Hey bars, breweries or other businesses that sell people things.  Isn’t it great you have something to sell?  Now, how are you communicating with your customers?  I recently told a friend of mine that Public House in Chicago was worth a try.  I received this email from him last week:

I tried going to the Public House yesterday since I was downtown…  Problem was the Public House was closed for a private party until 8PM.  Would have been nice if they mentioned that on their website since I looked at it earlier in the day.

Last week I was at The Local Option in Chicago and about ten minutes before three, a bartender looked at me and said they will be closing for a private party at three.  I just spent three hours cozied up at the bar and pumped enough money into their coffers making the early send off a mixed blessing.  However, it did put a bit of a sour note at the end.

I am not saying bars cannot close for private events.  What I am saying is you need to work on communicating with your customers what you are doing.  In the age of websites, Facebook and Twitter we live in a world where we are bombarded with information.  You can not expect the public to check every form of communication to see what you are doing.  My friend was on their website.  I do not want to say he will never go again, but he may think twice before he tries again.  How many different information outlets is he supposed to check?

My biggest frustration currently is Chicago Craft Beer Week.  Every time I research an event I see, “more details to come.”  Seriously?  This event is less than a month away and you want people to come and spend money.  If I am going to drop the equivalent of a student loan payment on a week, I for one would like to plan ahead.  With as many as eighteen events in a single day I need to plan out my time as well.  The other thing that concerns me is how many bars may close for special beer week events and how this is communicated to the public.  In this week of special events how many may be disappointed?  Plus would planning in advance result in better participation?

What should you do?  I have a five point communication plan for bars and brewpubs:

  1. Any change from the normal operations should:
    • Be posted in the establishment
    • Tweeted
    • Facebooked
    • Posted on website
    • Included in voice-mail message
  2. Websites should have a calendar or events page.
  3. Events should be scheduled minimum 30 days out.
  4. Event details published minimum 14 days out.
  5. Major events should be published as far in advance as possible.
    • Beer Weeks could potentially drive tourism into your city.  The I-X Beerfest in Cleveland lacked details and is why I didn’t plan a trip there.

Communication-trust me it works.  You will gain and keep customers more effectively than if you don’t communicate.  A brewpub owner once told me that even though customer service was subpar the establishment still brought in $11M the previous year.  I told him if he got the service up it could do $20M.  Even if you are growing at a high rate now think about the future.  In that person’s case he has been on the repeated verge of losing the brewpub.  Always remember to develop stronger relations with the customer base and they will reward you for it.




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