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How to Start a Bar/Club

How to Start a Bar/Club

Be the toast of the town, the life of the party--and a successful entrepreneur? Yep. You can have it all when you open a bar.

Entrepreneur Magazine

Naming Your Bar

When it comes to naming a bar, experts generally fall into two major schools of thought. The first says your bar is your dream – your hard work – so you should name it anything you want. The second approach to naming says your moniker is the first and greatest form of advertising for your drinking establishment. A name like Bill’s Bar & Tavern doesn’t really tell the public anything about your business, but The Haystack, Romp and 3rd & Vine give customers something to connect you to. You wouldn’t consider going to bar called Romp if you just wanted a quiet drink. Likewise, you wouldn’t travel up and down 4th Street looking for a place called 3rd & Vine.

O’Harro advises that your name should exemplify your concept. “First, I would try to figure out what my concept is going to be,” he says. “Sports bar? Discotheque? High energy? Low energy? Singles bar? What exactly am I going to be? Then, what’s the name of this business going to be? I would do tremendous research to try to come up with a name that literally fits with the concept.”

When coming up with different names, don’t stop until you love at least three. In your brainstorming sessions, keep these three questions in mind:

1. How well does the name fit the concept you want to create?

2. What types of customers will the name attract?

3. What will people expect based on the name?

It’s time to start planning how you’re going to get people into your bar to enjoy it. Just like any other aspect of operating your bar, marketing is an ongoing process. Many bar owners think marketing is the most fun and exciting aspect of running a bar. The entrepreneurs we interviewed agreed that advertising in the media didn’t bring as much reward for the cost as it does for many other types of businesses. Generating a buzz for your bar will mostly come from word-of-mouth and the special promotions you set up.

“The only cost-effective way to advertise a bar is word-of-mouth,” says Bob Johnson of the Beverage Management Institute, in Clearwater, South Carolina. "When you don’t have word-of-mouth working for you, you are in serious trouble. It’s not necessarily terminal. There are still ways to get some advertising and marketing out there without spending a ton of money. But anytime you reach into your own pocket to buy advertising for a bar, it’s not good.

“Word-of-mouth advertising is priceless,” he continues. “It means everything is right. Everything is happening. The bar is alive. Your employees love working there. They are talking and saying great things about the place, and that is passed on to your customers. The customers love being there, and they tell other customers. If you can get to that point, it’s just priceless.”