You don’t have to run a sports bar to maximize profits during the UEFA Euro 2016. According to a Carlsberg UK study, 75 percent of pub goers watch the games — and “a third of fans are undecided as to where best to watch football, and need encouragement to visit pubs.”

With more matches being played this year than ever before, this spells huge opportunity for you as a manager. If you’re a newer establishment, a happy crowd during football season could earn you a raise in the ranks among local competitors. The trick to priming your restaurant for Euro 2016 is to have a game plan of your own. Here’s how.

Get festive

When it comes to decorating, your creativity’s the limit. Use posters, flags, jerseys, and team colors in the dining room and bar to set the mood. Everything from place settings to menus have the potential for being football themed. Make adjustments to the floorplan, as well. Consider adding more barstools, rearranging tables, and offering table service during games to ensure guests get drinks and food quickly. The more comfortable the environment, the more your guests will stay and spend.

Prep your team for busy shifts

Offer your staff a group training session on how to handle rowdy crowds. Include tips on identifying drunk customers, as well as avoiding over-serving of alcohol and protocol for calling cabs. Protect your employees’ safety and your restaurant’s legal standing by reminding bartenders to never use physical force on rambunctious guests. While you’re at it, provide training on upselling to maximize profits (and employees’ tips). Finally, use simple employee scheduling software to create a backup plan with on-call staffers in case of unprecedented crowds.

Stop technical difficulties before they start

With a majority of guests pulling up a chair at your establishment for the purpose of catching the games, now’s the time to make sure your media setup is in working order. Opt for the most comprehensive cable package you can afford, in order to have a variety of teams playing on different TVs. Double-check connections and hardware to catch potential video or audio problems well before the crowds arrive.

Get playful

Contests and games during halftime are an especially effective way to build camaraderie among guests and generate excitement around Euro 2016. Raffle off prizes like gift certificates, discounted or free food, T-shirts, or other game-related paraphernalia. For the less fanatical guests in your crowd, provide table games, video trivia, and other bar games to keep them entertained while their cohorts cheer for the home team.

Tweak your menu for the football crowd

You don’t have to replace your famous house soup with bowls of peanuts, but consider incorporating game food into your menu to capitalize on the festivities. Source ideas from your kitchen to “dress up” your food for the occasion — whether with food coloring, flags, or tiny candy footballs. Offer a flat-fee buffet for those inclined to linger and munch, and provide a range of sporty finger foods. For a deeper dive into what your local customers might expect, check out this list of most popular food and drink items for Euro 2016, organized by region.

Focus on the drinks

For football fans, beer is paramount. With one Carlsberg UK study indicating a 50 to 80 percent increase in the rate of beer sales for pubs during games, you’ll have to have extra kegs on hand to ensure your lager stores don’t run dry. Offer drink specials and pitcher deals, or create a new signature drink named after a local team or player. Connect with liquor distributors to offer liquor or wine tastings during the games.

Map your operations to the game schedule

Consider extending your hours for the most anticipated games and those featuring local teams. Review last year’s numbers to order enough stock, and use online scheduling software to streamline employee scheduling and accommodate requests off.

Promote, promote, promote

Check your website and social media to make sure you’re offering updated info on hours and menu items. Feed into your guests’ natural excitement by posting enticing pictures of new themed drinks, prizes, and giveaways, and help them plan to make your restaurant game day headquarters by indicating when you’ll be airing which games. If you’re planning on raffling prizes during the games, consider cross-promotion with other local establishments by giving away gift cards to nearby stores.

Take a walk

As a final step, take a walk through your dining room. Imagine the customer’s perspective. Are any of the TVs obscured by decorations? Is seating (and standing room) sufficient for each of the games you’ll be airing? Does anything look worn or unappealing? Now’s the time to fix it up, or risk a negative first impression for new guests.

Even if you’ve waited until the last minute to prepare, you can still employ some of these tips to boost sales and ensure things run smoothly from kickoff until bar close. With the right mix of planning, creativity, and technology, you can make the Euro 2016 games a record-setting season for your restaurant — and ensure your all-star status in the industry.

To find out more about how you can create the perfect schedule in time for Euro 2016, check out how Planday can help.

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