Q&A with Steven Brown: How restaurants have used the smoking ban to benefit customers

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 22, 2011 09:26

Q&A with Steven Brown: How restaurants have used the smoking ban to benefit customers

Morgan Mead, Wiltshire: I have lost business due to the smoking ban.  Do you have any suggestions to get around this?

Steven Brown: It will come as no surprise that your trade has been affected.  The licensed trade in general has suffered an average of 14 per cent in loss of trade.

However, this loss of trade has affected one area in the main – beer and lager sales. All other areas of wet sales have shown increases ranging from minimal (spirits) to substantial (wines and minerals). I am surprised to hear that your restaurant sales have been similarly affected as reports from the trade highlight a major growth opportunity for outlets to increase their food sales to make up for the wet sales losses.

Here are a list of comments and suggestions from around the trade of how the industry has responded. Please note that not all of these comments appertain to golf clubs! Your responsibility is to consider them all and possibly apply them to your own business.

1. Have you offered an alternative area to facilitate smoking?

2. Does this area provide cover as legislated for under the act, for example 50 per cent open, and additionally, other comforts, for example, lighting, warmth by means of heating, seating, a waterproof television and table service. ‘More expense,’ I hear you cry but you must weigh up the pros and cons.  How many regular members, visitors or societies will you alienate if you don’t respond to their wishes! Eighty six per cent of adults believe the smoking ban  is a good move and 56 per cent will be more encouraged to visit licensed trade outlets more often.

3. Ensure that your cleaning personnel extend their service to the outside areas so as to maintain the same levels of cleanliness.

4. Make sure that you have the correct planning consents before proceeding and ask an environmental health officer if he or she has any guidance to offer.  Permissions can take up to 12 weeks.

5. A short term response could naturally be the provision of the larger, retractable umbrellas until permissions are obtained or funds made available.

6. Seek greener patio heaters to counter backlash from the environmental camp. Viable alternatives being used are wood-burning chimeneas, braziers or (more usually) electric heaters or radiant that come on only when movement affects them and that give more focussed heat with less CO2 emissions.

7. Perhaps now is the time to consider re-allocating drinking areas to dining areas redesigning the menu and re-assessing the times that food is made available to your members.

8. Here is what’s most important to your smokers in rank order:

i. Heat and shelter

ii. Close to the main building

iii. Cleanliness

iv. Somewhere to rest my drink

v. Somewhere to sit down

vi. Safe (CCTV)

vii. Music

8. Additional comments and concerns from smokers: “To feel welcome as a smoker”; “Not to be treated as second class citizens!”; “Waiter service to replenish our drinks”.

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire October 22, 2011 09:26
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