Friendly staff can help to boost spend and encourage customer recommendations, according to Lumina Intelligence’s newly published UK Pub and Bar report. 

Staff training that is “standardised and rigorous” can have a direct impact on a customer’s average spend and overall occasion value. The positive trend between customer spend and satisfaction with friendly service means that the most satisfied customer is spending +6% more on average according to Lumina’s data during 2021.

Friendly and confident staff, who are prepared to talk about different menu items, are typically more likely to communicate with customers, creating an opportunity to upsell certain products and menu items.

Customers that are very satisfied with friendly service are also 10% more likely than average to recommend an outlet to a friend.

By contrast, the dangers of customer dissatisfaction are clear, with dissatisfied customers spending -14% less than average, and more likely to visit the competition in future.

The increasing size of pub menus could also support growth in spend as the pub sector recovers from its -61% decline in sales during 2020.

Lumina’s data shows that the average menu size across 24 operators in the managed pub/bar channel during 2021 is 65 items, representing +14% year-on-year growth from 2020, although this remains significantly less than 2019. Smaller menus have been helping pubs manage issues such as staff shortages and food price fluctuations.

The number of sides (+38%) and desserts (+25%) dishes listed on menus have experienced the highest growth. With hygiene concerns now lessened, operators are returning to the pre-pandemic trend of a more Mediterranean style of eating in sharing dishes and plates which encourage upsell.

Customisable dishes have also increased on menus, helping to drive up spend and allowing consumers to personalise dishes to suit their needs without the need for a larger menu.

Overall, prices in same-line dishes have increased by +2% during 2021 versus 2019. The temporary reduction in VAT rates to 5% from 20% has allowed operators to introduce modest price increases, although this is likely to pick up in future as VAT rises and supply chain issues continue to trouble the pub sector.

Find out more about Lumina Intelligence’s UK Pub & Bar Market Report 2021 here.