Open After Dark

Starting a nightclub is tough, but with the right location, look,and a little bit of luck, you can make millions

filled. For example, if you’re in a suburban area, it might be a sports bar. Be sure to study the demographics of the neighborhood and get a feel for what its residents like and dislike.

  • CREATE YOUR OWN BRAND. Don’t try to duplicate someone else’s success. The whole idea is to make your club unique. “It’s all about branding now,” Harrelson says. “Make people want to come back again and again and bring their friends.”
  • DON’T GO IT ALONE. Opening a nightclub can be a huge financial burden. It might be a good idea to take on a partner or two. In addition to easing some of the financial strain, you can also combine experience and skill sets.
  • RAISE AND SAVE. Banks and other investors tend to loosen the purse strings when business owners throw some of their own money into the mix. If possible, try to raise half of the total startup costs. It could go a long way in securing the needed capital for your club.
  • CHECK ID. Don’t let a teenager with a fake ID put you out of business. If you’re caught serving alcohol to underaged drinkers, you could not only lose your liquor license but your entire club. Install ID verification systems and use them religiously.
  • TEND YOUR BAR. Rau says the overwhelming majority in the industry hire bartenders based on personality, then train them. And make sure you monitor your bartenders: Over-pouring can lead to big financial problems.
  • HIRE PEOPLE YOU TRUST. You can’t be at the club around the clock, so hire people as committed to the business as you are. Bowyer’s wife and some other family members work at The National Grill.
  • CREATE A BUZZ. Now that you’ve built the club, will they come? That depends on how you promote it. Use tried-and-true methods such as drink specials, celebrity appearances/performances, reduced admission before a certain hour, and the ever popular “ladies get in free” tactic. Just remember that the public is fickle and a club can go from “hot” to “not” in just a matter of months. Start with a strong promotions campaign.
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