Taffer Transforms The TailgateApril 6, 2014 By: Mary-Kate Dunphy
Siblings Mike and Diane invested their savings into The Tailgate in Saugus, California and hired their father, Pops, as manager. When the bar first opened, they were bringing in half a million every year; however, with the bar coasting, Mike and Diane set their eyes on other ventures and hired additional family members to work at the bar. Instead of helping the family business, the new employees encouraged bad behavior causing The Tailgate to spiral out of control.
Since the staff is almost entirely made up of family members, Diane continuously lets the employees off with second, third and fourth chances. Mike and Pops do not agree with Diane and now the three of them are trapped in a clash of different managerial styles.
The Tailgate resides in a town with an average income of $101,000, $57,000 higher than the California average. There are also three colleges nearby with over 20,000 students. Despite the high levels of disposable income in the area, The Tailegate is too unrefined to attract the upper class residents and too uncool to attract the local students.
Facing a $200,000 debt, Mike and Diane are only three months away from closing their doors for good and fracturing the family beyond repair.
There are many challenges Taffer faces when planning this rescue; the first being the exterior of The Tailgate; over 42,000 cars pass the bar, which should draw people in, however, the bar looks like a DMV, and let’s be honest, no one is tempted to go into the DMV. If you want to attract a young, hip crowd like the demographic The Tailgate should be shooting for (21-34), you need a bar that’s exciting.
In addition, many of the employees have not been properly trained in their positions, specifically the cook, Robert. Robert is essentially a health hazard! He does not clean the kitchen and he does not follow proper sanitation procedures. The bartenders show off their breasts to get people to order shots and the security guard is a family member who does not know the first thing about bouncing at a bar. Diane refuses to reprimand any of these employees, nevermind let them go, putting strain on the dynamic between the three managers.
Pops, Diane and Mike’s lack of communication leaves them constantly arguing and the employees uncomfortable and frazzled. Diane and Mike are spineless and back down from what they think is right for the business to avoid fights. Pops sees what is wrong at The Tailgate but states his opinion with aggression, causing an even more hostile environment.
Taffer began turning around The Tailgate by first addressing the biggest problem they have: family. Most family businesses fail because of hostile feelings and lack of communication, so Taffer forces Mike, Diane and Pops to communicate. In order for employees to make money they have to be comfortable in their work environment, they have to be proud of it. When the family fights, all that pride disappears and animosity destroys the business. While it wasn’t a simple task, the managers finally calmed down and began to agree that things need to change so that Jon can get to work on rescuing their bar.
While Mixologist Phil Willis is behind the bar he finds that all the bartenders are starting from a beginner’s standpoint except for the head bartender, Zuzy. After several training sessions, all the bartenders became more comfortable making more than one drink at a time and they become more comfortable behind the bar.
Chef Brendan Collins was brought in to train the cook, Robert. Collins was in for a rude awakening when he realized that Robert had absolutely no culinary training and a complete disregard for sanitation and the business. During the stress test, a grease fire started because Robert did not clean the equipment. Diane finally made the professional decision to let him go and replace him in the kitchen with Pops; this was the first step to her really becoming an effective owner.
Taffer, Willis and Collins conclude that The Tailgate needs a more youthful, fun concept to reach their demographic. The party crowd wants fun and interactive so Willis comes up with a drink menu assembled with the one drink you never drink alone, shots and Collins came up with a food menu full of small sharing plates.
In addition, a trained security guard was brought in to work the door, the kitchen was professionally cleaned and that staff is ready for the relaunch.
After deciding on the fun, interactive concept for Diane and Mike’s bar, Taffer transformed The Tailgate into The Shot Exchange. The new bar represents youth and the future whereas The Tailgate is something of the past, full of hostility and failure. The dance floor that once covered 12% of the floor, has been stretched to 18%, which is the proper percentage for a youthful bar.
Taffer pulled down the tacky dollar bills that were taped to the walls of The Tailgate and counted over $1,600 for The Shot Exchange. The counters were redone and the bar has a completely new, exciting vibe to it.
“The nightmare is officially over and I’m living in a dream land right now,” owner Mike tells the crew.
Six weeks after the relaunch, food and beverage sales have tripled. Robert has not been back to the bar and there is a new cook with no family affiliation. Most important for business, the family drama has stopped and The Shot Exchange has a bright future.