In December 2018, we put out a list of unique observations made by our Secret Hoppers visiting breweries coast to coast. We’re back for round two! Secret Hopper is helping 250+ breweries monitor their tasting rooms, increase in-house revenues, create more repeat customers and find new ways to differentiate as the craft beer industry continues to climb past 7,400. Here are a few more observations our shoppers have made.
Where do we order?!
Ever walk into a brewery, ready for a beer and experience immediate confusion where to order from? Make it easy for guests to know where they can grab a beer. Keep it simple with either a straightforward “order here” sign or a staff member that points you in the right direction. Don’t give your guests too many options. We all get confused, so try to prevent that.
Impact of order delays
In addition to confusion over where to order, ever have that experience when it takes FOREVER to get served? A brewery with slow service, a brewery that is understaffed, and a brewery with long lines can be intimidating to your customers. Help reduce this anxiety (and sell more beer) by being prepared. An extra staff member during a regularly busy shift can go a long way.
Being too cool
Not everyone else is a beer nerd. While you would hope this doesn’t happen, many of our Secret Hoppers have mentioned receiving rude or intimidating service. Don’t scare the common social drinker away. Educate them. Welcome them. Make them an advocate for your brewery. Just because they’re not hip to your double dry hopped sour, fruited IPA, doesn’t mean they can’t learn to love it someday.
Impact of ignoring
No guest likes to feel ignored and unwanted. Make sure you are giving attention to all guests. Don’t use your shift behind bar to catch up with all your best friends and that cute girl or guy sitting all alone. Accidentally ignoring guests is a great way to send traffic to the brewery a few blocks away.
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Do you allow your staff to be on their phones? Watching a bartender text their significant other while you’re ready for your next drink is another small, but impactful takeaway from customers. It’s one thing to knock out a checklist to keep the bar area clean between pours, but it’s not acceptable to put your phone ahead of those who specifically chose to patron your business. Brewery guests hate when this happens.
Believe it or not, the lighting in your brewery helps create your atmosphere. A well lit brewery, both inside and out, can be more inviting to guests. Poor lighting can make it difficult for guests to read menus and results in shorter visits.
We all like to eat while we drink, and when your guests are eating they’re spending more time at your establishment and drinking more beer. You don’t have to be a full brewpub, but basic offerings (crackers, popcorn, pretzels) are a cheap addition. We even found a brewery that offers a $2 grilled cheese.
Why do flights typically come in sets of four tasters? The simple argument could be made that most tasters are four ounces and 4×4 equals a standard pint. Nevertheless, we have seen countless Secret Hoppers have a weird fascination over why.
Sure, coffee shops are a great place to get work done, but who doesn’t love being productive at a brewery? We’ve found several breweries with special quiet areas that are great for having a private conversation away from music and loud chatter, or even knocking out a bit of work on your laptop.
Andrew Coplon is a founder of Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping company for craft beer businesses.