Dry January might be good for the nation’s health but it could be fatal for pubs and restaurants. After weeks of excess, the UK is knuckling down, trying to get fit and to save money.
However, spare a thought for some of its victims: the embattled owners of pubs and restaurants. Nobody has any money and everyone is trying to be healthy, which means this is likely to be their leanest month of the year.
January is the time of year that is traditionally slow for the pub industry. After maxing the credit cards over Christmas customers are tightening their belts and going out less. The rise of New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight or detox mean people are staying in; and alcohol free challenges like Dry January don’t help the pub industry.
So how can pubs and bars treat Dry January and Sober October as an opportunity rather a threat, and take advantage of the trend for drinking less alcohol?
The rise of Dry January
Dry January is not particularly new. It first appeared in 2012 as a campaign from Alcohol Concern and has been pretty successful. The organisers say it has helped millions of people save money, lose weight and improve their health. It taps into our natural competitive spirit. While we Brits love a drink, we also love a challenge, so we relish any opportunity to set ourselves a goal and try to achieve it.
This might be good news for the nation’s health but it can be devastating for pubs and restaurants. Both these sectors have suffered in the last few years and a lean spell in January can leave many struggling to make ends meet. With other obligations, such as taxation and payroll also weighing heavily at this time, they need to find a way to bridge the gap.
Everyone loves a sale. Let’s face it, we’ve all spent a month’s wages in a week, over-indulged on everything bad for you and are feeling extremely sorry for ourselves. Offers that revolve around saving money, healthy eating and less calorific drinks are your best bet. Everyone’s attempting dry January and dieting, so why not use this to your advantage? Why not look to get those healthy eating, gym fanatics back in your pubs over January? The pub doesn’t have to be drinking too much and parties, speak to your suppliers about what low-calorie alcohol and soft drinks they are rolling out. What offers can you put around them? Events?
January is the perfect time to start looking at introducing new menu’s, both food and drink are just a few ideas for pubs to make money. In the quiet months, you can plan, roll out and problem shoot your new offers with little comeback from unhappy customers. If your establishment is food led, surviving on being the best in the village then you need to always be at the top of your game, not that you need me to tell you that. The January period is great to trial new dishes, re-train staff and generally brighten up the place.
Hold a Non-Alcoholic drinks festival
A festival-style event, held over a few days or the whole month, is an ideal way to showcase different non-alcoholic beers and other alcohol-free drinks. And get a feel for which drinks your customers would like to buy all year round.
You could encourage customers to try multiple drinks with tokens they can buy in advance or highlight different drinks each day through discounts and promotions. Why not stock up with some exciting alcohol-free drinks and promote your pub as a Dry January venue. Create a menu of alcohol-free cocktails, host a tasting evening trying out different alcohol-free beers, or explore alternative drinks like Seedlip’s range of non-alcoholic spirits.
Building a hospitality business
The first approach is to find a way to keep people coming into the pub. People may be cutting back on the booze, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be giving it up completely. There are still things you can do to get them through the doors. Here are a few ideas to help your hospitality business:
- Develop new drinks: People won’t stay long for a glass of orange juice or a fizzy drink, but they might stay to try some non-alcoholic alternatives. Mocktails, for example, will give people something interesting to stick around for.
- Focus on the atmosphere: People like a well-furnished pub and a nice atmosphere any time, but even more so when they are sober. If the interior of your pub is a nice place to be, non-drinkers will be more likely to stick around with their drinking friends.
- Hold events: Special events give people a reason to come to the pub other than just drinking. Pub quizzes are particularly popular around this time. Not only are quiz-goers traditionally heavy drinkers, but their non drinking friends have something other than alcohol to come to the pub for.
Use your social media
Social media is a constant, whether your pub is booming or you’re having a tough month. It’s 2022 you have absolutely no excuse not to be active on social media. It allows you to interact with customers that aren’t sat in the pub and that is one of the best new tools to the trade. We all know a Susan, who will check Facebook, TripAdvisor and Instagram before she books the family meal.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, in some form or another someone is looking at what your pub can offer them. With that knowledge; USE IT. The new menu that’s given you sleepless nights over what Jus you can match with your chicken isn’t going to have people telling you how great it is if you are not marketing it. Even if your menu isn’t ready, use January to get some hype around the new menu. Closed to give the place a paint job? Keep your locals up to date with your progress with sneak peeks and “Coming Soon…” posts.
End of dry January party
To coincide with the end of Dry January and customers receiving their first pay day of 2022, why not host an End of Dry January party. Since many people who complete Dry January plan to cut down on alcohol throughout the rest of the year too, make sure you promote your low and non-alcohol drinks so they know they’re catered whenever they want a night out.
Why a merchant cash advance can help your pub
This can be a particularly useful approach for pubs and restaurant funding. They only calculate revenue which comes through card and debit card sales, so it suits those businesses which manage a lot of their business through card sales.
It is flexible. Repayments are based upon the level of your future sales. If these are high, you will pay it off quickly. If they are lower than expected, your monthly repayments will also be lower and more affordable
Because this is an advance rather than a loan, a bad credit rating will also not be as much of a problem as would otherwise be the case. It’s also quicker and easier to arrange than a bank loan with some providers able to transfer the money to your account within the same day.
This, then, could be an effective solution to avoid the perils of dry January. It’s a quick, affordable and accessible way to keep things ticking over until the money starts to roll in once again.
Help with business cashflow?
If your pub or restaurant accepts credit and debit card payments then a Business Cash Advance UK would be the perfect business cashflow solution for you to beat dry January. PDQ Funding provide the business funding you require, each day a small pre-agreed percentage of your card transactions until the business advance has been repaid.
The amount you have to pay back will change depending on how many transactions you process through your card payment terminal. On a slow days the repayment amount is less and on a busy day you will pay back slightly more. It’s unsecured funding that works with the structure of your pub or restaurant business.
If you would like to know more how a merchant cash advance can support your business cashflow during Dry January simply complete the online enquiry.