What’s The Difference Between a Bar, a Good Bar and a Great Bar?

Whilst this may sound like the beginning of a joke I assure you that there’s no punchline here…none that I can think of anyway (if there is, let me know).

But seriously. What is the difference?

If we remove the obvious difference which is personal choice then we can begin to see that there are other aspects of what makes a bar great. People are all different and they require different things from the experiences that they want. A person who really likes fine dining is probably not going to appreciate a dark, dingy old pub (I’m generalising here to make a point of course) which means that they are most likely not going to hold that pub to the same esteem as they do their favourite high class restaurant.

This doesn’t mean that the pub is any worse than the restaurant. It just means that it is not aimed at and marketed to the same people as the restaurant’s customers. The pub might be fantastic in the eyes of its own customers and that is exactly what we are looking at in this article.

What makes a bar/pub good?

Not everyone wants the same thing…It’s different for everyone. Some people are looking for something that is cost effective for them. Other people are looking for something that is in close proximity to their home, place of study or work. A lot of people are just comfortable in a place that they have been visiting for years, “a place where everybody knows your name”…oh how I miss ‘Cheers’

We have to always have the individual in mind. Knowing who your market is and what their wants and needs are is how you go from being just a bar to becoming a good bar! Keeping your customers happy through regularity, serving their needs, being friendly and giving the customers what they want when they ask for it is how you do it. That’s how those customers become to feel comfortable. They know what experience they are going to have when they enter that bar because it’s consistent and familiar. That’s all it takes sometimes.

Your customers love the familiarity of being a regular visitor to your bar because some people are uncomfortable with change. To be honest, lots of managers and owners are uncomfortable with change also. Change is good, change is healthy. Being stagnant is one sure way for a business to become outdated and obsolete. Sooner or later somebody else will come along and your customers will seek out the alternate experience they have to offer instead.

Be Consistent!

Being consistent with your approach to change will help to keep your customers engaged without scaring them off or having them make comments about you “ruining the place” or telling people that “It’s not as good as it used to be”…staying true to your market is important but don’t be scared to look at ways to expand your market and branch out to get other customers. So long as you are being true to what your customer base is then the more the merrier I say!

So, how do I go from having a good bar to a great bar you may ask?

Just do all of the above! But more…

When I say do more I don’t mean make more changes or expand into more of the market share. What I mean is do more for your customers!

I find that I have the best experiences and gain the most respect for a venue when my expectations are exceeded. When I’m expecting a certain service and experience and I get it then I am happy. When the customer service exceeds what I’m expecting then I’ll most likely say to the people I’m with “What a great bar”. I will pass on my recommendations about the place more when my expectations are exceeded. That is what sticks in the minds of your customers more than the run of the mill service that they receive elsewhere.

It’s Not All About Great Customer Service

I spoke about customer service a lot earlier this month in the blog post Hospitality Is Almost Impossible to Teach. It’s all about hiring the Right People so I recommend that if you’re looking for advice on customer service that you pop on over to that page after you’ve finished reading this post.

It’s not just about the customer service though. There’s so much more value that your customers can get when they experiencing your venue and services. Your customers want to feel relaxed, they want to feel that they’re in their ‘home away from home’ so to speak. Sure, you don’t want them walking around in their pants and getting too familiar with the place but you see where I’m going don’t you. If they can socialise, have fun and relax without ever getting the feeling that they’re not welcome in any sense or that they are a burden to you and your staff then they will associate your bar with being a ‘great bar’. If your staff never once give that customer the sense that their needs are not the priority then again, the customer will think that you run a great bar.

Setting the Standards

In my book ‘Do You Need Help with Running Your Bar’ I talk at length about ambience. Getting the ambience of your venue is essential. Through design, branding, lighting and music you can step it up from being just a bar to a good bar…and then again, to becoming a great bar or even a fantastic bar! It’s all about how much value you can give to your customers in everything that you do. It’s all about setting the standards for what you want to deliver to your customers. Once you have set the standards then your customers will expect those standards each and every time. You should also expect those standards from both your team and from yourself.

It doesn’t take much to step up the game. You can positively increase the perception of your bar in the eyes of your customers and beyond quite easily. It just takes awareness, drive and the want to do more for yourself and your customers. How far you want to take it is totally up to you though. You set the standards!

How do you rate the bars and pubs you go to? How do you rate the bars and pubs that you work in, manage or even own? What sort of things are you looking for to set the standards apart?

Let us know in the comments below.

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