How pubs can reopen and stay open

Ah, the pubs are coming back. YES!

Given the scenes in parks and beaches across the country will they be allowed to stay open?
Or will the Government have to treat us like naughty kids, take our toys away and give us a time out?
Will a one-meter rule give them enough capacity to make it worth it?
Will the brewery want to stay away from the PR nightmare of tabloid headlines?
Is there enough business to bring them back from the brink or will we lose some of our treasured locals?

These are some of the problems pubs face when deciding to reopen:

  • Reducing contact points
  • Keep churn high
  • Balancing occupancy levels
  • Managing demand and supply
  • Safety, save us from ourselves
  • Guarantee the cash flows along with the beer
  • Reduce costs become super lean

Here are some ideas on how pubs can keep us safe (from ourselves), come back stronger and overcome these challenges.

The ideas focus on giving pubs a higher churn of customers instead of being overrun, giving everyone a fair chance to enjoy a drink in their favourite local.
They also help the pub manage supply by restricting demand whilst knowing they have a guaranteed cash flow.
After all, pubs are now a high demand experience so you have to treat it like one.

Monitor occupancy.
You will know before you open how many people you can have in your venue but you need a method of keeping track of it and even alert you when you are maxed out so you can stop people coming in and potentially ask others to leave.
Take this a step further and link it to your social media accounts to auto-post when capacity is under or over so customers do not waste a journey or have to queue for long periods.

Here is some software to get you started:

  • PedBox. Low-cost plugin solution tracks occupancy via an app. Suitable for small and medium-sized venues. Read more about our PedBox here.
  • JASON Occupancy. Utilise your CCTV system. Springboard’s JASON device connects into your existing CCTV feed. Suitable for all locations.

If your name is not down you’re are not coming in.
Clubs have been doing this for years. If you are not digital savvy simply do this by phone bookings for a set time and table you could even take their first order too. If you want to guarantee a set revenue per table then read on.
If digital is the way you want to go you can use apps such as

You want a table for 6 in the garden for 2 hours that will be fixed price based on the pubs’ own calculation of how much food and drink needs to be consumed in order for that table to be valuable enough to allow people to sit at it for 2 hours.
As a customer, you do not want German-style towel saving tactics being used by 2 people on a big bench supping one pint for 2 hours whilst you hang around eager to buy a few bottles of wine and share some lunch with the family.
As a venue, it is a huge loss if you have tables under-occupied and hogged by people consuming low-value items for a long time.
You need to keep churn high and guarantee each bum on a seat is £x’s to pay the bills. Keep reading to find out more about how this could work.

Minimum spend.
Linked to the prepay idea.
If customers are using your venue then you could stipulate a minimum spend or consumption. For example must have at least 2-4 “somethings”; crisps, drinks, food etc.
Or if you are prepaying £200 for a table for 2 hours for 6 people the pub can offer all you can eat and drink package.
At £33 per head that’s not bad value from the customer’s point of view either.

These are popular at pool parties in Ibiza and Vegas as the owners figured out that the customers often can’t beat the price within the time no matter how determined they are plus in those venues if you seem too drunk you get ejected no questions asked (brutal) we don’t want to go this far.

Maximum allowance.
Stay as long as you like but you can only have 4 drinks before you need to leave due to your inhibitions being lowered and being too happy to “stay alert”!
This again guarantees a set price per customer and allows a good churn through the pub giving everyone a chance to escape for a pint or 2.
You could get a stamp card keep track of drinks per customer or use an app ordering system that blocks any new drink orders once the table or customer has reached their maximum.

Table service.
Reduce contact points and the amount of people walking about or hanging around at the bar.
Offer table service only to keep people in their seats.
If you want to upgrade this idea enable app ordering from your table to reduce the amount of staff you need patrolling the floor keeping an eye on peoples drink levels and gain that all-important data for head office.

Offer big drink options such as jugs, bottle buckets etc so you can deliver a higher volume to the table then customers pour their own drinks.
This again reduces movement and contact whilst enabling the pub to sell bigger ticket items.
Go a step further and have a vending machine.
Or even get taps installed in the booths activated with contactless payment could this be the start of a new type of staffless Robo pub?

Keep your glass.
I know there are safety rules about recycling glasses because of them touching the pumps by accident or because you have to dip the tap in the pint to get the perfect pour so this only works with the self-pour option above.
Order your 5-pint pitcher then use the same glass 5 drinks.
Less staff, less washing, less contact.
Take is further and invest in some fancy glasses then add a deposit to the bill.
If the customer decides to take it home that’s fine just keep their deposit.

If you’re a pub landlord, chain or brewery I hope something in here has helped with your plan to reopen.

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