Do you want to start a bartending school business? If YES, here’s a complete guide to starting a bartending school business with NO money and no experience. The ability to impart knowledge and train people to become professionals in any field is one sure way of making money. If you have a robust experience as a bartender and you know how to train people to become professional bartenders, then you can successfully start your own bartending school business.

What is a Bartending School?

Bartending School is a trade and technical school business that teaches people the many intricacies of serving alcohol from behind a bar as a core professional. The training curriculum covers classes in drinks mixology: the intricacies of mixing drinks and drink presentation; and the alcohol laws of the city, state or province in which the school is situated.

There are loads of people who want to work as bartenders and they will be more than willing to enroll in any school that will train them on how to become professional bartenders. The truth is that if your bartending school is well-equipped and staffed and it is government approved, then you may not have to struggle to persuade students to enroll in your school.

Just like most industries, the trade and technical school industry is pretty open for as many people that are interested in the industry as long as you have what it takes to run an accredited school. If you have decided to start a bartender school, then you must make sure that you carry out thorough feasibility studies and market survey. This will enable you properly locate the school in a community or city with the right demography; a location that can readily accept your services.

So, if you have done the required feasibility studies and market research, then you might want to venture into this business. If you have been pondering on starting your own bartender school, but do not know how to go about it, then you should consider going through this article; it will sure give you the needed guide and direction.

20 Steps to Starting a Bartending School Business

1. Understand the Industry

Bartender school falls under the trade and technical schools industry and establishments in the trade and technical schools industry comprises of schools that offer vocational and technical training in a wide range of technical subjects and trades.

The training offered by trade and technical schools often leads to job-specific certifications. Instruction may be provided in diverse settings such as the company’s training facilities, the workplace, the home or through distance-learning methods.

Key areas in this industry include bartender school, music schools and musical instrument training, cosmetology and barber schools, flight training, apprenticeship training and other technical training.

If you are a keen follower of the Trade and Technical Schools industry in the United States, you will agree that the industry has experienced fluctuations over the last five years due to the recession and stagnant growth in federal funding for such schools.

High unemployment has caused individuals to seek out further education, while employers are increasing their training requirements to remain competitive. Going forward, decreasing unemployment rates combined with increasing tuition of four-year colleges will both boost enrollments in vocational training.

The Trade and Technical Schools industry that bartender shop is a subset of is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in a lot of countries. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 8,876 registered and licensed trade and technical schools scattered all across the United States responsible for employing about 127,260 people and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $13 billion annually.

The industry grew at -1.1 percent annual growth within 2011 and 2016. It is important to state that there are no establishments in this industry that has a lion market share.

A recent report released by IBISWorld shows that the Trade and Technical Schools industry operates in a countercyclical manner. The report shows that the industry revenue grew significantly as a result slow economic growth over the five years to 2016, but has suffered subsequently. Sluggish economic activity helped the industry to grow as the unemployed sought professional training to improve their job prospects.

The report further stated that in recent years, the restructuring of the US economy has accelerated. Service industry professions are in higher demand than ever, while growth in manufacturing continues to fail to impress. As a result, individuals displaced by major economic change are still retooling their skillset.

In the United States, bartenders must pass a certification course for their particular state. There are many bartending schools in every state. Some offer only a few hours of instruction while others offer up to 40 hours. Courses that are at least 12 hours in length are certified by a state’s board of education or board of vocational or postsecondary education.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own bartender school cum vocational school despite the fact that the business is challenging could be that the business is profitable, they can easily get funding and support from government and the business can be started in any part of the United States of America.

Starting a bartender school cum vocational school requires professionalism and a good grasp of the trade and technical schools industry. Besides, you would need to get the required certifications and licenses (accreditations) and also meet the standard for such business before you can be allowed to start a standard bartending school or vocational school in the United States.

One good thing about the trade and technical schools industry/bartending schools is that there is a readily available market for their services because individuals would want to acquire skills and training that will help them carry out their services. So, if you are well positioned and you know how to impart bartending skills to students, you will always smile to the bank.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the services of bartending schools cut across individuals who want to learn the art of bartending and perhaps go ahead to become professional bartenders.

So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your bartending school, then you should make it all encompassing; it should include high school graduates and those who are already working in bars and hotels.

3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On

If you have plans of starting a bartending school, you just have to create an easy to learn curriculum that comply with the existing curriculum in the United States. Besides, Bartending School is a niche area in the trade and technical schools industry.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

If you choose to start a bartending school, you will face mild competitions because this line of business is still pretty much open for interested entrepreneurs to launch their business.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your products or services properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you have what it takes to teach and train people to become professional bartenders and you know how to reach out to your target market.

4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry

It is a fact that in every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading bartending schools in the United States of America and also in the globe;

  • Aurora Bartending Schools
  • New York Bartending School®
  • Best Bartending School
  • ABC Bartending School
  • Elitte Bartending School
  • Boston Bartenders School of America
  • American Bartending School
  • Cool Quencher U.S.A.
  • Bartender School of America
  • National Bartenders Bartending School
  • Professional Bartending School
  • Aqua Vitae Institute
  • DrinkMaster Bartending School of Boston
  • Action Bartending School
  • Maryland Bartending Academy
  • Las Vegas, European Bartender School
  • Minnesota School of Bartending
  • National Bartenders School Woodbridge NJ
  • Bartender Express
  • Columbus Bartending School
Economic Analysis

When it comes to starting a bartending school, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that starting a standard bartending school is not for rookies; it is for professionals who have successfully gathered the required experience to train people on how to become professional bartenders.

Starting this kind of business entails that you acquire the required diploma and professional certifications and also build a good working relationship with stakeholders in the industry. If you are already a major player in the trade and technical schools industry or a well – known professional bartender before venturing out to start your own bartending school, this might not be an issue.

Depending on the scale you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars to strike this off and at the same time you might need far less than that if you choose to start the school by training people on just bartending skill set without any other complimentary skill set.

You will be expected to hire the services of experts that will help you with a comprehensive economic and cost analysis and the profitability of the business within the location that you intend launching it. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you break even.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to buy the franchise of a successful and well – established vocational school as against starting from the scratch. Even though it is relatively expensive buying the franchise of an established and accredited vocational school, but it will definitely pay you in the long run.

But if you truly want to build your own brand after you must have proved your worth as a professional bartender, then you might just want to start your own bartending school from the scratch. The truth is that it will pay you in the long run to start your bartending school from the scratch. Starting from the scratch will afford you the opportunity to conduct thorough market survey and feasibility studies before choosing a location to launch the business.

Please note that most of the big and successful bartending schools around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedications, hard work and determination to achieve business success and of course you can build your own bartending school – brand to become a successful brand with corporate and individual clients (students) from all across the length and breadth of the United States of America and other countries of the world.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

Please note that if you decide to start your own bartending school today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established bartending schools, vocational schools and other related skill acquisition centers who are offering same bartending training that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a bartending school operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies, the arrival of a competitor within your location of operation and global economic downturn which may affect bartending schools. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

If you are considering starting a bartending school or vocational school, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow; some bartending schools design their school for regional/community market, some for national market, while others for international market via franchising and online tutorial.

You can either choose a general partnership or limited liability company or even sole proprietorship for a bartending school. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale Bartending School especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital and only offering bartending training. But if your intention is to grow the business into a standard vocational school offering various skill sets and have students from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, it is expected that you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents.

If you are considering starting your own bartending school, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Kings Court Bartending College
  • East Coast Bartending Institute
  • Elias Gabriel Bartending School
  • Western Regional Bartending College
  • Golden Gate Bartender Academy
  • Highlanders Bartending School
  • Richard Rex Bartending Institute
  • Nevada Professional Bartending Training School
  • Arrow Head Bartending School
  • Vintage Team Bartending School

9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States of America and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy covers and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your bartending school.

Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own bartending school in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Financial reinsurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own bartending school, usually you are required to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to challenge organizations and individuals in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties such as course work and training manuals et al.

If you want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Asides from training your students to become professional bartenders, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some bartending schools stand out. If you want to make an impact in the trade and technical schools industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career and up-to-date in this competitive market.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own bartending school;

  • Bartending Certification (Bartending License)
  • Certified Technical Skill Trainer
  • Certification in a Niche Area (Trade and Technical Vocation)
  • Degree or Diploma in Trade Related Courses

Please note that you cannot successfully run a bartending school in the United States and in most countries of the world without necessarily acquiring professional certifications and business license (accreditation from regulating bodies) even if you have adequate experience cum background in the trade and technical schools industry.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized especially a business such as bartending school. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catch up with you.

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own bartending school in the United States of America;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • Bartending License
  • State Permit
  • Accreditation Letter
  • Business License and Certification
  • Business Plan
  • Education / Training Curriculum
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Consulting contract documents
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Document
  • Apostille (for those who intend operating beyond the United States of America)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Aside from the required certifications and hands-on experience, starting a bartending school can be cost effective especially when compared to starting a standard vocation school offering various trainings. Securing a standard school facility in a good business district, equipping the school with the needed training instruments, equipment and tools and paying your employees are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the major factors you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business or to partner with you.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your bartending school;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Selling shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Bartending school and most vocational training and educational based type of businesses require that you see physically with your clients (students) hence it must be located in a good location; a location that is prone to both human and vehicular traffic and a location that is at the epicenter of an educational environment if indeed you want to enroll loads of students in your bartending school and maximize profits from the business.

If you have taken your time to study the trade and technical schools industry, you will realize that bartending schools and related skill acquisition centers are willing to pay expensive rents in order to stay in a busy educational district; a place where there are loads of students.

It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to open your bartending school is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and businesses with the required purchasing power and lifestyle. If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for Bartending School in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the school and perhaps giving direction to potential students.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a suitable location for your school, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city and perhaps country you intend starting your bartending school.

You would not want to locate this type of business in the outskirt of town. Your students should be able to drive down and locate your school facility with little or no difficulty. Vendors also should be able to easily locate your school facility when they have to come submit their bid/proposals, documents or for background checks et al.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your bartending school, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar vocational school that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your bartending school;

  • The demography of the location
  • The demand for the bartending skill acquisition in the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of bartending schools, vocational schools and related skill acquisition centers in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community
  • Traffic, parking and security

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

On the average, there are no special technologies or equipment needed to run a bartending school except for the needed serving wares that the students will need for practical sessions. You will definitely need computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves). These machines, equipment, tools and instruments can be purchased as fairly used especially if you have limited finance to meet your budget.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility for a bartending school, the size of the Bartending School you want to build, and your entire budget for the Bartending School should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard bartending school that offers various trade and technical courses, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your bartending school.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer/Principal Partner, School Administrator, Instructors/Coaches, Business Developer, Accountant (Bursar), Customer Service Executive/Front Desk Officer.

You would need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard bartending school.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

Bartending schools are established with the aim of teaching students bartending skill set. In essence, a student is expected to enroll in a bartending school with the aim of learning how to become a professional bartender.

Depending on the scale of the training and the number of students who enrolled in the Bartending School, after the full training which may last for 3 months or more, graduation ceremonies are organized for students and certificates are awarded.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

As a bartending school owner, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before attracting students to enroll in your bartending school. So, if you have plans to start your own bartending school, it will pay you to build first build a successful career as a professional bartender and in the trade and technical schools industry.

People and organizations will only enroll in your bartending school or hire your services to train their staff members if they know that they are going to get the required bartending skill set they want to get.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your bartending school, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to the trade and technical schools industry and the organizations you have trained in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place when sourcing for students and corporate clients.

Please note that in most cases when sourcing for clients from corporate organizations and other institutions, you will be called upon to defend your proposal, so you must be pretty good with presentations.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your bartending school;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to all the high school leavers, hotels and bars, local community, and households within and outside the city you are operating in who have the capacity to pay for your services
  • Advertise your bartending school in relevant magazines, radio stations and TV stations (make yourself available for related talk shows and interactive sessions on TV and Radio)
  • List your bartending school in local directories/yellow pages
  • Attend international vocational education expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different category of students and clients in order to work with their budget
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your bartending school
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you offer your bartending training services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your startup capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate. So also, it is important that you purchase your training equipment, tools, instruments and materials directly from the manufacturers or from wholesale distributors. If need be, you can purchase these equipment, tools, machines and instruments from the fairly used market. It will still save you some bucks.

Another strategy that will help you offer your bartending training services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products and services.

You can also try as much as possible to work with independent contractors and marketers; it will help you save cost for paying sales and marketing executives.

18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The trade and technical schools industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to churn out students who will go out there to become professional bartenders. Organizations and people will always run to you if they know that you have a better option especially as it relates to teaching them bartending skills.

Another strategy that you can adopt is to ensure that your organization is well positioned and key members of your team are highly qualified and certified as it relates to their job roles.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

The truth is that when it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers or products.

If you can continue to churn out students who are considered experts in mixing drinks and your training service delivery is excellent, then you won’t struggle to maintain a loyal clientele base.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software. With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized emails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to see them.

If your intention of starting a bartending school is to grow the school beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

In promoting your brand and corporate identity, you should leverage on both the print and electronic media and also the social media. As a matter of fact, it is cost effective to use the internet and social media platforms to promote your brands, besides it is pretty much effective and wide reaching.

Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and to promote and advertise your bartending school;

  • Place adverts on vocational related magazines and newspapers, radio and TV stations
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth publicity from your loyal students
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+ and other platforms to promote your bartending school
  • Ensure that you position your banners and billboards in strategic positions all around your city
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in and around your neighborhood
  • Advertise your bartending school in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Brand all your official cars and ensure that all our staff members wear your branded shirt or cap at regular intervals.
Ajaero Tony Martins