What To Look For In Your GM

As an owner you need to know what to look for in a General Manager.  This person is key to the success of your venue and will need to execute on your concepts, ideas and vision.  Are you an active, experienced nightclub or bar owner, who needs someone to open and close?   If this is the case, promote a bartender who you see potential in and show him/her the ropes.   Are you an inexperienced owner who needs guidance?  Then you need to find someone with former experience as a General Manager. In either case you will need to give this person control to execute and make your place successful, which can be the most challenging part.  Here are some helpful hints to think about when looking for your next GM.  


Finding Talent

Everyone has a different way of managing a nightclub or bar.  Some are hands on and set examples, while others delegate responsibilities and focus on the important tasks that are their true strength.  Ultimately, it’s not always about the experience the manager possesses, but about finding an exceptional individual.  An exceptional individual can sometimes trump experience. However, make sure that they are not afraid to take charge, be a leader and figure it out when needed. For example: I was promoting for a club/bar in Florida and the owner gave me the change to be the GM because he saw my potential.  Even though I didn’t have the experience, I understood the marketing and management of staff members. To cover the areas that weren’t my strengths I hired individuals that could manage it. 


Sense of Urgency & Handling Problems

A true leader has a sense of urgency and this is a very demanding position.  Laid back GM’s clearly don’t have the same impact as a GM with a great sense of urgency.  This person will also need to solve problems and put out fires.  What happens when a speaker on your sound system blows out?  Does your GM know how to fix it or who to contact to solve the problem?  What if a bartender is stealing? Does your GM ignore it, make a scene and publically confront the person or have security remove the bartender in a low key manner?   What happens when the police come in? Does your GM speak with them and offer them water or hide in the office?  



It often seems that marketing always gets over shadowed by operations.  Obviously your GM needs to perform the tasks of operations, such as opening and closing duties, staffing, inventory, product ordering and hundreds of other important operational tasks.  However, you need to keep in mind the bottom line.  The most important thing is that your business is profitable.  If your GM is not marketing savvy, you will have a great operation and an empty bar.  Make sure they can engage your staff to promote on Facebook, through text messages, and handing out cards or flyer.  Your GM should organize or delegate all marketing efforts.  If it is not his or her strength, give your GM the means of having a solid marketing director. 


Handling Staff, Customers & Community

The way your GM handles your staff, customers and the local people in your community is vital to your business.  You don’t want to have an irresponsible manager that is more focused on hitting on customer or staff members, drinking all of your product or confronting neighboring businesses.  Your GM should be likeable but respected.  Staff members should all be treated equal and managing the staff the night of any event should be high priority. The same goes for your customers.  Your GM should resolve all complaints from customers.  Remember the phrase, “the customer is always right?”  Agree with that statement and make sure your GM understand the customers are paying his salary.  Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!   A good GM will also be involved in the community; show support for your neighboring bars and organizations. 


The Right Fit

When interviewing a GM you need to have chemistry and make sure that he/she is the right fit for your venue.  The best candidate is not always the right fit.  Your budget could be $52,000 per year, and the best candidate could be $75,000 per year.  You want to find a GM who is in your price range and lives in close proximity.  References are very important – ask for three business references and three personal references.  It’s also not uncommon to do a criminal check and have them pass a drug test.  You want to make sure if you are new to the business you find a leader.  If you are a seasoned veteran find an up and coming superstar.  Spend the time to know what you want and select the right person to run your venue.  This can make or break your business!

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