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How to… keep your customers tuned in

22 February 2016
How to… keep your customers tuned in

Compiling a soundtrack for your venue needs careful consideration, says Nick Findlay

A successful playlist is one that reinforces a venue's atmosphere without overshadowing or taking away from what's being presented, whether that be food in a restaurant or a coffee in a café. What's more, it's important to remember that the music should not represent the personality of the owner or employee; rather it should represent the personality of the restaurant itself. Consider the décor and layout of the restaurant. What is the energy level of the venue? What type of personality does your menu have? Picture all of these and any other significant factors in your mind and ask yourself, "What type of music matches this?"

Another important consideration for any hospitality venue is whether they choose to play licensed ('chart') or licence-free music. If a venue chooses licensed music, this comes attached with an expensive price tag in the form of royalty fees to the music licensing agencies, whereas if venues play licence-free music, they are not required to play royalties and the quality of music can be just as good at creating the right in-outlet atmosphere.

Five ways to hit the right notes

1 Select the right music for the occasion

Whether it's Christmas or Valentine's Day, it's important to select the right music for the occasion. The time of day is another important factor to take into account; your lunch crowd might prefer a more toned-down feeling, whereas the Friday dinner crowd might be looking for something more fun and exciting.

2 Know your audience

The playlist is an essential tool for communicating your ethos. By selecting music that's right for your customers, it allows you to engage with your target market and create the right atmosphere. It's important that operators know the demographic of their customers and select the music appropriately, for example; if students are a café's prime demographic, faster and more upbeat music may be more attractive to that particular audience.

3 Invest in good equipment

It may sound obvious, but investing in good equipment is essential when it comes to playing music in hospitality venues. For a customer, there's nothing worse than good music being played through crackly speakers. Sometimes playing music through cheap equipment can do more harm than good.

4 Volume

The volume of the music also has a big part to play when it comes to creating the right in-store atmosphere. Whether it's too loud or too quiet, it can affect the in-outlet dining experience for customers. Fast music can increase the customer turnaround time in restaurants and slower music tends to increase the individual customer's spend. This is because loud, fast music increases excitement, meaning customers tend to eat faster. Similarly, slow music makes customers eat and drink slower, making them more likely to order that dessert or coffee.

5 Lock your systems

Finally, if your venue plays licence-free music, it's important that you lock your music systems to restrict your employees from plugging in their iPod and blasting out tunes from that week's top 40, as this could make you liable to pay the Performing Rights Society and Phonographic Performance Ltd music licensing fees.

Nick Findlay is founder of FreedomMusic

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