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Bar Management

Beating The Mid-Winter Blahs — It's Mind Over Matter

January 15, 2013 By: Robert Plotkin


It’s as real as overcast, freezing rain and grungy slush. They’re the mid-winter blahs, that pervasive depression that befalls all of us not lucky enough to have a script for Prozac. It strikes in the early part of the year when our minds begin to accept that there won’t be any occasion worth celebrating until spring.

The mid-winter blahs, blues, whatever you want to call them, is a syndrome that not only affects your guests, but it affects your business’ bottom line as well. They cause people to mope about, stay at home more often, and when they do go out, to merely go through the motions of having a good time. You can expect there to be less energy in your establishment. All of these factors will decrease revenue. The mid-winter blahs have as significant of an impact on your business as the general sense of well being around the holidays does, only in reverse.

Depressed yet? Well, not to worry, overcoming the effects of the mid-winter blahs requires some psychology and well-timed promotion. Here’s our short list on beating this glum situation.

Attitude Adjustments — The necessary first step is to recognize that your staff is feeling just as gloomy and depressed as everyone else. Give them things to look forward to, reasons for them to feel up beat and enthused. One way to accomplish this is to give them new skills that enhance their professionalism and elevate their self-esteem. Once your employees have gained these skills, they’ll be more enthusiastic at work and have more energy. Their positive attitudes are essential in helping guests shake off the mid-winter blues.

Bolster Staff Morale — It’s much easier to meet and greet a parade of depressed customers if you’re feeling good about yourself and where your career is going. During the holidays is typically when we look to give employees their year-end bonuses, which basically acts like a motivational booster in an envelope. Meet with employees and map out their career track within the company. The more secure and valuable your people feel, the more likely it is that they’ll maintain a positive work attitude. The plan you develop with them could entail cross-training to learn new marketable skills, or an expanded job description and responsibilities with a corresponding hike in pay.

In-House Promotions —Beating the mid-winter blahs depends greatly on giving your clientele something to look forward to, which is exactly what in-house promotions are designed to do. The objective of these promotions is to give your clientele something to focus on and to transport them out of the dreariness of mid-winter. For example, hold a July 4th celebration when the weather is miserably cold, overcast and dreary. With the proper lead-time, anticipation will build giving people—your staff included—something to look forward to. Then when the date finally arrives, you bring in a truckload of sand, set-up an indoor volleyball court, a barbecue pit, put blow-up palm trees around and dress the staff in Hawaiian shirts, Speedo’s, whatever. The clientele then shows-up in summer garb and bring in food for a local charity as their cover charge.

Retro-themed events are another effective way to help your guests cast off the mid-winter blahs. Let the imaginations of your clientele and staff soar by slipping into another era altogether. Take a Swinging ‘40s promotion, for example. The staff should dress in period costumes. The décor for the evening should be wartime posters and patriotic banners. Swing music is undergoing a revival, so selecting an appropriate play list won’t be a problem. The event even provides you with an opportunity to offer your clientele free swing lessons during the early part of the evening. Give your guests shock and roll back your prices, perhaps not to those of the 1940s, but far enough back that they’ll realize that you’ve fully embraced the spirit of the evening.

So, whichever direction you go, whether it’s changing eras or seasons, helping people shrug off the mid-winter blahs seems to be a simple proposition of mind over matter.


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