Bar Archives | Sparkler City

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.

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.

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.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour Specials to Draw in Crowds

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Happy hour is by and large one of the most popular times for people to come to your bar, and if you do it right you can expect to see some hefty profits. If you have the right happy hour specials available, your food and drinks will practically sell themselves. However, many bar owners have no idea how to put together a set of specials properly, so they end up guessing and missing out on a ton of sales. Here are a few basic happy hour specials that you can offer your customers to draw in crowds and make a lot of profit. Though each bar is different, these should help to get you on the right track.

2 for 1

The easiest special to offer during happy hour is 2 for 1 rail drinks and domestic beers. People love getting something for free, even if it means that they have to make a purchase first. If you don’t have proper margins, this tactic will never work; so make sure you have everything figured out ahead of time. Optionally, you can do a 2 for 1 special on select types of beer or cocktails to maximize your return.

Discount Beer Buckets

Offering a discount on your buckets of beer is another great way to drum up more sales painlessly. Typically, you can work out a deal with one of your beer distributors to give you a volume discount on a certain brand of bottled beer since you’ll be featuring it in a promotion. Sell six bottles of beer on ice for a discounted price and you’ll be selling buckets left and right.

½ Price Appetizers

Food is crucial to the success of your bar, so including a food special is basically required for success. An easy way to do this is to offer ½ appetizers all through your happy hour. They aren’t going to be a huge driver of profits on their own, but your customers will stay longer and drink more because they can get something to eat and appetizers are typically pretty salty.

Food and Drink Combos

Lastly, food and drink combos are another staple special for happy hour. If you sell pizzas, you could offer a large one topping pizza and a pitcher of beer for one low price. Or, to capture the “singles” crowd, you could offer a cheeseburger and a pint of beer for a flat rate too. Combining a food and beverage purchase into one price will usually cause a lot of purchases, and you can even be strategic to sell certain items from your cooler or freezer if they are getting close to expired.

No matter what type of specials you offer during happy hour, the most important factor to consider is getting the margins correct. If you’re just blindly setting prices and choosing your specials, it’s never going to be profitable or draw in the crowds the way that you’re hoping. Us some common sense, think about what your customers might enjoy, and price things accurately to see a huge spike in happy hour business and your bottom line.

Zombie Pub Crawl

Zombie Pub Crawl: Is Your Bar Ready?

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With Halloween just around the corner, you’ve probably heard the buzz about your local zombie pub crawl. For those who aren’t aware, a zombie pub crawl is when a large group of people dress up like zombies and go from bar to bar throughout a given town to have a few drinks. This can be a great way to drum up extra business during the Halloween season, but there are also some things you need to consider before you sign on if you want to make sure it’s a successful endeavor. Here are the key details that will help you determine if participating in your local pub crawl is worth your time.

Number of Bars

One of the biggest factors when determining if you should be part of the zombie pub crawl is the number of bars in your town or city. If there are only two or three bars that are part of the pub crawl, then you aren’t going to bring in enough business to make it worth the effort. Additionally, if there are way too many bars on the crawl, the customers won’t stay long enough for you to make any real money. The target number of bars on the pub crawl should be between five and seven for everyone to make money and have a large crowd of zombies.

Choose a Special

Having a great drink special is vital to having a successful role in your local zombie pub crawl. Often times the zombies will go through all of the bars on the list and then return to the one they liked the best. This means that you’ll need to go beyond the standard beer or cocktail specials that you’re used to offering and come up with something much more suitable for Halloween. Fortunately, there are many great recipes available online for this time of year that are easy to make and very delicious.

Typical Yearly Etiquette

Once you get together a good group of bars to participate in the zombie pub crawl, you’ll want to setup some good yearly rules of etiquette. Most importantly, you need to make sure all the bars take turns for who is first and last on the crawl. Most of the people are going to stay at the last location each year, so rotating that privilege is only fair if everyone is going to prosper and continue to take part in future years. Obviously it would be nice to always be the last stop, but without the other bars you aren’t going to make much money.

Being part of a zombie pub crawl is a great way to make money and embrace the Halloween season if you know what you’re doing. With the proper planning and the right conditions, you can easily make sure your bar is ready for the upcoming zombie pub crawl and you can make money hand over fist while giving your community something fun to look forward to each and every year.

Hunting Season

Setting Up your Bar for Hunting Season

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With hunting seasons upon us, it’s only natural to think about capturing a piece of that business at your bar. Hunting season can be big business if all of the stars align properly for your bar, but the window is pretty narrow so you have to act quickly and decisively. Also, some bars rely specifically on fishing and hunting customers, and that opens up a whole different set of considerations. Here are some tips on setting up your bar for hunting season no matter what type of venue you operate.

Location Matters

First off, the location of your bar will play a large role in how you set it up for hunting season. Do you have a neighborhood bar and grill that just happens to get a large wave of hunters because of your location, or are you specifically out in hunting and fishing territory? Your bar’s location will determine if you setup the theme to be geared towards hunting year-round or if you will just supplement your building with decorations during hunting season.

Importance of Food

Food is also a major factor, no matter what type of bar location you’re running during hunting season. Groups of guys are going to be out in the woods from the wee hours of the morning until the darkness of night, and chances are they’re going to be tired and hungry. That means they don’t want to cook, but are almost certainly looking for a hot meal in their bellies. If your bar isn’t offering food, you’re not going to last long in that market. Also, you may want to open up early for breakfast during hunting season to become a “one stop hunting shop” for everything that the hunters need.

Lodging and Packages

Lastly, if at all possible you should try to offer as many services, including lodging, to the hunters as possible. If you have some land nearby, consider offering camping sites so you can keep the hunters nearby and utilizing your bar and other amenities. Also, try to offer things like ice, fuel, showers, laundry machines, and any other conveniences you can muster. Doing a load of laundry gives the hunters the perfect amount of time to grab some dinner and a couple of beers before they retreat to their cabin or tent. By keeping them coming back to your bar for everything they need, you can build loyalty and enjoy repeat business across the board.

In a perfect world, every bar owner would be able to offer a whole slew of great amenities to their customers and really bring in big business during hunting season. However, that’s just not viable for every location or building, so you just need to do the best you can with what you have at your disposal. As long as you decorate your building in a way that is appropriate for your location, offer food to your hungry patrons, and also offer as many amenities and services as you possibly can, setting up your bar for hunting season should be pretty easy and yield you some fantastic profits.

Halloween at a Bar or Nightclub

Preparing Your Venue for Halloween

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With Halloween just around the corner, many bar and nightclub owners know that they need to start planning accordingly. Halloween is historically one of the biggest nights of the year for bar and nightclub business, but you won’t see a penny if you don’t have a great entertainment package planned. Also, there are other implications if you don’t bring in a great crowd on Halloween, and those implications can echo through the rest of the holiday season.

As most of you know, fall marks the beginning of busy season at most bars and nightclubs. With the weather outside changing and getting colder, people are fleeing their backyard parties of summertime and opting to belly up at their favorite watering hole. To capture recurring customers for the busy fall and early winter seasons, you need to pack your venue on Halloween. Here’s what you need to know.

Decorate

Decorating your bar or nightclub for Halloween is very important to create a fun experience for your customers. However, you don’t want it to look and feel like a haunted attraction, so make sure you’re choosing wisely. Put a few pumpkin and ghost decorations scattered throughout the venue to make it look festive, but try not to overdo it. Also, make sure you have something visible from the street so people passing by can see the decorations to. Lastly, don’t decorate your bar until around halfway through October because any earlier would be overkill.

Events

Entertainment is crucial to bringing in crowds on Halloween, so make sure you have a great program put in place ahead of time. Remember to book a band or DJ in advance because the best ones will book up fast as Halloween approaches. Also, you simply must have a costume contest to encourage your customers to dress up. Lastly, don’t forget the drink specials! Make some “creepy” variations of classic cocktails and offer at least one pumpkin ale to keep your customers in the mood to spend money and party.

Advertise

Lastly, you need to advertise your Halloween party proudly and loudly. Make a huge banner to put out in front of your bar or nightclub. Take to social media and make sure everyone possible sees the details of your Halloween extravaganza. You could have the greatest party put together in the entire world, but not a single customer will show up if they have no idea it’s happening. If you have any room at all left in your advertising budget for the year, now would be a good time to start using it.

By preparing your bar or nightclub for the busy fall and winter months using Halloween as your springboard, you can have a profitable and exciting holiday season. Just remember to decorate your venue, offer great entertainment and drink specials, and advertise to the hilt, and all the work you do preparing your venue for Halloween will pay off with huge dividends.

Summer Trends for Bars and Nightclubs

Summer Trends for Bars and Nightclubs

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Summer is historically not the best time of year for sales at a bar or nightclub because there is too much to do outdoors. Many people would rather sit around a fire in their backyard with inexpensive beer that they purchased at a liquor store and enjoy the beautiful weather than belly up to an indoor bar for expensive cocktails. Additionally, many people travel during the summer months which means that on any given weekend the pool of available patrons is much smaller than other times of the year. However, with careful marketing and the proper choice of activities, you can still pack your bar with plenty of customers that are ready to pay for a great experience. Here are some summer trends for bars and nightclubs that will help you keep your venue in the red until the much more lucrative fall and winter months arrive.

Summer Music Shows

With so many fun things that people can do at home on a budget, you need to really come up with enticing forms of entertainment that can’t be duplicated outside of a bar or nightclub. For dance and nightclubs that are staying with the latest trends, make sure you’re bringing in the best DJs and EDM (electronic dance music) performers possible. For neighborhood bars, try to bring in the best known cover bands in your area to draw in as much of the available crowd as possible.

Fun Summer Cocktails

You should constantly be evolving your selection of delicious cocktails at any bar or nightclub, and this is particularly true right now with such a strong emphasis on mixology. For a summertime treat that your guests will love, you should create some delicious cocktails that are refreshing after a hot day of work in the backyard based around fruit drinks like lemonade or pomegranate. You can also put these types of drinks on special to revive sales for cocktails such as long island iced teas or Lynchburg lemonades.

Utilize Outdoor Spaces

To make your venue more enticing, consider making use of whatever outdoor spaces you have available such as a patio. If your permit allows, you should setup a temporary service station outside so your customers can buy drinks right there and people passing by can see that there’s a lot of outdoor activity at your bar. This isn’t one of the newest marketing trends around, but it’s highly effective.

Themed Events

Themed events are another great way to bring in more business during the summer and are one of the hottest trends currently. Consider having a “beach party” event, a weekend dedicated to Caribbean cocktails and cuisine, or anything else people associate with a tropical adventure. Most people don’t get to experience these things on a daily basis, so it can be a great way to offer your customers a mini vacation right in their own town or city.

Increase Your Marketing Efforts

Whenever there are less people to attract to your bar or nightclub, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone knows what you’re offering. However you happen to advertise, you should consider ramping up those marketing efforts for your bar or nightclub to bring as many people into the venue as possible.

By offering great events and activities at your venue, you can keep your business profitable during the down summer months. Just make sure to cater to customers using the best summer trends for bars and nightclubs and people will be lining up around the block for a really great time.

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