Beating the January Lull

Once October comes around, it's full-speed ahead for bar and nightclub owners. From Halloween party planning to making sure your bar or club has everything for its Thanksgiving Eve party and a plethora of holiday parties in December that culminate in a big New Year's Eve soiree, it can be exhausting.

Of course, all of the planning for those events pays off, but once the the new year starts, so does the dreaded January lull. In fact, operations at bars and clubs often come to a grinding halt after building all of that momentum for the past few months.

However, January is the perfect transitional time for owners to gear up for the year ahead. You've just spent months gaining new clientele, building databases and creating promotions that are driving traffic to your bar or club, so when January hits, it's no time to slow down.

Although the holiday rush of parties and events may have you feeling burnt out, Jeffrey Yarbrough, founder of Dallas-based bigInk PR & Marketing firm, suggests refilling your creative juices by taking some time to research bars and clubs in other cities.

"Eating and drinking in another town always gets my juices flowing," Yarbrough quips.

To avoid the dreaded January lull, Yarbrough advises owners to create a marketing and PR plan for the new year to "plot out all the standard dates and add in some fun, creative promotions," he says.

"By planning ahead you can get a better handle on budgets for the year and are a proactive operator instead of a reactive one," he adds.

Yet, sometimes it's those simple promos that draw the most crowds. In fact, a January promotion doesn't have to be over the top or even a huge event. Yarbrough says operators can look at promotion calendars, such as annual food calendars, and come up with drink promotions that fit into a national holiday.

Because Hot Toddy Day falls on Jan. 11, Yarbrough suggests a Hot Toddies and Teddies promotion, in which guests will drink hot drinks while wearing lounge wear. Operators can work with local retail stores to hold a lingerie fashion show, as well. Additionally, partnering with beer and alcohol suppliers is an "inexpensive yet creative way to draw in new business," Yarbrough says.

January is a good time to reevaluate and recuperate for the upcoming year, so "only do what you can realistically execute," Yarbrough says. "It is better to do one good promo in January and be prepared for Valentine's Day than to stress over doing too much."

Once owners clearly plan out their goals for 2012, January becomes a month that allows them to re-connect with guests on a more intimate level. Yarbrough explains that after the holidays, even your customers are feeling exhausted by all of their activities, not to mention "tapped out from holiday spending," he says.

"The local watering hole should be a safe place to get away from it all,” Yarbrough says, noting customers should be reminded that your establishment is more than just a bar but a part of their community, not to mention a relaxing place to go any time of year.


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