Sparkler City, Author at Sparkler City

Video Surveillance

4 Reasons Your Bar Needs a Surveillance System

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These days, setting up a high quality video surveillance system for your bar is incredibly simple and very affordable. There are complete kits that allow you to position cameras throughout your bar or nightclub discreetly, and best of all most of them are completely wireless so you won’t need to run wires or cables throughout your venue. Though we’d all love to live in a world where using video surveillance equipment wasn’t necessary, but there are so many reasons that it’s a good idea; particularly if you are in the bar or nightclub business. If you aren’t already convinced that setting up cameras in your bar is the right idea, here are the four most important reasons that you should.

Employee Theft

Whether you’ve already noticed money or liquor missing or you just want to keep your employees honest, a video surveillance system will help to deter and catch criminals in your business. Your bartenders and servers will immediately notice that there’s a camera pointed directly at their tills, so it will make them think twice before pocketing cash when nobody is looking. If one of your employees is still daring enough to steal even when they’re on camera, you’ll have all the evidence you need when it comes time to terminate them or get the authorities involved.

Walk Outs

One of the worst pitfalls of running a bar is having customers walk out on their check without paying. The bar and nightclub industry is particularly susceptible to walk outs because people are drinking and either can’t afford their tab or just plain forget to settle up with the bartender. With the proper video surveillance setup at your bar and at your entrances/exits, you can quickly determine which customers are walking out on their tabs so you can put them on the blacklist.

Vandalism

Whether it’s in your bathroom stalls or on the front of your building, cameras can help you catch perpetrators of vandalism. Obviously, you can’t put cameras inside your bathroom stalls, but having plenty of cameras throughout the bar coupled with proper walkthroughs by your staff at the end of the night can easily help you figure out who the culprits are so you can hold them accountable.

Legal Protection

Whether somebody robs your bartender or your bouncers get into a nasty scuffle, having video footage of the events that transpire inside your bar can really come in handy for legal proceedings. All it takes is a few seconds of footage to clear one of your employees if they are wrongfully accused of something, or it can help you settle an insurance claim if you are the victim of a robbery or theft.

Installing the right video surveillance equipment can be a tempting job to put on the backburner, but it’s really important if you want to have a safe and secure business environment. Whether you want to prevent employee theft or protect yourself from legal issues, having video documentation of what happens inside your bar or nightclub is always a valuable commodity.

Getting Your First Bar Funded

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When most people decide to open their first bar or nightclub, they do it because it has been a long time dream. The sad reality is that it takes a lot of money to start a bar from scratch, and most entrepreneurs won’t have all of the capital that it takes right off the bat. That means you will need to court perspective investors and get them onboard with your concept which will be a blend of salesmanship and compromise. If you are like many entrepreneurs, this will be your first business that you start of any kind, so it can be tough to navigate the waters. Here are some basic steps that you’ll want to take before you start pitching your bar concept to investors.

Brand and Concept

The very first step that you’ll need to take is to have a viable and well thought out concept. Just approaching an investor with the dream of owning a bar will never do, so you need to work out some of the details. Come up with a name and a concept before you ever start crunching the numbers, and even come up with some logo and marketing material concepts. Chances are you’ll need to work with the investors to alter your original concept, but you can check out a project portfolio website like Behance to get some general ideas on paper before you start working through the details. Some people feel that logo design is putting the horse before the cart, but I think it’s just prudent planning.

Business Plan

Creating a high quality business plan, also called a prospectus, is another essential step to complete before approaching potential investors. You are going to need all of the detailed information included such as operating costs, building costs, and what you expect to draw from the local market based on heavy research and demographics. This is a difficult feat for most rookies, so you should hire a professional consulting firm to help you get it right. You’ll also need to figure out how the business arrangement will work over time. For instance, if the investors gave $100,000, you could do a 75/25 split of revenues in favor of the investors until they have earned $115,000, and then change it to a 25/75 split in your favor until the business is gone or sold. This is called a share flip and will probably need to be tweaked based on your investors risk comfort.

Pitching Your Bar

You could have the best concept in the world with a great business plan to show how it will be profitable, but if you flub the pitch you won’t go anywhere. There are plenty of great webinars and websites out there to coach you on pitching your business, so make sure you educate and prepare yourself before you setup any meetings. You can also tap a consulting firm to help you with this process, but that will add to the out of pocket expenses you incur just to get the bar or nightclub off the ground.

Overall, it’s important to remember that even though it was your concept originally, bringing investors onboard means sharing your vision and making compromises. It’s a trade-off that many first time bar owners simply must make if they don’t have a huge supply of capital on hand to do it alone. Remember, your goal is to get your first bar or nightclub off the ground, so focus on making your dream come true the second time around or after you have the funds to buy out the original investors.

Summer at a Bar

Enjoying a Profitable Summer at your Bar

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With summer upon us, putting together a game plan to maximize your revenues is vital for your bar or nightclub to have a profitable season. Potential customers are eager to enjoy their summer, so if you offer them what they want you can make huge profits in just a few short months. On the flipside, if you don’t entice your customer base, they will be just as content to stay home and drink in their backyard with friends. The key is to offer them something at your bar or nightclub that they can’t get anywhere else in town, and there are a few simple ways to accomplish that.

Get Your Staff Ready

Before you even consider trying to pull in more customers over the summer, you need to make sure your staff is set and ready to go. That means making sure you have enough bartenders and servers hired to accommodate any demand that may arise, as well as making sure that bar staff is properly trained. If you can have a complete staff of pros who know exactly what they are supposed to, your guests will stay longer and keep coming back to your bar which will lead to massively higher profits.

Plan Summertime Events

Events are the lifeblood to any successful summer marketing program for a bar or nightclub, so this is where much of your attention needs to be devoted in the months leading up to summer. You’re going to want to book a great variety of bands and come up with themed party nights such as beach attire or even a toga party. Make sure you book the most popular local bands in your area as soon as possible because they will get snatched up quickly for summer show. If you create events that are entertaining and make your customers feel like it is an exclusive experience, you can expect to see large profits follow.

Marketing

No matter how great your summertime event strategy is, it will be all for not if you can’t market it properly. You need to do all of the standard methods such as social media, your website, and even radio ads if you’re in a large enough market, but never underestimate the power of in-house marketing. By putting table tents of your next event on every table and having large banners boasting upcoming parties or bands, you will directly market to your best demographic of all: people who already want to come to your bar or nightclub.

Summer can be the most profitable season for a bar or nightclub, but if can also lead to a completely empty venue if you don’t know how to attract customers. It all starts with having a well-trained and competent staff that is ready to work, and everything else stems from there. Once you have a great staff in place, you can focus on putting together summertime entertainment and marketing it so your bar or nightclub packs out each night. If you can conquer those three factors, you can easily have a very profitable summer at your venue.

Father's Day

Packing Your Bar for Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is a very big deal in our country, and kids bring their day out for cocktails and cigars on a regular basis. However, between the nice weather accommodating cookouts and your local competition offering promotions to steal away your business, you really need to step up your game if you want to claim your share of the market. Fortunately, packing your bar for Father’s Day is pretty straight-forward if you know what you’re doing, so here are a few tips to help get you started.

Food and Brunch Options

If you aren’t already serving food at your bar, then you really need to create a food program for your bar ASAP; but we’ve already discussed that before. Assuming you have a normal menu and a functioning kitchen, you need to offer a Father’s Day brunch and advertise it accordingly. Brunch is the #1 seller on Father’s Day, and for lunch and dinner options you should focus on hearty specials involving lots of red meat like steak, burgers, or prime rib for those hungry Dad’s out there.

Whiskey, Whiskey, and More Whiskey

Whiskey is almost every Dad’s favorite drink, so offering a plethora of cocktails using their favorite liquor is a surefire way to drum up sales. Old Fashions, Manhattans, and Jack and Cokes will be selling like hotcakes, and you should also bring in a few top shelf bourbons and scotches to satisfy the more discerning tastes.

Cigars Galore

I don’t normally advocate bars to encourage smoking, but Father’s Day is definitely an exception to that rule. Make sure you have a fine selection of cigars on hand to sell to relaxing patrons as well as a specific cigar smoking area outdoors on your patio. Make sure you post signs all over the place to inform your non-smoking patrons to avoid complaints since cigar smoke is so aromatic. You can also create specials around the cigars to combine a cocktail and a cigar for one low price to bolster even better sales.

Craft Beer

Craft beer is always a favorite among fathers, so make sure you bring in a wider selection. Perhaps find a local brewery that will bring in their beer choices and sell flights to thirsty dads. Or maybe you want to do a firkin which is where they pound a tap into the side of a specially designed keg and the beer is simply gravity fed into your glass. Whatever you do, offer a good selection of craft beers that are out of the norm to get those dads drinking something with flavor on their special day.

Contests or Giveaways

Father’s Day is a great time for contests and giveaways, and you should be able to find a lot of local businesses to support you. Things like gift certificates, local brewery tours, or even a six pack of beer can be a great prize for a raffle, contest, or giveaway, and people will stay longer and drink more if they believe they have a shot at winning a prize.

Father’s Day is already a great experience for most dads, but by putting together the right programs you can make it better and earn a profit at the same time. Just make sure you focus on the interest of an average dad when you are making your plans and your Father’s Day promotions are sure to be a success.

Bar Patio

Preparing Your Bar for Summer

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Summer is obviously one of the nicest times of year to be outside, and that can be a terrible thing in the bar industry. Over the summer months, more people decide to skip the bar altogether and do outdoor activities instead. Things like going to the beach, having a backyard barbeque, or sitting around a campfire takes precedence over bellying up to the bar, and that can impact your bottom line negatively. So what can you do to bring people into your bar during the summer months? Fortunately, there are a few tactics that will still bring out the crowds if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Open a Patio Section

One of the biggest reasons that people skip the bar during the summer is that they want to sit outside and enjoy the weather. That’s really hard to do when sitting inside a stuffy bar where the smell of beer and patrons hangs in the air, so you need to offer them an area outside to sit and enjoy their beverages. If you don’t have a patio yet, you need to figure out a way to setup part of your bar outside. You don’t necessarily need an actual bar and bartender outside, just a place where people can sit and enjoy the weather while buying items form your establishment. If you already have a patio, you should consider having a large banner printed up to hang out in front of your bar so everyone walking and driving by knows that you have outdoor seating available for customers.

Tropical Cocktails

Whether you live in Florida or in Minnesota, summers get hot and humid. When the weather feels tropical outside, people like to transport themselves to a tropical destination; if only in their minds. By creating a selection of tropical drinks for your customers to enjoy and advertising them properly, you will draw in a crowd of people looking to take a “vacation” for a few hours. Ice cold tropical drinks are irresistible in the hot summer months, and when you couple that with their difficulty to make at home you have a recipe for success.

Live Music

One thing that brings in customers regardless of what season it happens to be is entertainment, and live music is the king of that realm. Not only will you get most of your regular customers interested in coming to see the band, but usually the band will bring a small following to your bar as well to boost business. If you have the space and it is allowed by your local laws, you should try to have your music outdoors whenever possible. Not only will this combine the live music with an outdoor experience that customers crave, but it is also great marketing because people in the surrounding areas will hear the music and come to your bar to check it out.

Summer may be a slow time for the bar industry, but with proper planning and marketing you can still run a successful business. If you can key-in on what customers are interested in doing during the summer months, preparing your bar for success will be a much easier process.

Bottle Service

Determining Table and Bottle Pricing in your Club

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Originally when nightclubs first became trendy, the only costs were for drinks and possibly a cover charge to get in the door. Over the last few decades, club owners have found all sorts of new ways to generate revenue such as bottle service, VIP seating, and more. When you’re pricing out a cocktail, the formula is really straight forward. You figure out the cost of the ingredients, add on your target margin, and you come up with a final price. However, determining table and bottle pricing can be a little trickier since it is skewed based on the demand of your limited seating areas and the “cool factor” of buying bottle service. Fortunately, there is a pretty simple way to figure it out if you know what you’re doing.

Bottle Service

There are two main ways nightclubs handle bottle service. Option one is used if there are plenty of table in the club and groups can simply order a bottle with mixers for their table to enjoy. Option two, the more popular option, involves having a limited number of tables available that are exclusively for groups who are buying bottle service.

To put it bluntly, a table for bottle service is worth whatever people are willing to pay. It’s always good to start off with a base price at the beginning of the night, such as 1 bottle for $300 or 2 bottles for $600, and then slowly increase the price as tables begin to fill up. It’s not uncommon for a nightclub to charge twice what the initial going rate for bottle service by the end of the night if the club is very busy. Just remember that it is completely supply and demand, so if the group wants bottle service they will pay what you ask.

Table Pricing

Some venues like to offer tables to VIP customers as a way of showing their status. Usually, this requires an additional purchase of a VIP package when they arrive at the club. Similar to bottle service, the cost of a table can fluctuate based on demand. However, it is usually much more affordable to be seated in the VIP area compared to getting a table with bottle service. You should also keep them separated so the bottle service customers are considered the top echelon while the VIP customers are a close second.

Advanced Booking Fees

Sometimes large groups want to reserve a section of your nightclub for an event such as a birthday party or a bachelor party. This can mean big business, but it can also hinder your regular business model because of the amount of space they will take up in your venue. For this “hassle”, you should charge an advanced booking fee. Typically, the industry standard is somewhere between 25% and 50% of the normal cover charge per person in the group. This should also be non-refundable in case the group decides to cancel unexpectedly so you aren’t out the labor and materials costs for preparing for their arrival.

Though pricing out VIP packages and bottle service requires some flexibility and a keen business sense, with a little practice it is fairly straight forward. Just remember that you’re selling an experience and that demand should guide you while you’re determining table and bottle pricing in your club.

Bartenders Replaced by Machines

Will Machines and Software Replace Bartenders?

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These days, it seems like there is an app for pretty much everything. Machines and software have changed the way we do almost everything in our day to day lives, and there are constantly new innovations shaping the way we interact with the world around us. Fortunately, much of the service industry has remained unaffected by these sweeping changes, and that includes the bar and nightclub industry. However, there have already been some changes throughout the industry that are pointing in the direction of removing human interaction, and that spells trouble for many people who are employed in this field.

Now, I don’t want to start a panic because this is very early in the process and likely won’t be a reality for many years, if not decades, but understanding that there is a clock on all of our jobs is important to help you prepare for your future. The fact of the matter is that all jobs will likely be replaced by machines and software at some point, and bartenders and servers at bars and nightclubs are no exception. Here is how it all shakes down in the upcoming decades.

Replacing Servers

The die has been cast already for servers being replaced by machines and software, and you can find evidence of it at many of the most popular chain restaurants. It actually started in the fast food industry with the ability to order online before you get to the store, but now places like Jack in the Box have kiosks in their dining rooms that allow you to order through a machine rather than talk directly to a cashier. Though this replaces jobs, the sad truth is that it is actually more reliable and accurate than telling your order to another human to enter into their software. You can also see tablets on the tables at restaurants like Applebee’s and Chili’s where you can place your orders and print your check. You still have a server to physically bring your food and drinks out to you, but your interaction with them is otherwise eradicated.

Replacing Bartenders

Replacing bartenders with machines and software is a little further out sue to the personable nature of the job, but you can see the appeal. Imagine ordering your drinks from a tablet right from your barstool and a machine mixing your beverage precisely every time you order. No longer would you need to hope your bartender knows how to make an old fashioned properly because the machine will be programmed to do it perfectly every single time. They already have self-serve tap beer systems that allow patrons to pour their own beers, so taking this next leap is not too far-fetched.

In summary, there are many aspects of serving and bartending that you can expect to be replaced by technology over the next few years and decades. However, eliminating people altogether from the bar and nightclub industry won’t happen for quite a long time. Sure, you can have machines make your drinks and you can replace ordering and paying with software, but you will still need servers to deliver food to the table and bartenders to bring the drinks to thirsty customers sitting on their barstools.

Snowmobile Trail

Opening a Bar on a Snowmobile Trail

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Snowmobiling is one of the most fun and relaxing outdoor activities, and hundreds of thousands of people participate in it each and every year. Almost every state in the northern United States adores snowmobiling and there are tens of thousands of miles of snowmobiling trails throughout those states. Though many people think that the local residents are the primary people who indulge in snowmobiling, there are actually quite a lot of tourists who come for this purpose as well. So is there any value to setting up your bar to cater to snowmobilers, and how would you go about doing this?

Location

The most important aspect of catering to snowmobilers during the winter months is your location. You simply must be located on a snowmobile trail in order for this to work, or at least be accessible via snowmobile from the trail. If you can’t get to your bar by snowmobile, you can pretty much forget it. Also, regardless of whether or not your bar is directly on the snowmobile route, you need to put up advertising just like any other business would. Consider putting up billboards along the trails to let riders know what you offer, where you’re located, and how far they have to ride before they reach your bar.

Other Amenities

If you really want to bring in the snowmobiler crowd, you’ll need to offer more than just a bar. Most importantly, you need to offer hot food to warm up the cold riders. Also, having a gas pump for the snowmobiles will also make your bar a desirable destination for riders. Lastly, consider having hot showers or even hotel rooms available for rent to the riders so they can do multi-day rides on the trail. Try to think of anything a snowmobiler would want on their trek and offer it to them to be successful in this endeavor.

During the Off-Season

Unless you’re located in the farthest reaches of Canada or Greenland, snowmobiling alone won’t be able to support your bar. When there isn’t snow on the ground, you’ll need to find other sources of income. Luckily, being located on a snowmobiling trail usually means that you’ll be nearby great hunting and fishing areas. Try to setup your business plan to capitalize on these types of outdoor activities during the snowmobiling off-season to make your bar as profitable as possible.

Each year there are millions of dollars spent on snowmobiling, and you can easily grab a large piece of that market if you have everything in place. All you need to do is have a great bar location directly on a snowmobiling trail that offers good drinks and food as well as gas and maybe even accommodations. If you put together a great plan to bring in the snowmobiling crowd and couple that with a solid off-season program, you can make money hand over fist at your bar location.

Nightclub Inventory

Watching Your Business Expenses Closely

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In business, watching your bottom line is the most important part of being successful. Your total expenses generally tie in directly with your profit margins, and the total profits that a company sees at the end of the year can play into bonuses for management and the ability to hire more employees in subsequent years to continue expanding the business. While this sounds pretty cut and dry, most businesses have already done the basics of finding the cheapest suppliers and taken other measures to make sure they are producing product at the lowest possible price. However, there are other things to take into consideration that just may save you more money than you ever thought possible.

Employee Theft

Though you probably don’t want to think of your employees in this light, the fact of the matter is that one in three employees will steal something from their workplace at some point during their career. This can range from something really small such as a box of straws from the back room to something expensive like a case of high end vodka. Rather than suspecting all of your employees and treating them like criminals, it is easier to put in basic security checkpoints to weed out theft. Most theft is bred from opportunity, so by making it difficult to steal using a single monitored entry point and surveillance cameras throughout the business, you can discourage your employees from attempting theft and lower your business expenses.

Energy Costs

Energy expenses can be a business’ biggest enemy; especially if you operate a large venue such as a restaurant or nightclub. Nightclubs are usually filled to the brim with computer POS stations, lighting, and sound systems which all suck energy like it is going out of style. One of the best things you can do is to have all of the computers and other equipment setup to power down at a certain time unless there is human intervention. This will save you a ton of energy costs over time, yet still allow for employees to stay late to finish up any necessary work.

For restaurants, energy efficiency is the name of the game. While it may seem to be a good idea to stick with a piece of equipment that is still working fine, you may be able to offset the cost of a new piece of equipment with the energy saving alone. If you can produce more food in a shorter period time while also saving tons of money on energy, that new piece of equipment can sometimes pay for itself in just a matter of months. Make sure you crunch all the numbers and leave no stone unturned when finding ways to save on energy because it is only going to become more expensive as we move forward.

Inventory Control

Another technique that can save you money is to monitor your inventory very closely. The more accurate you are with your stock levels, the less you need to order and have sitting around on your shelves. There are many great inventory tools that allow you to determine the right amount of a given item to keep in stock so you never run out but never order too much, thus you keep as little cash tied up as possible and eliminate the risk of losing money if certain items are perishable. There are even inventory systems that allow you to monitor how much liquor you have on hand using the camera on a smartphone or tablet, so there’s really no excuse anymore. Good inventory control procedures will also factor into the employee theft problem because you will notice a discrepancy sooner than later.

Holiday Bonuses

Holiday Bonuses: Pros and Cons

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Most people think that the real compensation for an employee working at a bar or nightclub is their tips; and for the most part that is true. Many bartenders and servers consider their tips as their paycheck and their paycheck as their tip. However, many nightlife employees have families which rely on both their paycheck and their tips to make ends meet, so one night of bad tips or an unexpected illness can lead to some tough budgeting decisions; especially around the holiday season.

For these reasons, it has been customary for decades for an employer to give out holiday bonuses as an act of kindness to their employees. This practice is still in full effect for many occupations including office workers and upper management at retail stores, but most of the time the only ones who get to enjoy this perk are people who work for small businesses.

As a small business owner, you rely heavily on a very specific group of people. Each of them is an important fixture in your business, and you likely know every one of their names and see them on a fairly regular basis. Giving out Holiday bonuses is generally seen as a way to attract and keep top talent when you’re smaller than the big name competitors, but even small businesses have been getting away from rewarding their employees.

So, this begs the question: should you give your employees a Holiday bonus or not? Here are the pros and cons of giving out Holiday bonuses to your employees so you can make that determination for yourself.

Pros

The most notable reason that giving your employees Holiday bonuses is a good idea is that you will be building loyal and hard-working employees. If your employees aren’t feeling rewarded or appreciated, they tend to slack off more and care less about their job and your bar or nightclub. Additionally, you can have the best qualified bartenders and servers if you offer bonuses because the best people will always follow the money and the appreciation.

Cons

Obviously, most business men don’t want to pay people more than they need to. After all, your employees are getting paid a fair wage for their work, and you create an environment for earning tips to boot. Furthermore, once you give out Holiday bonuses, you’ve set a dangerous precedent that they’ll be receiving one every year. Giving out Holiday bonuses to your employees will ultimately hurt your bottom line, and that is also the most important thing at the end of the day.

Whether you see the value in giving your employees a bonus or you are more centered on the success of your business, weighing the pros and cons can help you make your decision. Just make sure you take into account that your employees might counting on their Holiday bonus before you decide whether or not give them out.

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