Chris, you have emphasized how important attracting the right people to each of your bars is; how do you ensure that the customers are right for the offer?
“When we first opened DV8, we put a strict dress code in (no sportswear, trainers etc.) place. What this meant was that we were turning always hundreds of customers each night – I thought there must be another offer that could work for these guys, so we opened Rumba. We are still pretty strict about who we let in, no large groups of guys etc., but it’s a bit more relaxed.
“I think that in our industry, we haven’t quite got the balance right; just because drinkers want to have a good, raucous time and NOT go into the big cities, doesn’t mean we should be making them have that experience in a dive. By opening a Caribbean Tiki bar, we have bought snippets of the city into the suburbs. We provide a safe environment for women in all our bars, thinking of their security and happiness as number one. We keep drinks prices high so that we don’t attract the £2 a pint crowd.”
Rumba is quite something inside. Tell me about the environment and kit out.
“Actually, it’s really hard to make something look like a shack – but it’s not expensive! We have a steel structure and some high-end ice machines which cost a fortune, but other than that, we have pushed our suppliers to help us.
“Punch have been really supportive too, and other than that, we’ve spent a shed-load of time on the internet; for example, the ceiling décor all came from a couple of books bought off eBay, then we had a night in the venue with all the staff getting drunk and sticking them on the ceiling. We know that our customers spend a lot of time on social media, so we have to give them Instagrammable décor, drinks and experiences.”
And just how important is SM to you?
“Our Rumba in Congleton has 6,000 followers and just recently we posted a FB post for DV8 and we know from their tracking tools that over 87,000 people saw it; we see no point in using the local paper when we can get a football stadium worth of people to see a post that we spent a few pounds on boosting.
“Our customers promote our business for us most of the time, so we make sure that everything looks great so that on social media DV8 and Rumba look like the places to be – which they are!”
There are a few things in Rumba that seem like a USP for you, certainly I’ve never seen them before- what are they and how do they work for you?
“Our wheel of fortune behind the bar makes around £500 a week at 87% net profit. Staff ask every single customer who pays with cash if they’d like to spin for a pound when handing back their change – many do and prizes vary from good (free drink) to not so good (shot of custard!).