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Careers in Hospitality

TV’s Nightlife Expert Jon Taffer Shares Business Survival Tips

Photos: Courtesy of Raskind for Paramount Network

Jon Taffer may know more about failure than anyone else. In fact, it was the inspiration for his new book, “Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back.”

“The common denominator of failure is the whole premise of excuse,” says Taffer, star of the longtime docu-reality series “Bar Rescue.”If you can blame someone else for your failure, you have no reason to change, but if you blame yourself, you have to change.”

Keeping it real

Taffer says management all too often runs scared. “They might be fearful because they’re not knowledgeable enough, there’s not enough money or because of the economy or politics. There are a million reasons you can attach for not doing things, and they all revolve around fear.”

Ignorance of the business is another excuse, along with needing more time, scarcity and blaming circumstances. And then there’s ego. “I deal with that a lot on ‘Bar Rescue,’” laughs Taffer. “A wall is a wall, it’s not your child. Rip it down if it doesn’t work. They get so connected to objects and brands and logos. It’s like they have some kind of emotional connection. I find it interesting that the ones with the thinnest wallets have the biggest egos.”

Having a plan

For aspiring bar owners, Taffer says it’s important to have a business strategy rather than a social one. “So, you’re the reason everybody comes, but you never go into your office and count your money and take care of business. If you’re too social, it brings you down every single time.”

Taffer says labor cost and food waste accounts for 65 percent of revenue, adding that owners should build for their customers, not themselves. As for transitioning a restaurant from day to night, setting the proper mood is crucial.

“Music is different in a nighttime environment. Pace and energy is different. Wall washes, colors, seating heights all change from a restaurant to nightlife environment.”

Moving forward, says Taffer, “I want to help people open more small businesses on a grand scale. The more that open that are owned by families, the better a place America is.”

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