Small club, big profits:
The first panelist, Drayton Nay—who has over 30 years of industry experience and has opened or remodeled a variety of clubs, and is also the President of Pro Club Management Inc.—shared some concrete tips on how to make a club more profitable immediately.
In addition, Club Consultant 2.0’s dance expert and Club Bulletin columnist, Jennifer McCumber highlighted 10 key factors that will enable clubs of all sizes to attract and keep the type of entertainers that will build your club’s clientele.
‘The point I want to focus on is talent, and making sure that you have the very best people in your club. When you hear the word ‘talent,’ probably four out of five people think about the girls. But no, that’s not what I’m talking about at all. Because many of my customers that come into my club don’t even know who’s on stage or know who’s going on next—they don’t care.
‘What we’re really doing each and every night is putting together the very best party, but sometimes what we do is keep that party separate—we keep patrons separate from each other. How many times have you personally taken a customer and introduced them to another one of your very good customers across the club? How many times have you had your customers engaging with each other?
‘What I did was I decided to make my entire staff the focus of my club. Who is at your club each and every day? Your staff. Your dancers aren’t there every day. Some of your best dancers are only there one or two days a week. I hear so many club owners say to me, ‘My club is all about the girls.’ If it is, you’re in trouble. Do you really want your club to be all about a 19 or 20-year-old girl with a $10 bra-and-panties set on from Walmart? That’s going to be your sales force? That’s what you’re counting on? Do you know what I want to teach a 19 year-old? To listen and to be nice.
‘I have my managers control my club. The girls don’t control my club. The managers have my customers’ email address, their cell phone numbers. My managers talk to my better customers every other day. My managers are talking to those customers, not my dancers. I don’t put my dancers in charge.
‘What happens when I put my managers in charge? My customers come into my club to see me. The difference now is that when those customers come in they’re asking for me, they’re asking for my staff, they’re asking for the people who are in my club every single day. If you have customers walking in for a particular girl, what happens if she’s not there that night? Some of your better girls are there only twice a week, so that means five days a week that customer isn’t coming in. My point to you is hire the very best talent within your staff.
‘My second point that I want to talk about is sales. Unfortunately, sales is an extremely difficult thing to teach, and a lot of you aren’t teaching anyone. Every single one of your clubs, if you have training sessions or sales sessions with your staff, I promise that you could have your sales up 25% in the next 12 weeks. It’s a different way to do business. You can’t count on the girls who have their own agendas. Just so you owners know, your number one competitor is your girls. I’m not talking about being adversarial with your girls, I’m just talking facts.
I hear so many club owners say to me, ‘My club is all about the girls.’ If it is, you’re in trouble. Do you really want your club to be all about a 20-year-old girl with a $10 bra-and-panties set on from Walmart?
— Drayton Nay
‘What’s happening—the biggest change—is two things. We have let the girls take control of the clubs and the customers, and we have beaten managers down to nothing. A lot of the managers I see today are $700-a-week babysitters. No other company on the planet does that. Only the strip club business does that—we hire the cheapest managers we can find. You should be looking to hire the very best, the very brightest, the top. And you can’t do it for $700 a week.
‘I want to talk about one more thing—commitment. Each and every day, if you want to increase the sales and make more money in your business, you have to focus on commitment. Commitment from your dancers, commitment from your customers. I’m not looking to sell my customer a drink. When my customers come in, I say, ‘Hey guys, you want to get a bottle and be your own kings tonight? Or do you want my bartender measuring out your drinks one at a time all night?’ And of course they choose the former.
‘What’s so important about selling bottles is the commitment involved. Now that customer’s not going anywhere. He’s at your club for two or three hours. He has no choice. He’s now in what we call a ‘selling situation.’ If he’s got one drink, that’s all he owes you—that one drink. I do the same thing with dances. It takes just as much effort to sell a single dance as it does to sell a 3-for-$99 or a half-hour room. It takes the same objective, the same method. If he commits, we’ll charge him less per song. But if he doesn’t commit, the only thing you own is that one song. So if you take nothing else away from this, think about commitment. If you do that, I promise you’ll make more money.’
‘I’m going to talk about the top ten ways to attract the best entertainers to your club. The first thing is that the problems with entertainers always require very creative solutions, and it has to shepherded by the management team.
‘The second thing is that you have to hold entertainers accountable. You can’t utilize ladies that are bad seeds anymore, that cause drama and all other kinds of issues in your clubs. At the end of the day, you want to attract the beautiful, smart and intelligent entertainers, and they don’t want to be around the negative, bad entertainers.
‘Third, you have to enforce a no-touch policy. I can’t stress this enough. Simply put, your club is not a brothel. The higher-end entertainers don’t want to compete with pandering or other things of that nature.
‘Fourth, and this is something that gets overlooked often, is the need for a responsible house mom. It’s one of the best hidden gems that you can implement to improve the quality of your entertainers. Entertainers typically interact with older women differently than they do with male managers—a lot of the time they’ll feel more comfortable confiding in house moms, and house moms offer a much needed service for your dancers that is really important, such as hair, makeup, etc.
‘Number five is to have clean and updated facilities. Entertainers are a lot like female customers. When female customers come into your venue, they like clean bathrooms and things that smell nice and shiny lights—females look for and appreciate this. It is really important to have clean and updated facilities to attract the best entertainers.
‘Number six is to have champagne rooms or other ways for entertainers to upsell their services. There’s so many different markets and ways that entertainers make their money, and a lot of the top entertainers look for ways that they can upsell their services; bottle service, a VIP room, etc.
‘Number seven is to forget about absentee ownership. Entertainers will come to respect a club where the owner is a constant presence in the club. It adds structure that is really valuable. In this generation, there is a huge need for a really great role model and really great owners, so be there and interact with your entertainers. Have them know you by name, and take interest in investing in your people.
‘Number eight is to offer excellent security. I can’t stress this point enough. Having great security is a huge factor in maintaining a consistent entertainer base and making them feel safe and secure while working at your clubs. Valeting their cars, walking them out at night, etc. They won’t feel comfortable working in a club where they feel like their safety or identity is compromised.
‘Number nine is having reasonable house fees. This is very important. Depending on your market, be competitive if you can. If you can come across as firm but fair, entertainers will feel like they are being treated with respect, and also you’re stating that, ‘Hey, this is your rental fee, this is what you have to pay as a non-employee in order to work here.
‘The last thing I want to talk about is working with a daycare center. This is something I learned from a friend two years ago on a panel session, and he mentioned that if you have a daycare center that you work with at night, and can add 100 more shifts a month, you can make an extra $5,000 a month just by having those extra entertainers there, because so many entertainers, for example, won’t come to work on a Saturday because they can’t find a babysitter. Eliminate their excuses. Offer them opportunities. Offer them ways, offer them solutions.’
Audience questions to panelists: Other than reimbursements for entertainers, what other incentives have you employed at your club for entertainers?
McCumber: One thing that we have recently implemented is no house fees before 6 p.m.—they don’t have to pay a tip-out or house fee, so it incentivizes them to get there early, care for the happy hour crowd, get their night started and it allows you to establish a great base of entertainers at the beginning of the night.
Some other incentives are to reward them for sales, little things you can come up with to incentivize them as non-employees to perform for you and your club to build profits. It’s all about sales and customer service and hospitality at the at the end of the day.
Nay: I have a very easy way to get [entertainers] in your club. If your staff—your management—have made the calls, if they know who’s coming in, it’s very simple. The girls that are in on time get set up in the rooms first and the girls know that.
You don’t have to worry about all the rest of that stuff. If your staff is pre-selling, it’s really just basic sales. It’s really keeping in contact with your best customers. All you have to do is let the girls know that those who get here first are the girls who get in the room. End of story.
When I take my trained staff that knows the business backward and forward and knows how to take care of those customers, it’s done before the doors even open. Take control of your club. Don’t let the girls run your club. I want to put the club in the hands of the guys that I’ve hand selected, that are smart, intelligent and trained sales people. There’s a different way to do business, and I’m telling you now, it’ll make you more business and it’ll put you in control.