Playing Happy Families

Playing Happy Families

This week, a survey by the Morning Advertiser revealed that a huge 64% of British families visited a pub or restaurant on last month’s Mothers’ Day.

A 2015 study by reported that three-quarters of families are now eating out more regularly than they were five years ago. With figures like this, it’s easy to see why savvy hospitality operators are keen to exploit the potential for maximising profits that tapping into this market can bring.

Operators in the casual dining sector often lead the way in making families feel valued and welcome, although we speak to many pub managers who are quickly catching on. Strategies like giving out crayons or colouring books on arrival can quickly bring favour with not just the kids, but parents who are likely to appreciate the relaxation and repose that will likely result from having their children entertained.

Small outlays in staff training on best practice for serving families can also lead to big rewards. Simply advising your employees to seat families close to television screens and bathrooms can make a big difference to the atmosphere in your site, encouraging customers, families or otherwise, to linger and spend more cash.

For operators whose goal is happy families, it’s also a great idea to spend some time carefully considering your food offer. Depending on the size and nature of kitchen facilities and trading style, special children’s menus may be the perfect way to broaden your appeal. Alternatively, if a specific style of food is your stock in trade, creating smaller versions of main menu dishes can satisfy parents and children alike. Inventive ways of introducing healthier options to kids’ menus will also earn plaudits from parents. It’s also wise to consider speed of service. Can your children’s options be turned around quick enough to satisfy hungry young stomachs? If not, could you offer extras like breadsticks or other nibbles to keep children happy while they wait for their meal?

However, especially for operators in the pub sector, going all out on embracing families can mean you risk alienating more traditional adult clientele. The Good Pub Guide recently reported “unruly children” as the most likely cause of negative experiences in licensed premises, and with family-led trade inherently centred on weekends and school holidays, the value of customers seeking a traditional adult-focused atmosphere should not be forgotten.

Compromise can be the best solution. Some operators choose to limit children’s access to their sites after certain times, while we speak to many more who designate certain areas, typically bars, as adults only. Strategies like these can allow the big majority of family-driven sales opportunities to be exploited, but still allow a site to retain large elements of a relaxing, adult atmosphere that may be key to optimising drink sales.

Restricting children’s access to certain areas and times is a common strategy

In our food-led pub-restaurants, the open plan layouts lend themselves to an offer that is enjoyed by all. Children can be kept away from the bar and seated at tables with easy access to bathrooms and outside areas, reducing the chance of disturbances. As such, refurbishments are not just a chance to brighten up your site, but also to think hard about how your layout can work for you and maximise the potential of your space.

Ultimately, today’s children are tomorrow’s potential best customers, so keeping them and their families happy can create valuable brand loyalty. With careful consideration, this can be done in a way that will open tomorrow’s doors without shutting windows today, maximising profits both in the short and long term and ensuring a bright future.


Playing Happy Families

Top Tips for Summer Efficiency

With Britain basking in spring sunshine this week, it’s easy to believe summer is just around the corner. Here are our top five tips for how to make summer 2017 efficient and profitable.

Restructure the bar

The summer season brings a prime opportunity to restructure your product offer behind the bar to optimise efficiency. We speak to many operators who give disproportionate fridge space to bottled beers, but swapping the grain for grape, especially refreshing whites and roses, can be an easy summer winner. Dedicating extra space to the products you know will sell well will also reduce the need to make trips to the cellar, allowing staff more time to focus on sales and service.

Efficient summer stocking doesn’t end behind the bar. Canny operators will be ensuring their cellars and spirit cabinets are prepared for any eventuality, and with most products having a shelf life well beyond next week’s delivery, it is always better to be overstocked than left short.

Balance the menu

Getting your food offer right is often just as critical to summer season success. Light meals like salads will always sell in warm weather, but to broaden your menu’s appeal should be offset by heartier offerings. Grilled meats, pizzas, and burgers are likely bestsellers whatever the weather. Summer’s customer upsurge will be a blessing for many in our industry, but to maximise potential profits kitchens must be able to cope with demand. Creating a menu around dishes that can be prepared at speed will keep service brisk, chefs smiling, and customers coming back.

One of our pizzas at the George at Backwell – a surefire summer winner

Perfect staffing levels

There is a delicate balance to be struck with summer staffing. Most sites will take on additional bodies to deal with increased customer numbers without sacrificing service, but going too far in the other direction can lead to uncontrolled labour spend or staff disgruntled with reduced hours. Analysing past years’ sales data to accurately predict the staffing levels needed will help you avoid these pitfalls.

Re-recruit seasonal staff

Training new employees takes time and money, so real efficiency savings can be gained by re-hiring seasonal employees. University students are an asset as they will become available just as the busy summer season begins and will be returning to their studies in the autumn when trade tails off. If you are not lucky enough to currently be able to re-hire past employees, recruiting people who are willing to return next year is a move you’ll be glad you made in twelve months’ time.

Get the routine change right early

Running an efficient site through the summer months is a different beast to the rest of the year. Factors like mobile tills, tidying gardens, and sunglasses for staff suddenly become pertinent, and without effective planning can leave you stung. It may only be April, but with the mercury already rising fast it is by no means too soon to start working on the processes that will maximise productivity through the season’s peak. Embedding these habits now and ironing out any issues will allow you to focus on maximising your summer offer when the season starts in earnest.