If you’re looking to open a bar in the near future, be prepared to do a lot of work to make sure you get as much business as possible. Aside from the major pieces, such as acquiring a liquor license and negotiating the lease, there are nuanced aspects of the job that might be easy to overlook. Anyone can open a bar, but what you want is a SUCCESSFUL bar. Understanding what it takes to be a profitable business owner is important, but with a bar in particular, there are certain key things you need to know. Here are some tips for getting the most business for your new bar or pub.
Understand your audience
As within any industry, understanding your audience is so important when selling a product or providing a service. The bar industry is no different. You don’t want to make the mistake of trying to market your bar to everyone. So, who is your target demographic? Obviously, you’ll want to target individuals over 21. From there, you’ll need to think about two things. First, what type of bar are you running? If it’s a hip, craft beer joint, you may be looking to aim for a younger audience. If you want to run a more traditional corner bar that plays classic rock music, it might be a slightly older crowd you’re looking to acquire. The second thing to think about is your location. If you’re looking to run that trendy spot marketed toward a younger crowd, you better be located in an area where that type of business is possible, such as near a college or in a bustling city in the modern, artistic part of town. If you’re located in a sleepy neighborhood where the neighbors are older, you might want to cater your bar to that type of audience.
Know your competition
When opening any type of business, it’s important to know what competition is around the area. Know what types of bars and pubs are located in the general area and try to provide the public with something your competitors don’t have. If there are no other bars in the area that feature a karaoke night, this may be something you could incorporate into your business. If the area is ripe for a dance club, bring in a DJ every week and get the locals grooving to the music. Give the community something they don’t already have elsewhere. But, in an attempt to set yourself apart, don’t stray too far from the fundamentals. If you see some local bars are doing well, try and figure out what keeps them in business and why they’re so popular, and take that into account with your own business.
Provide live entertainment
Something that has been proven to draw a crowd, particularly within bars and restaurants, is live entertainment. Often, when we think of entertainment, we think of a band, an open mic night, a DJ, etc. These things would all be assets when it comes to appealing to a bar audience. As mentioned before, karaoke is also a great people-pleaser. But, if you want to go above and beyond, provide your guests with entertainment unlike any in the area. Consider hiring an impersonator, a magician, or even a comedy act to liven up the atmosphere. There are many talented performers looking for work, particularly in bigger cities. If you’re in a place like L.A., amazing comedians such as Heidi Heaslet are available to perform at parties and businesses. In smaller areas, the pickings may seem like much less, but even open mic comedy nights may provide your community with something it has long been awaiting. Support local talent as well as the success of your business and look around your area for performers who can add a little something extra to your bar or club.
Hire the right staff
As the owner, you have the biggest investment in your bar, but you’ll likely not be interacting with every customer making sure they have a quality experience. This is where your staff comes in. Starting out on the right foot involves picking out the best individuals to represent you as part of your business. Hiring bartenders and servers with experience is always great, but people can always be trained in the basics. What’s more important is getting yourself a reliable staff who brings smiles to work and cheer to the environment in your bar every day. Some things can be learned, but a happy demeanor is something that cannot always be taught. Build trust with your employees and you’ll feel more comfortable leaving the customer interactions in their capable hands. Figure out what roles you need to fill and think about, if you were the customer, who you’d have the most enjoyable time interacting with.