“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” Ebenezer Scrooge, Dickens’ cold-hearted miser. A man who utterly despises Christmas.
There will be few publicans amongst us who share Scrooge’s hatred of the festive season. It is after all our highest revenue holiday, beginning at the very end of October with the eerily popular Halloween, through all the Christmas festivities and ending with a party to end all parties, New Year’s Eve. However, we at Venners recognise and appreciate that there is at least some value in his penny-pinching business mind-set. For all his flaws, he definitely knew how to squeeze every last bit of profit from his business dealings.
Ghost of Jacob Marley
So, like your very own Ghost of Jacob Marley, we’re here to take you on a journey through your past and present Christmas stock control, finishing up with a checklist that’s sure to guarantee you a more prosperous Christmas 2018.
Ghost of Christmas Past
After the boom of November and December, the Ghost of Christmas Past, his voice icy and otherworldly, suggests you use the quieter days of mid-winter to reflect on your business’ operating performance throughout the festive season. It’s a good time to investigate how your bottom line has been affected by all types of shrinkage. Knowing how to right those wrongs will help you move forward into 2018 with a clean, profitable slate.
Some of the weekends throughout the season can be utter carnage and busy bars are ripe for inside abuse. Staff theft can be damaging and whether it’s free drinks, under-ringing or cash fraud, make sure you’re aware of what’s been going on. Try to ascertain potential culprits, who may or may not need to be flung out into the cold, snow- covered Victorian streets in the most uncharitable of fashions.
Ghost of Christmas Present
January is now the annual ‘Dry’ month, with consumer drinking habits reducing markedly during this time. This is followed by the slow month of February bringing with them lower revenues despite similar trading costs. If there’s one reliable way to make more gross profit to help you steer through these slow winter months, it’s professional stocktaking. The Ghost of Christmas Present places a cold, shadowy hand on your shoulder, before suggesting you integrate a professional stocktaking supplier into your business’s monthly cycle (if you haven’t already). This will tide you over till spring and build a strong platform for growth for when the steadier months arrive.
Ghost of Christmas Future
January is a time to put some solid plans in place. Take a leaf out of ol’ Ebenezer’s book with the Ghost of Christmas Future’s list of action points to consider for the New Year:
- Embrace your inner Scrooge and demand locals clear their tabs – you’re not a charity! Ps you shouldn’t run tabs!
- Assess your suppliers and try to drive down some of those “outrageous” procurement costs.
- Invest in a professional stocktaker. The tighter controls and boost to gross profit will help at a time when there is less revenue to be made.
- Ensure your January offer includes a healthy range of soft options, zero alcohol beers and new-fangled non-alcoholic spirits. At the same time, include a #TryJanuary promotion.
- Get to the root of shrinkage and take action. That means looking at write-offs, breakages, line cleaning, and losses from theft; the “time of giving” has officially ended.
- Set monthly GP targets for Jan-Dec, then incentivise your staff to achieve them, lest they be docked next year’s Christmas bonus! Bah, humbug!
- Reduce stockholding to a manageable post-Christmas level. Exert some effort to clear old lines that might be hanging around.
- Make sure any dated products are rotated, especially in the fridges.
- Look at your event calendars and plan those future promotions (hint, it’s a World Cup year!)
- Finally, sell through any leftover Christmas-related stock and be rid of the festive season, if only for another year. Mulled wine, anyone?
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!