So, you’ve closed down your nightclub or bar for the night and it’s time to check your till. You count the earnings, deduct expenses, and are eager to find out if you’ve hit your sales goal for the night.
But is this the best number to use when measuring the success of your nightclub? It may seem simple enough to compare your sales goals to your actual sales, but it turns out there are three numbers that can be much more telling of your business’ short-term and long-term success.
Jon Taffer, best known as the host of Bar Rescue, wrote a book called Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Interactions. With 255 reviews and a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, Jon is often recognized as one of the industry’s key authority figures. In his book, Jon claims, “Once up and running, many owners and managers judge success on sales alone. Wrong. If you’re just looking at sales or revenue . . . you really do not have an accurate picture of market share or whether your business is growing.”
With those words of caution in mind, consider the following metrics and what information they can reveal about your business.
1. Sales per guest
Sales per guest is one of the most important numbers to track at your bar or nightclub. Rather than looking at your sales as a lump sum at the end of the night, you can understand how much the average guest is spending when they visit your venue. Combine this number with your average prices and you can gain insight regarding sales, guest count, and staffing:
Sales. If sales are down and guest count is up at your venue, this can point to a problem with your drink sales. Perhaps the drink prices are too high, or maybe your guests feel more inclined to simply hang out than they do to make a purchase.
Guest count. On the contrary, if your sales are up and your guest count is low, this may mean your marketing and promotions could use some TLC. You’ve got the drinks people want and the price may be right, but you need to focus your efforts on attracting more guests to the nightclub.
Staffing. Sales can be down because there aren’t enough servers to assist the amount of guests at your venue. People may be waiting too long to be helped, which can result in fewer guests in the long run.
Without keeping track of this number, your goal may be to keep your nightclub as full as you can for as long as you can. But research shows that having a packed venue can actually decrease the average length of stay.
So, instead of aiming to keep your space as busy as possible, tracking sales per guest can help you focus on capitalizing on each guest who walks through the door. When you only focus on your total sales, you can quickly get a feel for your business’ success, but you can miss out on profit and even see a decrease in that success over time as guests become less likely to return.
2. Male-to-female ratio
You’ve seen it at every bar. Perhaps you do it at your bar, too: Offering specials for either female or male guests on a particular night of the week. Why do venues do this? Because a huge reason people attend nightclubs is for social interaction, often with potential romantic partners.
Striking the perfect balance is crucial, which is why successful owners work to track their male-to-female guest ratio. This ratio means more than simply making sure the men in your club have plenty of women that they can meet (and vice versa) — this number can also provide helpful customer demographics that can guide your business decisions.
For example, if your venue experiences a huge fluctuation in the ratio of female-to-male guests on the same night that your sales per guest is at its highest, it’s worth your time to investigate why this may be happening. Perhaps that night’s drink specials were more appealing to your female guests, or maybe your staff is more inclined to serve female customers than they are male customers. Without seeing the correlation in these numbers, you wouldn’t have been alerted to look into the issue further.
What’s more: This ratio can also provide insight on the sales and marketing efforts of your venue. Think about the following benefits:
- Watching male-to-female ratio trends throughout the week can pinpoint which days may be in need of gender-targeted drink specials and/or “cover-free” entry.
- If you do offer a night of no cover charges to a particular gender, you can measure how that affects your profits, guest counts, and sales per guest.
- Analyzing male-to-female ratios over a long period of time can demonstrate whether your venue is visually or environmentally more appealing to a particular gender.
- Comparing male-to-female ratios with nightly specials can show you which marketing techniques are more effective for each gender.
These are just a few examples where knowing the male-to-female ratio of your venue can help guide your drink offerings, pricing, specials, decor, music choices, and promotional efforts.
3. Average length of stay
Just likes sales per guest and male-to-female ratios can tell much more than you may initially think, the average length of stay per guest can be an equally helpful number to understand. This number also tends to tie into your sales per guest. Here’s why.
When a guest feels more inclined to stay at your nightclub for a longer period of time, they are likely to purchase more food and drinks throughout their stay. The reasons for a guest wanting to stay longer can come from a variety of factors:
- They like the music that’s being played
- They enjoy the decor and overall environment
- They feel they are receiving good customer service
- They are having positive social interactions with both strangers and acquaintances
- They enjoy the food and/or drinks (including the prices)
At the same time, you don’t want customers to stay at your venue for a long time unless that time is turning into more sales. Raising length of stay is not always the main goal, especially if the atmosphere can get too crowded and discourage other guests from making more purchases.
Tracking average length of stay — and especially tracking it while tracking sales per guest — can shed insight on your nightclub’s success. You can test out theories and evaluate them based on data.
Track these numbers without the added effort
It’s clear that any one of these numbers can tell you something about your business’ success. When you combine these numbers, they are even greater than the sum of the parts.
But, if you’re like any business owner, you may be hesitant to spend an exorbitant amount of time or effort to track these numbers. You would have to have each of your security staff count each guest, track whether the guest was male or female, and relay that information to you accurately throughout the night. You would probably have to hire an additional staff member just to keep track of each guest’s length of stay, and it would pretty difficult to get 100% accurate numbers every single night. After all of that, you’d still have to spend hours organizing sales and guest counts in a spreadsheet. That huge addition to your already long list of responsibilities may not seem worth the energy.
Thankfully, companies like TallyFi provide tools that can automatically track advanced nightclub metrics and then sync them to the cloud. Doing so can be as easy as giving a TallyFi counter to your bouncer.
TallyFi can provide all the benefits highlighted in this article without forcing you to make drastic changes to your venue’s nightly routine. Training your security staff to use this kind of tool can be a very quick process, and the result can tell you so much more about your business than you’ll ever know with sales alone.