Editor's Note: The following is one in a series of blogs provided by the experts who have worked incredibly hard to make Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" reality program, starring Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer, such a success. The Bar Rescue Insider blog series will deliver tried-and-true tips and tricks to help bar owners, operators and managers solve common problems and increase their bottom line. Tune in to Nightclub.com for the next edition of Bar Rescue Insider!
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I love to visit festive bars during many of the holidays throughout the year, but my favorite are the winter holidays. The temperature has dropped, in many regions, and I love to mix and mingle with my neighbors in a warm, cozy, and festive environment. Whether adorned with strings of lights, Christmas trees, a Menorah, stockings, Santa and a sleigh, or boughs of holly, your bar is more inviting if you can get into the spirit of the holiday season at hand.
Here are three helpful hints to get in the holiday spirit:
Lighting: Adding light strands inside your bar can make a huge difference during the holidays and LED will give you the best energy efficiency for your money. Be sure to plan the location of the strings ahead of time. This is your opportunity to do something creative that could drive additional sales, provide illumination to a hard to read sign or doorway, and help your business stand out. LED strands come in many different colors so choose wisely where lights will illuminate patrons.
If you must have green to go with a Christmas red, do yourself a favor and don’t hang them too close to your staff or customers. Green lighting cancels out the warm tones in skin and makes people look washed out and to put it frankly - terrible. You want your customers to have a great experience and that is pretty hard to do if everyone you speak to thinks you look sick.
Strategic placement of light strands around and through your back bar display can also draw the customers’ eyes to your products, thus driving more sales. And of course, with other competing businesses that probably have done so, it is a good idea to enhance your entrance so new customers can find you through the oceans of lights that cover so many businesses through the winter. Most importantly, be sure to properly manage the cords when installing the lights by securing the slack and hiding or tucking it out of site. A tangle of wires balled up in the corner looks tacky and can be a hazard.
Holiday Decorations: It is nice to enter a bar that feels like a home with the names of the staff on stockings, gift boxes, or paper stars or snowflakes. It not only gives you a chance to help your patrons get in the holiday spirit but celebrate your staff as well – making them feel part of a group.
This is also another way to celebrate your customers old and new. People love to see their name up on a wall, it makes them feel like they belong and this increases the chances they will return. Most important is to plan placement of your staff and customer homage décor. It is easier on the eyes and less chaotic to choose one space like a single wall, a chair rail, ceiling boarder, or bar face than to scatter names through out your bar without any order. If there is a wall that has been home to beer advertisements or a sports pool, you can change it up during the holidays to a fun collage of names.
Greenery: Live plants and garlands will liven up any space. If maintained properly they should last long enough to bring holiday cheer and subtle fragrance to your bar. Pine, juniper, holly, herbs like basil or sage are great choices. When selecting them, again plan ahead for their placement as some of these plants have sharp needles and will need to be on display where they won’t scratch your working staff or your patrons.
But the most important thing of all is to know when to take down the decorations. I personally prefer New Year’s Day or the morning of January 2nd. It gives enough time for all the winter celebrations to complete and it provides your customers with a clean slate environment for the New Year.
If you really loved the way the light strand improved the back bar. Make a note of that and hire someone to permanently install spot lighting directed at your products. Otherwise, it just looks like you forgot to take down the holiday lights, and you will deal with a source of a lot of excess dust. As for the customer and staff names, save them neatly in a box for next year. And while you are at it, throw out any broken or torn decorations as you take them down. Your storage space is valuable so save it for items that enhance the design of your bar, not ones that cheapen it.