By Jim A. Luff
Relationships with nightclubs and good restaurants are important to the continued growth of our business. That’s why every so often I have to go out on the town for the cause. I know it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.
For those of you wondering why it might be important to develop these relationships, there are a variety of reasons. Being friends with the owners, managers, bar staff, and doormen is helpful on so many levels. Limousines from your company don’t get shooed of the property or away from the front door because you are their friend. Lines to get in the club? Not a problem, as your clients will get in anyway if they arrive in one of your limousines. Have a corporate client needing a quick reservation for an impromptu lunch or dinner? It is not a problem when you have friends at the restaurant.
Being in the business myself as a part-time bartender, I know that the scene of cocktail waitresses, doormen, and bartenders is a tight knit community. I mean, if you are a bartender and you get fired, you will resurface at another bar in town. If you are a cocktail waitress not getting enough hours, you jump ship.
If you want to have these people treat you, your company, your chauffeurs, and your clients as VIP’s, you must get out and about yourself. Then, when you call, they will treat you as a friend. It takes time and it takes money, but it can be financially rewarding in the long run.
When I see a slow Friday night or Saturday night, I usually call a regular client that is in the food and/or beverage industry and ask them if they want to go out on the town for a night. I invite them to bring some of their off-duty staff such as bartenders or waitresses and treat them to a night out – courtesy of me! Of course they jump on it. We start by going for appetizers somewhere. Of course, when you get out of a limo with 10 people in front of a business, it makes a splash. I always go someplace where I know the owners or managers, and make sure they know I am there with a party of 10. We drop a lot of cash for drinks and appetizers and move on to the next location for dinner. Someplace I know of course and they know me, so my guests get the VIP treatment. Chances are people in my party will know people working at the restaurant, so we do a lot of socializing. I throw dinner on a credit card, as this is a legitimate business expense. Remember, the client you are treating will love you for this “employee night out.”
After dinner, we will hit three-to-five clubs until 2:00 a.m. arrives. We repeat the process of throwing down cash and mingling with people. We let people in the bars go for rides around the block in the limousine. You never know who could become a future client when they see how much fun we are having out in the limo. We always make sure to spend time with the owner or managers of the restaurants and bars, too. Believe me, when they see 10 people coming in the door from a limousine, they see dollar signs in their eyes like you do on prom night!
By the time the night is over, you have literally marketed to a hundred patrons at the clubs, talked to owners/managers of restaurants and bars, and developed a solid relationship with one of your existing clients. I do the same thing with hotels, funeral homes, travel agents, etc. Everyone likes a free “employee night” out in a limo, and when you bond with your clients it builds loyalty to your company and those clients become ambassadors of your company.
The best part is getting to party the night away and calling it “work.”
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