You love your nightclub, but things could be better. Sometimes, your staff wanders in late. Some of the customers complain about the food. You don’t serve local beer or wine because you just don’t think it suits the style of your establishment. All of these things can actually hurt your business. Here’s how to turn things around before you’re forced to close up shop.
Promote The Drinks
Promoting drinks isn’t just a good idea, it’s one of the ways even small dive bars stay open and beat the odds in a recession. If you don’t have a “drink of the week” or “drink of the day,” you’re missing the ball. Implement drink specials right now. Some states have restrictions on discounting drinks, but that’s fine. You don’t have to necessarily discount drinks. You just have to promote them.
In fact, discounting drinks might send the wrong signal. Instead of discounting, offer more value. Offer something unique that your customers can’t easily get anywhere else. If you serve margaritas, for example, Don’t use a mix. Make them by hand from scratch. Train your bartenders to be real bartenders and not “mixers.”
Often, you can justify higher drink prices this way, and people will gladly pay them because the drinks will be spectacular.
If you have a few drinks that don’t bring in much money, try promoting them before pulling them from the drink menu.
Have a Plan
Having a plan is something most bar owners don’t have but it’s absolutely necessary if you plan on being in business for the long-term. It sounds incredible, but most bar owners don’t do systematic promotion, don’t have long-term income goals, don’t have an exit strategy, and don’t know how to expand as their business starts showing even a little success.
Have a business plan. Project up to the first 5 years of revenue. Make plans for growth and expansion by writing out your marketing plan. Decide which markets you want to enter and dominate. Have a target market that’s more specific than “anyone who’s thirsty.” Will you serve the 20-something crowd? An older crowd? Professionals? Make that decision now.
Use Local Products
Many bar managers will justify using cheap products because they don’t think “local” fits the style or theme of the bar. The truth is that most customers prefer locally brewed beers and local food by a wide margin. Always serve at least one local beer and see for yourself.
Use Fresh Food
You’ve heard the term “bar food,” and it usually conjures up images of second-rate food, deep fried in who-knows-what. Don’t be like that. Break away from the stereotype and serve fresh food. You can still put nachos on the menu, but use real cheese, taco meat made from scratch (consider blending your own taco spices – it’s not that hard), fresh sour cream and local veggies as toppings. You’ll be amazed at just how popular that kind of thing is.
Update Your POS
If you still have an actual cash register, it might be time to upgrade to Bepoz POS software or some other type of digital POS terminal. Most people use credit cards and debit cards these days. Sure, cash is still here, and there’s definitely a place for it. But plastic is now king. Allow people to open a tab, and you might actually double your profits.
Don’t Cut Corners On Quality
Quality counts – even in a bar. Don’t skimp on the quality of the furniture you use, the food you buy, and the drinks you make. In other words, opt for durable furniture, fresh food, and hand-made drinks.
Do Your Research
Do you have a market that needs to be served where you’re located. A bitter pill to swallow is the idea that you’re just not needed at your current location. Make sure you do your research, find your target market (if one exists there), and then serve those people the best you can.
Fix Staffing Problems
Don’t let waitresses and bartenders clock in late and leave early. It’s unprofessional and it costs you money. Spend time interviewing candidates and try to hire actual talent as opposed to a pretty face or sexy bod. Talent is what keeps customers coming in. Sure, if your waitresses are attractive, they’ll get good tips – at least at first. But if they can’t serve, you don’t have much of a business.
Store Foods and Drinks Properly
This should be option, but beer that’s left out to get warm is nobody’s friend. Meat that’s thawed can’t be safely served to the general public, and drinks that are incorrectly handled can add up to a lot of waste or even food poisoning.
Chris Allen has been in the nightclub business for several years. He loves writing about tips and tricks to make a nightclub the place to be.