It’s said that first impressions are made within just seven seconds; and in the on-trade, it’s crucial to make the right impression with customers.
After all, someone’s initial impression of an outlet not only influences the duration of their stay, it can also impact whether they’ll return – and, crucially, what they will tell their family and friends.
For operators looking to influence people’s perceptions from the word go, the look of the venue is key.
And central to any good design is quality furniture, according to Michael Simmons of design firm, Space ID, who said getting an outlet’s furniture right is “crucially important” to customers’ perceptions.
He added that “some might say [it’s] almost as important as the quality of the beer coming out of the pumps or [the] food out of the kitchen”.
The furniture is almost as important as the quality of beers coming out the pumps.
“It sets the standard”, said Simmons.
Echoing this view was James Kemp, marketing manager for independent multiple operator Kained Holdings, whose venues include Lebowskis, The Finnieston and the Kelbourne Saint.
According to Kemp, furniture “plays a key role and is vital to the overall brand identity of a venue”.
“The furniture is part of the overall experience, so it’s important that it’s attractive, comfortable and welcoming, helping create an environment which customers want to be part of,” he said.
“If a place has poor quality, badly presented and damaged furniture then it can instantly affect a customer’s experience and overall view of the venue/brand.”
Similarly, Pat MacLeod, managing director of BDP Contract Furniture, said “no-one wants to dine in a restaurant which looks run down/dirty”.
It’s vital, therefore, that operators ensure their outlet’s furniture is in good condition – and that includes outdoor tables and chairs.
Kemp of Kained Holdings said that, as always, summer is an “important time for traders, particularly when sun is on the cards”.
“In the run up to the summer months, operators should assess the damage from the winter months and fix or replace anything that needs a bit of care and attention,” he said.
“As part of the inspection, operators should identify whether there are any opportunities for additional seating/facilities or look at how to best use quirky outdoor spaces.”
The overall appearance and quality of furniture should be reviewed continuously.
And upgrading an outlet’s furniture can be beneficial for business.
MacLeod of BDP Contract Furniture said the company has “been told by customers who have refurbished their premises that trade has doubled in some cases, but certainly increased in general”.
Kemp of Kained Holdings held a similar opinion.
He said: “While furniture might not seem like an obvious footfall driver, it does contribute to the overall atmosphere and experience and therefore can be one of many factors that interest customers to a venue and make them return.”
To keep any new furniture in tip-top condition for as long as possible, maintenance is crucial.
MacLeod of BDP Contract Furniture said it should be carried out on a “regular basis”.
Kemp of Kained Holdings agreed, saying that “the overall appearance and quality of furniture should be reviewed continuously, particularly if a venue is busy”.
“A thorough review of furniture should be carried out annually to ensure that it remains consistent with the brand identity,” added Kemp.