I recently attended a seminar at the Nightclub & Bar Conference where the speaker asked this basic question: What must your venue have to be successful? Most attendees responded with bars, dance floor, liquor, DJ, etc. Very few thought beyond the mere infrastructure and came up with the number one component of a successful club – customers.


The hard truth is that your customers are the only thing that matters. Without customers, you don’t have a venue. Furthermore, your customers expect and deserve quality customer service that is consistent time and time again. This is what keeps your customers coming back and what grows your profits.


But how do you get customers in the first place? Here are 5 tips to acquire and retain great customers.


1. Create a Brand Image

People connect with venues that have a focused style. This style is your brand image. It’s what aligns customer expectation with customer experience. Your brand needs to represent your club’s reputation through your attributes, values, purpose, strengths and passions. It should clearly differentiate you from the club down the street or even across the country. Define your vision, create the essence you want your customers to experience, and design everything – from your logo, to your interior, to your messaging – around these items. From there, your featured drinks, events and other promotions should align with this brand image. Never lose site of your brand, and always work to strengthen it online and inside your doors. This is what drives consistency for your public perception and what gets people to connect with you on an emotional level.


2. Build a Good Team

Your venue is only as good as the team you put in place to run it. That’s why it’s crucial to find people who are passionate about your venue’s mission and purpose, fit in with your culture, and who are trustworthy. This includes everyone you hire, from the employees inside the venue’s walls to the promoters on the street. Having a team member on board whose heart isn’t in the right place can create a situation that lacks care and excitement, and consequently sabotages your efforts. And when this happens, don’t be afraid to let that person go. The best run venues always have the right people in the right spots and treat them with professionalism and respect.


3. Put the Right Systems in Place

This is a behind-the-scenes step that needs to happen in order to have a well-run nightclub. While it’s true the systems themselves won’t bring customers in your door, they will ensure your staff is following operational processes and procedures to give guests the best possible experience. Some of this may be as simple as defining roles and communication processes. Others may be more complex, like finding a technology system to help streamline operations. Either way, it’s important to clearly define and establish systems that are easy for everyone to follow.


4. Treat Each Guest as an Important Individual

Guests don’t want to be treated as a number, especially VIP guests. They should be greeted at the door, walked to their table, offered their personal top-purchased liquors, and attended to by their favorite server. Having a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place helps track this information to give seamless VIP service from all staff members. What’s more is the CRM system enables you to provide personal touches to your regular bar crowd, too. After all, in the age of big data, people are used to being treated as an individual by companies more than ever before. This personal treatment you’re able to offer will provide your guests with a better experience, making them more loyal and more likely to refer friends to your venue.


5. Stay Current

Our industry is constantly changing. After all, the average lifespan of a nightclub is only two years. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on all the details in this market and stay up-to-date on trends. This includes music styles, drink trends, décor trends, technology trends, and even customer income fluctuations. All of these factors impact the decisions and successes of your venue.


Whitney Johnson is the global director of marketing at BookBottles. Contact her at whitney.johnson@bookbottles.com.