Before seeking out a supplier for commercial bar stools, the first place to visit may be your competition to see how their barstools are being used. Just by observation, you will notice some things are worth copying, while others need to be changed for your unique establishment. Observing your competitors bar stools is practically free, and will assist you in selecting the right commercial bar stools, and prevent you from making a mistake with this major purchase. Below are eight questions to ask yourself while observing your competitors’ commercial bar stools.
1. Are the customers comfortable?
Customers should look relaxed, and not be straining against a poorly designed bar stool. If there is an entire area of bar stools not being used, it could be because the bar stools are uncomfortable. People who would normally be sitting may be standing by the barstool instead. Notice if there are adequate foot rests, because if there is not ample room for feet to rest, undue pressure may be put on the back of the customers’ legs. Feet resting on a ring, metal bar or platform will take away this pressure and allow the customer to be more comfortable. Seat size is another consideration. If the bar stool seats are too big, the bar stools may cost more. There will also be less seating in the bar area, as fewer barstools with big seats will fit in the same area than with smaller seats. Bar stool seats that are too small, though, can be uncomfortable for some customers. Imagine the extra profit in a busy bar which had two extra barstools because the right seat size was purchased.
2. Do the bar stools wobble?
Observe if a bar stool wobbles significantly. Most floors are not constructed perfectly level, nor are bar stool legs perfectly level, so the combination of both the legs and the floor being unlevel will cause some normal bar stool wobbling. Avoid barstools that are excessively wobbly barstools, as this may come from poor manufacturing, or be caused by a bar stool style that requires more maintenance. Another think to look for, that most people will not see, is the wobbling between the seat and the base where the seat rests. Swivel bar stools will wobble when the swivel mechanism breaks down, causing the ball bearings to fall out, or when the rivet holding the leveler together stretches and needs to be replaced.
3. Are the bar stools easy to move around?
Observe if there are customers trying to move around bar stools, and if they are able to. Customers do want to move around the bar stools, and if they are too difficult to move because they are too heavy, that can be a small reason why a customer may not return to the business. It is rather ironic that lighter weight bar stools are often constructed better than heavy ones. Consider lighter weight bar stools after observing the competition’s seating, to ensure so customers can move them around easily. The weight of a bar stool is not as important as may be first thought.
4. Do the bar stools look worn?
Quality materials used in the manufacturing process are the key to bar stools not wearing out too soon and looking worn. For example, if a manufacturer uses lacquer to finish the wood on wood restaurant barstools, it will look great right out of the box. However, a secret is to know what type of finish is used on the wood, as lacquer will become gummy after oils from people’s hands break down the lacquer rather quickly. Observe not only the wood finish, but also the other materials which can break down easily, indicating whether or not to purchase that particular bar stool.
5. Do the bar stools match the architecture?
When planning a restaurant it is good to observe the competition to investigate the style most appropriate for you. The secret here is that a picture of a single bar stool in a magazine, catalog or online looks vastly different when many of the same bar stools are placed in one location. A layout / color / style board can be of great assistance, but observing the actual bar stools placed in a competitor’s restaurant can certainly help with your furniture selection.
6. Do the bar stools have backs?
A lot of thought needs to go into if bar stools with or without backs are used. When visiting a bar where both backed and backless bar stools are used, observe what types are used in the bar area and where. Some restaurants like to give their customers the most comfort and use a back, while others see the backed bar stools as clutter and in the way of seeing the bar. Are backs used around any bar tables? Sometimes a mixture of backless and backed bar stools, are used for looks and comfort. If it is determined that backless barstools are appropriate, quite a few dollars can be saved.
7. Do the bar stools have swivels?
Observe whether the competition is using bar stools that swivel in their restaurant. Swivel bar stools need more maintenance than fixed seats that do not swivel. With the additional maintenance cost in mind, determine if the extra cost is worth the additional customer comfort the restaurant bar stools with swivels provide.
8. Are there an appropriate number of bar stools?
How does the competition use their bar stools in a given space? Do they have many bar stools, just the right amount or none? While trying to help customers be comfortable, many restaurant bars purchase too many bar stools, which ends up making it difficult for customers to get in and out of bar stools, especially around the bar. Other restaurants purchase too few bar stools, which means extra drinks or meals may go unsold. Observe if your competitions customers seem too crowded, or if there seems to be wasted space. This will assist you in determining the right amount of bar stools per square foot.
In summary, visiting and observing your competitors has virtually no cost and can be very beneficial. By observing potential errors a particular business has made, you can get some great ideas and avoid making errors of your own. You can maximize your own sales, and increase your customers’ comfort, by purchasing the right quantity, durability and style of commercial bar stools.