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. You don’t want every customer that comes through your door to feel like they’ve been ripped off at the end of the night; I promise you won’t be in business for very long. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give them larger portions of food, more expensive liquor, or lower your prices. Instead, you need to make their perception of what they are paying for more 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. Additionally, you can have them happily 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. Additionally, it should look safe to hang out at for the evening. Furthermore, 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. If done right, 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. Ideally, make sure it follows a logical theme throughout the entire building.

Staff and Service

Image of Quality Staff and Service at a NightclubOne thing that can make a customer’s experience terrible is bad service; regardless of how nice your venue appears to be. Customers won’t tolerate waiting at a bar that’s way too packed to get service. Additionally, nobody wants to wait at their table hoping a server will realize they exist. By hiring a great people and then properly training your staff, you can ensure that your customers get first class service and will come back again and again.


Lastly, presentation is everything in the nightlife industry. So, you need to be at the top of your game in this department. Simply mix and garnish your cocktails properly and serve them in a high quality glass. Optionally, use bottle sparklers or another gimmick to draw attention to high end beverages. Then, you can easily charge more for the exact same drink. Similarly, make your plates look more decadent than they really are. Surprisingly, 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 up-charge for your efforts.