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Bar Management

How The Human Factor Can Revive Strategy

May 20, 2013 By: Alissa Ponchione


There are endless ways to market your business. Incorporating social media, Google Analytics and guest feedback all can enhance that strategy. However, the real trick with marketing is reading the customers.

John Wehner, president of Integrity Nightclub Consulting, says in years past there was no way to gauge whether a radio spot or flyer had any impact on customers, but today bar and nightclub owners can determine who their demographic is and what interests them.

Although these new statistics can direct a marketing strategy, it’s “learning how to read people” to see if something is working. Wehner compares this to a good poker game, where players learn each other’s tells. “Watch your customers, watch their eyes, watch their body language,” he advises. “Learn how to listen to what they’re saying. Learn how to filter that into useable data.”

Facebook and social media can’t read your audience for you, Wehner continued. “There’s got to be a human factor in there somewhere.” Managers should always be listening to what customers are saying about the club, the band or the DJ. If a manager watches faces and body language, he or she can determine what is working in the club that night.

Reading body language is “so important,” Wehner says because “It’s not a business of black and white, it’s a business with gray areas. Learning how to read the gray area is the key to success.” This is how a good owner can make money.

Wehner says a nightclub crowd brings a different personality every night, and watching guests closely can determine the pace of the room. Nightclubs “pop” or get busy at different times, so controlling the room can help the night continue the momentum. The DJ should see what type of music is making people get on the dance floor. If everyone in the club is dancing—or at least tapping their feet—then the DJ and the nightclub owner are doing something right.

If a night is slow or no one shows up, “keep firing at it and don’t flake out and start overreacting,” Wehner says. By reading the crowd, a good owner can create an evolving strategy. “You go back to the basics,” and ensure the tables are in the right spot, that the nightclub is charging the right cover, etc. “Make those adjustments until you find the key,” he says.

Additionally, one way of knowing what the customer wants is by reading the product mix report on the point-of-sale system. Looking at this can determine what kind of products crowds are interested in. “Then if you have something that will draw crowds, you can team up with vendors and market accordingly depending on state laws,” he says.

Wehner says a lot depends on trial and error when it comes to executing marketing strategies. Owners can learn from examining the data and dialing-in to their customer base. “No matter how much black and white digital feedback you get. No matter how much of that you have, the most important thing is never losing the human factor,” he says.


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