How to Make Happy Hour Happier: Doing the Math and Catering to Seasons in Pittsburgh
When you consider that there are about 2,500 licensed establishments in Allegheny County alone, and who knows how many other unlicensed eating establishments, you realize just how incredibly fierce competition must be, driving profit margins down.
Everyone in the bar and restaurant industry wants to make a buck, that’s no secret. But the key is to find ways to maintain a balance between being profitable and satisfying your customers. Sure, you can cut costs all you want, but at the end of the day, the customer will decide whether or not they’ll come back for more drinks or food.
One surefire way to increase your business while offering bar and restaurant-goers an excellent overall experience is to get smart about your Happy Hour specials. If your Happy Hour isn’t maximizing your profits, here are some things to think about.
The Goal: Increase Revenue without Skimping on Quality
First things first, never lose sight of the goal to balance profit with customer satisfaction. As soon as you start serving watered-down drinks, overly foamy beer, or downsizing your glassware, your customers are going to notice. The goal of Happy Hour is to attract the after-work crowd and maximize your beer, liquor, and wine sales, but don’t do so at the expense of quality products.
If you’re going to try to make up for the slashed price of Happy Hour drinks by skimping on quality, you’re better off not having a Happy Hour at all, because you’re going to lose customers. Instead, find more productive ways to increase the profitability of your Happy Hour, like taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s distinct seasons.
The summertime drinking crowd in Pittsburgh, for example, is different from those patrons braving the cold to come out during the winter. Use these differences to your advantage by offering unique specials that cater to the time of year. Maybe you’ll serve high-quality margaritas at a special price for summer Happy Hours, and switch to a signature shot in the colder winter months.
A Word on Food Quality
When most people think of Happy Hour, beer and liquor immediately come to mind. But you can nearly double your revenue by also offering excellent food choices to pair with your seasonal drinks. And just in case you’re wondering, those frozen “appetizers” many bars serve up with Happy Hour just don’t cut it. Attract and keep more loyal customers by applying the same balancing act to your food profitability as your liquor sales.
Even if you think that spending a little less on one lower-quality item isn’t enough to hurt your business, this very mindset will. Once you start skimping on quality in the name of higher profit margins, slowly but surely, you’ll start noticing that you’ve served 15 less meals last week, or you only sold 3 ½ kegs instead of 4. Those customers who stopped showing up have now taken their business elsewhere, and you’re left with even fewer profits than when you started nickel-and-diming.
This draining process is usually slow-burning, drawn-out, and difficult to identify until it’s too late. What is usually always at the heart of this downhill trend, however, is a dire need to maximize profits without concern for the resulting negative impact on the customer.While there’s no doubting the fact that it’s difficult to keep prices down and quality
While there’s no doubting the fact that it’s difficult to keep prices down and quality up if you take a look at the successful bars and restaurants around you, you’ll see that this is very doable. If profit margins are tight, don’t immediately look to sacrificing quality and driving prices up. Instead, get creative with your Happy Hour drink and food deals and take advantage of your customer’s ever-changing needs throughout the year.
If you think that now is the right time to either get into or out of the Pittsburgh bar and restaurant industry, the experienced team of brokers and lenders at Specialty Group would be more than happy to help. Please feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (412)369-1555 to discuss your specific needs.