As 2012 comes to an end, owners should be looking at how to implement fresh new ideas and turn those stale drink menus into something exciting. Drink trends come and go, but there are some things you can do at your bar that will ensure a healthy customer base all year round.
“With all drink trends, it comes down to producing a quality drink through ingredients, operational procedures, glassware, staff training and creative ways to present your offerings to your guests,” says David Pennachetti, founder and president of Wine Guru Services LLC.
Start the New Year early but creating a strategy that will take your bar to the next level. Here are five ways to seek out new trends:
1. There is always something to learn from competitors. To stay ahead of the marketplace, Pennachetti says that owners need to survey their competition within the same theme. “The best way to evaluate competitors is to visit their properties and identify their product offerings, glassware, recipes, promotional tools, pricing, service technique, etc.” If you find a cool drink recipe, you can replicate that in a style more friendly to your brand.
2. Plan ahead. Anytime you’re out of your bar and exploring new venues, take note of what they do, especially during important seasons and holidays. “If you see something really cool this year at Halloween, it might be too late to do it this year, but be sure to document the idea in a file for planning for next year.”
3. Make holidays special. “It’s important to change your menu during the holidays and offer seasonal drinks to allow consumers to experiment from a limited-time menu when they’re in a festive mood,” he explains. “Another important point is to look at premium products during holiday time. Some operators feel promotions must include low-priced options. People tend to change their spending pattern during these festive times and are willing to splurge.”
4. It’s not all about the drink … it’s also about the menu. Cocktail menus help inform the guest about what you offer. Drinks with pictures see a “significant increase in quantity sold compared to those offerings not picture,” Pennachetti says. Also, he states, female consumers tend to spend more time going over their options and will ask questions before ordering. “The goal is to create a buzz and have people come back to your venue multiple times to re-purchase something that is special, unique and different than your competition.”
5. Review your promotions. Once a promotion is done and over with, you might be ready to wash your hands of it, especially after months of planning. But Pennachetti says that you should review your results, including alcohol sales, volumes, drinks sold, guest satisfaction, effectiveness or promotional menus and advertising. “It’s best to survey management and staff on their opinion of the program,” he explains. “Once everything is collected, make notes on what worked, what didn’t and what you would try next year. Then place it in a file for planning.”