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Thread: Can drink prices be a promotion?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    3

    Lightbulb Can drink prices be a promotion?

    I just joined but I've been staring at posts here for so long that I feel somewhat bug eyed. The talent and creativity here is quite impressive.

    I've been operating neighborhood restaurants for over 30 years and I find it necessary to get back into the business. During that thirty years I originated some interesting promos, strategies and stolen and improved upon many more. I've always promoted food as a revenue stream. A lot of bars have overlooked the money making aspect of food and have suffered the loss of this revenue stream.

    Now that I have to get back into this business I am presented with a good opportunity where the emphasis will be on dining at the landlords insistence. Depending on how the final deal is written, I may not be able to have a DJ or live entertainers. My wife's 21 year old drop dead gorgeous niece visited this weekend and I asked her where her friends liked to party. Her response shocked me. Though the group can afford to blow money, she said they go where the drinks are cheap. They may occasionally go elsewhere for special parties but the cheap places are where they prefer to go.

    So this leaves me with this question for this august body of minds. Are cheap drinks enough to draw folks out after ten pm? I'll have a very nice modern atmosphere with good food but is cheap enough?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    ky
    Posts
    610
    I would say no to just cheap drinks. Not sure what exactly it takes but it seems to me location is one of the most important, atomosphere. Have you ever gone in a dive bar that rocks, you look around and wonder what is the draw? I have seen locations that have been bars for 50 years and do well to ok depending on management. You cant run people off. I am referring to small neighborhood bars here, I am sure the big nightclub people will have different opinion. Will love to here others thoughts

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    72
    Well hello,
    We are neighbors. I am in chesapeake but spent much time running bars in virginia beach and norfolk. I do not agree with drink specials being the promo. I by far am not the cheapest with my pricing, but i am also not the most expensive. I do have some specials, but nothing that i am known for or that i try to draw a crowd with. I actually do not even sell many of the specials. So, to answer your question i would not count on the drink specials for your bar business. You will also find that it will bring a crowd that you do not want. On a side note a am currently watching a lot of places that were always running specials to get there crowd which was taking away from my business now going under!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    winlock, wa
    Posts
    374
    At the time that I purchased my restaurant/bar I drank in the town for 2 years prior and partied at each place(4) a good deal. Enough to become friends with, and/or acquainted with most of the regulars. My place was the only real operating restaurant and it was sorely lacking in some areas. This town is known for the cheapest drinks in the county and when some of the places tried to raise their prices, they felt the loss of business right away. Each place tried to find a drawing card(still do). I put three months into watching the day to day function of my place prior to taking over an existing business including working as a bartender, dishwasher, gofer and anything else that was needed except for cooking. I spent a month learning the owners method of bookkeeping and seeing the daily figures from food to alcohol, and the expenses. I can guarantee that I did not learn enough. We have to be a destination town as there are larger towns within 15 miles in two directions and we have almost no industry. Everyone leaves town to work. Food was the one place that I could see room for improvement and the one area that the other bars were totally against other than the laws say you have to have it available. To date it has been the mainstay of my business and an area that we work hard to keep that way. Their are now 3 bars in the downtown area and a new pizza place that is struggling to keep the doors open. One of the other bars is now starting to promote food more and the other is trying to sell out so that they don't have to put in a real kitchen. However neither caters to familys. I have raised some of my drink prices and beer prices and did not notice an immediate loss of business because I had already changed the way my place was doing business. Raising the drink prices has led to fewer of the trouble makers stopping in, but so did my attitude and that gets blunter and more obnoxious every day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    129
    i agree and disagree... while i believe that low priced drinks alone cannot be considered a promotion, i do believe that a drink special can be a promotion if it is something no one else has... for instance, weird martinis or flights of beer are good, but just doing something such as 2.00 u call its or 1.50 domestic bottles.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    ky
    Posts
    610
    why not do more research on the "cheap places" your niece goes, visit them and see what the draw is. I agree with ontheway I think especially where I am at cheap drinks would bring the wrong crowd

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    I live in central mass
    Posts
    641
    I live in a different area and this may not be relevant to you but my bar is in a college city. 17 plus colleges in the city and surrounding towns within minutes of the city. I have cheap well drinks, call drinks and super premium drinks that I thought no one would spend the money on. Guess what? I sell more premium and super premium drinks and shots then anything else. I do offer cheap well drinks if they want it but cheap is not what most want. There is nothing to draw the young people just loud music and lots of friends. Of course there is me! LOL I got their peers to bartend and that helps draw them as well. So I hope this helps. Just my 2 cents worth.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    146
    Generally speaking...Cheap Drinks = More Trouble and eventual loss of revenue. You can however usally find the "leaders" of the pack and the "hot girls" like you niece and make sure they are well taken care of while they are in your establishment along with a free drink or two becuase if you get the hot girls and the leaders, the rest will follow.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Frozen Tundra
    Posts
    59
    Atmosphere...your neice may not know it, but that is the biggest reason everyone happens to be at that bar. Have you ever been to a bar that sells pbr for .50? Tends to be not the greatest crowd, if even a crowd. My wife and I have a "dive bar" and we are in our 20's.
    My friend who is also in his 20's and runs a bar in Fell's Point took my wife and I to every single bar in the entire area. One thing that stood out was that the busiest ones had a reason other than price for the reason they were busy. The coolest Irish pub, the cozy place where Edgar Allen Poe use to go, on and on. Just set yourself apart some how, take care of your clients, and if your area doesn't support $10 wells then just stay away from that. Don't be way over priced, and don't give the bar away.
    Also, decide who you want your clientelle to be. We focus mostly on mid 20's to late 30's, but that is who doesn't mind coming in a few times a week and dropping $100-$150 a night.
    We do run a .99 draft in the middle of the week, but we have tripled sales for that day from when we took over. If they are drinking $40 in shots, who cares if you give them 5 drafts at that price and how many people do you know that won't change their drink just to save a couple of dollars but still want to hangout with their friends?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
    Posts
    149
    Cheap drinks help attract people, but I think your 'knockout' of a niece is subconsciously going out wherever she is because of other reasons. Maybe the guys that she likes are there... maybe there's good music and she can attract attention by dancing with her girlfriends... maybe her friends work there? Who knows.

    People want to be part of a scene, so if you create the destination for that scene, then the people will come.

    Each scene has different things that attract people to it. If you're going for the standard, lowest common denominator, you can (like SomewhereInAug said) attract the 'hot girls' and the 'leaders' of groups (popular guys & girls). It's shallow, but it's basic psychology, people like being around attractive & outgoing people, regardless of the 'scene'.

    Staffing the 'group leaders' and 'hot girls' might be enough depending on the type of venue you have. If you're trying attract a more specific demo, you need to add other elements (like popular local bands, popular local DJ's, etc.). Notice the recurring theme though.. 'popular'. Word of mouth advertising is better than anything you can buy.

    Lastly, atmosphere is invaluable. I totally agree with originolsin. Find your niche, and be 'that' bar. If you have the right atmosphere and you bring in/hire the right people for that atmosphere, you'll be successful. 'Scene' and 'Atmosphere' are almost interchangeable, although scene I think refers more to the people and atmosphere would be the decor & music.

    If you delve into those 'other' reasons, like who's at the bar and whats going on in the bar, you'll probably find the answers your looking for. You just have to probe a little deeper.
    Peter Altholz, CEO
    theBESTofBUFFALO Promotions
    http://www.thebestofbuffalo.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    72
    Have not heard anything from the original poster, but one more possibility that she goes where she does could be maybe her drinks are pretty cheap if she is as good looking as he says. I remember my bar-tending days and it always seemed the hottest girls never had a big tab. I never knew why!! And why my tab was always high!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    3
    Thanks for all of the perspectives. I couldn't agree more that atmosphere is job one. Each of my joints had loads of it. But I ask questions everywhere I go (you should see the looks I get at stop lights when I ask what radio station they listen to or where they hang out). The bank tellers all go where they can drink for a buck from 7-9 and they're all foxes. But I ramble. The deal I was negotiating fell through so I back to square one.

    After my original post, I've given some consideration to hiring a part time promotions manager. Coincidentally, a large oceanfront restaurant operation is looking for a full time promo manager. Any of you had experience with a promo manager? Just curious as I think what my next move will be.

    Again, thanks.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    3
    Thanks for the comments, folks! I've been busy trying to hold my deal together but it is on the rocks. I've continued my "research" and it seems everyone I talk with talks about price. I've always had great atmosphere in my joints and it is important to all I talk with. But $1 drinks from 7-9 seems to be the attraction.

    I've also considered hiring a part time promo manager. Has this worked for anyone? I'm sixty years old and I'm not sure how to attract the 25 to 35 crowd. I've always used good food and acoustic entertainment as marketing tools to sell alcohol. But that is a tired method anymore, I think.

    Thanks, again.
    don

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3
    NO NO NO NO NO. Discounting drinks and free covers are what we call "Panic Promoting" in the industry and is a sure way to kill your business. I don't understand why people want to give away their money. Owners and managers are in the business to MAKE money. Get away from the promotional ideas of 5 years ago. What worked then does not work now. FUN and WOW effect is what will pack your business and keep money coming in.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    washington state
    Posts
    13
    We promoted a night where we called it "Thirsty Thursdays" we offered $2 Hennesseys all night, That night was quite popular. Now we have specials that run until a certain time of the night.
    We offer free cover BUT only to people who sign up for what we call a VIP card. These cards have created a buzz and have allowed us to keep in contact whith our VIP cardholders. They get in free before 11.
    Creating the card was very simple. We had some 1-sided graphic business cards made. On the back we put the person name on them using labels and a computer printer. We then laminate the card with a laminator we bought for under $20. People request them by mail so we just mail them off. Its worth it. The person with the card ALWAYS bring a friend that doesnt have a card and has to pay. But the card holder also gets to bypass the line and reserve a table that we hold until 11.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    21
    Price as a promotion is a short term at best. It should only be used in conjunction with another event, and only rarely.

    You are better off to consider the difference between a commodity and a custom. A commodity is like a chevy truck. You can buy the exact same truck from any dealership.

    Commodity Rules:
    1. You can find it any place.
    2. You always paid too much.

    You know the last time you bought a car, truck or computer? Ther next day you could have gotten it cheaper.

    A custom is like the Mona Lisa painting, there is only one.

    Custom Rules:
    1. There is only one and your heart's desire is to own it
    2. You can never pay too much

    Your question should be how to you turn your place into the heart's desire of your target market?

    Get to know them, ask them what they want. Ignore the responses from people that want cheap drinks, those people will not be long term customers anyway, as soon as your prices return to normal they'll move on to the next place with cheap drinks.

    End Story... are you a commodity or a custom?

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