Read how you can increase your tasting room revenue.
Your tasting room should provide a positive customer experience.
A proper and attractive tasting room is the frontline face of your brewery. Whether you are a fledgling upstart looking for a small-scale endeavor or a larger production facility aiming for a eye-catching showplace, there are basic tips and rules of thumb you should consider. A tasting room is an extension of your brand, your personality, and your product. It is a public relations opportunity to meet and engage with your customers on a daily basis, receive feedback, and grow your fanbase and bottom line. I recruited Jesse Smith, Tasting Room Manager of the beautifully designed Green Flash Cellar 3 tasting room in Poway, California to compile the five best tips for setting up a successful tasting room:
This is one of the most important things to dial in for your tasting room. Keeping your employees happy and in a productive workspace should be of utmost priority and will pay out exponentially. Train your employees relentlessly, until they are empowered and know your beer and similar beers in their categories. Craft beer customers are savvy and have high expectations. Ensure your employees are humble, kind, and knowledgeable.
Ensure everything, including glassware, growlers, and refrigerated items, is accessible and easy to reach. Build out and give ample room for movement behind the bar. Aim for 4-5ft between the bar and taps, and keep in mind that too wide is just as troublesome as too narrow. Design the placement of your beer glasses, either for display or hidden, and consider ease of reach and quick movement during peak hours.
A smoothly running point-of-sale system is crucial to your employee success and customer satisfaction. It isn’t the best place to cut corners, particularly if you plan on a high-volume tasting room. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How well does it perform under fire and in pressure situations? (Mock-test this to look for locks, freezes, and time delays)
- How user-friendly is it to employees? Are there confusing steps to complete simple tasks?
- How easy is it to add and take away buttons? Think of your need to add/turn on or take away buttons when kegs tap, and new beers go on.
- How easy is reporting? Run through this scenario multiple times and troubleshoot.
- Do you need scanning for UPC’s and retail items?
For example, Aloha (a service industry favorite) is user-friendly and easy to work with reporting and inventory. However, it is significantly more expensive, compared to others like Micros. Do your research, and be realistic about your needs. Look for the best you can afford, but don’t drop a lion’s share of your budget on a POS you don’t need.
Glassware- Here you have two options: dishwashers or a 3 tier sink. In either case, you need to designate an area for glasses to air dry. Hand drying leads to streaks, lint, and contamination. Jesse suggests even if you opt for dishwashers, have at least one extra sink for “just in case” purposes. “This allows for speed of service, and you aren’t waiting for the dishwasher. You can wash your hands, or get off a little gunk off the glass if necessary.”
Insider tip: Green Flash Cellar 3 utilizes Ecolab’s latest technology, heat sanitizing, where the temperature is so high, it is above the sanitation temperature . Therefore, it doesn’t need the old-fashioned chemical sanitizer, and ultimately cooks off anything on the glass, which results in no spots and residue. If you choose the traditional route, Jesse warns, “Keep an eye on your hot water filter, it can leave lime and minerals on the glass, and cause build up on the inside of dishwasher.”
Final note: always have glass rinsers installed on your bar top or drip trays.
Lines and faucets-Make sure you have a structured line cleaning procedure system. Consider cleaning all lines at the same time, as it saves on labor and is easy to track. The Cicerone Program states fifteen minutes of static clean, or five minutes of circulation. Every two weeks, use fifteen minutes of caustic to clean up bacteria. On a quarterly basis, use acid to clean lime mineral (lime can soak in and change your beer). Every year, change all the lines. Remember, proper sanitation is paramount, and you should devise a plan before you put in the lines. Jesse recommends negotiating contracts for different cleaning agents, and to look for powders for both your caustic and acid. They are more expensive, but also more user friendly and safe.
For faucets, it seems obvious, but you should know how to take apart your faucets, and always have extra gaskets and parts nearby. Prepare ahead and consider potential pitfalls before they happen.
Successful breweries and craft beer customers are more focused on this aspect now than ever before. Your logo and it’s use in your tasting room should reflect what you do with your beer. At Cellar 3, the logo is subtly imaged behind the bar, and it’s only later you realize it’s actually the Green Flash. As Jesse notes, “Nuances build the atmosphere. People are wowed by attention to detail, and that helps build customer loyalty, and becomes part of the drinking experience. The aesthetics can add or take away from that.”
Design and label the taps to reflect your brand’s personality. The current trend is sleek, with hidden or unassuming labels. Large bulky tap handles bumping into each other can cause accidents and diminish efficiency. Measure out your tap spacing according to your tap handle design.
Remember the psychological aspects of your tasting room. Think about your market, and your clientele. How do you want people to feel? Excited and energized or relaxed and calmed? How much space do you want for standing (during busy times) and how much is allotted for sitting? Will you be hosting events and beer dinners? Know the fire code, and plan your tasting room for the extreme situations.
Social media, branding, and marketing: Remember that a large portion of your marketing is the people drinking your beer and visiting your tasting room. Ask yourself, what is going to be here that people will take a picture of? Consider a bottle wall, eye-catching designs, and lighting. A perfect example of this success is Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. Not only is the lighting superb, but the giant gargoyle is something nearly every person who visits photographs. What will that showpiece be for your tasting room?
Many thanks to Jesse at Green Flash Cellar 3 for his expert advice, and cheers to your new tasting room!
If you liked this article, you may also like: Boost Your Craft Beverage Brand with Point of Sale Items.