I own an Irish pub [place omitted]. I do not know what is going on, but my day business is not doing well. The staff has remained the same, the atmosphere is the same, but the number of clients has dropped. Is this just due to tougher economic times? I know that other bars in our area feel the same, but we cannot figure out what is going on. Could you please give me some advice.
What a great opportunity for taking a fresh look at your market! Well okay, that sucks, I guess it’s not a great opportunity at all, except maybe for me, because it gives me a chance to make a point. Anyhow …
Don’t just ask an expert, get out there. This is urgent. Talk to people. Ask them. Walk the streets looking for the faces you recognize, stop them, politely, and ask them what’s changed.
Watch some other nearby bars and count their customers. How many people go into the place in an hour, how many exit. Have a drink at other bars and talk to their customers. Look at their prices.
Call some other Irish bars a few towns away and talk to the owners. Ask them if they’re having the same problem. Ask them why or why not.
This is your business, and asking experts it good, but don’t be sitting around waiting for experts … wear down your shoes. Is there a trade association? How about a magazine for bar owners? Call the magazines you read, specialized for bar owners, and ask the managing editor if something’s up in the industry. You might get some good PR out of it, and the trade-magazine journalists usually know what’s going on better than anybody else.
Yes, listening to customers is key! Just don't let listen too much or they'll burn your money. Maybe worth amending to "listen to the right customers?"
So many other things could be causing this too:
* External competition
* Shifting popular trends
* Demographic shift
I would just add – put together a good authentic story. A story about your pub, why it deserves to live. Get it out there. Make it about the history or the life that happens there, the stories told there or people who work there. Forget about the goal of driving more business. That's an outcome, not a means. The world is flat..people engage with people, not goals. Make your story real, and engaging, and about making other people happy somehow. So much of business success is ethereal, personal.