Customers are discerning. They can tell heaps about a venue based on the drinks’ menu. It can give away the price range and cuisine type, the venue’s familiarity with local/international breweries and wineries, and – perhaps above all – whether it knows its stuff.
Customers also, typically, want a drink with their meal. For venues, it’s a great way to boost their revenue, and a quality drinks’ menu might be the deciding factor in choosing between venues. That is to say, crafting a drinks menu isn’t something to be neglected! Here’s a few tips that may be of use in putting it together.
1) Mix it up and keep it fresh and promote
Creativity is key. There’s a place for the standard items on the menu, but customers are often on the lookout for something new and interesting. There’s a range of things to consider when creating and changing a drinks menu. For example, what’s in season? Keeping up to date with news and social media accounts – and following the research – might also help in determining what drinks are in/out of fashion, which trends to jump on (perhaps in the form of a special or promotion) and what Australians are drinking. Moreover, keeping an eye on what’s happening in the area might assist the venue in choosing what to stock; and a local collaboration might be key to winning local customers over. Once a drink-of-choice is found – promote it wherever you can!
2) Speak to those near and far
Another key resource to consider when crafting a menu is people. There are so many people who are passionate about the wine, beer and cocktail scene, as well as the success/failure of the venue at hand. Finding local and trustworthy experts can be useful in making important business decisions. Before deciding on how long the wine list should be, whether to include a sommelier or bartender and/or how much to charge, ask around. Speak to locals, or people who are – or have been – in the same position. Ask strangers, customers and friends/family who are invested in your success. This advice might help to provide more confidence in the decisions that are being made.
3) Know your venue
A drinks’ menu can add to the personality and identity of the venue. If the selection and/or prices don’t quite mesh with the meals that are on offer, it might lead to a feeling of confusion. And, if the drinks are too pricey – or the range isn’t there – customers may choose to forgo a drink with their meal. This can have the effect of hitting the venue’s bottom line and leaving customers feeling underwhelmed. If possible, consider spending time on pairing certain drinks with different meals. It might add to the overall dining experience, and encourage customers to spend on a specific drink that enhances the meal.
4) When to make a change
For established venues, it’s really important that the business is up to date with their reports and customer data. Consider the type and quantity of drinks that customers were purchasing last week/month/year. If the venue isn’t hitting their benchmarks – with no obvious explanation – a change might be needed. That could involve a refresh of the drinks on offer, or a promotion – such as a happy hour, for example – that entices customers to purchase drinks with their meal. Perhaps it’s worth reviewing the cost of ingredients, and analysing how the venue’s profit margin can be maximised. If possible, capture relevant data including (but not limited to): what drinks were purchased, why they were purchased and how the drinks’ menu could be improved. It might come in handy when making changes down the line.
Be it the main attraction – or a complementary feature to the meal – a drinks’ menu is often valued by customers. It can help to bring in a specific target audience, and add so much to the dining experience. So, consult widely, stay in-the-loop with what’s happening in the industry, use data wisely and consider a change when necessary/possible.
Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your business.
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