In college, Seth Godin tried to start a business selling a discount coupon book program to local student-oriented bars. He found one of the reasons for failure was that it’s difficult to sell to bar owners. More details are enumerated at his blog here.
I find one of Seth’s points interesting: he feels that many (most?) bar owners aren’t really tying to grow their businesses. That must mean that they are content with the current level of income; or they are at their maximum capacity, and don’t want to invest in the extra infrastructure (staff, space, products, whatever) needed to grow.
I can certainly understand both those perspectives. When I open my bar, I want it to be a smallish place with a steady stream of mostly the same customers. Of course, I will want to make enough money to cover my expenses and pay myself, but if it does nothing more than break even, that’s OK. I suspect that a lot of bar owners feel the same way. I know that most of the ones I knew in Montréal felt that way, and the few I know here in NB do too.
Sure there are outliers like the guy who ran Studio 54 who was obviously in it for the money (he skimmed millions in cash for himself), but I bet he also enjoyed the scene and his role in it.
Most bars that are successful are successful for a long time. Most bars that are unsuccessful die off pretty quickly. Therefore, the odds are that at any given time, most bars in existence are already successful. So if you are trying to sell something to a bar owner on the premise that it will make the bar more popular or profitable, then you’re making an offer to try and change something that the owner thinks is just fine the way it is.