Saturday, August 19, 2006


Now you guess, which is the most important part in bar business?

Location? – Wrong!

Ladies? – Wrong!

Attitude? Music? Design? – Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The correct answer is: customers!

Because, everything is built up towards customers, indeed. Like in any business, the main goal is to make profit. And the only source of money is the customers.

It’s good to chat with customers sometimes. As an owner, you can make new friends; get some news, exchange good ideas etc. On the other hand, not very many customers are interested in chatting with strangers, despite their position. Anyway, getting new friends is a big advantage.

There are no good or bad customers in general. Even if something bad happens, it turns to good someway. Example?

One day some months ago a bunch of almost drunk young men came to our bar. Ordering many drinks, they started arguing, perhaps fighting about something and then suddenly were running away! Not paying for the drinks, of course. Our ladies were running to catch them. I was staying in bar alone. After some twenty minutes the ladies were coming back, very satisfied. Thanks to police, everything was solved and the bill was paid.

After a couple of minutes, two policemen were coming to our bar. Indeed, the same who helped us. What you think? -- Yes, you’re right! They enjoyed free drinks in our bar more than one hour. You bet, they could remember this particular bar for a long time after.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Human resource management

The staff is the most important, but also the most difficult part in bar business. In Thailand and in beer-bars, the staff almost always means ladies.

The location, design, music, lights or the cost of the drinks aren't usually arguments for the customer. Almost all customers are coming for the ladies and the ladies only.

But this doesn’t mean that the customers are only coming to take the lady away for the night; it means they are coming to chat, drink and play games with the ladies, and maybe, just maybe, decide to take a lady away for more intimate activities.

This also means that the success of the busyness largely depends on the ladies. They shouldn’t be too active towards customers, but neither should they be too quiet. They shouldn’t be too sexy, but neither should they be too casual. Focus on friendly atmosphere rather than hassle. Give time and space for the customers to have good time and make their own choice(s).

Yet another problem that could possibly arise is regarding loyalty. If the owners are too friendly with the staff, the ladies take it as a sign of weakness and run away; on the other hand if the bosses are too distanced, the ladies feel they are not cared for reasonably well and still run away. Maintaining the balance between distancing yourself from your staff while remaining close and friendly is the key in keeping your ladies together and happy.

Typically, every bar has a mama-san, an older and more experienced lady who takes care of the ladies and helps arrange things between a lady and a customer. The mama-san is the key person in such bars, since she helps maintain the balance between friendliness and distancing the owners – the mama-san takes care of the ladies, and the owner mainly interacts with the mama-san, making sure everything is working and everyone is happy.

Unfortunately, our bar has no mama-san. Why?

The thing is, when we started we had enough trouble trying to get any ladies to work in the bar in the first place; the idea of a mama-san was very distant and vague for us at the time. By the time things started to develop and we had a regular set of ladies working, it was too late to hire a new “boss”. The human relations had already developed by that time and a new boss was considered unacceptable.

Another thing that we learned was that it’s not good idea to have several ladies from same bar (or, god forbid, all of them) living together in same place. The rationale is simple – the ladies should work together, but not spend too much of their free time together to avoid too much bonding between them. If the ladies bond together too much (which is unavoidable in long-term, but still), when one of them wants to go work in a different bar, all of them would go and that would be a disaster. In short – every lady should live either alone or with other people, but not with ladies from same bar.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


There are three important issues in this kind of business: (1) location, (2) location and (3) location.

Location in the Walking Street area was the prime reason to buy. The dark side however includes the fact that the cluster of bars is not among the top ends in Walking Street area: poorly lighted, not too attractive for random customers. The whole cluster includes 6 beer bars, plus 2 bars besides the Walking Street itself. Our bar is located in the deep end of the area.

On the other hand, it is not a dead end. The pathway forwards to the Marine Plaza with a go-go bar, an open air seafood restaurant, hotels and Thai discothèques together with Thai food vendors, marketplaces and bars. These bars there are unfortunately oriented towards Arab people, which means extremely loud music.

The bars in neighborhood seem relatively friendly. However, we can feel a real competition sometimes.

Here is the situation: