2017 EXPO | August 27-30

Solving Slow Weeknights Seminar

slow weekends 00006Promotions that can pack your club on a weeknight and the motivation needed to get club staff behind these special events.
Unfortunately Monday Night Football only happens on Mondays and for less than half the year. So how do you get customers into your club the other Mondays and all those Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, which are not considered weekend party nights? At EXPO 2015, our experts provided some marketing and special promotions gameplans that have a proven track record of turning normally slow weeknights into high-dollar touchdown nights. Our guest speakers included two adult club industry veterans; Jack Pepper of Club Babes in Atlanta and Terrence Skelly, GM of Rick’s Cabaret in NYC.
Here, we’ve printed a selection of their comments.

slow weekends 00210Terrence Skelly

I started in this industry with the original Scores in NYC in 1991 as barback, and got promoted through the ranks to assistant GM, then operations director. I helped open the Penthouse Club in NYC, now I’m the GM of Rick’s in NYC.
At Scores, our successful weeknights, started with a tremendous PR campaign, run by Lonnie Hanover (who now works with Rick’s). We also had a great DJ, Tim Rhodes. He worked the week nights, and he captivated his audience. He knew what was right for the audience. I’d say 10 % of people who came in, came to see/hear him. We also filled the restaurant at Scores during weeknights, which was very highly rated by the New York Times. I know this just reflects one market, but you have to tailor your promotions to fit your market.
So what are the building blocks for successful weeknights? I watch a show called “The Prophet.” What he talks about is “people, product, process.” We all have a similar product and a similar process, but the key for your weeknight success is the people—your staff. You can’t just put your best foot forward on Friday and Saturday nights.
When I first started working with Rick’s, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in the industry. What I was amazed at was the enthusiasm of the entire staff that worked there. We understand the basics. We understand the marketplace. We have the finance industry. Do you work in a golf town, like Myrtle Beach, or a manufacturing town? During the week is when you build your regular business. We have two people on staff that do research into what’s happening in and around New York. You need to know where your audience is. Have a plan, have the right people in place to execute the plan. Stop making excuses. Raining, snowing, hot, cold … you can’t use those as excuses.
I ask my staff sometimes, I’m not going to have anyone on my couch when I get home from work. You know how I know? Because I didn’t invite anyone. Invite people to your club. We have an all-hands-on-deck approach to that. We do incentives for the staff to bring in the most guests in a month. “Come see me” cards. Listen to your staff’s input, listen to your guests. I have a guest who’s given me hundreds of great ideas over the years. We don’t know it all.
Finally, if you implement something, give it time to work and grow. Great customer service is the best promotion you can offer.

slow weekends 00070Jack Pepper

Doesn’t the customer that walks in your door on a Monday night deserve the same experience as the customer who walks in on Friday night? That customer deserves that same level of experience.
When it comes to weeknight promotions, here’s what you need to keep in mind at all times: QSC— quality, service, cleanliness. It’s the standard of any food and beverage establishment, including yours. Dirty kitchen, ice wells dirty, staff has dirty uniforms, cigarette butts in the parking lot, nasty windows, dirty door handles, surly door girls. You only get one chance at a good first impression.
The first area of concern for you should be your guest’s experience. They expect friendly service, they expect clean bathrooms. It’s not something they should have to ask for. Get your staff into some professional training, getting back to the basics. If your reputation sucks, people aren’t going to show up for your promotions. Go on social media, Yelp, etc., and see what is said about you club and clean up your reputation. Get a focus group, a handful of your good customers and ask, “what are doing right, what are we doing wrong?”
We put together a focus group, and we did something called “mind mapping.” We started with an idea: lap dancing. What can we do? It grew into a promotion where we gave away a lap dance in a hot air balloon, the first-ever lap dance in a hot air balloon!
I started in 1978 in discos, rock clubs, and got in this industry in 1991. The same ideas work in all venues. It’s about keeping the customer entertained; how entertained they are directly reflects how long they stay, and how long they stay equals more dollars. Have to keep him entertained.
I do weekly promotions; it could be a theme night, or something a liquor vendor is involved in, a buffet night, a promotion with cigars. It could be, “This week only, Wednesday night, stone crabs.” It’s a unique item for limited time, and you’ll find interest there.
With birthday parties, we’ve turned the entertainers into marketing people. They make their own flyers for their “birthday parties,” then the girls started promoting these  parties. They’ll get a bunch more people in the club that night, and I didn’t pay for anything.
Radio station nights. Some people love radio, some hate it. I have radio personalities come and host a night at the club. Depends on the market and the cost, but it works for me in Atlanta. If you treat the DJs well, they talk your club up big time.
Here’s an idea we’ve used on Wednesday nights: We can’t do 2 for 1 drinks, so we sell them a poker chip for $20, which is good for $40 worth of drinks when they cash it in, but only until midnight. We sold them money, 50 cents on the dollar. You can use it all night, but can only buy before midnight. My club gets packed at 11, but the goal was to get them in earlier. Now, we sell $3,000-$4000 every Wednesday night. Done that for 3 years.
Entertainers will go where they think the money is. They see lots of promotions, creative promotions, they’ll assume that’s where things are happening, where the money is.
The next big challenge is, how to get the word out. AIDA: attention, interest, desire, action. Social media is not a cure all. Have to hit as many mediums as possible. How many of you are running your own Youtube stations? Your own reality shows? Online radio stations?
The last idea I’ll share is, we were looking for an idea to boost attendance on Monday nights (outside of football season). But I thought, how much money am I willing to devote to a promotion on a monday? I have a budget of $250-$300, so I didn’t market to the customers—I marketed to the girls. I did a gourmet buffet on Monday nights in the dressing room, and it doubled the amount of girls we had in the club that night. When that happened, our customers doubled.

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