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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.

Guiding Customer Purchases

Guiding Your Customer’s Purchases Politely

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One of the best tools that your servers and bartenders have at their discretion is the power of persuasion. If your staff knows how to execute it right, they can guide your customers to making choices that they will enjoy more and will also yield you higher profits. However, if your staff is trained on how to do it politely, it can backfire and lead to a customer who feels under pressure from a pushy staff. Here are some techniques that can help you capitalize on persuasion while not turning off your customers.

Suggest Upgrades

The easiest way to add purchases to a sale is to offer higher quality items that are similar to their first choice. It can be a more expensive vintage of wine or a different drink altogether that you suspect they might really enjoy. This will make your customer’s experience much more enjoyable, and it will increase the size of their bill. Make sure to be helpful and friendly or you may come across as pushy. You need to know when your customer has fully made up their mind.

Handling Rejection

Much of the time, your customers will reject any type of suggestion because they already have their mind made up. However, sometimes they reject your suggestion because they simply aren’t interested in that particular up sale. If a customer criticizes your suggestion, that is a huge opening for you to offer something else based on the information they revealed. It’s a bit of an art form, but it pays off huge if you perfect it.

Add-Ons

Offering your guests add-ons is a great way to earn bigger purchases and improving the guest’s experience. For instance, if a customer orders a glass of Riesling, suggest a food item like brie cheese and crackers to accompany it. Wine and cheese go together wonderfully, and the additional sale will pad your bottom line as well.

Guide Their Eyes

If your customers are looking at a food or drink menu, you can easily draw their attention to certain areas that offer the largest margins. For instance, you could add a decorative border around your items with the highest profit margins and then point out something specific on that page. When their eyes look at the page, they will immediately be drawn to the items within the decorated area, and best of all your customers will think that they’ve come up with a decision all by themselves.

No matter how much you train and prepare your staff, there is always a learning curve to getting the skills of upselling correct. After all, it’s one part science, one part experience, and one part finesse, so it may take time to get right. But once you’ve mastered the tricks of the trade, guiding your customer’s purchases politely and discreetly will become second nature in your venue.

Angry Customer

Comping Drinks: Never Give Anything for Free

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We’ve all had that terrible experience in our bar or nightclub before; there’s a very unhappy customer that isn’t pleased with their drinks or experience and wants to speak with a manager. Most of the time they just want to complain to the head honcho and get better service from that point forward, and you can pinpoint weak spot in your service or staff. However, occasionally you’ll run into a customer that simply won’t be satisfied regardless of what you offer them, and often times they want their bill comped.

However, not only will this cause you to lose money on that specific transaction but it also sets a dangerous precedent for all of your other customers that you’ll waive the cost of their drinks if they complain hard enough. This can lead to excessive complaints, blatant lies, and overall unruly customers if left unchecked for too long. Instead, consider using another strategy to satiate those customers without going into debt. Here are some key strategies to help you never give anything away for free when an upset customer wants something comped from their bill.

Offer to Correct the Situation

The very first thing you need to do is offer to correct the situation. If the customer has an issue with a server or bartender, swap them out for someone else on the floor. If the drinks aren’t up to snuff, have them remade immediately the way the customer likes them. Most importantly, you need to do all of this with a great attitude that shows the customer that you understand their frustrations and will get the problem resolved, but you are still in control of the situation. It’s amazing how far some good customer service will get you in these types of situations.

Offer Them and Incentive

If sweet-talking the disgruntled customer doesn’t work, it may be time to pull out a better incentive. Consider having some sort of free admission voucher to an upcoming live performance or event at your venue or a “buy one get one half price” coupon for their next visit. Though you’re technically giving them something for free, you’re also getting them to come back another time to claim it and you’ll still make money on their business. After all, “buy one get one half price” still means profit if your pricing structure is correct; which is much better than taking a loss from waiving their bill all together.

Give Them a Discount

When all else fails, sometimes you need to dig deep and give an angry customer a discount. This should be the last tool in your box, but sometimes it’s the only option to stave off a massive public scene. Just make sure you set a maximum percentage for the discount such as 25% so you stay in the black on the transaction. It’s okay to break even on a bill once in a while to ensure the rest of your customers have a great experience, but you certainly don’t want to get hit for a loss.

Though on certain occasions a customer may be very angry and present a challenge, you can always find a way to remedy the issue without taking a financial loss. By using the three strategies above, you can stop comping drinks and never give anything for free again.

The Right Clientele

Bringing in the Right Clientele

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Depending on the area you serve and the theme of your bar or nightclub, catering to your chosen clientele is very important to be successful. If you fail to reach your intended audience, you’re venue is likely to close in a very short period of time. Additionally, all of the advertising dollars that you spend will go to waste which will only make the matter worse. By knowing who you want to target and how to properly go about it, you can bring in the right clientele to your bar or nightclub and thrive for many years to come.

Staff

Most bar owners completely overlook the importance of staffing when it comes to catering to a specific demographic. For instance, if you’re targeting a younger crowd that will bring in a lot of energy to your establishment, having a slow bartender that is in their 50’s is probably not what they’re looking for in a club. Instead, you should hire a younger staff that will add to the energy of your club so that your key demographic will feel like they’re in the right place.

Promotions and Events

Another key to bringing in large crowds of your preferred clientele is gearing your promotions and events towards that specific demographic. Again, if you’re after a younger crowd, consider bringing in DJs and playing dance music rather than relying on a jukebox or classic rock radio stations. A band that covers music from the 70s won’t appeal to a younger clientele, but having a DJ that plays the latest club music will create an environment that is desirable to your core audience.

Venue Décor

Creating the look and feel of a vibrant club is also important if you want to attract younger patrons. Dark wood interior and a musty “dive bar” feel is perfect for people in their 30s and 40s, but you need something more modern and chic to bring in that bar goers that are in their twenties. Choose a modern color scheme and flattering lighting in order to make your bar or nightclub the perfect experience from the moment your patrons walk through the door.

Advertising

How and where you advertise to your clientele will also play a very large role in who walks through your door. If you’re putting ads in the local newspaper, you’re going to attract a much older crowd. If you’re targeting your customers via social media and search advertising, you’re more likely to reach your preferred clientele. Best of all, when you advertise digitally, you can literally choose who sees you ads and who doesn’t. This not only allows you to target a specific demographic of clientele, but it will save you money compared to using the “shotgun” approach since you won’t be paying for a bunch of ad views for people who won’t be interested in your brand.

Online Ticketing

5 Tools Every Club Needs to Maximize Revenues

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Whether you operate a nightclub, a bar, or an event center, each of those business models can improve their profitability greatly by implementing the right systems and tools. When everything is put in place correctly and you have the right tools at your disposal to operate your business, you can build a more loyal customer base and watch your profits rise. Here are 5 tools that every club needs to maximize their revenues.

A CRM System (Customer Relationship Management)

Though taking the “Cheers” approach and knowing everyone’s name that frequents your bar is a great way to get things started, this approach isn’t really practical unless you run a corner dive in a very small town. By implementing a CRM system, you can get an instant snapshot of how often a particular patron comes to your club, how much they spend, and what they like to drink. This can help your bartenders to upsell a customer drinks and food that are specifically catered to their taste.

Advanced Ticketing

If you have bands or other types of entertainment at your bar or nightclub, and most of you do, then you should absolutely be offering advanced ticket sales. It’s 2015 so this should be common sense, but there are still plenty of bars that require you to purchase tickets at the door. This is like a pizza joint not accepting online orders; it’s just plain business suicide.

Reservation Management Systems

The days of using a pen and paper to keep track of your table reservations should be considered a thing of the past. Your customers want to be able to reserve a table online and cancel it online if their plans change. Also, you can have each reservation assigned to a specific table and have availability disappear when you’re booked up to avoid any conflicts with your reservation process.

General Admission Tracker

Most club owners fixate on their VIP and promotion sales because they use that as a tool to see how busy their club was on a particular night. However, if you’re doing this at the expense of tracking your general admissions, you’re making a huge mistake. You absolutely need to know how many people came and went from your club each night and how many were males and females. This will allow you to better target your promotions and also better understand your target audience.

An Analytics System

We all know that data is important to get a pulse on how your venue is doing, but the trouble is that gathering the best types of data can seem to be a daunting task. This can lead to owners and their manager making poor decisions blindly instead of leveraging their data to make more profits. By implementing a great analytics system, you’ll be able to see a snapshot of your customers, servers, and bartenders while also being able to dig deep into the numbers to find trends and problem areas that you need to address.

Though there’s more to being successful than just implementing a few tools, they can certainly help you get the big picture of what’s happening in your nightclub, bar, or event center and make better choices. By using these 5 tools to maximize your revenues, your club can continue to increase its revenue stream for years to come.

Entrance at an Exclusive Bar

5 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Bar

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If you’re looking to make a little more money with your bar or you’re just trying to keep the doors open, it can seem like it’s too late to do anything about the underlying issues. Most marketing campaigns take a lot of time to setup, money to get them off the ground, and time to actually see results. Since all three of those things are something you likely won’t have in abundance, throwing in the towel may seem like the sensible choice. However, before you give up completely, there are a few things that you can try to see some immediate results. These 5 ways to immediately improve your bar will work best if you have a long-term strategy in place as well, but if push comes to shove these may just keep your lights on and your doors open.

Know Your Customers

Attracting the right type of customers to your bar is the most reliable way to get repeat customers. By knowing your customers and targeting your bar to their wants and needs, you can create an environment where they want to return on a frequent basis. Additionally, if you target a specific demographic, chances are you will build new friendships among your customers since they will have similar interests. This is good for your customers, but more importantly it’s going to improve your bottom line.

Appear Exclusive

A big part of making people want to come to your bar is because they know it will be a good time. Creating the impression that your bar is exclusive will generate more desire to get in the doors and thus will encourage each customer to spend more money. Additionally, you can use this edge to improve the customer experience, so in the end you are creating a truly exclusive experience.

Build Entertainment Relationships

Every area has a few local bands or entertainment acts that are a cut above the rest, and whatever bar books them will draw in the most business on that particular night. This is why it’s so important to build good relationships with these bands and entertainment acts so you can keep them at your bar instead of somewhere else. Just remember that the money you spend on your entertainment helps to build your bar’s brand over the long term, so spending al little more is something worth considering.

Perfect Your Operations

Sloppy operations not only reduce your overall profitability, but it also makes the experience less fantastic for your guests. Go through your processes and operations including evaluating each of your employees. Eliminating waste and making things more streamlined will make you more money and will improve the long term outlook for your bar.

Embrace the Latest Trends

Trends come and trends go, but you can make a lot of money if you can stay on top of what’s hot and what’s out of style. Make sure you get a subscription to every appropriate bar and nightclub website and magazines that are in your area and actually take the time to read through them and learn how to improve your bar. By offering the latest trends to your target demographic, you’ll be providing exactly the service they want and creating an experience that your competition will find difficult to match.

Drunk Bar Patrons

Refusing Service: The Easy Way

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Every so often, you’re going to get a patron that has had way too much to drink and just doesn’t know when enough is enough. Sure, you can do your best to spot potential problems before they blow up into a full out fiasco, but sometimes that’s easier said than done; especially in a busy and crowded venue. Most people who enter the bar and nightclub industry are aware of the potential hassles associated with conducting business before their doors ever open, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to deal with. Fortunately, there are a couple of easy ways to go about refusing service to an unruly patron with both speed and class to interrupt your other customers as little as possible.

Identifying the Problem

The first thing you need to do to deal with a potential problem is to spot it in the first place. By properly training your bartenders and server to know when someone is reaching that point of too intoxicated, you can reduce the frequency that you have to take more drastic action. If a person is getting close to their limit, you can take your time serving them to try to let the problem work itself out. If you have to cut someone off from drinking, it’s a lot easier to do if they aren’t already way over the limit.

Optionally, many bar and nightclub owners are choosing to integrate monitoring software into their POS systems to give their employees the upper hand. After a certain number of drinks are served to a particular table or patron, you are signaled the next time you ring in a drink order that they are at a “checkpoint”. The bartender, a server, or the floor manager should stop by the table for a “meet and greet” to verify that everything is still good and they can continue enjoying your bar or nightclub without any problems. Usually, this trigger would occur after a table orders bottle service as well.

Dealing with the Problem

So, you’ve done everything you possibly can to prevent your patrons from getting way too drunk, but still somebody has slipped through the cracks and is making it difficult for the rest of your customers to have fun. Don’t panic, this is why you create a plan for refusing service ahead of time. Whoever is delegated as the head of security should head over to the table. Many bars and nightclubs have a bouncer on staff on busy nights for this very reason, but often times this responsibility falls onto the floor manager.

Your best option is to approach the table and ask the person causing trouble to step away and have a word with you. They are much more likely to cooperate if they’re on their away from their friends, and it is a less intimidating atmosphere. Simply ask them to leave, and hopefully they’ll oblige. If not, you can tell them that the police will be called to escort them off the premises. It’s a good idea to have a server or bartender observing your interaction, and have a hand signal ready if there’s too much trouble when refusing service. If all else fails, call in the police for reinforcements.

By standing your ground and keeping your other guests safe and entertained, you can make the experience at your bar or nightclub much better. It’s not always fun and sometimes you don’t want to deal with it, but you should never let one bad apple spoil the fun for every other paying customer.

Perceived-Value

The Importance of Perceived Value

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When you’re expecting someone to cough up a large chunk of change for food, drinks, and entertainment, one of the most important ingredients for success is to have your customers feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. If every customer that you have come through your door feels like they’ve been ripped off at the end of the night, you won’t be in business for very long. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give them larger portions of food, more expensive liquor, or lower your prices, but rather you need to make their perception of what their paying for palatable. This practice is a combination of science and art, and it is known as perceived value.

In essence, perceived value is the appearance of a product, service, or experience being more valuable than it actually is. Let’s face it; it would be a whole lot cheaper for your customers to go to their local liquor store and stock up on their favorite beer, wine, or liquor instead of coming to your bar or nightclub, so you really need to take a hard, long look at what you’re really selling. The answer my friends is an experience, and there are a few ways that you can make it a great one for your customers and have them paying more money for the exact same items.

Curb Appeal

First impressions matter in the bar and nightclub business, and for us it starts right at the curb. As your guests approach your venue, you want it to look like a fun and classy place that is safe to hang out at for the evening. Additionally, you want it to seem like it’s a little upscale but without that stuffy experience that many of the downtown nightclubs offer. If you can manage to pull all that off, you’re most of the way there already.

Interior Ambiance

Once your guests walk through the door, everything should be perfect. The decorations, the lighting, and the general mood of your entire bar or nightclub needs to be just right so that guests feel like staying longer and be willing to spend a little more on their food and drinks. The best way to do this is to make sure your venue is designed for the market in your area and follows a logical theme throughout the entire building.

Staff and Service

One thing that can make a customer’s experience terrible regardless of how nice your venue appears to be is bad service. Customers won’t tolerate waiting at a bar that’s way too packed to get service or at their table hoping a waitress will realize they exist. By hiring a great staff and giving them all the proper training, you can ensure that your customers get first class service and will come back again and again.

Presentation

Lastly, presentation is everything in the nightlife industry, so you need to be at the top of your game in this department. By simply mixing and garnishing your cocktails properly and serving them in a high quality glass, you can easily charge more for the exact same drink. Similarly, by making your plates look more decadent than they really are, customers are willing to pay more for smaller portions as long as the food is delicious and visually seems to be worth the money; which means that you will have higher margins without increasing your costs.

In the end, perceived value is all about creating the illusion that the customer is getting more than they actually are. You may think this is a little devious, but you just need to remember that the customer is paying for an experience. As long as you are providing that in abundance, most of your guests won’t mind the small upcharge for your bar or nightclubs efforts.

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