘guest’ beers to create a sense of interest and anticipation around a well-planned drinks menu.

Some establishments have even gone as far as allowing customers to brew and then taste their self-brewed beer. Though the jury may be out on whether this produces the ultimate taste experience, there is no doubt about its positive impact upon customer loyalty.

  1. Eco-friendly credentials

This can include acquiring food and drink from sustainable sources of known provenance, ethical food production in animal-friendly environments, and the use of minimal energy to deliver the final product – as in the concept of food miles.

Elsewhere, some establishments minimise their waste, avoid the use of harmful chemicals, and heat their premises and/or produce their hot water using solar energy or a renewable energy source such as woodburning stoves.

  1. Provide an experience

Your customers’ preferred leisure activities can be varied. Some customers will delight in traditional pub games from darts and snooker to card and board games, as well as skittles plus the ever-popular pub quiz.

But equally, there is an appetite for experiences of all kinds: mini golf, escape rooms and even VR options. An increased interest in fitness and health activities has also resulted in pursuits such as table tennis and trampolining as well as five-a-side football facilities.

  1. Millennial and Generation Z trends

If you want to appeal to these generations, you will need to think about the experience that they have at your pub. However, given the opportunity, they are also as keen as anyone else to do well in trivia quizzes.

Some establishments have run successful sessions teaching millennials how to play darts, which suggests that (with some encouragement) an experiential introduction to many traditional pub pursuits might also bear fruit – especially if also accompanied by a modern twist in the way that you present them.

  1. Community activities

If your pub is prepared to support teams entering in leagues (e.g. darts, skittles, five-a-side football), this is a great way to bring in new people. And likewise, there are many sports teams and other community groups who would appreciate using a pub space to hold meetings, social evenings and other events. You might even be able to fill slack mid-week evenings by exploring such methods.

  1. Bar snacks

With a little thought and research, anyone can move beyond peanuts and crisps. Tapas-style samples, dips and even small plates are now more popular than ever. You can try exotic tastes, healthy options, cured meats and chicken products and more.

Shareable dishes also work well, and a little experiment with all these options will transform your bar offerings and delight your customers.

  1. Review your branding

If you bring some of these ideas on stream they should, of course, be accompanied by a matching revamp of your in-house and online marketing platforms. Because modern consumers will want to be able to discover what menus, entertainment and experiences your pub can offer long before they make the decision to visit!

By Matthew Hernon is an Account Manager at Dynamis looking after Business Transfer Agents and Franchises across BusinessesForSale.com and FranchiseSales.com.