How to Start a Bar Lounge Business in Nigeria

There is a major increase in the consumption of alcohol despite the so called financial recession that is been experienced all over the nation and the rising religious beliefs that kicks against the consumption of anything that contains alcohol like beer, wine, alcoholic beverages, etc. Every part of the nation consumes alcohol, without regards to tribe, ethnic beliefs or background and religious stand; this means that the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks make nationwide sales and recent statistics shows a steady rise in the sale of these drinks.

Types of Bars

If owning a bar is a dream for you or a passion, one thing you must consider is out of the many types of bar that exist; which will you want to start up? This question may sound not serious but it’s a determinant of how much capital you will need to have, location for your business or the types of alcoholic drinks that will be sold in your place of business.

  • Neighborhood Bar

When it comes to this kind of bar you don’t may not need so much money to start or your startup capital most likely depends on the location of this business; but on average you won’t spend so much of money here because it is not high class most of the time and the beers sold here are not too expensive. In an average Nigerian neighborhood bar a bottle of beer may vary from 250-400 naira depending on the brand that is been sold to the individual. In starting this bar you may just need the following to kick start:

  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Generator
  • Television
  • Sound system
  • Fridge
  • Cups and plates
  • Any other thing that is added on this list is just an addition
  • Sport Bar

The major purpose of starting a sport bar is for customers to watch sports and drink so the concern is that they are comfortable to drink and watch some sport. This is like what we call in Nigeria a viewing center but the difference is that alcoholic drinks are sold while people watch their favorite sports and sport channels. You need to prepare for this as you would prepare for a neighborhood bar and much more by adding more televisions and having satellite TV and constant subscription to keep the place lively and customers wanting more.

  • Specialty Bar

In this specialty bar assorted drinks are sold from beer to wine, martini and other assorted drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic; snacks and appetizers are also sold here. In this kind of bar, your sale has a lot to do with how much you can package and present yourself especially because it is not the norm in this part of the world.

  • Club

The difference between a club and other bar is that it is more like a party setting most of the time, with loud music, DJ, attendants, security, etc. they all serve alcoholic drinks

Setting up a club is more expensive others because of the modalities of fixing the place up, publicity etc.

In light of these, it is clear that the pros of starting a bar far outweighs the cons especially financially. Below are some of the few but necessary steps that one must follow to start up a bar in Nigeria. We will give a fairly generalized approach to starting a bar which can also be used by others willing to start-up something with similar operations with a bar

Steps to Starting a Bar Lounge in Nigeria

  • Build A Business Plan

One truth that still stands is the need for a business plan and for this to work you must do adequate study on the business, market, customers and many more. Do a feasibility report on the business to know pitfalls, risks, peak/off peak periods, pros and cons of the business before you start.

Failure to have a business plan and doing a detail feasibility study can lead to deadly pitfalls and errors that can be catastrophic that have hindered people growth and this may lead to closure of the business. There are several helpful tips to help you successfully draft a business plan; here are a few:

  • Make an outline of your chosen business concept in details. Avoid a summarized business plan.
  • you need to include detailed profit and loss analysis for the business, record every dime that you will spend or that will come.
  • What are the benefits of your present business location above others? List them.
  • What kind of help will you need in terms of staff? Write them down and how much they will be paid for their services.
  • Make an outline of all possible risks that may be encountered in the business.

When putting your thoughts and plans on paper be sure to be as clear as possible on the concepts for adequate communication. Make sure you outline what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and how much everything will cost to help you plan and prepare properly.

  • Business Structure / Type Of Bar

Before you put in money into the startup it is important to clarify the kind of structure you want to start; this means that you need to consider how big or how small you want to start and what category of the many kinds of bar you want to invest in. This will determine your location which will in turn decide how much you will spend in starting up the business. You have several choices as to how to start. Here below are a few suggestions on how you can start:

Purchasing an existing bar

To save yourself the rigors of starting afresh, you can buy up an existing bar. This saves you from the pain of failure even before you had the chance to really start up; one of the benefits of buying an existing bar is that it may come at a much cheaper rate than having to start on all over, because the person selling his business may be selling out of desperation of moving from one city to the other or other financial difficulty which will give you a higher bargaining power for a great deal. Here are a few tips you may need before buying the bar

  • Do a lot of research about the business before you put your money; also research on the business owner, his personality amongst other things.
  • Visit the bar a couple of time if not frequently without invitation, see how business fair there on a bad day, normal day and a good day. This will give you a fair idea of how much you stand to gain from buying over the business.
  • Ask every question: ask the right question and also do not be bias about your question after experiencing first hand.
  • Get contacts of other support staff like, chef, barman and so on.
  • Be sure of the reason for sale of the business; you don’t want to fall into a trap of legal issues.
  • Carry out a complete inventory before and after purchasing the business t be able to keep track of all that you have and the their state.

Starting one up from the scratch:

Despite the thought of starting your own from the scratch sounds interesting and fun you must remember that this process is usually a long and expensive process to go through; since everything will be fresh and done from beginning. There is a limit to which you can bargain unlike the option of buying the business over from an existing owner. All expenses here are subject to the current state of the economy not the state of the equipment and

structure like the previous.

  • Your Customer Base

Most of these points that have been listed so far are one building block upon another this helps to produce a finished product that will bring much financial gain and societal influence; so if one of these points is out of place it produces an unstable structure. In this point we will consider the customer in line with the location of the business. Your customer base cannot be the high and mighty in the society then the location of your business will be in a rural area. You have to be able to know who you expect to patronize your business and the proximity of these people to your place of business; putting in mind that if it is too far from them then your patronage will most likely reduce maybe by half.

You also cannot locate your business in a highly religious community and expect to thrive.

Know the alcohol trend; it is important to note the most wanted alcohol in the society so as to be up to date and attracts the nature of customers you want.

  • Be Familiar With Your Competition

At this point it is important to note that this is not a brand new idea, so you should expect competition; possibly not so far from you. You need to know your competition and preempt them. Visit their establishment and see things firsthand for yourself; study their strengths and also weaknesses as this will help you to structure your establishment better and attract more customers and even their customer. Talk to the staff or the owner, a lot of people are willing to talk about their business even to their own hurt without knowing. Try this.

  • Choose Your Own Winning Strategy

After studying your environment, the customers and ultimately your competition it is important that you draw out a take-down strategy. This strategy is a step-by-step approach on how to get all that you want and bring the customers that you want. Do not be afraid because the strategy may turn your competition to enemies but as far as you want to succeed in business you will hated.

Think of things to do in a bigger, better and faster way than your competition; this will give you the desired result.

Competition strategy

  1. Better customer service
  2. Better prices for commodity
  3. Adequate publicity
  4. General increased customer satisfaction
  5. Freebies
  6. Relaxed atmosphere

Business Registration

To avoid struggling with authorities immediately you kick off is to register the business with agencies that regulate businesses like this. Contact CAC (Corporate Affair Commission) for business name registration and you can contact Local Government Agencies to register with them read how to register with CAC then you visit CAC official site. If your bar is high class you may want to contact fire, building and safety agencies to inspect and approve you structure. Also install safety gadgets like fire extinguishers and so on.

  • Purchase Your Equipment

One important factor to consider is the purchase of equipment; you don’t want to buy what you don’t really need in your bar or buy what will get bad within a very short time because of quality. It is important to save for quality equipment and not be attracted by quantity or flashiness.

These are few questions you may want to ask before purchasing any piece of equipment. 

  1. Does the equipment improve the production and service of your bar?
  2. Is there enough space to fit this piece of equipment?
  3. Does this piece of equipment fit in with the concept and setting of your bar?
  4. Does the equipment meet your expectations and all standards for quality for speed, volume, and quality?
  5. How easy is it to operate by staff and how safe is it?
  6. What is the cost of maintenance and fixing in the event it gets spoilt?

 Hire Competent Staff

To keep your business from crumbling, you have to employ competent and well trained staffers; take your time to hire them and if they are not delivering or performing their task you intend be quick fire them. You cannot keep staff at the expense of your business. You can also get people that have been in the business or have experience in the field. This would help your business grow because they can preempt the needs of the customers to the growth of the business.

To get these kind of people you can make post on social media, other media but most especially referrals works well in this case, because it saves you a lot since the person in question has got hands-on skills you need that was picked up from doing this kind of job along time.

Depending on the category of your business you can visit a bartender school to pick up one or two skilled individual.

Head hunting is also another way you can get competent staff but this raises red flags and can quickly put you among the hate list of other business owners

Promote And Publicize Your Bar

It is one thing to have a great place which usually speak for itself and have a great way of also creating referrals for you but if you want this to happen very fast then you need to do some publicity. If your customer service is impeccable then you are assured of word of mouth helping your business to grow but social media can also help too.

You can have video testimonials with pictures which will be posted on most if not all social media platforms; this will go a very long way and most people will give your place a try within a short time and if it’s as they saw on the social media then you are assured of having them as permanent customers

  • Security

Many times you find yourself in a hard place dealing with trouble makers; at such point you may not want to get directly involved as the business owner or put your staff in such awkward position, so the need for one or two security personnel depending on the size of your establishment cannot be over emphasized.

This security is for the safety of lives first which cannot be negotiated and the protection of properties, to avoid unnecessary loses.

In conclusion, the ownership of a bar is not a business you want to just start and go to sleep. You need a lot of monitoring to do; you can employ someone whose job is to monitor but you must monitor everything that happens there. Records all ins and outs; because this business can increase you in every way e.g. financially, influence and connection etc. it is a business that brings income to you daily, from Mondays – Sundays all year round especially at month ends and festive period.

20 useful ways of increasing sales in your bar

1. Act as an Alcohol Brand Ambassador

For this gig, you’ll dress up in branded gear and hand out freebies and shots to promote a liquor or brand. You most likely have to be an outgoing, attractive woman aged 21 to 35 to get this kind of work. (Sorry, guys. Keep reading!)

When I did this as a student in college, I was hired through a modeling agency and was called a promotional model. I made good money (about $20 to $30 per hour at the time) and often got free drinks and other free stuff. We had to take about 30 pictures posing with customers each night and had to play bar games as well as convincing people to buy the alcohol.

You’ll probably work part time; most shifts last three hours and may require visiting multiple bars in one night. But if you’re looking for something more, you could also look up local liquor distributors and ask who does their representation. Being an alcohol ambassador can lead to becoming a full-time liquor rep.

2. Bring People Food

Go to a bar that doesn’t serve food and ask a bartender if they allow outside food. Then ask the people at each table if they’re hungry. Tell them you’re heading out to pick up food, and ask them if you can bring them anything. Give options: you’ll get pizza, Mexican or burgers

3. Offer to Hand Out Flyers for Bar Promos

Find local bars that have events or theme nights coming up, such as a poker night, 80s night, or a live band. Tell the owners you’ll create promotional flyers and hand them out on the street for $20 per hour. It helps if you have some design skills, but you can easily find plenty of ideas and templates for flyers online.

4. Share Photos on Instagram

In an app that gives you free things (e.g. a free beer) in exchange for sharing a photo on Instagram. This app is only open to users with more than 500 Instagram followers and plans to expand to other cities soon.

5. Play Smartphone Apps that Give You Cash

Hanging out at a bar is all about having a good time, but when you get bored, grab your smartphone and use some apps that earn you cash by watching videos, answering questions, taking surveys and other actions. Some apps to check out are SwagBucks, Surveys on the Go, Checkpoints, and Mobile Rewards.

6. Be a Friend — For a Fee

Sign up to “become a friend” on RentAFriend.com and say you’re available to go to the bar with someone or act as their wingman/wingwoman. Many people don’t want to go out alone, but may not have anyone to go with at the time. Charge $10 to $50 an hour.

7. Be a Guest Bartender

Guest bartenders usually only mix drinks for one night. New York City has several bars that offer guest bartending shifts. Mad River Bar & Grille requires guest bartenders to bring a minimum of 20 people through the door, and people make more money per shift.

Check out this list of places toguest bartend in NYC. guest bartend in NYC.  Other cities may have similar opportunities, or you could talk to some of your favorite local spots about trying this out.

8. Work as a DJ

If you know how to spin tunes and bring in the party people, some bars and clubs will hire you as a DJ. You may need to have your own equipment, but you’ll get paid and will likely get some free drinks, too.

9. Become a Comedian

Stand up, make people laugh and get paid. Some bars will pay you for your jokes — and people will be more likely to laugh after having a few cocktails! You probably won’t get paid much, but if you’re lucky, you could get $50 per night.

10. Run or Win Trivia Games

Trivia nights are a good way to have fun and win cash and other prizes if you and your friends know lots of random facts. You could also host a trivia night if you’re crowd-friendly, upbeat and able to come up with good trivia questions.

Ask your local bars if they’re interested in having a trivia night. Or visit the National Trivia Association website and look in the “Classifieds” section or contact them about becoming a host in your area.

11. Work as an Event Planner

If your neighborhood bar needs more traffic, create and present an idea for a theme night — and take a cut of the profits, of course. You could charge a fee (about $5) at the door or sell related merchandise, like knitting kits for a knitting-themed event or custom T-shirts. You could also arrange a pub crawl at multiple bars in an area.

12. Take Photos

Buy a Polaroid camera and offer to take photos of groups or people at a bar or club. Charge $5 to $10 per picture, or trade a picture for a drink. You could also offer to snap some good photos for a bar’s website or other marketing materials.

13. Sell Your Artwork to or at Bars

If you’re a local artist, bars may want to buy your original artwork, or hang it up for sale. It can’t hurt to ask! Include your name, contact info and the price for each piece.

14. Sell Homemade Snacks at Bars

Know how to whip up some amazing brownies, cookies or other snacks? Package them and see if bars in your area (particularly ones with limited food options) would be willing to sell them to customers.

15. Be a Nightclub Promoter

Most nightclubs hire promoters to help them with their marketing. You have to be personable and able to build a network of people to do this job, and you should have at least some marketing experience. Promoters usually can earn 10-25% of bar sales per night.

Do your homework and learn as much as you can about your favorite clubs, then contact them to see if they’re in need of promoters.

16. Write About or Photograph Your Nights Out

Some websites, such as PartyEarth, will pay you to write and take pictures of your nighttime experiences in bars and clubs. Does it get any better?

17. Do Social Media or Blogging for the Bar

Do any of your local hangouts lack a social media presence? Offer to blog about events or post content to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you have photography skills, those will come in handy, too.

18. Do Bar Tricks

Trick your friends or other people into buying you a drink or handing over a few dollars. The Art of Manliness offers 12 classic bar tricks, or learn one of these magic tricks from SloshSpot.com.

19. Play Lottery Games

Some bars offer lottery games while you sip your drink. Keno is an easy, lottery-like gambling game in which players guess which numbers will be drawn at random and get paid based on how many numbers they guess correctly. You’re not guaranteed to win, but here’s a good chart of your odds.

20. Teach People to Dance

If you’ve got moves and some patience, charge people a couple of dollars to teach them to do popular dances, such as the Wobble, twerking, tutting or other options. If you like the idea of free beer, you might also be interested in getting paid to audit liquor stores.

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