This is Part I in a running installment of “Bad Business Decisions.”
Youngstown, Ohio — Here are three key words for any establishments selling craft, import or microbrews.
Give. Courtesy. Samples.
Part of going to a bar or restaurant that serves craft beer as a consumer is the ability to be open-minded; customers, smart ones, don’t go because they want a Coors or Bud. They go because they want to try unique beverages.
At a new establishment in the Mahoning Valley, I witnessed a man sitting at the bar who had spent about $20 on an appetizer, entree and a pint of beer.
He noticed I was drinking a Kentucky Bourbon Ale and wanted to try one himself.
“Can I get a taste of that?” he asked the waiter, pointing at my glass.
The bartender told him there was a rule forbidding courtesy samples.
The customer was clearly peeved because he had spent $20 and wasn’t offered an ounce of free beer (and not 10 minutes earlier, a co-owner had presented me with a free sample.)
It’s perplexing why a business wouldn’t offer a customer a courtesy sample. In this example, there was — at worst — a 50-50 chance of the sample resulting in a $5.50 purchase. Had the customer hated the sample, the business still appeased him for an incredibly minimal cost.
This business strategy isn’t a foreign idea.
As a new business, this restaurant may have lost a customer on its first day, and all over a stinkin’ ounce of beer.