Starting A Small Business: How To Attract and Retain Regular Customers

Starting A Small Business: How To Attract and Retain Regular Customers
By Tia Wilson

Which of us has not sat in a great bar with a few drinks inside us and decided that running a bar would be the life to choose? Most of us in the cold light of morning put the idea aside, but you might be one of the few who aims to make a go of it.


The Plan

It is assumed that 75% of bars fold within the first twelve months, so you have a task on your hands. Probably the main reason for failure is the lack of realistic planning. Your first task is to research and plan.

  • – Where is your bar going to be? How well do your know the area?
  • – What sort of bar do you want to run? Who are going to be your customers?
  • – Will you serve food? As a restaurant or as snacks?
  • – What other bars are in the area? You want an area where people expect to find bars, but your place needs to stand out.
  • – Exactly what costs will be involved, and how will you make a profit from your sales?

When you have your basic decisions made, you need to start working through the details: licensing, financing, finding, purchasing/leasing, equipping, employing, insuring. You can find a helpful (if daunting) list of the steps here.


Once your plan is in place, and you have your financing and chosen your property, you can turn your thoughts to the details of design. You need people to find you and, when they have found you, to come back to you and to tell others about you. In other words, they need to be impressed, and that requires not only your magnetic personality but also proper design. Trawl the net for images of bar designs to spark your own ideas.

Layout is the first priority. When customers arrive, they want to find a busy atmosphere, but they also want to find a comfortable place to sit, and to be served quickly. Is it easy to get to the bar, and will the bar staff be able to see who is next in line and serve them promptly? If you will serve food, is the passage from the kitchen to the table clear? All this needs to be sorted out long before you open.

D├ęcor, lighting, and furnishings will depend on the ambience that you have decided upon. A place for people to drop in for a quick drink and snack on their way home will probably be light and open, with easy clean upright chairs and stainless steel table legs. A place for people to spend the evening will want softer lighting and deeper chairs.

A Rewarding Life

Running a bar is hard work, with long hours, physical demands, and relentless paperwork. But there is always a demand for good bars, and if you can hit the right note and get your bar noticed, you can enjoy the satisfaction of being your own boss and holding your own in an exciting market for years to come.

Tia Wilson works in the leisure industry as an interior designer. She is keen to see independent and small businesses succeed, rather than being swallowed up by chains, and shares her knowledge online in the hope that her eye for design helps others.