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Six ways to position your hospitality business for success this winter

In this article, Senior Business Agent – Pubs & Restaurants, Alex Rex shares six expert tips to help hospitality businesses position their business for success this winter and beyond.

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Alex Rex

Alex Rex

Senior Business Agent - Pubs & Restaurants

December is a vital trading period for the hospitality sector, as festive bookings and increased footfall offer businesses a boost in trading. In contrast, January and February can often be more challenging as sales start to slump.  

However, if an exit strategy is something you have in mind for 2024, now is not the time to lose focus of that. Planning and implementing strategies to attract customers throughout the quieter months and boost revenue will help you improve the value of your business and make it more saleable when it comes time to seek a valuation and bring it to the market.

Here’s six things you should consider, to position your business for success this winter and beyond.

Craft seasonal menus

Spice up your offering with seasonal specials and menus that showcase the best your business has to offer. Whether it's a cocktail or food dish, this will attract new customers and encourage repeat visits. This will also demonstrate the versatility and creativity of your business to potential buyers, making it more appealing in their eyes.  

Host special events and offer deals/promotions

We all know that once the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over, the less exciting winter months of January and February can be a bit glum. Give your customers an occasion to beat the winter blues by organising special events and promotions. This could include themed parties, live music, or even charitable initiatives to give back to the community. These events not only draw in more customers but also showcase your business as a vibrant and engaged part of the local community, increasing its appeal to potential buyers. Offering discounts/deals are also a great way to entice customers in during this quieter time.

Optimise your staff and work rotas

Well-trained and motivated staff contribute to a positive customer experience, leading to repeat business and positive reviews. Moreover, a smoothly run operation reflects positively on the overall appeal of your business when it comes time to sell.

Leverage social media and marketing

A strong online presence not only boosts trade but also enhances the perceived value of your business, making it more attractive to prospective buyers.

Use social media platforms to showcase your offerings, share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your preparations, and engage with your audience. Encourage patrons to share their experience of your venue as well.  

The first thing my wife does when she hears about a pub or restaurant is to check it out on Instagram and I hear she’s not the only one! A 2022 Go Tech survey said 48% of people search for places to eat and drink on social media.

Ask for reviews

In addition to social media, make sure to ask your customers for reviews, as there’s no better form of marketing than ‘word of mouth’. Many operators are cautious of this, for fear of negative reviews being shared in a public domain, but providing a platform for customers that have enjoyed their experience to share this will positively benefit your reputation and help you to build a larger customer base. Any negative feedback should be considered as constructive and taken onboard to improve your business.

Having a top rating on trip advisor is self-fulfilling. Just make it easy to do, no questionnaires or iPad’s to fill in forms, just a QR code taking you straight to the review site of your choice (Google/trip advisor) and then let the customer do their thing.

This tip is especially important if you are selling your lease and offering the option of a share sale (selling your company that owns the lease). If you are selling your brand/business name, the accounts are an obvious thing a buyer will look at, but you can rest assured they will check out what the perception is of your business online.

Invest in your property – don’t let the winter chill damage your building or business

The structure and condition of your property makes a difference to whether a buyer will make an offer, and even more importantly, if the bank will lend on it. Keep on top of things this winter and use any spare capital to make sure there are no nasty surprises, come a sales process next year.

Our Top Tip: Create a compliance file which has all your legal requirements in it, plus any guarantees for works done to the property, it’ll save you a bucket load of time when filling out those initial enquires with your solicitor once you accept an offer.

In conclusion, whilst January and February may be a slower trading period, these months are an opportune moment to position your pub or restaurant for success, both in terms of trade and long-term saleability. By following the tips above, you can make this winter one to remember for your business and potential buyers alike.

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