Breweries may not have an issue getting customers in the door, but getting them to stick around. Brewery-hopping is a popular weekend activity for beer drinkers looking to check out as many new spots as possible, so a one-pint order can become standard and eat into profits.
If you’re thinking of starting your own brewery, or if you’ve been around and are looking for ways to take your experience to the next level, here are a few tips that any savvy brewery owner should follow to keep guests lingering all afternoon.
1. Create a dog-friendly environment
Ask any dog person where they spend most of their time drinking and they’ll tell you a dog-friendly brewery. For dog owners, there’s nothing like kicking back for a lazy Sunday and watching the game at your local brewery with your best friend by your side. Plus, if Fido is happy, Fido’s person (the one with the wallet) is happy.
If you want to entice more dogs and their owners to visit your brewery, the key is to make it as hospitable to pups as possible. Have plenty of water bowls on hand and lots of space for dogs to lounge. (Spaces packed with chairs only lead to tangled leashes.) Offer access to an outdoor space for pups to sniff around and roll in the grass, if you can. If you really want to go above and beyond, have waste disposal bags available (It’s a lifesaver when you accidentally forget them at home!) and have dog treats at the counter to give out with every drink. Everyone who loves their dog will be enticed to not only visit a place like this again and again, but they’ll be sure to order multiple drinks each time.
Also, as much as you can, encourage your staff to interact with the furry guests. Dog owners can tell when their pup is welcome.
2. Offer a personalized loyalty program
To ensure customers think of your brewery before any others, consider offering a modern, personalized loyalty program. That means skip the punch cards and ensure your VIP members are tracked right through your brewery’s POS system.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback from guests that tells us they would like to be able to track and rank the beers,” Angela Zoiss, marketing director for Bottleneck Management, told Food Newsfeed.
Think about it: If you’re still learning what you like (and don’t like), remembering all of that can be tough. It’s so much easier if an automated rewards program does it for you. Plus, the checks of VIPs can be 50- to 100-percent higher than non-VIP checks. Cheers to that.
3. Make sure food is available
Whether you cook up dishes in-house (think a variety of bar food like pretzels and fries), partner up with a rotation of food trucks, strike up a deal with a nearby restaurant, or allow your guests to bring their own food, one thing is certain: You have to offer food.
If guests spend the kind of time you want them to in your brewery, they’ll eventually get hungry. If there are no options to satisfy their hunger, they’ll have no choice but to go somewhere else to get food.
Plenty of breweries go the food truck rotation route because many food trucks have a following in their own right. Not only will they offer food to your hungry customers, but if you choose the right food trucks, there’s a good chance they’ll be a draw themselves. Alternatively, you can hire a chef (either full-time or just for special events) who can offer food & beer pairings.
4. Don’t skimp on entertainment
If you plan to be open on Friday or Saturday nights (or any night of the week, really), expect demand for entertainment. Whether that means offering weekly trivia or karaoke, or bringing in live local bands to perform, there’s a good chance that people are going to stick around longer if there’s fun to be had. That fun can also come in the form of board games, yard games—like these top four outdoor games—or anything else you can think of that give people something else to do besides just drink beer and chat.
Seth Steinman is a marketing manager with Upserve, a technology platform that allows restaurants and breweries to integrate their POS, payments, analytics, inventory, and more in a single place.