Beer gardens were popular long before the pandemic, but they’ve seen a boost in recent years because of the increase in demand for outdoor dining and drinking spaces. Beer gardens in the United States borrowed inspiration from common gathering spaces in cities like Munich, which has become well-known for its beer garden festival, Oktoberfest. The long, shared tables paired with beer on tap and food create a social and interactive environment that draws crowds, especially in warmer months.
As of last fall, 65% of restaurant operators said they offered on-premises outdoor dining in a space such as a patio, deck or sidewalk, per the National Restaurant Association. Beer gardens represent an ideal format for tapping into consumers’ pent-up desire for gathering with friends and family.
With warmer weather and sustained interest in dining and drinking outdoors, beer gardens are getting busy. The crowds will only gather, however, if beer garden operators are providing a great experience for their guests. Fast, efficient service is a crucial element of the concept. Customers come to beer gardens to relax and socialize —not to wait in line for drinks, or wait for servers to hand-deliver orders to the kitchen or bar each time a customer requests another round of drinks or another plate of appetizers.
Providing high service levels in your beer garden will drive increased customer satisfaction, encourage repeat visits, and generate favorable word-of-mouth/social media buzz.
Operators can leverage solutions such as mobile order-taking and checkout to provide a great customer experience while at the same time turning tables faster to serve more customers. Mobile solutions allow servers to spend more time providing face-to-face service to customers and less time running orders back to the kitchen and bar or waiting in line at the POS to process payments.
Line-Busting Mobile Solutions for Beer Gardens
Here are three ways operators can decrease wait times, provide a better customer experience, and drive increased sales.
1. Equip servers with ways to take orders from anywhere
Lines build up when there’s only one counter for customers to place their orders. Keep the bar open, but also equip servers with a mobile POS solution, like Square for Restaurants mobile POS, so they can take orders from anywhere and respond to customers quickly and efficiently. A mobile POS also keeps the lines of communication open among servers, the kitchen, and the bar so everyone can receive real-time notifications about items that are no longer available and when each course of a meal is ready for pickup.
2. Enable easier ways to settle the tab
When customers are ready to settle their tab, waiting in line to pay means that other customers have a longer wait to order, making the chances higher that they’ll get tired of waiting and decide to leave. When servers have a mobile POS in their pockets, customers can settle up when they’re ready, without crowding the bar.
3. Increased job satisfaction
Servers using a Square mobile POS will find that the intuitive interface makes sending orders back to the kitchen and bar easier. It also eliminates the need to carry order pads and pens, reduces footsteps, and eliminates traffic jams at the POS behind the counter.
Create a Smooth Customer Experience Across All Touchpoints
Minimizing lines and wait times is a priority during peak outdoor months, but it’s not the only way to make your customers happy. With a busy or large outdoor space, automation is your friend and will keep customers feeling like they’re taken care of, even with a smaller staff. Other touchpoints to think about:
- Mobile ordering: Displaying QR codes at every table givea customers the ability to place orders themselves using their phones. This has the added advantage of potentially streamlining sales and improving efficiency.
- Social media: Make it easy for customers to order online from your website or via social media, and use those platforms to share information about upcoming events to help generate excitement.
- Loyalty programs: Consider a customer loyalty program to reward your repeat customers with added perks such as personalized offers and other exclusive opportunities.
- Email marketing: Keep customers updated about your latest offers and events by sending emails and/or text messages using a customer database to segment or personalize your communications.
Lastly, it’s important to keep on top of what’s working for your customers and what’s not when it comes to their experience. Leverage your customer insights using tools such as Square Customer Directory to analyze feedback, sales reports, and how customers are ordering, and to drive continuous improvement in your customer experience.