bar rescue

Editor’s Notes: Rescue Me

Who knew reality shows could teach you so much about business?

One of my favorite TV shows right now is “Bar Rescue,” where nightlife expert Jon Taffer tries to turn around a failing bar or restaurant. Maybe it’s because of Taffer’s epic meltdowns when he finds bugs in the liquor bottles or dead mice under the furniture. Or maybe it’s my abject horror that someone could actually let their hard-earned investment spiral into the toilet so easily. Whatever the case, it’s highly entertaining. And now I think I’m an expert in nightlife, too. Like when I go to the corner bar and the owner (yes, the owner) is hogging the Golden Tee machine. Really? You’re the owner. Isn’t that game for the customers? He’s probably just another guy who wanted to own a bar for the sake of owning a bar and having a fun place to hang out with his friends. Isn’t the primary purpose of owning a business to make money? But I digress.

Anyway, I feel like a lot of Taffer’s recommendations on “Bar Rescue” can apply to any business, even collision. For example, keeping a clean business. Yes, auto body repair is dirty, but that doesn’t mean a shop has to be. A clean environment appeals to customers, shows you have pride in your business and keeps employees healthy.

Holding people accountable is another thing Taffer espouses. He doesn’t pull any punches in this department. If the place is a mess, and the owner or manager says, “Well, it’s the bartenders’ job to clean,” Taffer doesn’t let them off the hook. They’re the manager, and thus the responsibility ultimately falls on them. And if there is a problem employee – someone who drinks on the job or overpours for the sake of getting better tips – Taffer demands that the owner fire them or at least take some measure of action to solve the problem.

Being unique is a big one for Taffer, too. If you’re a sports bar in an area where there are dozens of them, what makes people want to come to you? You’ve got to have a hook. And so do auto body shops. Quality repairs and five-star customer service doesn’t cut it because every shop touts that.

Check out an episode. Like me, you might get more out of it than just entertainment.

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