Build a Time Machine in Your Bar, Club or Business!

Image Source: Getty

Planning = Profit!

‘Tis the season to be planning. The holiday season and next year will be here before you know it. As you wind down the summer, build a time machine in your back room. Not literally, of course. However, you can mentally teleport yourself into the fall, winter, and even into 2017 to ensure that you have a plan for success.

A business owner myself, I learned the power of short- and long-term planning from the days I spent in a big brand environment. We spent hours creating annual plans starting in August and had formal meetings every week, during which we reviewed our goals for the upcoming week and months. Although that’s clearly overkill for businesses like ours, the discipline was one that I carried with me when I launched my own venture.

Because the bar and nightclub industry is ever-changing and transactional, you often can’t look beyond tonight. Staffing, inventory, purchasing, payroll, security, promotions and social media posts – those are all the things that are staring you down TODAY. How can you possibly be thinking about New Year’s specials or next spring’s outdoor seating?

Start now and start small. Here are 5 things you can do tomorrow to get a jump on the competition.

1. IMAGINE! Use a tool like Mindmeister (or an old fashioned sheet of paper) to document your vision and goals for the next 6 to 12 months, then break it down into baby steps. For example, if your big goal is “host more happy hours to generate $XX in new business,” your small goal is “Post pictures of last night’s happy hour on social media.” Planning a major renovation? Your small goal is, “Interview designers and architects.” Map it out on a calendar, hang it on the wall, and stay true to your deadlines. (See #5.) If you lead a team, bring them in on the goal-setting exercise and assign tasks to team members. If it all falls on you, create simple to-do lists every day to make sure your activities get accomplished. This article is a helpful guide to planning year round, month by month.

2. FOCUS! Choose ONE season when you think you have enough time and resources to make a difference. If your bar is in a college town, you may have missed the back-to-school rush of parents and kids, but make sure you know when homecoming or parent visiting weekends are happening so you can plan promotions and specials for that time period. If you’re in a resort community and your heaviest traffic is in the summer months, bring your team together right after Labor Day for a debrief on what worked (and didn’t work) this summer, so you can enjoy an entire 10 months of planning for summer 2017.

Keep on top of trends that can give you an edge over your competitors. Whether it’s a new beer or liquor brand or a cool technology that will enhance the customer experience, invest in one or two new ideas every year that can change the game.

3. EVERY DAY IS A HOLIDAY! As you’re planning special cocktails and promotions or figuring out your social media content, pay attention to holidays – traditional and obscure. Websites like and are great sources. [Editor’s note: Our event calendar is also a fantastic resource for bar and nightclub holidays.] Make sure you also have the calendars of events within your own community. Leveraging other groups’ gatherings and causes can be a great way to gain visibility without shouldering 100% of the time and money pressure.

4. HO-HO-HOLIDAY SEASON will be here soon! Hot dogs and sand will soon be replaced by turkeys and snow. Make sure you’re done with your Thanksgiving/December planning no later than the end of September. (The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year!) Start publishing your holiday plans via social media and e-mails so that your loyal customers will know what you have lined up and can mark their calendars.

5. PLAN TO BE A BETTER PLANNER! “Who has the time?” is a common lament of many people. Instead, ask yourself, “How can I make the time?” Think about activities you’re currently doing that you can delegate or eliminate. Although investing in technology or new management systems can take a while to set up, they can also save you time – and even money – in the long run.

Share your plans with at least one other person – a trusted advisor, business coach, and/or your management team. Having others’ feedback on your plans can be invaluable. Plus, having “accountability buddies” will ensure you stay on track with your goals.

Now that we’ve assembled this virtual time machine, take a moment to imagine where you’d like to be 12 months from now. If you follow these steps, chances are you’ll be smarter and richer!

P.S. Be sure to teleport yourself to the Nightclub & Bar Show next year, where you’ll find many more ideas for business growth.

Suggested Articles

Research from the latest National Restaurant Association and Yelp Show the Latest Rate in Closures

Six-month sales, education and networking virtual event series offers a brand-new approach for the industry to connect with owners, operators and supp

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that at the end of the month, indoor dining will be returning to New York City after almost six months of being