"Whilst January can be a chance to catch your breath after Christmas and take a break, it's also a great opportunity to plan your year ahead."

There's nothing worse than walking into a pub in January, to find there's nobody in except a solitary member of barstaff, sat on the this side of the bar, reading the paper. Especially if your arrival is greeted with a 'humph' as they get up to serve you.

It may be a quiet time of the year for many pubs - especially rural ones with the snow and ice we've had up this way (the North East) these last couple of weeks. But it's a great opportunity to look at your business with fresh eyes. Here's what I've spotted during my travels recently, normally over the afternoon whilst I'm having a coffee or two...

A pub with a small bar which, during the three hours of the afternoon I was drinking coffee and working, had everything taken off it, the wine rack moved to a better space, optics taken down and a quick lick of paint applied.

A pub that had presumably the landlady and the bar lady (bar woman?) at a large table with one of those year planners out, deciding which of the many 'obscure weeks' they could successfully market and what they'd do. This Sunday is Yorkshire Pudding Day by the way...

A barman re-painting blackboards with blackboard paint and another stock-taking the bar.

Whilst January can be a chance to catch your breath after Christmas and take a break, it's also a great opportunity to plan your year ahead. A lick of paint, a deep clean or a look at the events coming up that you can maximise by being prepared for. Otherwise you might miss International Carrot Day, and nobody wants to look foolish by missing that...