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Anatomy of a Rescue

Badlands Intrudes on Whiskey Tango

December 8, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro


THE BARLong Shots

In 2008, former hot shot marketing executive, Mark Wilson bought a failing bar thinking that he could turn it around. For the past twelve years Mark has worked at a pizza place hoping that his marketing experience work translate into ownership. He started as a waiter and by the time he left the pizza place he was in charge of marketing for 72 stores.

Mark assumed that he could hire a couple of hot bartenders to sling drinks and keep the customers flocking to the bar. He hired Jessie the “rockstar bartender” who’s quick and Keller the “firecracker.” At first, Mark’s plan worked, and long shots thrived. The place was packed and on a busy night could make $6,000 in two hours.

As the bar continued to become more and more popular, Mark hired more employees in order to keep up. But the gaggle of girls that Mark brought in didn’t get along and he lost control of his staff.  As the staff fighting worsened, customers fled to the only other bar in town, Whiskey Tango. With the loss of loyal clients Mark’s business and personal life are now in ruins.

If Mark can’t get it together in the next two weeks he will lose his house. He’s currently in the hole $450 thousand and losing an additional $5 thousand a month. Unable to quell the drama and get his life back on track, Mark has decided to make the call to Bar Rescue.

Long ShotsTHE CHALLENGE

Twenty miles east of downtown Kansas City sits Grain Valley, Missouri. This area is home to 13 thousand people and 28 percent of the population is between the ages of 22 – 34 years old.  In a town with a lacking nightlife locals head to Whiskey Tango, a country western bar near the failing Long Shots Sports Bar & Grill.

What’s interesting is that whenever a rookie doesn’t know what to do they create a sports bar.  Somehow they think that by putting the word sports up on the sign they are going to fill the bar 365 days a year; when in actuality the most you ever get out of sports in a year is 70 days.  The other interesting face about Long Shots as that it doesn’t have any TV’s. How can you have a sports bar without the ability to broadcast the games?

With no sports to watch, Mark instead invited a hypnotist to perform at the bar. Bars are supposed to be high energy and fun; a hypnotist is probably as low energy as you can get in a bar where social interaction is necessary to succeed. If you’re a 24 year old girls the last thing you want to see is a hypnotist. When you go out you’re looking for hot men, good cocktails and upbeat music in an intimate setting.

Now, Long Shots is a 7,000 square foot venue featuring two bars hosing four speedwells a catwalk surrounded by a chain link fence and a stage. The expansive bar doesn’t have a cohesive flow or areas that allow for intimate interaction between customers.

In addition to the design and layout issues, the biggest problem is the brawling staff.  Keller and Jessie dated for a couple of months; it ended badly and now they won’t even speak to each other during a shift. As this tension builds throughout the night, it’s inevitable that someone is going to explode.

To accurately assess the employee interactions Jon Taffer enters the bar quietly and softly speaker to some of the staff members. When finished he quietly leave that bar telling owner Mark that he is going to go home and think about if he can save the bar. After Jon leaves the staffs true colors come out and Mark, Keller and Jessie begin fighting inappropriately.

The personal dynamics with this team and their behavior is incredibly unprofessional. Frankly, its disorganized chaos and the romantic relationships aren’t helping the business. Surveys of American workers project that 80 percent of employees have experiences some type of romantic relationship while on the job. Romance in the workplace can be problematic, decreasing productivity and moral; while increasing risks to lawsuits due to sexual harassment and violence. 

THE TURNAROUNDBadlands Bar Rescue

To help save the bar, Taffer has brought in Diageo head mixologist, Elayne Duff. With her ability to create exciting cocktails for the young crowd will give this bar a much needed lift. 

To elevate the bars hospitality Taffer brings in Brand Starr, a 15 year service expert from one of the Nightclub & Bar’s Top 100 clubs in Las Vegas, XS Nightclub which brings in an astounding 92 million dollars a year. Brandy will teach these girls to increase their tips by being classy not trashy.

Brandy gets to work, teaching the service staff how to elevate their skills. She makes sure that they feel confident in what they’re doing and understand the cocktail being served. Brandy times that girls speed and accuracy. If they do something wrong Brandy stops them in their tracks and makes them start gain.

Since, the bartenders were so caught up in their personal drama during the recon that Elayne needs to assess their skills.  She has all of the bartenders pour an ounce and a half to gauge their accuracy; all of them failed. Elayne works with Brandy and the service girls, testing the bartenders on speed and accuracy as well.  Every time a drink is made incorrectly it is dumped in the trash; forcing the bartenders to think about what they are doing and pressing them to be consistent.  

Taffer then works with the staff and owner Mark to air out all of the dirty laundry between the staff. He makes individuals apologize for their behavior. He demonstrates and show videos of their inappropriate behavior depicting how ridiculous they have been to each other. Mark and the staff are forced to dig deep, look themselves in the mirror and change their behavior.  

Once these issues are finally put to rest, Taffer and his team get to work utilizing the science of competitive intrusion, opening a business with the diehard direct purpose of gutting the competition,  to make the bar a success. The greatest demographic and music opportunity in this market is hands down country and people go to Whiskey Tango out of default. They are a country honkytonk and go for an older demographic. Therefore, Jon decided to create a young, fresh country nightclub.

Badlands Bar Rescue THE RESULT

With a country western theme being the best venue for this demographic and utilizing competitive intrusion sciences, Taffer and his team create Badlands Country Nightclub. This hip and modern country nightclub was designed to go head to head with Whiskey Tango; the only other bar in town.

They create unique lighting outside to draw attention in the evening hours when the bar will need it the most. There are no backs on the bar stools so that you can swing around to talk to patrons. The dance floor was placed in in the center of the room and isn’t too big. Dance floors should never be more than 22 to 25 percent of the square footage of the entire club or people don’t drink. 

With the relaunch of Badlands, the staff is rejuvenated and smiling, they are energized and getting the crowd involved. They are now a team working together in an upbeat, fun and cohesive country nightclub. Six weeks after the relaunch Badlands drink sales have increased 30 percent. Catfights and crying have ceased and Mark and Ozzie are no longer at risk of losing their home. 


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