Gould adds: “This is quite a refined sector so take your ‘big idea’ and test it against the following criteria:
* the right location
* an understanding of the marketplace and the demographics of your area
* competitor analysis - who’s doing what well and how many licensed properties there are surrounding your business
* how that level of service can be improved on
* the local economy, employment and whether people around you have enough disposable cash to spend in your wine bar.
Once you have decided on the location, the size of the premises is important. Do you want to serve a hundred people or a thousand? Who will be your main customers and how will you make them interact?
“If you only have two people in your bar who are at separate ends of the room, for example, you need to find a link between them both in order to get them talking and bring more people into the bar. This is the secret to business – making your customers interact and feel part of the whole atmosphere,” comments Davis.
But to gain this atmosphere you will need to sell the right products. How large a selection of wines and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks do you wish to sell? If your knowledge of wine is limited, then stick to what you know best. If you are more of a connoisseur and decide the market is craving vintage wines, let your imagination run riot and use your strengths as much as you can. Make sure to control your stock levels and monitor how many wines are open at the same time.
explains: “Originally wine bars used to have enormous selections of wine with up to 50 varieties but it is only the larger brands such as All Bar One that can deal with this, plus the shelf life of wine is limited to around a day and a half. This has reduced in smaller outlets, so make sure your selection is suited to your customers.”
Before you start out it is also essential that you get the right supplier(s) and the best procurement deal for equipment, food and drink. You won’t have enough time when things get going. This is particularly important if you are planning to serve food on the premises. Fresh food will be more costly so scan the area for the best deal and above all, don’t take the first offer that’s put on the table.
As well as the above criteria, you’ll need to get the look and feel of your wine bar right first time. Will you choose to have wooden floors, low lighting, soft music and plain coloured walls or go for a more vibrant feel?
Gould comments: “The best people I’ve seen run licensed properties are the ones that have known how they want the wine bar to look like from the outset. They have noticed this is not just a retail proposition but that it is the whole package that counts. It is the quality of the bar, the toilets, pricing, standard of service, the fit-out which includes the décor and the lighting, a high standard of catering and friendly staff as well as a warm atmosphere that makes a sustainable business. If you fall down on good service then it will dilute the whole operation.”