A step-by-step guide to assessing your pub design needs was given by Fionuala Lennon, the ‘pub design doctor’, at this year’s Pubs Educational Programme, part of the Alltech Craft Brewing and Food Fair.
While changing the design in a pub can lead to increased profits, taking a long hard look at the premises should raise a number of questions such as ‘what message is conveyed to people by the shopfront?’
‘What does it say to people?’
‘Is the shopfront female-friendly?’
‘Does it stand out?’
Women-friendly pub profits
Pubs can attract women by utilising more thoughtful design. Women process what they see differently from men, said Fionuala. This should provide food for thought for male pub owners because, as she pointed out, where women go, men will follow.
For example one that she’d been involved in had been repainted from a dull green to a lime green and the accompanying signage had been updated to make it more contemporary to suit the desired appeal at the time.
Other pubs might benefit from removing their pool tables – “Pool tables are a put-off for women,” she believed, others by removing their wall-to-wall TV coverage of sport – “Sometimes it’s just as important not to have TV” and others might benefit from introducing entertainment.
Women are fussy when it comes to toilets in a pub too, she explained. They like plenty of light for makeup and a full-length mirror is important.
More generally, she’d also found that wall-mounted urinals are easier to mop under and as an owner, she’d prefer a urinal bowl to a urinal slab as there’s less splashing.
Sensor taps are a more hygienic option for customers and hand-dryers work better than paper towels in her experience.
A pub should also try to create a seamless ID that carries through from the front to the back. One pub she’d worked on had kept vintage-effect lighting and graphics at the front which had carried throughout the pub in a red livery to the back.
For those with a beer garden, an inside/outside connection is one of the most important things a pub could have, she said, adding, “You should make your beer garden a continuation of the pub”.
This beer garden could have an atmosphere all its own if it was simply treated as a garden in itself.
After all, “Flowers make people smile” she explained.
Know your market
“Know your market and be relevant,” she advised, “Who’s your current market and who would you like it to be?
“Does it currently look the part for the market you want?”
Personally she was in favour of only using white chalk on boards, rather than coloured chalks in order to give the pub more of a heritage-like identity.
The bar counter is the focal point of the pub. Publicans should therefore ensure, for example, that the supplier’s draught beer font doesn’t compete with customer interaction at the counter, she advised. And it’s just as important to consider carefully the bar counter location in any re-design.
Keep a pot of coloured paint handy for touching up areas and ensure that all stickers are removed from glass. Designate a noticeboard for comments/graffiti and declutter the place every six months.
Check bulbs regularly and re-upholster torn fabrics as soon as possible – and don’t forget to remove the Christmas leftovers while it’s still the Festive Season.
“It’s the little things that make the big things happen,” she concluded, adding, “The ‘Wow’ factor is really important. You should spend the money on one thing that people go home talking about.”