Failure Is Not An Option

Bars and nightclubs are fantastic places to frequent: notorious for drinking, dancing, having fun and potentially meeting your future spouse – they provide the ideal location to socialise and offer a safe haven from the real world!

However, the reality of operating such a venue is not so pretty. Many bars fail within their first three years – a lot of them in their first year. NDML asses the most common reasons, beyond being financially ill prepared, that cause establishments to fail:


Angry and belligerent customers, often fueled by alcohol, are sadly not uncommon in bars. Violence should never be condoned in any environment and reasonable steps should be taken to reduce the risk of trouble e.g. hiring a reputable security company and investing time & money in staff security training. Having personnel on site competent at placating angry customers will save the establishment both money and their reputation.

Bad Reviews

Bad reviews are inevitable – no matter how hard you try, you cannot please everybody! They are ever more proficient as social media enables the masses to voice their opinions. But essentially it is how a bar responds to them that separates the wheat from the chaff – savvy operators use bad reviews to turn a foe into a friend.

Resting on your laurels in the hospitality industry is never advisable, with heightened competition on the high street all operators need to be continually analysing what they do and how it can be bettered.

Poor Customer Service

It is well known that bad news travels faster than good; the same applies to customer service. Nightclubs and bars should invest in people shrewdly – your employees are the single biggest indicator of the service your establishment will provide.

Working in the hospitality industry is HARD WORK – it is not for the faint hearted! The hours are long and antisocial and the job specifics rigorous. Hiring outgoing, engaging, flexible and accommodating people is essential – only candidates with the right spirit and attitude will survive.

Whilst it is as much about the individual’s personality, emphasis must also lie on the training given by the company – this must be extensive and stringent.

Customer service is EVERYTHING – having the right staff, in the right position will lead to success.

Ineffective Management

Managers have a lot on their proverbial plates. They need to have good interpersonal and leadership skills; be great communicators; able to focus and be flexible.

So when you’re hiring for managerial positions, ask questions that require specific examples, also give them hypothetical scenarios and ask how they’d handle them. Listen carefully to their answers; be it in a positive or a negative light as it will show how they deal with situations: a negative personality will inevitably impact the rest of the team.

Ideally hire from within so you are familiar with the candidate, failing that seek recommendations or extensive past experience.

Intoxicated Customers

Flexible opening hours for licensed premises (with the potential for extended opening times) were introduced with the intention of minimising public disorder and discouraging the binge-drinking culture. The result however, is people are able to drink to excess over longer periods of time, making the complexities of being a socially aware and responsible town or city center licensee all the more testing. It is inevitable that there has been an increase in accidents due to drink but more telling that customers are encouraged to pursue claims for damages, by the variety of personal injury lawyers on offer.

Dave Henderson from Krazyhouse, Liverpool says: “Essentially we attract a student centred crowd of young partygoers who are looking for a great night at discounted prices. Whilst this has proved a winning formula over many years of trading, we have not been without our fair share of problems resulting from intoxicated youths and anti-social behaviour; I am sure most licensed trade operators can relate to such issues.”

Poor Wireless Service

As ridiculous as this might sound, in the age of social media, if your nightclub or bar operates a poor wireless system, customers are more likely to take their business elsewhere. Working on a laptop, ‘checking in’ on Facebook or Tweeting is a must for most young purveyors.

Furthermore adequate phone lines, strong internet connection for PDQ machines and state of the art reservation systems also contribute to your success.