How to start up a nightclub

How to start up a nightclub

how to buy a nightclubSo, you want to start a nightclub. This can be a daunting task, but with careful planning and execution, it is possible to open a successful club. The first step is to choose a location. Ideally, the club should be situated in an area with a high concentration of bars and restaurants, as this will attract a more diverse crowd.

Once you have secured a location, the next step is to obtain the necessary permits and licenses. In most jurisdictions, this will require proof of insurance, a Alcohol License, and a Business License. Once all the paperwork is in order, the next step is to start renovations.

If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to build a dance floor, stage, bar, and sound system. If you’re renovating an existing space, you’ll need to make sure that it meets all the necessary code requirements.

Once the club is up and running, the last step is to market it effectively. This includes designing promotional materials, booking popular DJs, and working with local media outlets. By following these steps, you can turn your dream of starting a nightclub into reality.

In order to run a nightclub, you’ll have to comply with a lot of legislation. You will find all the information you need in our practical guide to starting and running your own night club.

Research your target market

Estimating demand

Making sure there is enough demand for your night club in the local area is very important. During late nights, there will be a lot of competition between clubs, bars and licensed venues, as well as indirect competition against other entertainment venues that stay open late.

As well, there are growing concerns about late night disorder, drunkenness, and noise, and some local governments have taken measures to limit or prevent the granting of new night club licenses or impose opening hours restrictions on new licensees. Make sure that you have a reasonable chance of obtaining a permit before embarking on your plan. Check with the local licensing authority and the police before proceeding.

Find out what your competitors are doing in your area by:

  • What are the number of nightclubs and pubs that offer late licensing?
  • The types of customers they target
  • Their opening hours
  • The types of music they play and whether this varies throughout the week
  • Their entry fees and bar prices
  • Any special offers and promotions
  • How popular they are

You might immediately notice that there is a gap in the market for a certain type of club, such as one that combines a stylish restaurant with its facilities.

In addition, it would be helpful to know how many ‘big nights out’ there are in your area each week – nights when large numbers of people usually go to clubs there.

Establish your customer profile

There is a very high probability that most of your customers will be young people between 18 and 25 years old, but you might also decide to have special nights specially tailored for older clubbers or teenagers (where only soft drinks are served). In addition to renting out part or all of your facility to private parties, you might consider hiring it out to individuals celebrating birthdays, weddings, and so on, or businesses hosting product launches.

Special offers, discounts and promotions

Customers can choose from a variety of discounts and special offers, such as:

  • Cheaper entry fees at the beginning of the week
  • Free entry for women on some nights
  • Student discounts
  • A free drink on entry before a particular time
  • Promotions on certain drinks brands – but bear in mind that the licensed trade is committed to discouraging ‘binge’ drinking and ‘irresponsible’ promotions are banned

Please make sure your staff is aware of the discounts that you can offer. Don’t allow them to offer discounts to their family and friends without permission.

Dress code

You may want to consider the dress code you will enforce. A smart casual outfit, without jeans or trainers, might be your choice. The dress code might differ from night to night. Spread the word about your dress code. As well as developing an ID policy, you will need to decide if you will restrict entry to people over a certain age – such as 21.

Your facilities and services

Depending on the size of your premises, you will be able to offer your customers a range of facilities and services. Imagine, for instance, that you are planning to operate from a three-story building, which is divided in the following way:

  • Ground floor – Restaurant and bar serving lunch and dinner
  • First floor – Snack bar and cocktail bar serving drinks until late. There may be seating available here.
  • Second floor – dance floor and bar.

Alternatively, you could arrange your premises into different rooms, each with a different type of music, for instance:

  • 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s
  • Disco
  • Drum and bass
  • Soul and pop
  • House and garage
  • Indie and alternative
  • Techno and hard house
  • Metal and rock

Additionally, you may opt to set up a large room that plays only one type of music. Keep in mind, however, that one of the reasons clubbers don’t go to clubs is the music. You can avoid this problem by having different rooms with different types of music.

In nice weather, you may be able to create outside terraces or balconies. You may also want to create chill out areas if you have enough room.

You might also offer your customers the following attractions:

  • Large screen TVs
  • Pool tables
  • Gambling and quiz machines
  • Food and drink and other vending machines
  • Cash machines

Cash machines are available at some night clubs.

Ensure that your club is a place where customers will want to return. As you promote new musicians and DJs, and keep up with changes in the music industry, you’ll gain a reputation for keeping up with trends. Most clubs strive to remain fashionable, stylish, and inviting, which may mean frequent repairs and replacements of fixtures and fittings.

Private parties

Private parties can be held in many clubs, and in some cases members of the public or organizations such as college societies can take over the entire club for very large events. Consider how much you would charge for private hires and what would be included in the fee, such as catering facilities.


Night clubs experience a peak period around the holidays and over New Year, much like the rest of the licensed trade. It is likely that February will be a slower month, and college holidays may also result in fewer customers.

Most club operators target a certain age group during the early part of the week by offering safe events without alcohol or offering reduced entry fees or promotions. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are the busiest days during the week. Sundays are increasingly popular for clubbing.

Getting a licence

In England, Wales, and Scotland, anyone who wants to open a night club is required to apply for two licenses – a premises licence and a personal licence.

Premises licence

Night clubs are required by law to have a premises licence, which covers the supply of alcohol, regulated entertainment, and late night refreshments (although late night refreshments may not be subject to licensing requirements).

Applicants for premises licenses must demonstrate how they will promote the four objectives of the Licensing Act, including preventing crime and disorder, ensuring public safety, preventing nuisances, and protecting children. To make sure these objectives are met, local authorities have standard conditions. Examples include:

  • Signs and routes for escape, alarms, and fire fighting equipment related to fire safety
  • Several aspects of general safety need to be considered, including overcrowding, ventilation, and first-aid measures
  • Controlling noise and disturbance
  • Arrangements for door security
  • Emergency lighting conditions

Additionally, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Set out their proposed opening hours
  • Describe their premises (including safety features) and include a plan of their premises
  • Say what activities their premises will be used for, for example dancing, live music
  • Advertise their application

Personal licences

As well as a personal license, a premises licence is required. Under a premises licence, a person may supply alcohol or authorise its supply. Under the Act all premises must have an identified personal licence holder.

In order to ensure that applicants for personal licenses are aware of the requirements for licensing and their wider social obligations, they must hold an accredited qualification from an approved training provider. Criminal records checks are also required.

Applicants in England and Wales can find more information about the Licensing Act on the website. Applicants in Scotland can find similar information on the Scottish Government website.

Licensing in Northern Ireland

Licensing in Northern Ireland differs from the rest of the United Kingdom. A new business will need to purchase a license from an existing business that wants to give it up, since there are a set number of licences. After returning the old license, a new application for a new licence can be filed with the local court. A Northern Ireland entertainment licence is required in addition to an alcohol licence.

Licensing procedures and applications can be obtained from the local courts in Northern Ireland. NI Direct also provides information.

Find out more about licensing in your area by contacting your local authority.

Promoting your night club

Night clubs need to attract enough customers every week, so you must consider both how to promote your business and how to ensure that your club stays a popular spot.

Buy an existing business

Instead of starting from scratch, you might decide to buy a nightclub that already exists. The advantages of buying a going concern are that the products, customers, regular sales, employees, facilities, and equipment are already in place.

However, buying a business is a risky and costly process unless you have the right skills and experience on your team, such as financial and legal expertise. Be sure that you establish a financial and trading position that is credible, so that you do not pay too much for the business.

Finance to buy a nightclub

If you’re thinking about buying a business, there are a few things you need to consider from a financial perspective. First, you’ll need to have enough money saved up for a down payment.

The size of the down payment will vary depending on the type of business you’re buying, but it’s typically 20-30% of the purchase price. You’ll also need to have working capital available to cover the costs of running the business until it becomes profitable.

In addition, it’s important to have a good understanding of the business’s financials, including its revenue, expenses, and profitability.

Finally, you’ll need to obtain financing for the purchase. This can be done through a small business loan, an investment from friends or family, or by using your own personal savings. If you’re prepared financially, buying a business can be a great way to become your own boss and achieve financial independence.