How To Run A Successful Nightclub.
By Lloyd M. Gordon ~ President, GEC Consultants, Inc.
Saturday, 26th July 2008
The other day, I was having breakfast in one of the newest spots on the Northside - After  giving my order to the waitress, I spotted two men seated at a table nearby. I recognized them as owners of one of the newest night spots in town. I waved a casual hello and they responded in kind.

It was obvious they were just finishing up their day. It's a different type of life to be in the nightclub business. You have to put in a full day and then go right into working a long night. It's not unusual for an operator to say, "I work 28 hours a day!"

If you think operating a restaurant has its problems, running a nightclub can blow your mind. However, the financial success and mental stability in the nightclub business should be orchestrated from the beginning, on the day you decide to build one.

If you've had experience building a restaurant or remodeling an existing facility, multiply the aggravation threefold and you've got some idea of what to expect trying to develop a nightclub.

If things go right, it can take 6 to 9 months to plan and develop a new night club. If things go worse than expected, it can take over a year. Meanwhile, costs continue on and on every month, and by the time the club is ready to open, all too often funds that were scheduled to meet the needs of construction and development and grand opening are depleted before there is any grand opening.

One of the first hurdles to overcome is to come up with a club concept that will attract the attention of the club crowd and not discourage patronage of the occasional club goers. Second, is securing a location that makes your club stand-out. Third, is getting a club and liquor license with as little hassle from local dwellers and their officials as possible.

Next, is getting the club constructed on time and within budget. Fifth, is to plan an ambiance that creates a unique "club" mood. Sixth,  is to find employees that can follow directions and "do a club scene." Seventh, is to adeptly purchase your liquors, wines and beers to maximize your acceptance by the club goers and make you the most profit.

Club owners seem to agree that there were always problems that they were not equipped to handle while building their clubs. Building a club or a restaurant from the ground up, or extensively remodeling one that already exists can be an exhausting undertaking. Any construction is costly, but if you are hesitant and unsure of what you really are doing, it can be extremely expensive and costly both in time and money.

You need good pre-planning and professional advice to reduce the chance of error, to monitor and coordinate everything that goes on.   You need valid projections to know what its going to cost. But, you can't start making projections  until you have your concept completely detailed.  

You've got to consider your entertainment, sound system, dance floor, number and location of bar facilities, general equipment layout, type of food to be served, appearance of the interior and what it will look like on the outside. How will your parking lot be organized. What about security?

A promoter and future club operator can do this all on their own if they have the knowledge, time and fortitude. It takes guts to build a nightclub.

Here are some rules to follow:

  • Decide on the concept for each day of the week.
  • Plan on the space allocation for bars, dining, and dancing.
  • Train all staff thoroughly.
  • Have tight cash controls.
  • Have well thought-out product controls.
  • Have a strategic marketing plan and a budget to achieve it.
  • Have sufficient managers to handle the operating stress.
  • Hire entertainers to attract the club crowd you seek.
  • Treat all customers fairly and with the dignity they deserve.
  • Make arrangements in advance to handle drunken and objectionable rowdies.
A great nightclub should feature both bar and food items effectively. You can't use trial and error to see what will work and what won't and remain solvent. You must foresee the changing needs and fantasies of club goers and translate these impressions into a firm reality of music, lights, sound and refreshments.

Everyone desiring to enter the nightclub business, whether they have previous restaurant or bar experience, should schedule a meeting with professionals in this field to get the "act" together so the show "can go on!" regularly, with precision and make the owners a good return on their investment.

Mr. Lloyd M. Gordon, President of GEC Consultants, Inc. has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has concepted more than 390 restaurants and has been consulting for over 44 years. He helps people enter the restaurant industry, points the way to profitability, and helps keep them successful. To discuss "How To Run A Successful Nightclub" he can be reached at 847-674-6310. www.gecconsultants.com  
© Copyright GEC Consultants, Inc. 2008
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