Richard Blockley, owner of All Floors Glasgow, told SLTN it is “extremely important” for operators to keep their outlet’s interior in a good condition.
And his comments were echoed by Beverley Greaves of furniture supplier Smart Interiors, who said that, with money still tight among consumers, there is a “huge pressure on the licensed trade to entice people into their venues”.
Although operators may also still be feeling the pinch, those that invest wisely could come out on top, said Greaves.
“Many landlords have transformed their venues on a budget and those that keep investing, albeit carefully, will reap the rewards,” said Greaves.
“A flashy refit is not on the cards for most licensees right now but you need to make the most of the fast approaching summer trade.
Those that keep investing, albeit carefully, will reap the rewards.
“There are lots of low budget options.”
Cleaning carpets and curtains, giving a room a new lick of paint or adding a few new items such as sofas, bar stools or dining chairs were suggested by Greaves as ways to “create a fresh feel without breaking the bank”.
“Some small changes can make a big impact,” added Greaves.
“You don’t need to spend a fortune to make a difference.”
Operators can also keep costs in line by setting themselves a strict budget for any refurbishment project, said Mike O’Neill of Edinburgh-based contract design firm Laidlaw Contracts.
“It’s very important for operators to have a clear vision and budget for any level of refurbishment,” he said.
“This means that they can measure any increase in business and define their return on investment.
“That’s important, that they see refurbishing as an investment and not cost.”
O’Neill added that “levels of refurbishment can be tailored to budget”.
“For example why not re-foam and re-cover the tired fixed seating or change the lighting to include dimmers to create mood and ambience,” he said.
He also highlighted the importance of keeping standards high in all areas of the premises.
Failing to maintain toilets, for example, can easily scare customers away, said O’Neill.
“A dirty and tired toilet can reflect the client’s expectation of good food and hygiene,” he said.
Before embarking on a refurbishment, Jeff Taylor of Select Contract Furniture said it is crucial to choose “the right team in terms of quality, choice, experience and know-how” for the job.
It’s very important for operators to have a clear vision and budget.
“The choices are so diverse nowadays and everyone has such varied ideas that homing in on final selections of the many aspects of a project can be great fun for all concerned, although making the correct decisions is vitally important,” said Taylor.
“The secret is in specifying the correct product to suit the particular requirements in terms of aesthetics, serviceability, longevity and, not least, legal compliance.
“Working with knowledgeable professionals can save so much time and money in the long run.”
However it seems the creative process isn’t a one-way street.
Scott McIntyre, of Dundee-based architecture and interior design firm Nicoll Russell Studios, said operators are becoming more involved in the design process than ever before.
“There is definitely more interest in the licensed leisure scene so that’s positive,” he said.
“Clients are increasingly having more opinioned views of what they want to achieve; we just have to guide them along the way and illustrate the best and quite often the most commercially sound way of achieving what they want.”