Making the right first impression

A refurbishment can bolster business, but it must be carried out correctly, say firms

Bar interior

Attracting customers, both established and new, is becoming an increasingly tricky task for the trade as consumers become more selective when deciding which venues to visit. But one sure fire way to boost an outlet’s appeal is with a design refresh.

That was the message from interior design and joinery firms, who said keeping up to date with trends is crucial.

Scott McIntyre of Broughty Ferry-based Nicoll Russell Studios, said: “Bars and restaurants can become stale and to keep up with – and stand out from – the crowd, operators need to invest in keeping their venues interesting, unique, clean and well-managed to address [customer] needs.

Lightbulbs up close“This can be from a modest refresh of a paint scheme or new furniture [and] lighting. We have seen a growing demand for booth seating/private dining; customers like a homely VIP experience that they get from these areas.”

However, operators need to ensure any new design reflects their venue’s identity, according to John Currie, operations manager of Cumbernauld-based Allstar Joinery.

“Business owners really need to consider that no two hotels or bars are the same,” he explained.

Business owners need to be realistic and informed by their design team.

“They need to tailor their designs on their target clientele, which also depends on location; ie. a bar in a city centre will [utilise] a different design to a bar in a country town for locals.”

Currie also stressed the importance of setting a budget from the get-go – and sticking to it.

“Business owners need to be realistic and informed by their design team,” he said.

“They normally have a vision and kind of know what they would like – and designers need to be honest from the outset. The financial outlay of a feasibility study is important. This will help them set a budget and allow  them to make informed decisions on where their money should be spent/concentrated on.”

wine-glass-close-upThis was echoed by McIntyre of Nicoll Russell Studios, who said budget and timescales are important factors in any refurbishment project.

He added that, generally speaking, venues could benefit from updates every three to five years – but said traditional pubs “never really go out of fashion” and that the current industrial trend is “lasting longer than anticipated”.