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Making the most of eating outdoors

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It’s that time of year again, the sun comes out and everyone rushes outside for their annual British Summer BBQ. The trick is replicating this feeling through your restaurant to ensure you are the first port of call when the sun makes an appearance.

While not every space has the ability to work with open flames, you can still ensure your restaurant is the go-to location for those warmer days. Whether you have a small patio space or a vast outside dining area, there are many things you can do to optimise your space and keep diners coming back throughout those warm weather days.

Creating the perfect outdoor dining area

There can be many things that help encourage people to return, a survey undertaken by Upserve, highlighted that the top way to improve customer retention is to put service first for customers. This may seem like a given, but there is more to this than just smiling servers and great food. Creating a welcoming atmosphere is a big part of what makes delivering great service simple, and ensuring you have the right décor is just one of things that can contribute to this.

Your outside area is an extension of your restaurant, so cheap plastic tables and chairs may not portray the image you would like. Comfortable chairs, well dressed tables and warm lights are great ways to encourage customers to eat outside. Enhancing the natural environment which accompanies your restaurant is an ideal way to pull your surroundings together, whether beach-side or inner city, incorporating local aspects such as plants, lighting or colour makes all the difference when creating a fantastic atmosphere for your customers.

Ensuring there are separate areas for those wanting to get away from smokers is important, especially when food is involved. Make it clear which areas are ok to smoke, and which are ensures everyone is happy when getting outside.

Make the most of al fresco dining

Al fresco dining is becoming a bigger trend as the days get longer, encouraging customers to enjoy their food outside not only gives you additional space for covers, but increases the eating dynamic you are able to offer your guests. Many restaurants are located with outdoor areas that utilise their setting, whether gorgeous views or secluded sun traps these locations are ideal for outdoor eating. This being said, even the most unlikely settings can create the perfect outdoor eating area, potted plants and twinkling lights are great additions to make any space accommodating. The problem with al fresco dining is that many restaurants are offering more of the same thing; thinking out of the box and trying something new will always bode well with guests, and encourage them to come back time and time again.

There are many positives that go hand in hand with eating outside, aside from that feel-good factor! Happiness and concentration levels have been found to increase simply from being outside, as well as ensuring daily doses of Vitamin D have been reached. Making sure your diners are safe with shade for those with sensitive skins ensures you are catering for all audiences, as well as keeping a supply of sun cream close in case the sun really decides to appear!

Offer something light

Unhealthy eating is often associated with eating out, and this really doesn’t have to be the case. Having a variety of options on your menu, whether light bites, snacks or something similar, is a great way of encouraging people to get through the door, especially when the weather is great and a light bite is all that is needed. Having your menus easily accessible both online and outside your restaurant is a great way to encourage people in without forcing them inside. Offering nutritional values on food is also a great way to engage customers with your menu.

Keep it cosy

Getting cosy outside is now even easier than before with everyday items becoming more versatile for outdoor use. Outdoor decorations and lighting are now easy to source and can create stunning areas with minimal impact on running costs.

Warm blankets, cushions and heaters add warmth for those areas that get chilly as those summer days turn into the evening, ensuring that both inside and outdoor areas are available for the entire duration of the day opens up the space for more guests, as well as appealing to a wider audience when they are thinking of places to visit.

Keeping inside areas cool and welcoming offers the perfect combination for those wanting to get out of the heat as well as those wanting to soak up the sun; by giving your customers options you are keeping them in control.

Try something new

Maybe your restaurant is fairly small or you are located in close vicinity to a park or open space, thinking of out of the box ideas are a great way to still get your food out there, even if space isn’t an endless luxury you have access too. Ideas such as picnics or take-out afternoon tea, created in house with the option of taking away from your restaurant, is a great way to share your food, without putting limitations on dining options for those hot days. This takes away the stress from diners and ensures you are optimising your restaurant to its full potential.

5 tips for turning football viewers into loyal customers

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This summer it’s Euro 2016, by the end of August it will be the return of the Premier League. Soon after that the Champions League will be back. If you have a bar or clubhouse that regularly screens football matches, there are plenty of reasons why fans might be paying you a visit to enjoy a football match on a big screen or meeting up with with other fans for the atmosphere – and the draught beer.

Since Sky started broadcasting live football regularly in the UK in 1992, many bar owners have appreciated the extra custom that televised matches bring on a quiet Tuesday evening in November or a wet Wednesday in March.

Over the years the reputation of football fans as being mindless thugs has long gone. And whilst there may be the odd incident at grounds, most football supporters are well behaved and – aside from visiting your establishment to enjoy the football match and your comfortable bar furniture – there is no reason that they won’t return for other reasons. Perhaps they will come back with friends or family. Here are five tips for turning football fans into loyal customers.

Show the future 

Decide which matches you are going to screen and make it easy for people to find out that you are screening them. Chalk up in the bar area fixtures over the next few weeks and their start times. Advertise the matches outside your front door. Add the matches to your website and Facebook page. In short, if somebody has come in to watch one match, make it easy for them to come back again by giving them clear information on what other matches you are screening and when.

Return visit

During the Euros, offer an incentive to watch the next match. One bar I know of has been offering vouchers to customers watching England play for a free burger at a BBQ before the next England match. Cost of a burger? Just a few pence. But getting returning customers to watch each match at the pub is worth a lot.

Not just football

Promote other types of activity in your bar. Do you feature live music? Sunday Carvery? Breakfast service? Advertise around the bar or in the toilets the other types of entertainment that you put on for customers. As soon as people walk through your door, you should be educating customers about what else you offer as well as screening football matches.

Loyalty cards

There are many different types of loyalty cards available – from simple slips of card that can be stamped, to credit card style electronic systems. Whatever card or discount you offer, make sure you capture data from the customer.

An email address is probably the most important but if you can get hold of a birthday that is useful as well (to offer people a free drink around their birthday). Armed with an email address you can stay in touch with future relevant events, new opening hours, Christmas menus – you name it, you can contact people who have signed up to your loyalty card.

Pub passport

Want to encourage customers to try out a range of drinks and foods over time? Why not create a pub passport?

For every country in the Euros, you can list a drink or food item for people to try. This could be anything from Carling Black Label (UK) Kortenberg (France) to Roast Turkey crisps (Turkey). They get a stamp for each country they ‘visit’ and if they complete the set they can get a voucher to be spent within a specified period of time at your bar.

You could even throw in a competition prize such as a weekend trip to Dublin (to visit the Guinness brewery) or something equally exciting as an overall prize. This encourages visits at non-football screening times as well as during matches. This will plant the idea of visiting at times that have nothing to do with football.

But this doesn’t have to be restricted to the Euros. It can equally work for the World Cup in 2018, the Olympics, the Rugby World Cup. It can work for any large scale sporting event with an international component that you want to encourage returning visitors.

Of course the main way that you will encourage returning visitors is to provide a pub, restaurant, bar or clubhouse that people will want to return to! By making people welcome, providing comfortable and attractive seating and tables, good quality food and a well-stocked bar, people will look to return.

But remember, you want to encourage people to come back a few times in a short period of time and they will develop a habit of choosing your venue over other places. Once people find themselves sitting comfortably, looking round and thinking ‘I like this place’ then you have every chance that they may become a loyal customer.

Trent Furniture offer a wide range of pub and bar furniture that helps to make your customers comfortable and want to stay longer in your company.

Guide to catering for Euro 2016

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Euro 2016 is now well under way, it’s the topic on everyone’s lips and it’s taking the nation by storm. For businesses it’s also a chance to attract customers and maximise profits.  However, it seems that many aren’t doing enough to turn the Euro into pounds for their business.

A Mintel pub visiting report in 2015 found that 50 per cent of people chose to watch sports away from home, and we’re sure that this number will rise as casual fans catch football fever as the tournament progresses.

Just a few small tweaks can make your venue the go-to place for the next month and beyond. We’ve put together some simple ideas that your venue can implement to get fans through your doors.

Run with the theme

Have some fun with your food menu and run some new interesting dishes that play on the football theme. Take inspiration from the nation’s food; each dish can pay homage to a country’s cuisine. You could have a Welsh Bale burger (made with lamb, of course), Portuguese piri-piri chicken or a German Muller hot dog (Bratwurst sausages).

As for drinks, bring in speciality beers and ales from the competing countries. Perhaps have a discount on the team’s drink who are playing at the time.

Cater for groups

Fans are most likely to be coming to watch the football with groups of friends and family – these should be identified as your main target market. Make sure your space is right for those watching the match in groups.

Drink pitchers and food sharing platters are a great attraction for those watching in groups - finger food is the best option for food during the game. Promoting ‘VIP packages’ including reserved booths, increases the likelihood of pre-bookings, making sure you know how many people to expect per game.

Post and pre-match entertainment

Extending the activities further than the 90 minute football match is a great way of maximising customers’ time spent in your establishment. Post-match celebrations will definitely be in order should one of the nations win!

If you have a garden, use it to your advantage by providing free activities with something for all ages. To keep visitors even after the full-time whistle is blown, offer social engagement. Having games machines / pool / foosball tables caters for groups whilst providing out-of-game entertainment.

Zone the football

Throughout the championships it is important not to alienate your regular customers who aren’t interested in the football. Offer divided areas for those who want to enjoy a family meal or catch-up drinks with friends.

As an incentive for your faithful year-round customers to join you throughout the football, offer double points on loyalty cards or special deals.

Trent Furniture has supplied furniture to a number of establishments that have revamped their interiors in the run up to the Euros. To find out how we can help you, call 0116 2988 970.

Village hall furniture fit for the Queen

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Trent Furniture is used to supplying furniture for village halls of all shapes and sizes.  With the recent celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday, village halls and clubs up and down the country have been revamping their interiors in preparation.

In the UK we have a long tradition of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings and birthdays. So it goes without saying that a landmark such as the Queen’s 90th birthday was well-celebrated last weekend.

With the public in a party mood, a number of events were organised across the country including street parties, picnics and tea parties. It was important that any hosts had up-to-date furniture in sufficient quantities to cater for the people coming to their events.

Looking back on our orders for the big day, one furniture order in particular caught our eye, it was for a village hall in Nottinghamshire.

To commemorate the Queen’s birthday, the South Muskham and Little Carlton Village Hall organised an indoor ‘strawberry tea party’. The hall had recently been revamped, extending and improving the facilities available with a new kitchen and toilet. The committee was now looking to add some chairs to match and use for the event.

After searching for village hall chairs, they found Trent Furniture and ordered 80 Buckingham chairs and 20 Buckingham armchairs – so classy that they wouldn’t look out of place in their namesake’s palace. On the day itself, the village hall was transformed into a banqueting hall with crockery and bunting, made complete by their new furniture.

Over 100 locals came to the sold-out celebrations, even the local newspaper - with the revamped interior receiving a resounding thumbs up from visitors. One attendee was so impressed with the revamp and chairs that she donated £345 to the village hall fund. 

The past 12 months raising money has been a struggle for the hall so the total raise of over £600 will be a great benefit. Because of the village hall chairs’ versatility and quality, it is planned to offer the venue for weddings and special occasions – generating another source of income for the fund.

Trent Furniture is delighted by the positive impact that our furniture has had for this customer.

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