IT’s a cliché that first impressions are the longest lasting, but with operators only getting one shot at shaping a customer’s initial perceptions, the right glassware can be just the thing to help an outlet shine.
To help licensees ensure their glassware catches the customer’s eye, while remaining fit for purpose, a number of firms supplying the Scottish trade have offered advice on selecting and maintaining a strong range.
The importance of getting glassware right was highlighted by Ian Bailey, managing director of glassware supplier ADI Trading, who suggested that stocking the right stems and tumblers can help to distinguish a venue from its competition.
“Serving a more expensive beer or Champagne in a different glass to the standard range of drinks can increase its perceived value and add an element of gratification for the customer,” said Bailey.
In Bailey’s eyes, glassware represents the “third most important factor in an operation’s success” after the quality of food and drinks, ranked first, and the atmosphere of the outlet, which he ranked second.
Rob Blunderfield, marketing manager at catering equipment supplier Parsley in Time, echoed Bailey’s view on how glassware can shape customer perception.
“It can deliver a point of difference and show that the bar is as serious about style as it is about its drinks,” said Blunderfield.
Eye-catching glassware may impress, but operators should be careful not to put form before function.
Blunderfield suggested any glassware range should include five fundamental styles of glass which all licensees should be equipped with: wine, Champagne, beer, highball and Old Fashioned.
Beyond these five fundamentals, Blunderfield said it’s up to the individual licensee to determine whether or not they need to diversify their glassware range.
“It then all depends on whether the establishment is happy with a ‘one size fits all’ wine glass, or whether they want different ones for each grape variety, or one type for white grapes and one for red grapes,” he said, adding that “it’s all down to personal taste”.
A varied glassware range can certainly grab a customer’s attention, but Gill Head, marketing manager at glassware distributor Artis, suggested operators show a bit of restraint when choosing glasses for their range.
“Don’t go overboard on selecting too broad a selection of glassware,” she said.
Functionality was also highlighted by Head as a key consideration when choosing glassware, and the marketing manager suggested versatility can be a virtue in this regard.
Your glassware can help distinguish your outlet from the competition.
“An establishment should create a collection of glasses that can have dual usage for a wide variety of drinks,” she said.
“They should consider current drink trends such as gin and craft beer, not forgetting style trends, too, for example vintage cocktail ware, and copper drinking vessels.”
A glass can certainly look the part but it also needs to stand up in a commercial environment.
Bailey, of ADI Trading, outlined a number of considerations beyond looks that operators should keep in mind when purchasing new glasses.
“If you are purchasing new glassware, consider avoiding anything that contains lead or barium,” he said.
“Both oxides are toxic and create challenges for the environment at the point of manufacture and disposal.
“Look for glasses that are clear and relatively thin. Avoid glasses with significant rolled lips as this creates a cleaning challenge for staff, but also avoid glasses that have a rim that feels sharp.”
Choosing the right glassware range is a first step, but it’s not the whole job and poor upkeep could take the shine off of a big investment.
To ensure outlets get the most from their glassware range, Harry Millan, managing director of Millan Services, suggested operators pick up a quality glasswasher and have it installed by professionals.
“In our opinion the best thing to do is have [a glasswasher] professionally installed and have the installers carry out staff training to explain how to maintain your machine properly,” said Millan.
And if operators don’t want to spend too much cash on call-outs for glasswasher repair, there’s one party decoration which Millan reckons would be worth avoiding.
“Since the trend to have the worst invention ever – the ‘happy 21st’ and ‘golden wedding’ table confetti – we have seen a huge increase in call-outs to repair glasswashers,” he said.