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We need to talk about January

January is a tough time for any business. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, people are retreating to their houses more and more. Spending money is not usually on people’s agendas in January. So how do you convince them to come back to your restaurant or café?

Luckily, we have some tips for you to help.

To start, you have to look at the perspective of the customer; Christmas is just over and it is a season where they have spent a lot of money on gifts, holidays, trips, and evenings out. It’s also much colder outside and darker earlier which is not the most inviting environment. These are promotions and ideas you could consider over January.

  • The best strategies come from planning promotions that incorporate the cold weather. January is a great opportunity for creating or continuing Winter specials. Changing your menu or having a limited addition dish for the season is a great way to bring interest back into your restaurant. For example, doing a special soup or curry, having a winter theme to them such a hot dishes can be capitalised from the contrasting cold weather outside your business. Don’t be afraid to discount meal deals as this will also help to bring clientele in to your business. Play with the decorations a little to combat the cold - if you have a seating area outside, cover the seats with blankets for customers. This will make it nice and cosy for them, and suddenly eating outside got a lot more appealing.

Photo: (@HouseLimerick)

  • Building a relationship with all of your customers is essential, they will be some of your best advertisement as time goes on. When they get home they tell their family or friends about their experience with you. That entices people to check it out also. Therefore in January you could consider rewarding your regulars, whether or not you have a loyalty programme. These customers may be coming in regardless of the season but it will be hugely beneficial for you if they tell their friends about their €10 reward for every €100 euro spent in January.

Photo: (IndiaMart)

  • A birthday promotion is a simple but effective way to build customer loyalty, especially during slow months like January. This promotion would mean diners would book a table on their birthday and the meal is on the house. Although this might seem like a huge risk and a large investment in a single customer, this promotion can be a great way to bring back repeat customers and promote the restaurant to their family and their friends.

  • If you are a bar, January can be a tough month for alcohol sales because of #DryJanuary and people not drinking for the month of January. It also may be the majority of cocktails sold are cold which isn’t the nicest thing during a chilly night in Winter. This can be a great opportunity to turn up the heat on your drinks and offer mulled wine, warm punch, cider, Bailey’s hot chocolate and many more. There’s also a possibility of adding non-alcoholic hot beverages for those deciding to do dry January.

Photo: (Herald Sun)

  • This may also appeal to bars and restaurants, extend your happy hour. This will appeal to the 9-5 crowd. Happy hours are brilliantly aligned with summer hours as the evenings are brighter for longer. When people don’t have the Summer Fridays and most people usually go straight home from work. Encourage the 9-5 crowd with drink specials that go a couple of hours past the usual happy hour timeframe, add in some snack and you’re bound to build up a post-work clientele.

  • Ensure that your delivery service is exceptional; during the colder months, people are more likely to eat delivery in the comfort of their own home rather than go out for meals. If you have a delivery platform, it’s no harm checking it over during January and taking full advantage of this opportunity. Little checks can be taken such as making sure your delivery people are consistently efficient, and your food is as good when it arrives at your customer’s door as when it leaves your restaurant. This helps when the weather gradually gets warmer that delivery customer may become in-house customers.

Photo: (Business Matters Magazine)

Another point that is absolutely essential in running a restaurant, especially in 2020, keep your socials up to date. This is absolutely necessary for any restaurant, café, shop and other businesses - if you do not have a polished presence online, this affects sales hugely. Social Media can be an excellent tool for restaurants to connect with their clientele and to further promote discounts and other offers throughout the year.

The new year is a fantastic time to spiff up your most valuable digital tool which is your website. Think of this as your first impression of your restaurant to potential clientele, it’s a good plan to take the time to make sure that basic info like phone number, address is front and center and your menu is up to date, that all of your photos are high quality and all of the links within the website are fully functioning and the pages look as good on mobile as they do on desktop.

Don’t forget that approximately 80% of people between 25-45 years old will check the restaurant they want to visit before booking their table. This is why maintaining an image across social media is essential. As generations are leaning more to Smartphones and Tablets and are researching products before purchasing them - 80.8% compared to 41.4%.

A study in 2011 by the National Restaurant Association confirmed that consumers who use social media including apps like Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, UrbanSpoon and more, dine out more but are also more likely to become return customers. (NRA)

Promotions and offers needs to be incorporated into your social media accounts, this gives a presence to the customer and gives them information that is up to date. In a separate study, 77% of consumers said they interact with brands on Facebook primarily through reading posts and updates from the brands. (Mashable)

The main thing to take from all of this is January usually represents a fresh start, so don’t be discouraged about sales and be more focused on establishing your brand.

And remember if you need help running any of the promotions mentioned or would like to utilise the power of our marketing platform. Give us a shout using the convenient link below.


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