"Everyone get out a dollar bill, and write your name on it," Patrick Henry, president and CEO of Patrick Henry Creative Promotions told the crowd as he began his Keynote Speech at the 2011 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show on Tuesday March 8. The key to a successful promotion, he said, is to give people an incentive to stay at your bar or club longer than the promotion itself. So, as we all wrote our names on a dollar bill, Henry informed us that after his speech, he would pick a winner who would win the whole pot of cash, and that's all it took to have the crowd give him their undivided attention.
And with good reason, too, because Henry knows a thing or two about running a successful promotion. In his seminar "20 Years of Great Promotions - Past and Present," Henry noted that promotions have changed since the '80s. No longer do you see homemade bikini contests because those days of "total sensory overload" no longer exist.
This happened, he said, for a number of reasons including the demise of MTV, tougher laws on drinking, a cover charge revolt, guests growing tired of contests and the desire for quality and value, which seemingly won out over gimmicks.
However, when things change, your business must evolve, as well in order to stay on top of these new trends. In fact, the market is trending upward to more luxe and innovative ideas. Hotel pools can be a coup for your nightclub business, and if you're not running a bar and cocktail late night menu, then you're missing out on attracting new guests and higher profits. Other important factors to implement in your establishment include: small bite appetizers, classic cocktails and more effective training and technology programs.
And yet, running a successful business means doing more than just implementing menu changes. Henry said excellent cusotmer service should take precedent over everything else. "Customers are smarter than they've ever been," he said, "and if they don't have good service, then they'll go somewhere else."
"Get rid of the toxic people [working for you], and get sharp and energetic people," he said.
That's not all that can be done. Here are 10 quick things Henry said that will make your business a success into the next decade and beyond:
1. Hire a tech person to be in charge of your social media strategies.
2. Make sure you have clean, comfortable environment, especially making your bathrooms the cleanest ones in town.
3. Serve good food, not the frozen stuff; your customers will know the difference.
4. Hire educated managers who won't drink your profits away.
5. Install flat screen TVs, and have them on the correct channels (sports and humor shows are better than the news of the day).
6. You need to have a seperate beverage menu with great photography.
7. "Don't rip off cusotmers because they won't be back."
8. Grade your operation, using your employees as a focus group. "They will tell you things they don't like, and if you follow their suggestions, you'll have a better run operation in a month."
9. Celebrate your anniversary once a year - maybe twice a year, if you need to. "People won't know the difference."
10. Incentive programs, holiday promotions and one-off promotions can turn slow nights into a rousing success. Birthday programs get people in the door, Grammy and Academy Award parties turn slow Sundays into a fun evening and holiday promotions encourage customers to take a night for themselves.
If you begin implementing some of these strategies, your business will certainly grow. Though promotions change, the effect remains the same; they drive business and sales, and that's something you don't want to miss out on. Henry ended his seminar by noting that making difficult decisions can lead to the best outcome, and that if you "Do the right thing and continue to have fun, you'll be successful."
Good advice from a man who knows how to garner positive attention and keep a crowd riveted. It certainly doesn't hurt when you have $300 to give away, either.