Jon Taffer On Why Bars Fail

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Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer wants you to know that his television show is the real deal. The Paramount network program has no script, he told the audience at his Nightclub & Bar show keynote in Las Vegas on March 26, swearing “on my mother’s frickin’ grave!”

What has Taffer learned in eight years and 189 episodes of Bar Rescue? For one thing, bar owners need to move faster in terms of making decisions and necessary changes, Taffer said.

They also need to lose the excuses. “Not one time does a bar owner say, ‘we’re failing because of me,’ ” he notes. You need to own your failure, and then you will own your success.

Excuses are the common denominator of failure: An excuse is a reconciliation of a mistake. And when you learn to accept failure, Taffer said, you don’t learn from it or grow.

Here are Taffer’s Big 6 Excuses.

1) Fear. If you think the risk is too high, remember that whatever you fear, millions of people have already done, Taffer said. “Fear is bullshit,” he added, “it’s a formula for failure.”

2) Knowledge. Some people think, “I don’t know enough about this to do it.” Well, the knowledge is out there, and in most cases, easily accessible online, Taffer said. So if a lack of knowledge is your excuse, “what you’re saying is, ‘I’m to lazy to learn. I’m an idiot.’”

3) Time. If something is important to you, you will find or make the time to do it. For instance, Taffer said, if he offered you $1 million to find and buy a polka dot shirt today, you would likely find the time and a way to get it done.

4) Circumstance. You can’t change it, so using circumstance as an excuse is ridiculous, Taffer said: “You’re saying that you can’t function in reality.”

For example, a $15 minimum wage is coming, like it or not, so you’re going to have to deal with it, he noted. And instead of complaining about slow business in the cold weather, “you have to find a way to make money in the cold!”

5) Ego. The worst excuse ever. “Ego without money is bullshit,” Taffer stated.

6) Scarcity. People frequently use a lack of money as an excuse. “My grandfather used to say, if your checkbook isn’t full, your idea book better be,” Taffer said. Be creative, work your network, call in favors—find a way to make it happen.

Jon Taffer at NIghtclub and BarThe opportunity to make money and grow your business is now, while the economy is strong, Taffer said. “Revenue cures everything; bad numbers are fixed by a lot of numbers.”

So how do you get more revenue? Taffer believes that marketing should be focused on 50% new customers, 35% frequency programs and 15% expenditure enhancement.

Manage guest counts and sales separately and focus on increasing guest counts, he advised. Raising guest counts by just 2% a week can change the whole dynamic of the business.

For example, Taffer said, say an operator typically gets 1,000 visits a week. If it increases that by 20 people a week, and raises the amount spent by $3 for each visit, in 10 weeks the bar’s weekly revenue would go from $15,000 to $21,600—a 44% improvement.

The R factor

In the hospitality business, everything we do is a process, never a result, Taffer said. “That process and all interactions with your brand must cause a reaction.”

The food, the drink or even the garnish is the vehicle; it’s how you get the guest reaction, he said. “We live and die by the reactions.”

So you have to hire the right person and personality. Don’t rely on “training,” Taffer said. All we do is teach people to work in our business. “Training is behavior modification—that’s why we have frickin’ prisons.”

In most cases, you can’t really work with someone to improve their personality or low energy, “and if we reduce our standards to their level, we fail,” Taffer said bluntly.

So take the needed actions to protect those all-important guest reactions. If you have someone on your team who isn’t good, he added, “Do what I do—go home and fire somebody!”

2 Replies to “Jon Taffer On Why Bars Fail”

  1. Alex Herold says:

    great read, that is why I enjoy watching his show……been in business for 71 years, how about you?

  2. Grayson Merrill says:

    God he’s a moron. He is just a no-class bag of hot air, foul language and bad habits.

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