Karaoke should be a great night financially for a bar. It brings people in and by its nature (waiting in line to sing) and keeps people on site longer than the average. It also creates a very loyal repeat customer who returns again and again to see (much like a favorite bartender) a great karaoke host. Eventually growing into its own 'once a week' community that call that bar 'home'. There are a few easy, low cost things just about any bar can do to increase their revenue on a karaoke night.
The first complaint we normally hear is 'they just drink water', and yes, it’s true some singers do - just like any other group of people their will be a few fish. Here is one way I've seen this handled: Buy a few cases of bottled water and sell that instead of just pouring it free from the gun. Once confronted with a buck for a water, they will either pay it, or upgrade to some other beverage - either way there is profit where you had zero before.
The next way you can increase sales very easily is popcorn. As bar professionals we all know the value of salty snacks, but with karaoke crowds it goes to a whole new level. Popcorn dries out the mouth and leaves kernel husks in you mouth and throat. Annoying for some people - insanely distracting for singers. Combine that with the fact that karaoke people tend to sit in groups for a long time, a lot of pop corn is consumed. A few bags of popcorn can equal some big bags of money. The last one and a half things I’m going to touch on is a one two punch of profit.
ASK FOR THE SALE! In other words: have a cocktail waitress/server. You can easily double if not triple your revenue by adding this element into the mix. Think about the steps it takes for a patron to buy their second drink (with no server in the mix):
- They first finish the one they are drinking, usually while having a conversation.
- They set the empty glass on the table while they continue a conversation they are actively engaged in, or would be rude to leave.
- Eventually, they excuse themselves to accomplish some task (restroom, check messages, go smoke, etc.)
- On the way back to the table, they stop at the bar.
- Wait until a bartender is available, then order a drink.
- They are asked if they are paying cash or have (or want to open) a tab.
- They return to their group and repeat the process.
This whole process is usually about 40 minutes. 40 minutes to sell one drink. I should also note that given this typical scenario, that leads a group of four into having 12 empty glasses/bottles on their table in about two hours. Seeing those empties psychologically slows or stops their buying process. To get an idea of what this means to your cash register, multiply your average drink price by 3, then divide it by 2 and that will give you your guest spend per hour. Multiply it by 4 and you get the value of a four top per hour.
Example: If your average drink price was $5, your average spend per guest would be $7.50 per hour for that two-hour period. The four top would have a value of $60 over those 2 hours But, if you factor in the empties, if that same customer stayed 3 hours their spend drops to $5.
Now let us look at the same four top with a cocktail server inserted into the situation:
- There are four people sitting at a table, two have finished their drinks, and the other two are just under half full.
- The cocktailer notices the status of their glasses (as they've been trained to do) and heads over to the table.
- She then points to an empty glass and says something along the lines of 'Another Jack & Coke?'
- The patron says yes, and that leads to the other guest with the empty glass ordering one, and quite possibly the other two ordering their next round as well.
- The server then takes the two empty glasses, heads to the bar for the drinks, when she returns, she scoops up the other two now empty glasses and replaces them with fresh drinks.
- Finally, she says 'That’s $22.50' and one person in the group says, 'put it on my tab'. This automatically leads the next round to being four drinks because another member of the group picks up the next round out of courtesy.
This process takes about 10 minutes. Given time to enjoy their beverages, that turns into about 2.5 rounds per hour. Removing the empties factor also keeps the buying pace steady, but regulated by the cocktail server, and can continue the sales beyond two hours.
Let’s do the math based on the same $5 per drink that we used in the above example. You are now selling 2.5 drinks per person per hour, and for the sake of argument, say they had continued into the 3rd hour. Each patron is now worth $12.50 per hour, and the value of that four top is now $150 for the night. Compare that to $60 value for a four top without a server. Even falling short of expectations, it would be very hard pressed to not have a higher revenue with a cocktail server.