2017 EXPO | August 27-30

Finding and Keeping Entertainers Seminar

keeping dancers 00005Recruiting, retention, training ... and the importance of the use of proper terminology!
Leaving aside the ongoing employee versus independent contractor debate, how do you or your general manager make sure your club is staffed with the best entertainers possible? No entertainers equals no customers—it’s that simple. At EXPO 2015, our experts—Russell Benedetto of E11EVEN Miami and Warren Colazzo of Thee Dollhouse in Tampa (filling in for Randy Beasley, who withdrew due to illness), both industry veterans—provided tips on where to find great entertainers, how to recruit them to dance at your club, and how to keep them coming back to work at your club. And because anything to do with entertainers has become a sticky subject, legally speaking, well-known industry attorney Luke Lirot joined the seminar to ensure all advice was legally sound.
Here, we’ve printed a selection of the speakers’ comments.

keeping dancers 00308Luke Lirot

When I’m driving around Tampa Bay area and I see a magazine ad or billboard that says, “Now hiring dancers,” I get a very queasy feeling. The more you customize your vocabulary in recruiting and keeping dancers, the less artillery that our opponents have to bring us down and utilize our mistakes to do so—and that’s exactly what they are, mistakes. It only takes one mistake to give your opponents an incredible amount of leverage. If you have “employee parking” in the back and an entertainer parks there, it can be used against you. It has been. Understand the vocabulary. You do not “hire” entertainers if they are independent contractors.
Interviewing dancers is a little bit different than other interviews. They should be conducted with two people. If there are any discrepancies, you want a witness, maybe even tape the interview process with their permission, of course. We have to protect ourselves at every juncture.
Do you have an employment application for entertainers? Is it something you picked up from Office Depot? It only takes one mistake to open yourself up to (a lawsuit).
There is also the constant specter of a sexual harassment claim. It’s always a good idea to have more than one person involved in these discussions. It’s very difficult to be able to issue some of these “controls” and yet not jeopardize that independent contractor relationship.

keeping dancers 00271Russ Benedetto

Recruiting and retaining entertainers has changed a lot over the years, and I’ve done it for my entire career (three decades). Now, you can’t just tell them what to do. You have to be better, you have to be smarter.
I’ll go to a Twin Peaks or a Hooters, I just invite them to the club. You let the girls in the club do the recruiting for you. How we used to do it was, we’d hire hot bartenders and waitresses, then they’d see how much money the entertainers were making. We’d get them involved in an amateur contest, and then they’d become entertainers.
Today, I’ll be their best friend, but I’m not their “boss.” I’m here to help them make more money, offer suggestions, etc. Owners and general managers are their own worst enemy; you can’t tell these girls what to wear, what to say, etc. It’s about peer pressure. You hope they catch on to what makes them the most money, which is the “girlfriend experience,” knowing how to talk to customers, etc. Just treat the entertainers with respect, and remember that they don’t work for you.
Also, make friends with other guys in the industry. I don’t take them from you, I just borrow them. For example, if I know girls that are traveling to Tampa, I recommend them to Warren. If they’re coming to New Orleans, I call the Penthouse Club. They’ll always talk about the club they just came from. Randy Beasley and I used to call it the ant trail. Put one piece of sugar down, get a few entertainers. They sprinkle a little more sugar, before you know it you have thousands. The girls are your best recruiters—but that all depends on how well you treat them.

keeping dancers 00063Warren Colazzo

The most important thing is, you have to educate the staff that the entertainers are everything. You have to take care of them. You can’t assume that the entertainers that walk in your club know how to make money the right way. They’ve picked up a lot of bad habits in a lot of bad clubs. You have to sit down with every girl and try to teach them how to make money in a professional way. But too many clubs get lazy. They put that on the house mom, or a doorman, who don’t know anything about educating an entertainer.
For example, if a girl gets out of her car looking all raggedy, all it takes is for a car full of guys to pull up, see that, and drive away. It starts the moment they arrive at the club and walk through the door. You’re educating them for one thing: to make money. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. This approach works, and the success of Thee Dollhouse proves it. If the entertainers are making money, everyone is making money.
You tell them how to approach customers. The men coming into the club want attention. Do you know how to ask for a dance? You can run a customer out in two seconds by putting too much pressure on them. If you have tough girls bullying other girls around, it’s your fault. The entertainers are making everyone money in that club. You have to make them feel special, because they are special. It’s tough, but it works. I guarantee it will change your entire club; I’ve done this for many years.
(Moderator question to Luke Lirot:) Can you have a “meeting,” a non-mandatory meeting, with entertainers?
Lirot: Education is the magic term. The term that is our enemy is “control.” With education; make it voluntary. Get everyone to feel that they will do better by playing along with everyone else. “Meeting at 10 am, please attend.” Your language has to be careful, selective.
You can train without it being mandatory. It’s an “offer.” No penalty, no punishment. Their loss if they don’t take advantage of the opportunity. That can be amazingly successful.
Colazzo: I have these meetings on Sundays. They’ve grown so much over the years. Entertainers are starving for attention. Once they realize you actually care about them, they respond. I have 80 girls show up at the club on a Sunday morning for a 90-minute breakfast meeting. If you do it the right way, it benefits you and them. At some of my meetings, I’ve had someone offering health insurance, or talking about college education, gym people to talk about fitness and nutrition, etc. They work!

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THE 2017 GENTLEMEN'S EXPO IS AUGUST 27-30
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