What makes a bar special or especially enjoyable? Some will say it’s the atmosphere or the menu and beverage selections, while others will say a bar is like the neighborhood gathering place. For any number of reasons, a bar is notable, engaging and memorable for those who enjoy a brief time to relax. Establishing a notable, engaging and memorable bar is quite another thing, as behind the scenes of every bar lies organizational plans, serious marketing efforts and a group of talented employees. In this article, we will explore the establishment of an exceptional bar, with steps that will support a startup or a bar that is moving into a growth phase.
Research and Survey
Establishing an exceptional bar requires some homework in research and, possibly, a few surveys. The first step you’ll want to take is to determine your customer base: who are your customers? Are they young and looking for music and fun or are they neighborhood couples looking for a quiet corner? Are your customers in the middle of a retail district or in a destination place? Examine your ideal customer and create a model of that person.
These questions will give you the initiative to mentally prepare your bar to serve your demographic customer. Make a list of the preferences of your customer while in a bar. For example, is food available and, if so, is it simple or creative bar food? Will your customers want to dance? Establish everything you can imagine about your ideal customer and the experience that customer seeks when they enter through your doors.
In addition to research, you’ll want to survey current customers if you’ve already opened your bar. It is critical to discover what they most enjoy. In an anonymous survey, ask:
- How would you describe the atmosphere of this bar: relaxing, energetic, or neighborhood hangout?
- Do you like the food on our menu? If not, please let us know what you’d prefer. If yes, please offer suggestions to make it even better.
- Would you like game nights if we hosted them?
- Would you like themed weeks and holiday drinks?
- How can we improve your experience at our bar?
Creating a composite of your customer and surveying the current customers will bring clarity to the elements you’ll want to include in your bar or use to improve your bar already in operation.
Get a Business Plan in Place.
Enjoying a bar experience is typically one of the most highly-rated activities of adults everywhere. However enjoyable a bar may be for its patrons, owning a bar is a serious business and one that requires thoughtful attention.
The foundation for a solid bar business is one that has a plan in place. If you do not have a business plan, use this comprehensive bar business plan to define the essential elements of your bar. Your business plan should include: your mission and objectives, financial projections, operations plan, marketing strategies, and additional elements that are unique to your bar. When complete, your business plan is one that can be presented to lenders or investors to raise capital for improvements or expansion.
Create the Experience Your Customers Desire
After compiling the research and survey of your customers, it is time to create the exceptional bar that will entice customers to return again and again. To do this, examine the atmosphere of the bar and make changes as needed.
It may be that your target audience is looking for a different experience, such as a brewery, that offers distinctive beer flavors. Examine the concept and make the necessary changes if this is a viable option for your business. If your option is to revise the bar to a brewery, it’s time to create a new brewery plan to ensure it will grow and thrive.
Launch Marketing Strategies
Although most of the marketing of successful bars is done by word-of-mouth, consider adding social media callouts to your customers. Offer texts with specials-of-the-week, announce upcoming musicians, or use humor to encourage guests to visit. Short, tempting texts, offered at least once a week, will engage and inform your customers. Use emails to connect with customers to present calendars of activities and announce changes to the menu. Whichever platforms you choose to strategically engage your customers ensure it is one your patrons use, as well.
Establishing an exceptional bar means listening to your patrons and anticipating their wants and needs. It also means your bar will have a detailed business plan that structurally supports the organization of the bar as a whole. It may also mean your bar will evolve into a brewery or other type of social eatery, depending on what customers may seek. Listening to customers is the best way to stay ahead of competitors, as your bar continues growing in the years to come.