You must tread carefully and do research on wine bar plan
Q: I live in a regional town and I am considering opening a local wine bar. Are there any supports or grants that I can avail of?
A: Your primary point of contact is your Local Enterprise Office. There is a Local Enterprise Office in each region throughout the country, however their main focus with regard to grants is on the manufacturing sector and retail, which your wine bar would be classed as, does not qualify for any grant assistance.
There are, however, softer supports the Local Enterprise Office can give you by way of assigning mentors with specialist skills to you in the planning stages of your business, eg a mentor could assist you with the creation of your business plan to sense check the viability of your business or a marketing mentor could help you develop a marketing plan.
Some of the county councils around the country also operate a shop front improvement scheme and you may be able to get some support through that if it is operating in your region and you are planning to improve the façade of the building.
If you are located in a very rural area, you may be covered by the LEADER, scheme which supports rural development, and it would depend on the focus of your local LEADER company and the business proposition you are putting forward as to whether you would be eligible or not.
One final word of caution, which is not intended to dampen your enthusiasm. I have seen a number of businesses with wine bars in regional towns have not survived. Sometimes the notion of a wine bar needs a larger population to support it, so do make sure that you do lots of research and a very thorough feasibility study. It might be interesting to run a café during the day that becomes a wine bar in the evening. This would give you double income revenue streams. Either way, good luck with the venture.
Q: What is your view on customer-operated till points, as I have an option to remove some of the tills from my bookshop and replace them with a self-service system?
A: Different customers have different expectations. Some people on certain times of the week are on a tight agenda with little spare time and relish the idea of being able to pass through the payment process quickly. They are more than happy to scan their own goods and not have any human interaction. Other people have a little time on their hands and are more sociable and look to interact with staff members or even possibly may have some questions they want to address.
It would be perfectly acceptable to put in self-scan tills to help speed up the overall operation. Twenty-five years ago in Superquinn we were the first retailer in Europe to introduce self-scan, which was a hand-held device where customers scanned their own items and put them into their trolley and simply put the scanning device back into a unit which allowed them to proceed to a payment point. While this was manned, it was the beginning of that process.
I recently visited a book shop at an airport and all of the tills were self-scan, with one operator managing approximately 15 tills.
I would worry slightly about this from a business perspective in that if you end up with a business where customers have no interaction with staff, or no opportunity to do so, that could be dangerous for the business in the long term. It would be just as easy for those customers to go online and the value and atmosphere is removed from the retail model.