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Get set for the season


Supermarket deals and big screen TV's at home mean that the trade needs to work harder to attract people into outlets during the season's big moments. We think the key to overcoming this, is making it about more than a game, creating a great atmosphere, engaging with customers, and offering an experience unique to the trade.

Sport is a national obsession, with vast numbers of the general public flocking to watch events in the unmatched atmosphere the on-trade offers. Football is the biggest driver of sales in the on-trade, with the average pub seeing incremental sales of more than £30,000. Training and preparation before a match is paramount to an athlete's success and preparing your outlet for a weekend of fixtures is just as important. Here we're looking at how outlets can get set for the season and maximise sales!

The warm-up 

It's never been easier to create awareness that you'll be showing major sporting events. In outlet use chalkboards, posters and displays to promote upcoming fixtures. Consumers head to the centre of the bar, this is the best place to put your crucial point of sale items. It goes without saying that customers will browse your back bar while waiting at the bar, so consider advertising here too. Exterior chalkboards and banners can be used to promote fixtures to passing trade. Get some POS to show your outlet is ready. High-quality POS can help increase footfall and drive sales of any promotion.

Take advantage of your Facebook, Instagram or other social media accounts. Social media is an excellent way to connect with people local to your business, highlight your events and drink promotions. If you haven't already, make sure you have a Facebook for Business account and take advantage of its easy advertising tools. Selecting 'promote your business locally' will allow you to advertise directly to sport fans within a mile of your outlet.

Getting fixture ready

When the top six are in action, it's going to get busy, so make sure you increase your orders, so you don't run out of your key lines. Whether it is bar blades, branded glassware or a pack of soft cask pegs, ensure that you have all the equipment you need to make the service flow without a hitch.

Labour costs are typically the largest expenditure for any hospitality business, but the last thing you want is too few staff on shift to efficiently serve the volume of customers in your business, potentially missing out on sales. Take all the sporting fixtures into account with your rotas and use a tool such as S4 Labour to save on unnecessary labour spend.

Make sure you brief your staff so they know precisely where they should be and what they should be doing for a smooth performance. Brief the team on potential upsell opportunities – you can always offer some incentives to get them geared up and motivated to sell.


Many football fans can be put off heading out into the on-trade to watch a game for fear of standing for two hours with a partially obscured view. 63% of consumers, according to data from Carlsberg, say being able to reserve a table would encourage them to watch football in the On-Trade. While it seems fairer to not take bookings, or particularly hard to manage, it does offer you the opportunity to make some early sales and relieve pressure on the day. For example, you could put together a package for £10 a head that includes a bottle of beer and a burger on arrival. Not only does this guarantee they turn up, but allows you to prepare more efficiently.

During football matches, fans won't want to tear themselves away from the screen, this leads to customers only visiting the bar before the game and at half time. Look at running multi-buy promotions on bottled beer or sharing pitchers. This removes some pressure on your bar during those key times while also helping to sell more.

One of the best ways to improve your drinks sales is through the creation of a bespoke occasion-based drinks list. This separate focused menu should feature a range of premium bottled beers, simple mixed drinks, premium spirits and sparkling wines. Handing a customer this focused menu, tailored, and themed menu when at the bar immediately turns their attention to choosing one of these drinks, serves that should be ones that make you more margin.

Remember, the vast majority of consumers have not chosen their drink by the time they reach your bar or take their seat, allowing you to move them away from considering a draught beer or house wine. For the football season, an occasion drinks list should absolutely contain buckets of beer and four-pint pitchers, encouraging guests to share and save while also starting 'rounds'.

Football food

Small pub kitchens and big crowds rarely go well together, but the food is undeniably an essential part of the experience of watching sport in the on-trade. There are a few things that you can do to make the most of the opportunity;

  1. Simple to produce (and eat) items such as burgers, hot-dogs, nachos and hot rolls are popular amongst football fans, can be quickly created and yet offer you the opportunity to be unique and premiumise them through your choice of ingredients and toppings.
  2. With surface space at a premium for your guests during the busy fixtures, offer handheld options. You could serve them in takeaway style boxes or paper wrapped for easy handling.
  3. At a set price, a member of staff can walk around the outlet with a box selling handheld items. Quick profits at the same time as keeping customers happy!

Adding excitement

Making the most of football in the On-Trade is all about providing an experience that can't be replicated elsewhere. 80% of sports fans have said that they prefer the atmosphere in the trade than watching the game at home. Your potential customers choose where to watch football based on atmosphere.

Adding some excitement to proceedings can undoubtedly help. Dressing your venue is an important step, as is creating that perfect playlist to use in the build-up to kick-off. During the game, sweepstakes and goal-scoring raffles all help to raise the excitement levels. And what about when the game is over? How about laying on a band or DJ to keep the energy levels up and customers in your venue. For quieter games, how about putting on a football quiz night?

Return fixtures

Informing customers they can book tables for the next game while they are still reeling in the excitement of the match they have just watched can increase future footfall. You can do this through advertising the option via in-outlet POS or by having staff offer to save them a space for next time while serving drinks after the game. Encouraging bookings in this manner can make sure that you retain regular custom throughout the season.

Consider putting together food and drink packages for a set price - with payment taken in advance. People will choose this option for the security of getting a seat, and you know that seats won't be left unfilled. If not, consider offering a stamp collection scheme to encourage repeat visits.

About the author

Luke Siddall (alumni)

I'm Matthew Clark's resident content creator, looking after our social media, website and customer communications. I was a cocktail bartender for while before joining but I now spend most of my time on the other side of the bar.

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