Tactics to Address Beverage Trends
Let me comment on a few current trends in adult beverage and how to leverage your teams. Taking some necessary steps can increase incremental beverage sales as well as separate you from that “sea of sameness” in the adult beverage category.
What We Know
Men are twice as likely to visit a bar when compared to women. So how do you attract more female traffic to your restaurant?
- Change the channel. Let go of the Man Cave and create a Lady’s Shed.
- Women need to not only feel welcome but secure in your bar environment so think about how you’re staffing your restaurant.
- Market inside your 4 walls with color and the right amount of POP (point of purchase) to market to your female crowd. Think about “Ladies Night” with a wine feature like “Little Black Dress.”
Adults are planning on spending about the same as last year with Millennials spending more.
- Continue to execute flawlessly but take a good look at your strategy and how you market happy hour and late night activities. Focus on those key times of operation or whenever you happen to have the strongest crowds in your bar. In other words, “fish where the fish are.”
- Staff for success, not just to accommodate. I rarely, if ever, visit a restaurant and find the bar overstaffed with bartenders; it just doesn’t happen today. Your staff will understand your strategy and why it’s important to build sales, not simply maintain and accommodate.
- Provide beverage menus that are simplistic, yet call out top features that will create interest in new items. Innovation is critical and paramount in today’s age of mixology but insure your target demographic really wants a vintage cocktail, for example.
Drinks Per Occasion
Let’s take a look at the second beverage. We know from data provided by Mike Ginley at Next Level Marketing that consumers would order one additional alcoholic beverage during an occasion if key tactics were utilized and executed. This list is arranged in order from most to least important, yet all are important.
- Recognize when guests are ready. Teach your servers and bartenders how and when to ask your guests when they’re ready for their second beverage. Don’t wait until ice is being chewed or when their wine glass is bone dry, nor when they are only halfway through their first beverage. Timing is critical and finding that sweet spot is key. Don’t assume that your guest will only desire one drink. As an example, “Can I bring you another blackberry mojito to go with those awesome quesadillas?” can go a long way to making that second sale. Ensure your team members are armed with some key speaking points when it comes to second drink opportunity.
- Offer better quality. Teaching team members to upsell should be part of training and continued training. “Can I have a gin and tonic?” should have a response similar to, “That would be my pleasure. How about Hendrick’s?” Turning a glass of house red wine into a premium or premium-plus selection requires little more than providing a few speaking points about wines with higher price points. Cocktails made with superior quality components can be called out on your menu, and you’ll likely win fans with healthy and local ingredients.
- Provide faster drink service. Once again, staff to win, not to accommodate. Teach and execute against a time limit with respect to order and delivery of beverages. Have you set beverage delivery goals as a part of your standard operating procedures? If not, consider doing so. Schedule runners if necessary on busy shifts; excellent build and delivery times will add multiple sales to these shifts. Of course, it goes without saying that all team members involved must adhere to alcohol awareness and your goal to support all legislation to keep guests, staff members and the public safe.
- After dinner / dessert beverages. If you serve food at your bar, you’re presented with an excellent opportunity to offer guests cognacs, aperitifs and other after-dinner beverages that pair well with (or serve as) desserts. When I was behind the bar I would always offer a Sambuca to guests who ordered a coffee or espresso, and I would hit the mark about one-third of the time. Again, alcohol awareness, responsible serving and training is in play here.
- Light and low-calorie. Light beers, white wine and prosecco, as well as low-calorie or “skinny” cocktails have proven to be popular and trendy with all age groups. Building drinks that traditionally call for champagne with prosecco provides budget- and health-conscious guests a nice alternative as 1 glass of prosecco is about 80 calories, much than a glass of red wine or a mixed drink.