Touchdown! Goal! Homerun! Score! Attracting sports fans to your bar or restaurant can be a great way to boost profits and gain extra foot traffic. Depending on the sport, these customers tend to stick around for hours, ordering food and drinks, leading to higher tabs and hopefully tips for your staff.
Whether you’re the new sports bar on the block or you are trying to target this audience, these ideas can help you be the place to watch the game and have the profits to show it.
Be a Destination
If your location isn’t far from where the sporting event is taking place, you’re definitely in a sweet spot for fans! You’ve likely noticed an uptick in traffic on home game days with event-goers passing through before they get to the stadium and stopping by after. Capitalize on this audience by being open a few hours before the game/match starts and staying open for at least a few hours after it’s over. Fans can eat and drink at your establishment and still be saving money with how expensive concessions can be. Whichever way the event goes, fans can either celebrate or commiserate over their team at your bar or restaurant.
In addition to having the game on, your food and drink offerings need to be up to par for customers to enjoy for a few hours. They could watch the game at home or at another business, so it’s important to give them a good experience. Advertising food and drink specials and can help steer fans to particular drink brands (for example, four-dollar Bud Light versus six-dollar Coors Light), make kitchen prep easier, and get customers to order more. Ideally, any food items you plan on offering during this time should be quick to make, satisfying the customer and opening up the possibility that they get hungry and order again. Having a limited menu can also help things get out of the kitchen quickly.
If you’re offering only specific items or they keep changing due to supply, providing a QR menu may be the easiest way to convey your current fare. Don’t forget to offer takeout options too!
Create the Environment
There are ideal bars/restaurants to watch a game, and then there are some where it just isn’t the vibe. If your goal is to be an ideal spot, creating an environment for sports fans is important. In addition to national, regional, or local team decor, fans want to be in a place where they can root for their team unabashedly. Quiet and reserved isn’t typically the kind of environment these customers will want to be in while they are out for this specific purpose. Expect a little yelling and passionate people to come through your door if your goal is to target sports fans.
Have Your Best Staff on Deck
Sports fan or not, you should always be giving your customers an enjoyable experience, and part of that is your staff. Game days can create busy, hectic conditions for your staff, especially bartenders, so it’s important to have your best of the best working those busy times to minimize mistakes and cash handling/tab errors.
Although it can be tricky with the labor shortage, game days are not the days to be erring on the side of caution when it comes to having staff. Even if you don’t think you’ll need more bar backs, bartenders, kitchen staff, or wait staff, it’s a good idea to have them there for concentrated increased traffic.
All Systems Are a Go
If your plan is to bring sports fans in, you must have the game. In order to avoid any issues, take the time to check and make sure your TVs’ display and sound are working well before the game starts. Periodically testing these symptoms can give you time to address any issues (cable box problems, connectivity difficulties, wire failures etc), rather than it happening an hour before the starting whistle blows.
If you’re planning on showing more than one game at once and have the space to create sections, you can have staff direct game watchers to the TVs they will want to be in front of. This can create little pockets of fans next to each other, which can improve their experience.
As far as customer bases go, sports fans can add so much to your bar or restaurant. From being there longer than a typical customer, ordering an increased amount of food and drinks, and providing your establishment with enthusiasm, these kinds of customers are a useful and lucrative audience to reach. Catering to more to sports fans may be exactly business needs this year. Go team!