It’s a sad testament that although the UK was founded on corner shops and ‘the local’, both are disappearing at a rate of knots. The neighbourhood hostelry is becoming a rare site, with many either vacant or perhaps worse, being converted to small supermarkets. So why have so many pubs been unable to stay afloat?
The average price of a pint in the UK is £3.46, according to the Good Pub Guide. That can’t be helping trade, especially as supermarket alcohol is comparatively so much cheaper, so why is it that some establishments are still thriving? Here are some of the key considerations that influence customer behaviour and thought processes: –
You can have the best managers selling great beer, yet if it’s not in the right spot; it’s difficult to pull in the punters. People tend to stick near the town, as there’s more going on and public transport is easier.
The changing landscape can cause a pub to shut, especially if nearby businesses close down or parking becomes impossible. People will travel further to a gastropub or to one recommended by CAMRA.
There seems to be a move away from the brash and bright, back to the traditional pub décor of vintage-style bars and subtle lighting. There’s something rather comforting about the brass antiques and hobnail upholstered seats.
It’s more intimate and cosy, which is what nursing that pint is about. Neon plastic and stainless steel don’t give the right ambiance.
Some form of entertainment is an absolute must, unless you have a thriving dining business. Watching major sports fixtures is a huge draw but as people are getting larger televisions at home, even a 55-inch screen may not impress.
A better option is to invest in a large projector screen, which will give more of a cinematic feel. Fixed projector screens come in a range of sizes and can be recessed into the ceiling and operated remotely from behind the bar.
You’ll also need an HD projector and a decent sound system. Pub quizzes are popular, especially if you make the theme interesting, such as questions for geeks. You’ll have to offer a decent prize, which could consist of vouchers, cash or bottles.
Live music is making a comeback and with plenty of bands needing gigs, the cost of hiring one is reasonable, especially if they bring in thirsty followers.
Even small pubs have room for a guitarist/singer, although drinkers tend to enjoy bands playing lively songs, rather than angst-ridden acoustic numbers.
As more pubs have turned to food for survival, it’s become harder to find a dog-friendly inn. Allowing well-behaved dogs will appeal to walkers and to doting pet owners, who hate leaving their pooch at home. As long as they’re kept away from dining and food preparation areas, there shouldn’t be an issue with food hygiene.
Although you may not wish to have a full-blown restaurant, you could offer special evenings of pie and peas; specialty pies are now hugely popular, such as venison and wild boar. These can be bought in and reheated in a standard oven or microwaved before serving.
Another alternative could be curry. You could come to an arrangement with a local Indian restaurant to supply the dishes at a wholesale price.