Joe Vargas was a training officers for reservists in the Navy who first ventured into the nightlife industry in 2005 when he organized an event for the Empire Ballroom and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since then, he steadily made his way to success in the scene despite no prior knowledge or business background.
Now, he has shared the things he has learned about the industry from being immersed in it for over a decade, all for the purpose of helping those looking to enter the sector. If you are looking to getting in the nightlife industry, you should definitely keep in mind these 10 important lessons:
People will do whatever they can to try and be the best, Vargas says. But while competition itself is healthy, unfortunately some go too far by sabotaging or slandering you/your business. And that is unhealthy not only to them but to the industry as a whole. “The key is to stay away from the drama, worry about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish,” he advises. Consider competition as a means to improve yourself. Stay on top of your competitors, but avoid the hate that sometimes comes along with it that is tempting to be embraced.
Vargas shares that being in the nightlife industry can create a mess out of your schedule, having to work day and night, with a sleep schedule that is all over the place. He also shares that those that have office jobs in nightlife and are not being served alcohol every night tend to have an easier time to managing their scheduling. But there also those who constantly surrounded by alcohol by sheer virtue of their role in the business. The point here is that there are many aspects to consider with regards to schedule, but regardless Vargas stresses that one should create a schedule, maintain it and not allow the darkness of what nightlife can entail suck you in.
Trends come and go very easily and quickly in the nightlife industry. Vargas explains that a factor for it is that the industry is very ego-driven and competitive in nature as there’s a lot of money to be made. With that being said, people will do whatever they can to stay hot and will do irrational things to stay relevant. The advice here is to stay humble but also to never get comfortable by adapting to the constantly changing environment around you.
Vargas compares the nightlife business as some sort of a shark tank, except here you’re not really actually pitching anything. Instead, you’re performing a job that hundreds if not thousands of other people would love to have. And these are the sharks to watch out for, the people that want a slice of what you’re enjoying from your position in the nightlife industry, whether you’re a club manager, a promoter, a resident DJ or hold any other job of relevance. It’s a vicious cycle and Vargas warns that if you’re not strong minded, the industry will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you back out.
“I would love to paint a picture that nightlife doesn’t have a lot of drugs, but unfortunately, the term nightlife entails ‘party.’ What do people do when they party? They drink alcohol and do drugs. It’s the nature of the beast,” Vargas laments. Mixing business with drugs has never been nor should it ever be a good idea because of the disastrous consequences it brings. Notwithstanding the decline of the business as a result.
Especially for those who are new in the nightlife industry, networking is of great and vital help to learn about the industry and meet people who will help you realized your goals. “Network with the right people and create synergy with others. This all leads to money and success,” Vargas stresses. While there are some jobs in nightlife that don’t require any networking, the reality is that it is hard not to connect with people when you’re working in nightlife. If you are not the social type, learn to go out and meet new people. You’ll never know if the person you meet will provide the opportunity you seek. As Vargas puts it, “Network till you no longer have to introduce yourself.”
Regardless of what some might say, the nature of nightlife is a party in itself. As such, according to Vargas, your success in the industry depends largely on your interest in nightlife itself. Distractions that prevent you from enjoying the party are bad for the business. Another analogy to illustrate this is being in a relationship. “It’s very hard to be in a relationship if you haven’t gotten rid of the “single bug.” this applies to partying,” he explains. “Get it out of your system, because if you don’t, it will affect you down the road.”
The nightlife industry is an industry that bleeds a lot of money in the course of running it. From covering broken bottles of unused liquor to paying for gratuities to dealing with unexpected expenses, or even paying for food during business meetings. Vargas also points out that spending money can also be driven by the very same ego and self-image that is rampant in the industry. With all these in consideration, the advice here is to set a budget for things you spend on or plan to spend on. If you’re making a solid amount of money consistently, it is best to hire the services of a financial adviser.
Vargas laments that the problem in the nightlife industry is that customer service has been lost or become rare at the very least. Partly, it’s because of prevalent mindset that it is not unusual to see a huge bill amounting to thousands and it’s better to pay for it now and just worry about it later. It also doesn’t help that management does not provide customer service training, which is unfortunate. “In business, customer service means everything in my opinion,” he stressed. “People want accessibility and to be treated like a VIP… One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the nightlife entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he or she can offer personalized attention.” This applies whether you’re operating your nightlife business with any sort of VIP service or not, for every customer you deal with should be treated as an important and key element of your operation.
Lastly, Vargas encourages those in the nightlife industry to be experts in their respective fields. “Whether you’re a nightlife marketing manager or graphic designer for nightclubs, the more you work on yourself and become more knowledgeable at your job, the more value you create for yourself,” he pointed out. The more you show that you are an expert, the more people will want to seek your services or provide opportunities for networking which creates more referral opportunities. As such, use social media to talk about things you’re knowledgeable about in your field. At the same time, be humble and remain appreciative of others’ opinions as well.