7 ideas for running a successful community pub
Community pubs are more than just places to enjoy a drink; they are often the heart and soul of neighbourhoods. Running a successful community pub requires dedication, creativity and a genuine commitment to your customers.
Here are a few ideas to help make your pub a thriving hub for your community.
1. Engage The Local Community
It might seem like stating the obvious, but a successful community pub should be deeply integrated in the local community. Hosting a range of community events is a great way to make your pub a focal point. Here are a few things you can try:
What Can I Do To Engage The Local Community?
- Spice up your pub's calendar with music, quiz nights and open mic sessions.
- Pub quizzes may seem like a cliché but hosting these is still a great way to bring in new customers and create opportunities for customers to gather with friends. What's more, the friendly competition will keep customers returning for re-matches.
- Keep an eye on other events taking place in your area, such as fun runs, festivals and open gardens and talk to the organisers to see how your pub can best support them with refreshments or a place to meet.
2. Offer Community Services
Community pubs are not always just a place to eat and drink. You could consider offering some of the following…
What Community Services Can I Offer?
- With high street post offices and banks dwindling in numbers, providing a visiting service in your pub could make a huge difference to your community.
- Why not become a venue for local groups to host their meetings? Offer a quiet space with light refreshments for members to meet; this will create footfall during otherwise quiet times and expand your customer base.
3. Appeal To Families
Making your pub more family-friendly is a smart way to attract a broader customer base. Having seen the pub during the day, adults are more likely to return for an evening with friends. Here are some ideas you can try:
How Can I Make My Venue Family Friendly?
- It's hardly reinventing the wheel but offering colouring sheets and crayons to children will help keep them settled while they are waiting for their food. Creating a kids' art board where pictures are displayed will give them a sense of pride too.
- Consider installing a Sweet Bar where children are given a voucher on arrival to select a small bag of sweets to enjoy after their meal.
- Ensure you have sufficient highchairs and booster seats to accommodate your younger guests and make sure you keep them clean. It's one thing to provide highchairs but quite another if they're caked with old food.
- Keep a stock of books, games and table-sized toys to keep children engaged at the table.
- Create a family zone with comfortable seating for parents and children. This separation will help maintain a welcoming atmosphere for everyone and will show that you are willing to go the extra mile.
- Talk about your family offering on your website. Families like to research venues, so ensure you publicise your credentials.
4. Cater For Remote Workers
Goodbye WFH (working from home) and hello WFP (work from pub)! A recent report stated that for some Britons, working from the pub is the new working from home and catering for this is a great way to diversify your customer base and increase footfall during quieter times. Here are a few things you can do:
How Can I Make My Venue Suitable For Remote Workers?
- Ensure you have a Barista coffee machine and can offer a skinny cappuccino that rivals any high street chain. Some venues even offer 'work from the pub' packages that include unlimited tea and coffee.
- Dedicate a quiet space for remote workers. This will encourage them to use this area for business meetings, increasing your exposure to new customers.
- Invest in high-speed, reliable WIFI and sufficient plug sockets for your designated WFP tables.
5. Work With Other Pubs
Instead of competing with other local businesses, why not work in partnership? Here's how it's being done elsewhere:
How Can I Join Forces With Other Pubs?
- In Norwich over 50 operators join together every year to promote the City Of Ale festival, which is designed to promote Norwich as the UK City of Ale. The event runs multiple pub trails through the city. As well as locals, thousands of people come from all over the country, resulting in plenty of publicity for participating pubs.
- In Doncaster, a number of pubs join forces every year for the city's biggest fancy dress party. The event has now become a regular feature on the city's calendar.
6. Provide A Welcoming Atmosphere
Take an honest look at your pub. Is it friendly and welcoming? Community pubs need to cater for a variety of different customers, including people who work locally, families, young and old, as well as visitors to the area. Think about the needs of all your guests and consider the following.
How Can I Provide A Great Welcome For Visitors?
- Keep the exterior of your pub in good order so it projects a positive first impression. Look at the pub through the eyes of a customer and ask yourself whether you want to step inside. Keep plants watered, flower beds free from weeds, windows clean and paintwork fresh.
- Is your layout comfortable for all guests to navigate? Be sure to leave ample space between furniture and have a clear and spacious floorplan.
- Does your music cater for all guests? Playing the right music at a suitable volume will ensure everyone feels welcome.
- Make sure your customer service matches the aesthetic standards. Ensure every guest feels welcome and every order is served with a smile.
7. Offer Live Music
Offering live music events is always popular, but there are a few things to consider before you book an artist:
How Can I Ensure Live Music Events Are Popular With My Customers?
- Make sure the bands you book are good. Check out their website or attend a gig they are performing elsewhere before booking them.
- Test the volume before they kick off. You don't want the music so loud that it drowns out all conversations.
- Make sure you have a licence for live music.
- Promote your live music events on social media, local noticeboards and on your website to let everyone know what's going on.
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