Secrets for Starting Out

You’re getting started in the nightlife business and you want to know how the major nightclubs in cities such as Las Vegas, New York, Miami and Los Angeles bring in thousands of customers per week. Well, here are a couple of secrets for starting out.

Funding & Location

The number one reason nightclubs fail is because they are not properly funded. Funding does not just mean how much you buy the business for or how much it would cost to opened. You need to create a real business plan, which includes operations, marketing, talent, legal, build out, management, staff and a substantial reserve fund.  If you do not have the right amount of funds to properly open, its best to delaying your plans until you can come up with the capital. On the other hand, even if you have the proper funding, if you do not have a prime location, your chance of success will be slimmer. Research the demographics of your business – location, competition, income, age range of potential customers, etc. – to determine if the venue is worth pursuing.


Legal & Liability 

You have found and properly funded the venue and have a prime location; the next factor is making sure you have the proper legal advisers to secure your location. One attorney simply won’t get it done properly.  You need a business lawyer for negotiating the lease, operating agreements, business licenses, format a new LLC or corporation, and other important documents.  In addition, if you are a franchise, you need to retain a franchise attorney.  If you would like to trade mark your business, retaining an individual trade mark attorney is recommended. 

When it comes to you liquor license a lawyer that specializes in this area will help expedite the process. Each state, and in some cases counties and districts, have different liquor laws and it can be a long and arduous process getting everything situated.  In regards to accounting, it’s real simple: don’t mess with the IRS.  Pay your sales tax, employee tax and income taxes.  Be sure to find a CPA who knows the ins and outs of your business. In addition, be sure to have the proper insurance in place.  Find a good security company or hire an experienced head security guard who can train and maintain your business.  It’s also advised to install a top notch surveillance system to keep your liability down, and lower the risk of staff theft. 

Build Out & Creativity

Once you have your name and concept.  Now it’s time to build something that will make customers flock to your business. Start with your basic layout that includes floors, ceilings, walls, dance floor, bars, VIP Rooms and DJ booth placement.  Then you can get creative. What makes you different than the hundred other nightclubs in your city?  What are you offering that others are not?   Do you have a pool at your nightclub? How about a waterfall?  A good nightlife consultant or architect could help you with your vision.  Also, visit as many major nightlife cities as possible to get a true idea of what you are looking to build.  Each square inch of your nightclub is real estate and each inch of real estate has a value.  You need to build your venue to financially handle the business you project to do.  Don’t make the mistake of building small bars and a huge dance floor.  The bar is where you make money!

Management & Staff

If you are a seasoned nightlife operator, who plans on running the business 70+ hours per week, then you do not need a general manager.  If you are new to the business, hire a qualified general manager.  Give this qualified GM the green light to bring his or her ideas, contacts and connections to the table.  Too many times, new venue owners try to take complete control of the venue and not take advice of a GM who has the experience.

This GM or you as the operating owner need to now hire a rock star staff.  Hold casting calls at your venue, a few weeks out, and hire your bartenders, shot girls, VIP girls, bathroom attendant, cashier, bar backs, and other positions.  Find the ones who have the right look, attitude, and you feel would be the right fit for your venue.  Hire candidates who you feel are in it for the long haul, and will treat your place like their own.  Train your staff in every aspect of operations, marketing, and customer service.


If you build it they will come?  Negative! You must market your venue properly and spend your marketing dollars wisely.  Graphic design elements, which go on print ads, digital websites and all of your social media, nees to be high quality.  Create an in-house marketing team to handle social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Develop an email and text list to blast your event to in addition to a killer website. Don’t forget to have each one of your staff members promote on social media.

You can also set up flyer distribution teams and hire promoters to target your clientele. The goal is to pack the place so reach out to model agencies, local business and find a good public relations company. Personally, I advise not to use independent promotion companies on weekend nights when you first open. However, if there is a local company with a good clientele, you should be open to involvement on an off night.  

Customer Experience

Everything matters to a customer so pay attention to the details!  It’s all about how your customers feel about your venue.  Your female customers will not come back to your establishment if you do not have clean bathrooms.  Fully stock your toilet paper and towels. These types of things may seem small to you, but to an attractive group of girls, this could be a deal breaker.  Have your eye candy; this could be staff, dancers, or even hired models.  An extra smile, and over the top service makes customers come back.  Are the sound levels just right?  Is your venue clean?  Does your venue smell good?  Are there laser beams directly pointing in customers eyes?  Is your staff properly dressed?  Is your pricing in line and reasonable within your market?  Do your customers feel safe? You need to give your customers an unbelievable experience to get them back every time.


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