Don’t Let Your Venue Get Marginalized. How to Be Part of the 1%

You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that margins in the hospitality industry are razor-thin. Successful venues only see somewhere in the ballpark of just 5-6%. What’s even more challenging is that you’re constantly competing with the venue that’s a block away, the ease of use of 3rd party delivery systems and the demands of a more savvy generation of patrons that are researching and evaluating you before they ever set foot your establishment.

So, what makes some venues successful while others are just scraping by? They’re capitalizing on the small percentages to make a big impact on their bottom line.

Here are a few steps that can help you take advantage of these percentages:


Step 1 – Know your numbers

What are your pour costs?
  • This is the cost of the ingredients of the drink divided by what it’s sold for

What are your highest margin food items?
  • Pasta?
  • Add-ons like cheese, salsa sour cream additional pizza toppings?
  • Breakfast?

What’s your spoilage like?

  • Are there any items that are not selling as much as you hoped for and translating into lost revenue through waste?
Step 2 – Know your demographics
  • Who’s walking in?
  • When are they walking in?
  • What are they walking in for?
  • How long do they say?
  • What do they order?
  • Do they return?
Step 3 – Capitalize on the information

Ok, so this is where we put these pieces of information together to make that big impact. You know which drinks are ordered when, which ones are most profitable and which ones aren’t. You know the food that is the easiest to see returns on and what is contributing to revenue loss via spoilage. You have a good idea of who’s coming in and what they’re looking for.

Now let’s get this information in front of them!


The Scenarios: 

1) The Lunch Crowd – You cater to mainly office professionals during the lunch hour that typically has one pint of beer and one of the items from the lunch menu. You know that one specific domestic beer and your pasta dish yield the highest margins. You also know that specific craft beer and the fish won’t make it into the next week. 

2) The happy hours – Between 4 and 7 you offer a cocktail special that gets them in the door. Of course, your goal is to keep them there as long as you can. You know that two cocktails are easy to make and have a low pour cost in comparison to all the other cocktails on your menu. You understand that there is a dinner item that appeals to this crowd when they choose to stay and one food item that will translate into spoilage if you don’t sell it within the week. There’s also some live entertainment starting at 9 that they would enjoy.

3) The weekenders – Friday and Saturday nights are your big nights. You have a younger crowd from the lunch crowd and your happy hour patrons and it’s busy. You want to increase your speed of service by reducing complex food and drink items and focus on serving higher-margin items that can be delivered quickly. You also just introduced breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings because you know that pancakes and eggs have some of the highest markups out there.

The Solution:

Table tents? Menu inserts? Server Upsells?

You could try that, and you will see a slight uptick in the numbers. For those venues who are truly successful, they know it’s more than that. It’s a targeted approach with automated sights and sounds. Playing premium entertainment like music videos to capture attention. Playing the perfect playlist that appeals to the patrons that are there at that time. Overlaying your marketing efforts on screens that they’re already looking at. These are the incremental steps to see tangible returns.

Can you do this in the house? You can, but do you have the time? Are you prepared to curate specific playlists for each unique demographic and switch them at the right times? Do you want to swap out USB sticks on TVs to consistently promote the right things to these different groups?

You’re busy enough as it is with all the other operational requirements. That’s why thousands rely on Control Play to automate their sights and sounds using data-driven solutions. We know that perfect playlist for each demographic. We schedule your marketing efforts to start and stop at the right times throughout all your dayparts. Our goal is to capture all of the opportunities out there.

If only 1% of this is plausible, we are 100% sure it will affect your bottom line!

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Shawn Brown

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