I love New Year’s Eve. Another year of hard work rewarded with a great
celebration with family and friends. But what I like even more is that the annual holiday marks a new beginning and gives everyone a fresh start.
For bar, nightclub and restaurant operators, however, the weeks right after New Year’s Eve can be among the slowest of the year. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Start planning now to present a program of strong promotions in January and keep the creativity and discipline flowing throughout the year, and you’ll see sales grow in 2012, no matter what the economy does.
Strong Promotions Begin With a Strong Team
Being in the business for more than 30 years, I’ve learned one important and undeniable truth: You can have the world’s greatest idea and a lot of money to invest in it — but if you don’t have the front-line team to execute it, it will all be for nothing. Before jumping into promotional ideas, it’s important to stress hiring and retaining a great staff.
Promotions are only as good as the people executing them. This means you must have a well-trained, upbeat and positive staff. Boost employee morale by giving team members a paid day off on their birthdays. Reward your team members who are doing a great job and replace employees who are not hospitable. One bad attitude is enough to contribute to countless numbers of negative experiences that can bring business to a screeching halt.
For example, even if you are the best operator around, what happens if you have a hotheaded bartender who gets into a shouting match with a guest? And what happens if that guest turns out to be a local entertainment reporter or just a prolific blogger? Guess what: Bad news spreads fast. To head off such disasters, send in an anonymous friend to be a “secret shopper” to get a reality check on who is or isn’t representing your establishment in the best way possible. After all, this is your business.
If your establishment’s anniversary is coming up, start the celebration in January, no matter the month in which it actually takes place. For example, my company — Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, Inc. — will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next November, but we are not waiting until then to celebrate. We will start the festivities in January, if not sooner, by thanking our loyal clients for their business; without them, we would not be experiencing this milestone. Whether you’re celebrating one year or 10, anniversary parties are a great way to thank your guests. During the month of January, tie in limited-time-only food and drink specials that symbolize the year of the anniversary; for example, promote $3 appetizers for a three-year anniversary or $5 drinks for a five-year celebration. Ask your guests when they will be celebrating their own anniversaries and invite them back for an exclusive offer when their special date arrives. Update your database with the guest information.
Party Between the Party
Big one-time events such as the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras take place in February, meaning January can turn into a build-up-to-the-big-day push, so turn these one-time events into months-long promotions. College bowl games and NFL playoffs go strong in “January, creating momentum for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5. Get out the Mardi Gras beads and promote Hurricane drink specials throughout the month, leading up to Fat Tuesday on Feb. 21. Promote singles’ mixers in January and early February, so guests actually can look forward to a “date night” on Valentine’s Day.
Say “Yes” to Resolutions: Jump on the Skinny Cocktail Bandwagon
A great way for guests to enjoy a delicious cocktail without the guilt is by drinking fewer calories per serving. Tons of products offer flavorful cocktails without the added calories. If you have a nightclub, use your space during off hours, such as lunchtime, Saturday mornings or before happy hour, to host local Jazzercise or Zumba classes. The participants will turn around and come back during normal operating hours to show off their visibly new and improved shapes.
Loyalty Programs and Birthday Clubs
Either create a loyalty program/birthday club or focus on existing programs to grow business. Use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to give double loyalty points for recommending friends. When it comes to birthdays, no one celebrates alone. Offer free appetizers to the birthday guest of honor and feature celebratory cocktails made with one of the new cake-flavored vodkas, complete with a birthday candle, to make a wish.
Promote events on your website and Facebook page, and make sure your establishment’s event information is up-to-date and easy to find. No one will click through layers of pages to find event details or make a reservation. We live in a fast-paced world with no time to spare, so spare no time making sure your marketing efforts are efficient and effective.
Here’s to a January that jump-starts your year! NCB