How to Increase Pub Sales: 28 Best Practices

 

Increase pub sales

 

There are two methods you need to master if you want to increase pub sales.

The first is to implement a robust marketing plan so you can attract more customers to your pub. This will result in more people attending your pub and therefore increase your pub’s sales.

The second is to increase the number of sales and the turnover from the customers that do attend.

If you have a steady stream of patrons visiting your pub and you have the right techniques in place for maximizing sales, your pub will be on the right track to being very successful.

This guide looks at these two methods in detail and will help you increase pub sales and therefore profits.

You can jump to the section you want to read by using the links below:

How to increase pub sales:

1. Enhance your mobile presence
2. Nail your review strategy
3. Advertise your pub on Bloc
4. Think about your location
5. Promotions and happy hours
6. Get involved with the community
7. Turn up the music
8. Know when and why your busy
9. Leverage on your existing customers
10. Become a super pub
11. Serve food
12. Offer smaller plates
13. Organise the back bar
14. Focus on the small details, they matter
15. Keep up with trends
16. Increase the range of your drink’s menu
17. Utilise tech
18. Group drinks together
19. Go seasonal
20. Move slow moving stock
21. Put the loss leader front and centre
22. Display promotions at the till
23. Declutter and manage stock well
24. Think about menu pricing
25. Implement clever menu names
26. Use mixology and bar theatrics
27. Create a signature cocktail
28. Train your staff to be up-selling pros

 

1. Enhance your mobile presence

Getting an influx of new customers should be your first priority if your goal is to increase pub sales.

More and more people are using mobile for finding pubs to go to and basing their decisions on the pub’s online presence.

There are two significant sides to enhancing your mobile presence. The first is making sure you appear on Google and the second is to be perfect if a potential customer clicks through to your website and/or your social media profiles.

Google

When someone searches for a pub in an area e.g. ‘nice pub in London’. It’s now 60% likely they’re going to do this on a mobile.

It’s imperative you show up as a result when someone searches for all the keywords relative to your pub. Google actually shows the top 3 results and these are referred to as the power three as they get the most clicks.

 

Google top 3 spots for venues

 

To get in the top 3 results for certain keywords it takes a lot of hard work, but is it’s relatively straightforward, here are some tips:

– Make sure your website is mobile friendly and loads quickly

– Make sure your website includes keyword phrases that people will search

– Make sure your pub has lots of positive online reviews (on Google)
– Try and get your customers to include the keyword phrases you’re trying to rank for in their review

– Use UberSuggest and the Google Keyword Tool to research keyword phrases that people will realistically use.

Turning traffic into real customers

Now you have mastered Google and your website is getting more traffic from people actively searching for your pub, you need to make sure this traffic converts into real customers so you can increase pub sales. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The way to do this is to design a beautiful website that tells the person landing from Google that your pub is the one they need to go to.

Remember they haven’t visited your pub before, so your website is the first impression they’re going to get, and first impressions are everything.

Invest in your website and you’ll find that more and more traffic will convert into real customers.

Going beyond your website, you also need to think about your social media profiles. Social media has boomed recently, and more and more people are checking social profiles when making a decision to buy.

What are they looking for?

 

Pub social proofing to increase pub sales

 

They’re looking for social proofing. Social proofing is the idea that people will be more inclined to visit your pub because other people have as well. The more popular your pub is, the more people will want to attend.

For your social profiles this means increasing the number of followers you have and also increasing the amount of engagement you get on your posts. The easiest way to increase post engagement is by creating amazing content.

Just like your website, the best way of conquering converting traffic into real pub sales is by investing into making everything perfect. This means investing into creating amazing content.

 

2. Nail your review strategy

As we’ve mentioned, implementing a review strategy is incredibly important if you want to increase pub sales.

The more positive reviews you have, the higher you will appear on search engines, it’s as simple as that.

Also, reviews are now a huge maker or breaker when it comes to someone making a decision on where to spend their money.

To increase pub sales, you have to make sure your reviews are positive, and you have a lot of them. Constantly check the review platforms such as Google, TripAdvisor and Yelp.

If you’re not getting positive reviews, then invest in your pub and your staff training to make sure you do.

 

Google Reviews for Pubs

 

Here’s a couple of tricks for how to increase the number of positive reviews you get at your pub:

– Train your staff to ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

– Go above and beyond. It’s actually very difficult to get someone to leave a positive review. Usually ‘review givers’ are looking to leave a negative review if they have a bad experience. Train your staff to go above and beyond if they notice someone had a bad experience. For example, if someone returns a beer ‘because it tastes funny’, that person could easily leave a negative review based on this experience. Instead, turn their experience into a positive one by apologising and offering them a new one on the house. You can then hint that a review would be really appreciated.

– Just do it well. Reviews can come organically if you just simply nail everything. Don’t offer average food just for the sake of it, take the profit hit and make amazing food. This will pay dividends in terms of reviews and get more customers in for an increase in pub sales.

 

3. Advertise your pub on Bloc

Bloc is one of the easiest things you can setup if you want to increase pub sales.

We simply advertise your pub to every single one of our users within a 10-mile radius of the venue.

Our users can then check-in to your pub and connect with other people. Bloc is special because we reward our users if they attend venues with real money. So, we can literally pay people to attend your pub.

It’s completely free to showcase your pub to our users, but if someone attends your pub, we only charge you £2 inc. VAT. It’s result-based advertising and it’s risk-free because the cost is less than half a beer.

 

Advertise on Bloc

It’s really easy to get started, you just need to tell us a little bit about your venue and create your ad. There’s even a free trial of £150 credit, which is 75 customers for free.

Increase pub sales today by reaching your perfect customers, with little or no effort.

 

4. Think about your location

The old expression goes ‘location, location, location’.

The truth is that a lot of successful pubs have got their location right, and they have been rewarded with a good number of locals and passing foot traffic.

Location is incredibly important. If you aren’t getting foot traffic or it’s too far for locals to get to then your numbers may always struggle, even if your other marketing is amazing.

If you’re thinking about opening a pub then you need to get a counter and count how many people pass by a potential location every week of the day. Next speak to local businesses and work out a way of finding out how many people live in the area.

 

Pub in the middle of nowhere

 

Also consider how accessible your pub is by transport, will people realistically use taxis to get to and from your pub? Are there bus or train stations within walking distance? Is there a car park? These are all questions you need to answer with confidence.

And remember that people are getting lazier and lazier as convenience is getting easier and easier to implement. People may have walked 2 miles to a pub 10 years ago, but now it’s more like 0.5 miles.

If your pub exists and your location is no good, you still have options. We have actually had various pub owners who advertise with Bloc, change their location. It’s a difficult move but it can pay dividends in the long run.

 

5. Promotions and happy hours

Promotions and happy hours can increase pub sales successfully because they’re still so effective in getting people to venues.

The pub industry has become increasingly competitive as the number of drinkers is declining but there are still many pubs and bars, all within very close distances to one another.

Sometimes a good promotion or happy hour is all it takes to get a competitive advantage over your local competitors.

 

Increase pub sales with promotions

 

It’s important when implementing a drinks promotion, you do so legally and responsibly.

Try pairing food and drink when starting a promotion as this can increase pub sales by offering a more expensive deal, but a deal none-the-less.

You can also use themes to create promotions your customers won’ be able to resist.

Holidays and themes are a great way of giving people the perfect excuse to attend your pub, so make sure you have a calendar outlining them all.

 

6. Get involved with the community

Putting your pub into the forefront of the minds of the local community can increase pub sales by getting more people through the door.

Being part of a community is important for any pub marketing plan. Making people feel welcome and appreciated can increase numbers due to loyal customers and referrals.

 

Local pub volunteering

 

Here are some ways you can get involved with your community:

– Volunteer for a local good cause. You’ll meet lots of different types of people and is a great way of connecting with potential customers.

– Sponsor a local sports team. They can then attend your pub after a win to celebrate or drown their sorrows after a loss.

– Support local businesses. Attending a pub is a luxury and people are becoming more resistant with spending their own money in them. If you support local businesses by becoming work friendly or offering a discount to employees, the bosses can put tabs on the corporate card.

 

7. Turn up the music

Playing music in a pub has been proven to increase pub sales and bar spend by certain studies.

People love music and it can immediately add a certain vibe to any pub. Be careful not to go too loud though as you may deter family’s other groups from attending.

You could go one step further and play live music on some nights. Live music always attracts a crowd and it’s not that difficult to arrange.

First, put ads out to let the community know you’re looking for musicians to play on certain nights. You don’t even need to pay them as a lot of musicians are looking for a stage to practice on and to find their audience.

 

Increase pub sales with live music

 

If you do pay them, you could arrange it so that they need to bring at least 20 people to watch. The profits will then easily cover these costs and in turn will increase pub sales.

You could even get 3-5 artists on one night and give them a 30-minute slot. This is then less intimidating for the artist and you can get over 100 people in from their friends and families.

Music is always worth it.

 

8. Know when and why your busy

This one is super important. You shouldn’t increase pub sales unless you know when you’re busy and when you’re not busy.

There’s no point in applying any of these methods aimed at a Friday night when Friday night you’re already at full capacity.

Get a counter and count how many people attend your pub on each day of the week (and do this every 3 months). You also need to look at the bar revenue on each day as well. Jot this information down on a spreadsheet and analyse what’s actually happening in your pub.

Naturally there are going to be quieter days, like Monday’s and Tuesday’s. Based on this information you know that you need to up the marketing game on these days. Whether that’s live music, pub quizzes or any other method mentioned in this guide.

 

9. Leverage on your existing customers

Your existing customers are your pubs best assets in terms of marketing.

You can use them to help spread the word and increase pub sales by tapping into their networks.

You can increase the chances of this happening by continuously offering high class service and creating campaigns with this in mind.

For example, you could create a competition for your regular customers to come up with your pub’s signature cocktail. To enter they could upload the ingredients on Instagram and tag you in it.

 

Increase pub sales by talking to customers

 

This will not only reach far and wide, you will build rapport with your customers and get a ton of user-generated content of the winning cocktail.

There are thousands of different marketing techniques you could use to help reach more people via your existing customers. You just need to think outside the box and speak to them.

The stronger your relationship is with your loyal customers, the more likely they are to keep coming back. They will also spend more in your pub, increasing pub sales.

 

10. Become a super pub

A pub becomes a super pub when they attract lots of different types of customers. For example, families, foodies, sports fans and workers.

How do you become a super pub?

The easiest way to attract different types of customers is to section off your pub and aim each section to a different target audience.

For example, you might have one section or room, which has a large TV screen showing sports. This will attract sports fans.

You could then have a dining section with tables away from the sports section. This will mean families and workers can easily dine in your pub without being disturbed.

 

Wetherspoons super pub example

 

By becoming a super pub you can increase pub sales because your pub will attract lots of different types of people. And the more people your pub attracts, the more people you can get through the doors.

Getting your customers to spend more:

So far, we have looked at different ways of attracting customers to your pub to increase pub sales.

This is just one piece of the puzzle, as once you have the customers coming in, you need to maximise bar spend and increase pub sales to make healthy profits.

Now we’re going to look at different methods of increase pub sales once the customer is in the pub, wanting to spend their money.

 

11. Serve food

Logistics aside, food is an easy one to incorporate to increase pub sales. People love to eat. And people love to eat in pubs.

If you’re not offering food in your pub then you’re missing out on lots of potential revenue.

A large majority of people also decide upon visiting a pub if they serve food, and the pubs that serve great food have a huge competitive advantage.

Serve good food and not only will your pub sales increase but you will be able attract even more customers.

Food also has its advantages as it can keep people from being drunk and disorderly, which can lead to huge problems for most pubs.

 

12. Offer smaller plates

If you do decide to serve food or already do, consider small plates with a sharing structure.

It’s been proven that people spend more on tapas style dining. Not only is it hard to calculate if it’s enough or not (people usually over order), you can charge more for each small plate compared to one large plate.

 

Small plates in pub

 

For example, fish and chips in a pub averagely costs £10. If you serve small plates and the battered cod is £5 and rosemary fries are £4, more often than not, one more plate would be ordered because the plates are ‘small’. This means you will make £15 in revenue compared to £10.

Your pub is also a social place, eating with a sharing culture is always fun and more interactive. People also like to try little bits of everything, so it’s really nice to eat this way.

Consider offering small plates as an effective strategy for increasing your pub’s sales.

 

13. Organise the back bar

This involves the buy and try marketing technique you can implement at your pub to try and increase pub sales.

The buy and try technique aims to influence your customer to go away from their usual order and try something which is either more expensive or has a better profit margin.

 

Organised back bar

 

You can do this by organising the back of your bar and placing what you want your customers to buy at eye-level.

Usually there are spirits at the back of most bars which works, as these carry good profit margins. If there are bottles which are eye-catching or unique try placing them at eye-level so your customers can see them whilst waiting.

You can also put your wine offerings at eye-level as well as another option for your customers to consider.

 

14. Focus on the small details, they matter

Excellent customer service is vital if you want to increase pub sales and to become or remain a successful pub.

The difference between excellent and good customer service usually comes down to the smallest of details, but the smallest details are always the most important.

For example, you’ve probably been in an average pub where they pour a pint and place it on the table. But you’ve probably also been in an excellent pub where they have placed a beer mat down before putting your pint on the surface.

It’s strange, but this small detail is subconsciously or consciously noticed at the time. It’s literally a tiny bit of extra effort for the bar staff, but that detail goes a long way.

Not only is it excellent service, it keeps the surfaces from becoming sticky and gross, which can also be noticed by customers, leading to a bad experience.

 

Pint with beer mat

 

Another example, when pouring a gin and tonic, an example of excellent service is when the bar staff only half pour the tonic water and leave the other half for the customer to pour to their taste.

Not only does this look professional, the customer is going to end up with a drink to their exact taste. This one is even less work and time for the bar staff to execute.

There are over a thousand little small changes you could make to turn your average pub into an excellent one. List them out and see which ones you could easily implement yourselves.

If you need inspiration you could benchmark and attend other excellent pubs to see what they’re doing. Focus on the small details, they matter.

 

15. Keep up with trends

Trends come and go but to increase pub sales you can easily take advantage of them. Some even stay for long period of times or even stay forever, so it’s worthwhile jumping on the band wagons early.

Trends are just popular ‘choices’ people are making in society. Once a trend catches on, they can spread like wildfire.

If your marketing is implemented with the trend in mind, the results can be absolutely amazing.

For example, one big trend that looks like it’s going to stay for a long time is people being ‘healthier’, or at least trying to be.

This is a general trend that you can easily take advantage of. This might mean offering alcohol free drinks, low alcohol-based drinks and even healthy options on your food menu. You can then push this offering in your marketing efforts.

 

Sell healthy options to increase pub sales

 

Another big trend at the moment is going green and living more sustainably (and rightfully so). Plastic straws are and should be a thing of the past. But you can probably go a lot further on your sustainability efforts, and this will pay dividends for increasing your pub’s sales as it’s a very common trend and people love it.

For example, you could use the closest sustainable brewery for your beer. Not only will you save on costs from transport and the fact they are likely to be a smaller brand, the co2 emissions will be cut dramatically.

This also gives you an amazing opportunity to tell a story of the brewery so you can build rapport with your customers. It all fits in with offering amazing customer service and as a result you will increase pub sales.

 

16. Increase the range of your drink’s menu

As stated above, people are trying to be healthier, so offering low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks on your menu is a really good idea.

But it also goes beyond just a trend. These options are vital for people who are driving, pregnant women and people who want to be in a pub but don’t like alcohol.

The sooner you change your pub from a place to get ‘drunk’ at, the better. You need to change your pub to a social hub, where all sorts of different customers can come together and purchase something. This is one of the best ways to increase pub sales.

 

Coffee and a pint

 

Failing to do so, in years to come you will have 10-20 drunk people at the bar and you’ll be in real financial trouble.

Coffee is another type of drink that should be added to your menu.

Did you know that Wetherspoons in the UK sells over 50 million cups of coffee per year? This isn’t too far behind Costa, Starbucks or McDonalds.

It’s another revenue stream that’s easy to setup. Perfect for those night-time owls and lunch time snoozers.

 

17. Utilise tech

Tech used to only be available to the big pub chains and industry leaders. That’s no longer the case as any pub can now get access to affordable tech and can start taking advantage of what’s available to increase pub sales.

Does your pub have a good EPOS system yet?

With a decent EPOS system, you can manage inventory better, take bookings and also do table service.

 

Increase pub sales with an epos system

 

Table service is an excellent one to implement to increase pub sales. You will reduce the time people have to wait at the bar (which is dead time), serve more drinks and offer better customer service. It’s a no brainer.

Imagine how delighted your customers would be if they can sit in your beer garden and order their drinks from where they are and get them served, quickly and easily.

Search around and find tech that will reduce your costs and increase the amount you can sell in any given day. After all, tech is here to help us, not make things harder.

 

18. Group drinks together

When a customer is at the bar it’s the perfect opportunity to increase pub sales and revenue. The best way to do this is to make their experience seamless. One way to make it seamless is by grouping drinks together.

This will not only make it easier and quicker for your customer to make a decision, but it will also decrease the pour time. Less time spent at the bar, the more sales you can make.

Having big and bright beer pumps for example can make it easier for your customer to make a decision. They should be able to decide quickly what they want, even before they reach the bar.

 

Group drinks together

 

You could even go one step further and pour out little visuals so they can see the colour of the beer.

This also applies to all your spirits and wines. If they are near each other in your bar, then they don’t need to look around and get confused before ordering.

Group drinks together and remove the pain of having to decide what to order. It should be as easy and quick as possible for the patron.

 

19. Go seasonal

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. By going seasonal you can reduce your pub’s carbon footprint and actually increase pub sales.

What’s interesting about more people wanting to live sustainably, is that they are willing to spend more to do so.

Taking a food menu as an example, ‘seasonal vegetables’ as a side, in 9 out of 10 pubs is more expensive than just ‘greens’.

By going seasonal you will also increase your chances of a being able to share good stories with your patrons.

For example, if you sell seasonal strawberries in the summer from a local supplier. You can tell their story, either in person, on your menu or on your social media platforms.

This will add to your patrons experience and increase pub sales.

 

20. Move slow moving stock

Moving slow stock is important for clearing out space in your pub to increase pub sales from other fast-moving stock. Your pubs’ space is limited so it’s important to do this.

There are lots of different ways to move slow moving stock, but here are some of our favourites:

– Use slow moving inventory as prizes for competitions. Competitions can get more patrons in to increase pub sales and they can add a bit of fun for your current customers to get involved with.

 

Free bottle of prosecco with food

 

– If your slow-moving stock is premium but is nearing its sell-by-date, then hosting a tasting evening is a great little trick. Let your patron’s sign-up to a free whiskey tasting evening for example. Let them taste 5 different whiskies and build rapport with them. Get them hooked on the good stuff and we bet you they will purchase a full glass in the future.

– Put a promotion on it, pairing it with food. For example, if you have bottles of Prosecco you are struggling to shift, you can offer a set menu with a free bottle of Prosecco. You can still profit and increase pub sales whilst getting rid of slow-moving stock.

 

21. Put the loss leader front and centre

A loss leader is when you actually lose a small amount of money on each sale.

Why would you do this?

It’s clever really. It’s a technique used to get people inside your pub in the first place and to get them spending.

It’s smart to make this a high-ticketed item in terms of cost to draw people in. As it’s then expensive, not too many more will be purchased, and you can profit on the other items.

A good example for your pub is offering a beautiful 3 course set menu. You may lose money on the food, but the alcohol sales will far outweigh the loss made on the food.

This technique certainly will increase pub sales but should be used with caution.

 

22. Display promotions at the till

As your till point is where the sales happen, this is the obvious location where you can really increase pub sales with promotions and different marketing techniques.

Clearly display your latest promotion at the till, so whilst your bar staff make the drinks, the customers will have nothing else to do but to look around.

Your promotions should complement what people usually order at your pub specifically. Food promotions work well here because they complement a drink order so well.

Stand at your own till yourself and ask your staff to do the same. What’s the most popular spot you’re all looking at? This is where you need your best stock, with the best profit margins. This has been gin for a very long time in most pubs, so think about what yours is and proudly display them here.

 

23. De-clutter and manage stock well

Less is more. If you have too many items behind your bar it could easily look unprofessional and messy.

It will also give your customers too much choice, which usually means no choice will be made at all, other than their usual go to.

You also need to be really on top of your stock. Know what’s selling well and what’s not selling well. Constantly improve the layout of your bar and make it look beautiful.

 

24. Think about menu pricing

You can price your menu perfectly using our guide on how to increase drink sales in your bar. It looks at pour cost and how to effectively price your menu with profit in mind.

One trick is to remove the currency symbols from your menu, for example:

Heineken 5.00-

Stella 5.50-

Cors 3.00-

Compared to:

Heineken £5.00-

Stella £5.50-

Cors £3.00-

If you have the currency symbol, then you are psychologically reminding your patrons that they are spending. This can give them the fear and will result in less sales.

 

Drink menu pricing trick


Comparatively if you remove the currency symbols then it dissociates spending and could be monopoly money for all they know.

 

25. Implement clever menu names

The Uni of Illinois Food Lab conducted research that showed that if you are creative with the names of your drinks, sales can increase by 27%.

For example, a Whiskey Sour could be re-named to a Dropping Tear Whiskey Sour Ladle. You shouldn’t use that one as it’s taken, believe it or not.

It’s probably the child in all of us want to choose something on the menu with a fun name. To increase pub sales, you do need to get creative, so have fun with it.

 

26. Use mixology and bar theatrics

People love a show and your pub patrons won’t be any different.

By using mixology and bar theatrics you can easily entice patrons to spend more to simply watch the show again, and again.

 

Bar theatrics to increase pub sales

 

You can even get your customers involved with mixology by training your staff to ask each customer if they’d like a cocktail and what some of their favourite flavours are.

They can simply mix one up and make that particular customer feel very special. They could then buy their own cocktail every time for £12 instead of their standard order of a beer for £5 which you don’t really profit on.

 

27. Create a signature cocktail

Some of the best bars and pubs in the world have a signature cocktail which is so famous that customers flock there just to try it.

If you can come up with a special signature cocktail and get featured in different magazines, then your pub could easily get an influx of people.

To increase pub sales this doesn’t just have to be limited to a cocktail. Maybe you serve the best roast in the country or your gin selection is one of the best.

 

Signature cocktail in pub

 

The easiest way to get featured by the press is by using the ‘purple cow’ method. The purple cow method involves marketing something that stands out from the crowd (aka a purple cow in a field).

Maybe you sell a roast dinner with the biggest Yorkshire pudding in the country or you are in possession of Muhammad Ali’s rumble in the jungle gloves.

It doesn’t matter what is, as long as it entices a good amount of people to your pub, you will increase your pub’s sales.

 

28. Train your staff to be up-selling pros

Your staff are one of your biggest assets when it comes to increasing pub sales. You need to train them in up-selling and invest in their training for perfect customer service.

Up-selling is simply the process of getting your current customers to buy more or spend more.

It’s also concluded that 94% of people say yes when the word ‘because’ is used when selling something.

 

Up-selling pub staff

 

An example would be: ‘Would you like to taste this tequila, because it’s new in from Mexico and we’d like people’s opinions.’

Using because is incredibly powerful.

In this example, offering something for free when up-selling is a good technique as a lot of people will ask for a full pour.

Training your staff to be able to explain all of the menu options is also really good practice. When something is explained properly people are far more inclined to spend.

If you use this guide to increase pub sales, then we wish you all the luck and success in the future. Thanks for reading.

About Josh Wood

Founder | Writer | Tech Enthusiast