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Publicans guide to success

The British Pub Association says that up to 29 pubs are closing every week in the UK. Many town and village pubs have gone from vibrant community centres to derelict eyesores. For many pub landlords, running a successful pub means keeping the doors open - but there are still opportunities for pubs to thrive in the current market. Here at Utility Helpline we have a long history of working closely with pubs and breweries, helping them manage their costs and achieve success in the pub industry. The recent wave of pub closures is being blamed on several different factors. Higher beer taxes, more competition from supermarkets and changing demographics are all making it more difficult to compete.

Teetering on a knife edge

From our experience the trigger moment for pub closures is almost always a lack of cash flow. When monthly takings do not meet monthly bills it can shut down a pub very quickly. This means that if a pub has a particularly poor month or a shock repair bill, it can land the licensee in hot water with any creditors. An example from this year illuminates this point very well - various pub campaign groups criticised the idea of ‘dry January’ which saw many people give up alcohol for a month. Various news outlets reported that the craze damaged pubs, and in particular those pubs which didn’t offer other products like gourmet food to their punters. Breaking the pub closure conundrum down to its most basic level reveals two options which pub landlords can take to keep their pub on the straight and narrow.

Option one: increase takings

The first and most obvious answer to increasing profits is to increase the revenue made at the pub. This can be done in a number of different ways but this article will focus on two: pandering to your local demographic and effective planning for quiet months. Pubs have a number of different strategies when it comes to getting more customers. Quiz nights and discos are firm favourites but more adventurous themes can be utilised to attract different crowds. If you are situated close to a student metropolis, you might consider putting on a cheap 'student curry night' every Tuesday, or maybe host an open-mic night to draw in some budding musicians and their friends. If on the other hand your pub is situated in a leafy suburb then you might consider hosting a ‘family-friendly’ Sunday where kids can play together while adults eat. These kind of nights will not only bring in more customers but they have the power to change public perceptions about your establishment. Think about whether you want to be seen as student or family friendly – or whether you want to be known for something else like offering great food or cheap Vodka and then market your pub accordingly using events or themes where appropriate. It is also worth planning some ad-hoc events far in advance. If for example, you know that January will be quiet month you might think about offering discounted food to all of your Christmas customers when they revisit in January.

Option two: cut pub running costs

The somewhat less obvious answer to turning a profit is reducing the bills. Too many landlords see their bills as fixed expenses and don’t take any steps to reduce them. Running a successful pub in this difficult climate takes a manager who is uncompromising on expenses. Energy is one of the bigger monthly costs which pubs have to handle – and we have great advice on how to slim energy costs down. Firstly you should seek to reduce consumption. This can be done by taking a militant approach to energy efficiency, turning lights off when they are not needed and keeping the heat on low. You can also do things like install energy efficient light bulbs and make more use of the cellar to keep things cool. For more hints and tips on reducing pub energy consumption download our free energy efficiency guide for pub landlords. The other way to reduce your energy outgoings is to talk to an expert broker who can get you a better deal from your energy supplier. Utility Helpline has worked as an intermediary between energy companies and the pub industry for almost a decade. We have helped hundreds of pubs and brewery chains secure the right deal on their energy bills. We have deep relationships with several large suppliers and are a Carlsberg: We Deliver More recommended partner.

Published by Utility Helpline on (modified )