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I’d like to think that all great bars buy with their customers in mind. Sounds a bit obvious I know, but it can be all too easy to get distracted by the current fashions or your bar tender’s favourite tipple. Whilst pushing boundaries and offering unique experiences with drinks is fundamental to carving a name in the market, there is a fine line to going overboard.

So, keep your core customer in focus rather than yourself. Let’s not forget that going for a night out is expensive, so as a bar you want to be offering perceived value for money. A great way to achieve this, as people become more and more discerning, is through your customer service and offering a quality product.

Are you offering your customers a choice of drinks in each category from a base product that they will know, through new innovations in the market and at a variety of price points? Remember that if you want to charge a premium, this needs to be matched with a premium customer experience.

Of course, you’ll be wanting to keep it fresh for regulars, so that they don’t become disinterested with your offering. Aim to think seasonally with your drinks, with a black board of specials which reflect the changing seasons. For example, for winter a warm drinks list and pushing brown spirits, whilst in the summer you shift to long drinks, light and low-abv drinks and those with summer fruits.

If cocktails are a good fit with your bar’s personality, it’s important to upsell within a drinks category so that you can increase revenue so a bar can make more money. A lot of menus we see are quite shallow, so they might offer a spritz for example, but it uses a standard brand without the opportunity to trade up to a more premium brand if you’re out celebrating a special occasion.

Next think suppliers. Don’t just stick with one or two suppliers. Take time to see what a whole range of suppliers have to offer, whether they’re boutique distributors or the big boys, to make sure you get the right product portfolio for your bar, and think about added value from your suppliers. For example, to improve the customer experience we are very active at training bar staff to increase their product knowledge, so they can upsell and offer a more quality experience for customers. Train your staff really well to replicate the hard work you’ve put into the rest of your bar design, and use your suppliers to help do this for you – why not get involved in the many master classes or meet the maker sessions available?

Finally, and most importantly, money. A back bar stocked to the rafters with weird and wonderful brands can look amazing, but how to the commercials stack up? The more stock you have behind the bar, the more capital you have tied up, often in the region of £20-30k. If you can’t turn this into money, then that’s going to impact your cashflow.

Also, be wary of becoming overly reliant on listing fees to support your income. Listing fees are largely only offered by the large global players, which can seriously compromise the range of drinks you can supply and adversely impact on the customer impression and peer reputation.

At Mangrove UK we’d like to think we’ve got a multitide of best in class premium spirits brands that you’ll want to stock, but over and above that we offer a large team of uber drinks nerds who will love to chat with you and give you the benefit of our experience.