12 tips for pubs: Business hot desking

coworkers on a date

Given the current downturn in hospitality business driven by altered consumer habits and restrictive legislation, pub owners are looking to new ways of retaining and generating revenue. We’ve seen a steady stream of savvy publicans appealing directly to business folk by offering nicely bundled F&B and facilities in their establishments.

We think that’s great, but there are of course some challenges to overcome and compromises to be made in offering a business-friendly experince in what is, after all, a leisure environment. So, here is a short list of things for owners, landlords, tenants and managers to think about when performing this pub pivot:

  1. Secure WIFI. It goes without saying that business folk will require an internet connection, but it has to be secure. There’ll be a lot of sensitive data flying around your network, so the last thing you want is a hack and subsequent data breach. Secure internet is not only essential, it is a fantastic selling point to get you ahead of the competition.
  2. Fast internet. Did we mention the internet? You never want to hear your customers damn your internet as slow. Okay, so your network doesn’t have to equal NASA’s, but do make sure your it can handle file uploads and downloads without collapsing.
  3. Distancing, safety etc. This goes without saying, too, but customers must feel completely confident in your interpretation and handling of current Covid-19 regulations. These people will leave a negative review on the social channels quicker than you can say cappuccino, so make sure your application of guidelines and rules are exemplarary.
  4. Speed of service. We know that business customers are no more important a group than members of the skittles team, but they might be on tighter deadlines. They will really appreciate fast order-taking and delivery of food, so establish up-front if they have any time restraints. They’ll love you for that.
  5. Supplies. We guarantee you will get asked for pens, paper and so on, so keep a stock behind the bar. You won’t want them back in the current climate, so get some cheap branded pens and pads printed up for the guest to take away with them. Everyone likes a freebie, and giving these away helps keep your pub uppermost in the customers’ minds.
  6. Peace & quiet. This may go against the very ethos of a pub, but try to put your business tables in quieter areas. That may not be possible everywhere, but sitting an exec next to the fruit machine is unlikely to win you repeat business.
  7. Power. Alas, laptop and phone batteries don’t last forever so business people will want to be near mains voltage sockets (and don’t even think about running trailing cables everywhere, unless they are held safely with trunking). If you have them, keep a box full of chargers and adapters to hand and loan them out when necessary.
  8. Food & drink. Before jumping into offering business hot desks or tables, it will be worth reviewing your menu. Are its dishes suitable for light lunches which can be eaten with minimal cutlery? Nobody wants a bolognaise-splattered laptop or keyboard filled with filo pastry flakes. A good selection of drinks is essential, too, from your usual bar staples to decent expresso, sparkling water and de-caf tea.
  9. Online technology. Just like your regulars, business people want to book, choose and pay online. There are a host of excellent (and inexpensive) solutions out there which will not only be convenient for your customers, but generate more of them. Don’t forget the tech, whatever you do.
  10. The offer. Make it easy for customers to understand your product offer. Don’t spend too long on it, but consider bundling time, F&B and facilities at x price. Wrap all of that up in prose which extols the virtues of your pub overall (ambience, history etc) and you’ll be onto a winner.
  11. Newspapers. Sounds a bit old fashioned, but you may find offering a couple of choices actually enhances the “business” feel you’re trying to create. Plus, the execs may decide to stay and read them with a pint or two once their work or meeting is done.
  12. Etiquette. One final thing to consider, and it is slightly sensitive. Try to get the balance right between friendly attentiveness and smothering. You run a pub, so you are yourself a business person and will know what we mean. However, if you have staff who are particularly chatty with the customers, you might want to gently reel them in but without going too far the other way.

Publicans are an innovative group of people under tremendous pressure right now, so those digging deep into their niches will certainly go a long way to safe-guarding their business. Get it right with these simple tips and you could be the go-to business meeting venue in your area. In depressing times, that’s something to feel good about.

Xenowledge offers improvement services to hospitality businesses and works with a number of friendly partners. If you would like to discuss any of the above and how we can help, please do get in touch.