The calendar turning to January 1 means it’s time to focus on those resolutions for the year ahead. Bar and nightclub owners are no exception to this. Because the New Year means a clean slate, owners should look to fix the things that went wrong in the year prior and try new promotions, drinks, marketing initiatives and strategy for the year ahead. Some of our favorite experts from the past year tell us what to resolve to do during 2013.
1. The bar should mimic the kitchen. Ensuring that the bar is on par with the kitchen will emphasize quality, consistency and solid staff training at your establishment, says Kathy Casey, president of Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen. “I would love to see owners that have implemented fresh bar programs, put in place daily and shift check systems to check on quality and freshness of perishable items," she added.
2. Never be afraid to change. Adam Seger, celebrated mixologist and co-founder of hum spirits, says change is good for all bar programs. “Reinvent yourself,” he says. “The best chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and restaurateurs continue to reinvent themselves. In the new economy, no business is safe continuing to always do what they have always done.”
3. Sell, sell, sell. “Resolve to plan for better sales,” explains Mark Vidano, VP of operations for MarkeTeam Inc. A recurring problem that Vidano sees is the lack of promotional planning and an awareness of what the competition is doing. “The calendar never changes. Football starts at the same time every year, St. Patrick’s, Mardi Gras, Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving, etc., all happen around the same time annually and yet operators wait to the last minute and end up throwing something together and letting sales opportunities slip through the cracks.”
4. Offer consistent quality products. It’s simple, said David Mitchell, general manager of The Empire Rooftop in New York. Over time customers come to expect a certain product every time they come to your establishment, but don’t alienate your regular crowd, he explains. You want to build a reputation “for being a certain type of club within the scene,” he says. “It’s a very basic formula that can create a large regular crowd and also pull in walk-up traffic, which all leads to constant and added revenue, which boosts the bottom line.”
5. Focus on the fundamentals. Although some of the important things may have slipped through the cracks during 2012, Dr. Steven Austin Stovall, associate professor of management at Wilmington College, says renewing the focus on budgeting, handling costs, spending more time with employees and talking more to customers will help things fall into place in the New Year. “A second resolution would be to take a hard look at staffing,” he said, and “a third solution would be to develop creative marketing solutions.”
6. Quality assurance is key. “Owners definitely need to stay on top of their Yelp reviews,” says Gerry O’Brion, a professional speaker, author and business coach, who uses big business strategies to grow businesses of all sizes through his Business Blueprint at www.WhatBigBrandsKnow.com. “Like it or not, online reviews are here to stay. If you're not actively interacting with the folks posting about you, it's like walking around with a sign on your back that you don't know is there. You can do all the great advertising and promotions you like, but if your reviews are bad and you're not responding and fixing your opportunities, your ad dollars will be wasted.”