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BARtalk | Nov 2015



I truly believe there are very few bars, taverns, restaurants and clubs on the globe that cannot be changed to become successful or redevelop and become relevant again to their customers. It staggers me that in today’s innovative and driven industry we still get the wagon circlers. Whenever change is needed, they order a halt to all that could save them, cut and slash and remove much of the businesses key points of difference and call up the wagon circle.

After doing a follow up call to a bar owner who had reached out to me for help, his call was the classic, have you got a bag of magic pills that I can get cheap to fix my bar? And after a few qualifying questions got this response…

”No. I’m not really interested in doing much marketing and promotion right now – my bar isn’t doing very well at the moment. We are now only open Friday and Saturday nights and only get 40-50 people in. I would be keen on doing the training, promotion and food changes if business picks up but I’ve been waiting a couple of years for that to happen and not sure when it will be.”

And if that’s not bad enough, I had another in the same week from a venue in trouble. Their local breweries representatives had suggested he call me before it’s “too late” and after some basic questions I said “So you have not changed your menu, marketing or deals in over 15 months?” he replied “I can’t really be bothered with all that, the customer doesn’t care anyway. I’m just going to circle the wagons, cut all costs and see what happens in the next few months. I just thought my brewery rep might have been able to give me some free stuff to give away and bring in trade you know”

He’s closed now by the way.

Many years ago a very smart bar god consultant once told me that for those in trouble the industry is like a 10ft deep swimming pool full of drowning fat men. You can stand on the side of the pool and offer help, you can even throw in the odd inflatable, but you can’t teach desperate people to swim. Not while they are drowning because all they want is a magic pill to drain the pool.


The Relationship Of Money And Music

In Bars & Clubs throughout the USA, New Zealand, Australia and similar nations around the globe, the relationship between music and income has always been the same since the very early 1960s when the local band halls began, to the 1980s when party bars first really evolved. They have increased turnover and driven amazing incomes for venue owners.

They were driven by fast talking true entertainers, microphone guys, music BPM, and sing along style party music lists that drove customers thirsty.

Although deck spins have their place and some incredible mash up DJs have come along, few can develop the skills to drive sales. Hardcore mixers who are more interested in BPM than income still outnumber great entertainers who really understand music well.

Studies in music have proven time and time again that there are great ways to drive sales through entertainment and music.
(1) Nostalgia
(2) Song knowledge
(3) New music
(4) Classics and sing along
(5) Interaction with great mic work
(6) Fun and theme

Firstly nostalgia takes people to a time and place when things were better. As we all know it’s human nature to remember the past more fondly than the present, that’s one of the reasons lots of people go to bars to start with to forget the troubles of today.

Song knowledge is so important in bars. Play songs and versions of songs that everyone knows so they can sing along and get involved especially for the male market who will not get into the spirit unless they know exactly what’s happening. Finding the rhythm, toe tapping and dance moves for the music playing may take a bit of work for many guys. We aren’t all John Travolta!

New music is important as well. The top 40 radio hits & top 40 pop are good for the younger female market. Pop is called that for a reason. It’s those hits that drag the numbers to the floor that all DJs crave.

Classics are a must for all the reasons above, plus the fact that they take your memories back to a better time. Everybody has memories from classics mainly your first times; cars, girlfriends, jobs, friends etc. but classics are only good if they match the catch.

Interaction is again explained above, but if you get both males and females singing, talking about music and questions from DJs, great mic work or DJ banter will help this (where were you when this song came out?), this type of thing will help with better early trade income.

Fun is all of the above and a theme helps the whole market. Old school parties & back to school parties rock! Focus on the theme, the year and great times all help to hit income increase.

Prime time is the time in which a bar earns 80% of its nightly income which could be 10.30pm till 12.30pm for example. Driving the right music in the right way, keeping BPM right so to not to boil the floor to early and great consistent music sets and combinations are key to better sales. Prime time is the most crucial when keeping income up and usually the time when the greatest opportunities can be lost but with great music, good video on screens, wicked lighting and energetic service amazing things do happen. After working a great schedule for prime time you can then work on better early trade music and increasing early turnover can be where some of the amazing things really do happen. If I could increase your early trade income by 20% or better I know we could make better things in any bar.

The key to all this though is a close and constant development of your music and entertainment. So many people get the idea a bunch of music will make it happen but the truth is hospitality takes work and using the people around you to help get the best. Plugging in a solution and turning on the power with no formula, promotion or vision helps no one.

Until next time, keep the questions coming and have a great profitable month.



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