Payment system provider Zeller has a produced a Pub Report which details the state of the industry.

Over 200 publicans, bar and venue managers, who were approached through AHA (VIC), Zeller’s existing database of merchants in these industries, and industry Facebook groups, responded to a survey.

The report found that while 77 per cent of those surveyed are worried about a recession and hikes in interest rates, 76 per cent remain confident that they can grow their business across the financial year.

In the Pub Report are listed ‘five key findings’, largely related to operator sentiment. These were:

  • Fewer than one in five publicans are tied to their bank. 
  • The biggest issue publicans face is an inability to hire enough staff.
  • Sixty-four per cent of publicans say customer spending has stayed the same or improved since before the pandemic.
  • Publicans with less than two years’ experience are three times more likely to be unsure about how to market their business.
  • Inexperienced publicans are almost twice as likely to doubt their ability to grow their business.

Zeller also looked ahead to the future of the pub industry, getting a sense of publican optimism and the perceived challenges to the industry. Thirty per cent of those surveyed said that their biggest challenge was the inability to hire enough staff, while 21 per cent cited a lack of time. Twelve per cent said they were concerned about fewer customer than previous years.

Zeller’s report noted that: “Although the vast majority of publicans remain confident about their venues’ beloved place in the local community, the industry is going through a period of undeniable change.”

Tech to ease staffing strain

Australian Hotelier spoke to Joshua McNicol, Zeller director of growth, who gave a tech-perspective on the report.

McNicol said that one of the key things that stood out from the report “was that despite economic pressures on the industry, the challenges faced over the past several years, pub owners and club operators have a really overwhelming sense of confidence.

“Many of them, the majority of them, they believe that 2023 will be a year of growth,” McNicol explained.

Another significant issue highlighted in the pub report is one well-known to all venue operators: the inability to find quality staff in sufficient numbers.

And technology is not a silver bullet for recruitment woes. However, according to McNicol, it can assist with staff placement and rostering.

“Although we’re not experts in staffing, what we strongly believe is that our reporting and our technology helps business owners be better informed with staffing decisions.

“The example I use is a pub that’s based in Fitzroy in Melbourne, which uses Zeller. They have dining upstairs and the bar downstairs, and every EFTPOS terminal they have is linked to a site, they can see: ‘Okay, today we’re two times busier upstairs than we are downstairs.’

“They use that data to go: ‘We need more people upstairs because there’s more dining’, so take them from downstairs which is quiet in the day, and push more staff upstairs.”

McNicol’s final message was saved for operators who might be uncertain about getting started with new technologies, stating that there exists a cushion for trial and error.

“If you go into the new year, give one new platform a try and see if it can work. The reason it’s a lot lower risk now is that a lot of software and technology providers are contract free. At Zeller we never ask our customers to sign a contract. If it doesn’t work for your business, you are not tied to it,” the growth director said.

“There’s so many new technology and software providers offering that nowadays it means that you can test and true to work out what’s going to be working for your business, and if it’s great, you’ve adopted it, if it’s not, there’s little to no risk that it’s going to cost you anything.”

See the full report here.

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