Getting into the Sports Bar Business
The sports bar business is perhaps one of the most popular types of bar businesses for those considering entering the hospitality industry. The wide appeal of the bar business can at least partly be explained by the wide customer appeal that such bars have. Sports bars, of course, capitalize on the appeal of sports in metropolitan areas and use the positive associations customers already have with a particular team in order to help draw in fans.
So how can you make your sports bar business plan a success?
Who is the typical client that you should target with your sports bar business plan? The sports fan, of course. But even more specifically, when you’re starting a sports bar, you should target young college and recently graduated males—usually single. There are exceptions to this, but older clientele tend to frequent sports bar in smaller numbers, for the most part.
If you create the right kind of fun atmosphere you may be able to attract females as well.
Typically such bars will have a plethora of satellite fed TV screens tuned to every kind of sports that they can pick and sports memorabilia like signed jerseys, news clippings and bats in displays along the walls. It is also not unusual for sports bars to feature pool tables and other kinds of entertainment. So, even though you can skimp on much of the décor and keep it simple, when starting a sports bar you should make sure to allocate a sizeable part of your budget television and having satellite feeds.
Typically high end wine and cocktails are not a part of a sports bar business plan. (Though there are exceptions to every rule.) Having a few beers on tap and a few bottled versions is typically enough for this kind of bar.
Although ideally you want to have a sport bar near a stadium or college, one of the great advantages of the sports bar business is that it can be easily applied in virtually any populated area since virtually any major city will have one major sports team if not more. (College towns also work well for sports bars.)
However, your sports bar business plan need not even cater to local sports fans. When starting a sports bar in a major metropolitan cities one good way to get a share of fans is to cater to sub niches of displaced sports fans. Thus an Irish pub might appeal to Notre Dame fans on Saturday or Patriots fans on Sunday by simply advertising such nights and drawing the popularity of these teams to fans who are transplants from across the country.
In fact, if you take a bar like Kezar’s in San Francisco, the local 49ers and Giants fans are only a small part of their appeal. They open early on weekend so that Premier League soccer fans and fans of European soccer can come in watch their teams live on satellite from across the world. This works well for them because of the cosmopolitan nature of San Francisco.
Because many sports bars cater to young men, many a sports bar business plan for hiring will feature attractive female servers dressed in eye-catching uniforms (often in local team colors). Regardless of whether you go this route, the staff should be young and energetic, and able to keep the positive vibe of your bar. For more on bar hiring see the Bar Hiring Guide.
Sports bar names vary widely and can be anything as simple as “The Bears Den” to a punny sports bar names like the “End Zone” or the “Overtime.” Sports bar names are often just based on the owner’s (especially if the owner is a former player)—McSorley’s, for example. When you are starting a sports bar it is good to start accumulating a list possible sports bar names and then choose the most appealing from these.
Sports bar promotions will, of course, be sports related. The most common type of promotion is to pay a local sports figure (or the cheerleaders of that team, or both) to come spend a night at the sports bar. If handled properly this could not only garner attention in itself but could attract the local media if is a slow news period like at the end of summer. For more on bar promotions see The Ins-and-Outs of Club Promotion.
Other kinds of promotions might involve sports trivia nights, memorabilia give aways, and half off for fans wearing the local sports teams jerseys.
Sports Bar Business Franchises
One of the easiest ways to get into the sports bar business is by purchasing a sports bar franchise. One of the great advantages of this kind of business plan for sports bar creation is that it allows you to have a step by step guide and support on how to start a sports bar business. In a way, this is like getting a fully built sports bar business franchise out of the box.
You will usually get access to design plans and décor options and have an easier time finding further funding once you are up in running.
The disadvantage of a sports bar franchise business is that it tends to create very generic looking sports bars which may turn many fans off.
The advantage of starting your own business is that you can create your own unique look for your bar an include the kind of personal touches that you know will appeal to the kind of fans your sports bar business is meant to appeal to.
If you are a rabid sports fan yourself you might want to think twice about opening a sports bar however, since you will always be working when your team is playing.
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