Pub Performance Forum Roundup – Ballarat

Pub Performance Forum Roundup – Ballarat

It was great to get back to the charming city of Ballarat and see how well they are captivating the tourist dollar over the winter months.  We popped into Danny Quinlan’s pub Oscar’s which has a fantastic garden atrium (a real showpiece) and then Dan Cronin’s Western Hotel, which looks absolutely fantastic as well as providing a ripper lunch and fresh cold pots.

The turnout for the event was tremendous, there were attendees from both the Ballarat region and the wider western Victorian community.  There has always been a real sense of collaboration and support in Ballarat which is why there are so many great pubs still around.

CEO of the AHA (Vic) Paddy O’Sullivan welcomed us and talked about the high risk conditions that are being canvassed among publicans with 1pm licenses or can hold 200 or more people.  Anyone who is in these categories needs to carefully consider their response to the VCGLR to ensure that onerous conditions aren’t unnecessarily placed on venues who don’t pose a ‘high risk’.  And the clock is ticking on the new smoking rules, so pubs should really take advantage of any flexibility in the legislation to ensure they deliver the optimal experience to their customers.

Jonothan Craig from CUB discussed craft beer, and how it can not only live alongside traditional beers but also enhance your product offering.  Think about the styles of beer there are, and whereabouts your customers are on the progression to heavier-style beers, because they’re not all going to jump straight in to an IPA first.  And before you even let them make that decision, get your staff to make the suggestion first, as a survey revealed that 74% of patrons would pay more for a product recommended by a trained server.

The craft beer panel highlighted the fact that beer (or food, wine etc) with a backstory is a big factor in their choices, so it’s a case of selling the story behind the product to drive them that way.  Beer and food matching is fast becoming a thing, and a great way of driving beer sales.  Craft beer really needs to break a bit of “Brunswick bias” and become more accessible to people who don’t ride 10 speeds with beards enjoying smashed avo!  And keeping in the theme of togetherness, where one venue does well, it creates a destination and brings people to the whole area, so it’s about lifting the overall standard to make your area a destination, the same way that Ballarat has become the craft beer capital of Victoria.

Andrew Briese from Cooking The Books walked us through menu creation with some really handy hints – don’t make up words, don’t scare off your customers with hard-to-understand menu descriptions, control food costs by standardizing the recipes and being tight on portion control, make a business case before you buy new equipment, think about reducing your menu for more punch (looking at you Mr Canny!), create special menus for special days, and think about tarting up the kid’s menus.  Side note: you can still get the good ol’ frozen nuggets at the Western!

A few more presentations concluded the afternoon, including some great advice about building and leveraging your customer databases, creating highly engaged staff and ensuring you continually review your prices so you don’t get left behind.

Thanks to the AHA (Vic) team again – next stop is Warracknabeal!

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