Over the past year and a half, I have been lucky enough to vicariously get to experience breweries coast to coast. Through Secret Hopper, we have helped 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 7,200. Some businesses are even using our feedback to reward staff with a nice, little holiday bonus for a job well done. In doing so, we’ve sent thousands of shoppers to visit some of your breweries and those nearby.
Below are some of the most frequent observations we have seen our shoppers mention.
1. Brewery guests, especially women, love those little hooks under a bar. Keeping a guest comfortable is vital and something as simple as a place to hang their purse, jacket, etc. is a low cost way to keep them spending more time with your business. And you may recall that women are often the biggest spending customers — so keep them happy.
2. Your bathroom! Obviously keep it clean, but make it memorable. Perhaps a keg urinal? Better privacy elements? A list of upcoming brewery events on the bathroom stall? [Editor’s note: Here’s a memorable sign from one brewery bathroom visit of ours].
3. How big is your bar top? Is there enough room for a flight? We’ve had countless shoppers mention receiving flights with little room to properly place without bumping into other guests.
4. Speaking of other guests, beer drinkers love to have plenty of room to enjoy your product without feeling cramped. Take the time to design your tasting room to once again keep your visitors comfortable. Our shoppers have mentioned quarters being too close in nearly every area of a tasting room, including the bathrooms.
5. And back to flights: Guests love a good explanation of each beer. In particular, many of our shoppers have pointed out that they love to have the beer names written down somewhere. It’s hard to remember sometimes! [Editor’s note: Here’s a memorable example from the CBB Instagram account].
6. Is your brewery sketchy to find? Make sure to have a well-lit, easy-to-find entrance and a nice sign visible from the main road. There is no bigger deterrent than not being able to find the place. It also helps when GoogleMaps delivers your potential drinkers to the correct location.
7. No TVs. Now this observation brought back divided feedback. There is definitely a demographic that wants to be able to visit their local brewery and watch their local team, and on the other hand, there’s also a large following that visits breweries to escape that. Your approach should be in-line with your brand and your customer needs.
8. You wouldn’t believe how many guests get excited about the mere fact that brewing is taking place while they’re visiting (who would’ve thunk it?). Your guests love to see the brewing process take place. Show them, teach them, sell them drinks.
9. It may seem like common sense, but so many of our shoppers have relished the opportunity to speak with your staff. Brewery guests love to learn and be educated about your brewery, your beers and anything else beer related. Build that connection. If you’re too chatty, they’ll find a new seat.
10. “Would you like any beer to go?” We always ask our shoppers if the brewery staff encourages them to take any bottles/can/crowlers/growlers/you name it home with them, and the surprising statistic is that this only happens approximately 19 percent of the time. This actually is something our shoppers have complained about. Your guests are there because they’ve made a decision to choose your brewery over others. Encourage them to purchase a souvenir for the road, whether that’s beer to go or some sweet swag. If you ask, they’ll say “yes” 50 percent of the time.
Andrew Coplon is a founder of Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping company for craft beer businesses.