If your business is in the hospitality industry – restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs – then you’ll be familiar with the January lull, when business is a little quieter after Christmas.
However, the trade faces an even more substantial drop-off with the increased popularity of Dry January.
Taking part in Dry January is increasingly common; after an indulgent festive season and an extravagant New Year celebration, many people are ready to pack in drinking for a little while.
Similar to Sober October, Dry January is a charity initiative which encourages a month of sobriety to recognise the health and wellbeing benefits of curbing drinking habits, and it dovetails with a month of frugality as people look to offset Christmas spending.
What’s good for livers isn’t always good for business, however, and the decline in trade can hit businesses hard.
Being prepared and having a strategy in place to combat the drop-off is essential. One way to attract customers is offering deals throughout the month. Another, more adventurous, approach might be to introduce new products.
Experiment with new products
If you’re planning on introducing new drinks ranges or trialling a new menu, you can attract customers by offering experimental dishes at discount prices, like one entrepreneurial restaurant owner in London.
Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef and restaurateur, realised that he could open a kitchen to trial new dishes and also get customer feedback. He opened a test kitchen in Camden which gave him the chance to experiment while also securing business.
Revamp your offering
These strategies can also apply to long-term plans; a change of menu, or an introduction of new range of drinks, can extend beyond January to become a quarterly or seasonal event. Offering exclusive product ranges alongside customer favourites can make your business stand out from the crowd, as well as broadening the customer base you can attract.
Reach a new group of consumers
Making yourself attractive to the sober crowd can also pay off; make sure you can cater to them with an extensive range of soft and hot drinks. It may also be worth creating a small ‘mocktail’ menu or offering other low- or non-alcohol options to give your customers as wide a choice as possible.
Turn focus to business admin
January is a quiet month regardless, and that gives you the chance to rethink areas of your business which may be struggling or in need of a refresh. If you need extra staff, January is the perfect time to start preparing a job listing, or to start overhauling your social media strategy.
Ultimately, January is a difficult month for everyone, but anything you can do to make it less of a struggle for your business should make it a little bit easier.