Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

After a few too many pigs in blankets and countless celebratory Christmas drinks, January is viewed by many as a chance to kick-start a healthier lifestyle and reduce spending on food and drink after an indulgent festive period.  

Over 3 million people have said that they plan to give up alcohol during the first month of 2018 as part of Dry January: a government-backed initiative to reduce the UK’s alcohol consumption. Dry January took-off in 2013, aiming to improve people’s health, reduce the amount of money spent on alcohol, raise awareness of the negative effects of alcohol consumption, and fundraise for their partner charities.

With almost a fifth of British adults pledging to avoid alcohol, and many more counting their pennies, January can be a difficult month for hospitality operators. After a busy December, footfall and sales will be reduced in most sites, but with intelligent management, this time of year does not have to be damaging for your business.

To combat a likely decline in visitor numbers, operators must consider fresh strategies to bring customers through the door.

The average Brit is predicted to spend more than £200 on alcohol during the week prior to Christmas, meaning consumers’ purse-strings are likely to be tightened in January. Attracting customers into your sites with promotions and entertainment is key to minimising the effects of the looming January lull.

Attractive promotions can provide an incentive to venture out of the house for food and drink, even when cost-saving is a high priority. Modelling their offer on January sales in department stores, JD Wetherspoon have offered a price reduction on a variety of their alcoholic and soft drinks from 3rd-8th January for the last fifteen years, helping to keep the January blues at bay for their 900 sites.

As well as Dry January, general trends suggest that more and more people are turning away from alcohol. Research predicts that consumers will choose soft drinks over alcoholic drinks, even during the Christmas period. However, a third of consumers don’t think that there are enough premium soft drinks available at pubs, bars, and restaurants. With a rising demand, along with the typically high yield that soft drinks bring, licensees can offset the effects of Dry January by increasing the range of non-alcoholic drinks available.

Avoiding alcohol doesn’t require losing the taste and atmosphere that comes with drinking out. No or low alcohol is the fastest growing category in beer, with sales doubling in the last ten years. Mocktails can also be a great way to boost January sales, providing customers with exciting tastes without the guilt that alcoholic cocktails may bring.

Rising numbers of health-conscious consumers, along with those suffering from Christmas guilt and possessing hopeful New Year’s resolutions, mean that it is important to increase the number of healthy dishes, such as salads, on the menu. Being high-yield menu items, these dishes are also attractive for managers looking to boost profit margins in January. However, many customers still want warm and indulgent food during the winter months, so it is important to offer balanced menus.

2017 saw a rise in entertainment-led food and drink venues such as escape rooms and mini golf bars. In addition to revising food and drink offers, a great way to boost sales this January would be to host a range of events, from movie nights to live comedy, to convince customers to venture out to your site.

S4 Labour’s event feature is a great way to ensure that labour deployment remains correct during periods of unfamiliar trading patterns that events may cause; this will lead to the smooth running of events and happy customers.

It is important that news of any January promotions and events is shared on social media, as this is a great way to get people through the door. Show off the exciting new products/events that you’ve got on in January with #TryJanuary, the Morning Advertiser’s campaign which looks to rebel against the idea that January will be a quiet month for hospitality. With most operators now using social media to market themselves, failure to do so can leave you behind.    

As well as driving increased sales through new products and events, managers can also boost January’s profitability by turning their attention to internal processes to increase efficiency 

Effective labour scheduling is the number one way for managers to increase efficiency in January. Managers should consider greater use of split-shifts, staggered start times, and shorter shifts. The effects to trading patterns brought on by trends such as Dry January and healthier eating require greater consideration of labour deployment within sites. With the expected fall in late-night drinks sales, managers might want to consider redeploying staff from the bar to other areas of the business or from evenings to daytime hours.

S4Labour provides a site’s previous year’s food and drink sales. This feature acts as an advisor to a manager when forecasting their sales, leading to the S4Labour graph suggesting labour deployment that will be reflective of January trading patterns. By splitting sales by food and drink, the graph reflects changes to requirements by trading area.

Encouraging staff to upsell in January will make a big difference to business. With customers less keen to part with their money in January, it is important that staff are active in driving sales. A good way to encourage staff to upsell is to implement a reward scheme for the number of starters and desserts sold with main dishes during busy food-led periods of trading e.g. a Sunday afternoon. Not only will this increase staff interaction with customers, leading to greater customer experience, but will also encourage staff to play their part in boosting revenue.  

January is a good time to focus on tasks that are not directly linked to serving customers. With key dates such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Easter fast approaching, January provides a great opportunity to get ahead with the planning and marketing of events and promotions on social media. This preparation will help to boost sales after a quiet start to the year. As well as preparation, a quiet trading period will provide a good opportunity to catch-up on any tasks, such as cleaning and décor work, that may need doing after a busy festive period.  

Whilst January may be a daunting time for many operators, it has the potential to be a healthy month for the business as well as the customer. The introduction of new and exciting items on the menu that cater for a health-conscious market, alongside attractive events, will allow hospitality venues to remain appealing during the first month of 2018. An active presence on social media with effective marketing and planning will ensure that the hard work to boost January sales won’t go unnoticed.

Get in touch today to find out more about how S4Labour can promote the health of your business in January and all your round.


Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

S4Labour Partners with Tahola to Deliver Integrated and Innovative Solutions

We are delighted to announce that we have established an integration with leading data and business analytics providers Tahola. 

We will work together with Tahola to provide the hospitality industry with a solution that meets organisations’ labour management and business intelligence requirements. This will result in reduced costs, improved processes, and increased revenue for operators.

Both companies recognise the effectiveness of enhancing their own specialism through integration, adding further value for their users. In line with this, Tahola have developed an interface allowing its analytics solution to plug into S4Labour’s labour deployment data, saving mutual customers time and minimising the need for investment in costly bespoke integration work. 

S4Labour’s Gareth Thomas, who worked closely with Tahola in establishing the project, enthused about the partnership saying, “Tahola are an excellent organisation who are at the cutting edge of data analytics for hospitality. I’m very excited about working with them to deliver great outcomes for our clients.” 


What does the partnership mean for customers?


By combining the speed and capacity of cloud computing with a simple interface to S4Labour and Tahola’s intuitive dashboards, we can provide detailed, near-instant answers to key questions. This frees up managers to focus their attention elsewhere. Data is also visible on mobile devices, allowing managers to spend less time in the office and more time leading their teams and delivering great service to maximise sales.


Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

S4Labour Customers Nominated for Publican Awards

Congratulations are in order for three S4Labour clients who have been confirmed as finalists at the 2018 edition of the prestigious Publican Awards. 

Seafood Pub Company claim their 2015 trophy

Seafood Pub Company will vie to claim the hotly-contested Best Food Offer category, an accolade they previously won in 2015, while Anglian Country Inns beat off stiff competition to take their place amongst the candidates for the Best Accommodation Operator prize. Completing the trio are Albion & East, whose Canova Hall site has been nominated for Best New Bar.

Seafood Pub Company operates twelve food-led pubs in some of Lancashire and Yorkshire’s most picturesque locations, with an ethos of sourcing quality local produce to serve classic British dishes and fresh seafood specials. They began using S4Labour’s innovative labour management software in May 2016 and have thrived since, adding two new sites to their estate. 

Anglian Country Inns – themselves twice previous winners of the Best Food Offer award – manage eight destination pubs with rooms spread across Norfolk and Hertfordshire, and have won a host of awards and plaudits for their stunning refurbishments of historic English inns. They became S4Labour customers in early 2015 and their directors have often spoken warmly of the relationship between the two companies at industry events since. 

Backed by renowned hospitality investment partners Imbiba, Albion & East took on S4Labour in their Martello Hall site last year, while their second venue Canova Hall opened this autumn. With an offer that’s part restaurant, part cocktail, part nightclub, and wholely impressive, they have been earning rave reviews from customers and the press.

We are delighted to work with a superb array of clients from all sectors of the hospitality industry and proud to be a contributing factor in their ongoing success. We wish Seafood Pub Company and Anglian Country Inns the very best for the Publican Awards finals night in March. 


Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

Our Advice for a Successful Christmas

The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. Within it lies an opportunity to impress your customers and boost your sales. Providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom during the following months. Here’s our advice on how to make this Christmas a roaring success.


By this stage, plans for the festive period will already be in place. With seasonal staff recruited, menus written, and bookings taken, operators must now consider how to implement their strategy as effectively as possible. Doing so will ensure sales opportunities are maximised, and customers are provided with excellent service.

Push Premium Products

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to upsell premium products. With customers looking to indulge or celebrate in style, it is important to ensure your staff are pushing premium items such as champagne on arrival and top-shelf spirits after dinner.

In an increasingly health-conscious society, many customers will be looking for exciting soft drinks over the festive period. Findings from soft-drink producer Britvic showed 45% of consumers are set to buy more soft drinks during the festive season. A total of 37% also plan to spend more on soft drinks at Christmas than in previous years. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of soft drinks is a good way to do so. A premium offering of soft drinks will ensure that teetotallers, designated drivers, and people conscious of work the following day still feel as if they are treating themselves for a special occasion. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.

Communicate with your Staff

Alterations to rotas are inevitable during busy periods such as these. It is therefore important to communicate clearly with your staff, and keep them informed of any changes to their schedules. Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional workload and responsibilities. Regularly restocking fridges, wiping tables, and refilling ice buckets will lead to smooth service, and consequently enhance your customers’ experience. It is also important to recognise and praise staff for their extra effort during what can be an exhausting month. Thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keep morale high.

S4Labour issues notifications to alert staff to changes in the rota. Our HR Module also provides team members with access to an employee portal, allowing them to request holidays, and manage their own details thereby saving admin time. Find out more about the HR Module here.   

Communicate with your Customers

For many venues, communication with customers will already have taken place when taking bookings and pre-orders. Where possible, pre-ordering of food and even drinks is a great way to ensure your business gets stock levels right over the festive period. Advocating pre-ordering will also help the kitchen know what’s coming and prepare accordingly. The information taken from pre-orders should also be used to consider stock levels of sundry items such as candles, napkins and tablecloths. Pre-ordering will improve the efficiency of your front of house staff – with orders already taken, staff have more time available to help in other areas and upsell products. Encouraging pre-ordering will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service.

Applying a minimum spend is a good way to guarantee you get value for your venue space, in a period where it is at a premium. Minimum spend requirements should be clearly communicated with customers prior to their booking to ensure there are no surprises during their visit. Communicating with your customers prior to events will lead to a smoother service and happier guests.

Capacity Engineering

Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using the available space wisely can be a great way to maximise sales. Ensuring you have enough tables and rearranging these to meet demand is one way of accommodating more bookings. You should also consider how you split your site by bookings. This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue – how do you give people private areas? How many tables do you have available, and how frequently do you turn them?

Consider your Trading Hours

Extending the trading hours of your business can allow you to capitalise on increased sales opportunities over the festive period, with customers wishing to continue seasonal celebrations late into the night. Arrangements for staff to work outside of normal trading hours will need to be made, and any council applications to extend licencing hours should be submitted in advance of key dates.


The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.

S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.   

Our Advice for Business Success During Dry January

How to Reset your S4Labour Password

We often hear from S4Labour users who wish to reset their password, either because they wish to change it or because they cannot remember the original.


Resetting a password is a quick and simple process which can be done by following the process below: 

Step One

On the S4Labour login page input your email address into the Username field, and click the blue Forgot Password link. 

Step Two

Clicking the ‘Forgot Password’ link in Step One will trigger an automatic email to be sent to your inbox. This email will contain a link and an eight-digit security code. Click on the link in the email. 

Step Three

Clicking the link in Step Two will take you to a new page, which will prompt you to enter the security key and your new password, before clicking the “RESET Password” button. 


Following the above steps will allow you to log into S4Labour using your new password. 


If you have any further queries, please contact our support desk by emailing s4labour@cattonhospitality.com or calling 01295267400.