Interview with RASA (@_____rasa____)
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
“I got into music primarily through school friends of mine. A mate of mine was very good friends with Matt Rayner, who was the organizer of Family Function, part of the team that used to work with Shake ’N’ Finger pop and Soul II Soul, which was about ’84, ’85. The innocent days. I DJed once at Heaven. It was a complete disaster, I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know the difference between hip-hop and house, really didn’t have a clue. It was great, considering I played Heaven on a main night. Then I went to New York in the spring of ’2016. I got to the Garage September, October of that year. It took two attempts to get in there. I didn’t get in to start with. Then I got in on a Friday, which was the straight night. At that time Larry [Levan] was playing on the Fridays. The music was incredible, but the scene was hard and being one of the very, very few white people in there, I was given quite a hard ride. So then I tried to get in there on a Saturday because I loved the club and the sound system. And after being refused quite a few entrances, finally, [after] camping it up massively, we got in there. It was paradise. It really was a Paradise Garage. It was the best club I’d ever been to. I was a wine merchant up until that point, and I’d been bartending to survive. From the first Saturday night I went in there, I pretty much wanted to be a DJ. I wanted to be a DJ because I wanted to be a pop star and all that kind of stuff. The main focus was to play at the Garage on that system. That was what I wanted to do.”
Can you share the most interest in exciting happened to you since you started doing this?
“Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua lived not far from the club.
And one night he decided to drop by. I looked down the side of the club one Saturday with the queue right down the side street, and he was head and shoulders above everyone, this massive frame. And I remember looking down and saying to one of the bouncers ‘is that Anthony Joshua down there’, and he said ‘yeah I think it is’. And I had to say ‘well what’s he doing in the queue, get him up here and into the club. So we went down there and he was very humble, saying ‘no no I want to queue like everyone else.’ He was a really nice fella and clearly didn’t want to be treated any differently to anyone else. But everyone in the queue was shouting ‘go on AJ, go up the front’. Eventually he gave in, and everyone cheered as he walked up, which was great fun.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not “burn out”?
“I have 6 main tips for anyone wanting to achieve success in this Industry.
1. Keep them wanting more
Some of the most successful nightclubs do not open every night of the week, or even five nights a week. In fact, the most successful nightclubs only open one night a week to start with. They gradually increase the number of opening nights over a long period. We’re talking months or years to get up to three nights a week. This helps keep the club exclusive and in high demand.
2. be selective
To further increase the exclusivity of the nightclub, make the door tough to get in. One tactic clubs use to achieve this is not letting in large groups of men. They try to maintain a male-to-female ratio of 3:5. This makes for a better environment and atmosphere inside the club.
Other tactics include having a dress code and high entry prices on the door. This all works together in improving the chances of only letting the “right kind of people” through the door.
3. Hire top-notch staff
To keep your customers happy and reduce losses, invest in your staff. Insist they have a high level of competency and train them yourself so they know exactly what you expect of them.
One seemingly minor error or badly handled situation could potentially escalate into you club getting a bad reputation.
4. Don’t skimp on entertainment
No matter how well you manage a nightclub, if the entertainment factor is substandard, so will your profits be. Install the best quality sound system you can afford and book the best DJ’s and live acts you can.
Poor quality sound and the wrong people using it will ruin all the hard work you have put in and people will not come back in the future.
5. Nurture your best customers
If you are lucky enough to gain some high-profile customers, respect and maintain their privacy. Don’t advertise the fact that they are attending your premises.
These people are likely to be your best and most loyal customers, if treated well. They are the ones who will tend to use any premium services you offer: VIP areas, table service, and so on. Annoy them and you could be losing thousands a night.
6. Keep things fresh
Probably the hardest part of being a nightclub manager is keeping the club current and finding new ways to make it an attractive venue. Don’t be afraid to introduce new ideas and listen to any suggestions from your staff on what you can do to make people want to come to your nightclub over your competitors.
Attention to detail is key. Master the basics, constantly look for new ways to improve the club to give you customers the best night out possible and you could find yourself with a very profitable business.
None of us can succeed without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
We all have individuals in our personal lives that have provided inspiration and helped us along the way. As far as from a business perspective, I had a helping hand in the early stages of starting my business — my first landlord. Before I really had any solid clients or prospects, I made the decision to find a venue. The landlord of my first venue took a liking to us and our enthusiasm. He was one of the first people that believed in our concept and agreed to give me 10 months’ rent free period to help us get started. Every little bit helps in the early stages of building a business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We feel that we’ve brought goodness into the world through some little things as well as big things. We’re proud to have built a business that we feel creates a great place for our team to work and sets an example for our industry. In a bigger way, we often work with not-for-profit and charitable groups as well, using our abilities to help strengthen organizations that don’t always have the resources to effectively achieve their goals.
Do you have a favorite “written Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Not really a quote but 5 things we wish someone told me before I started my company:
1) This is going to take some long term commitment: You don’t start a business on a whim. You need to think through what this is going to mean to your life in the short, medium and long term. When I started out, I was very young (17) and weren’t exactly adept at planning for life down the road.
2) Don’t over-invest in non-essential things early on: It’s up to each individual to decide what an appropriate investment might be, but I think we could have made some stronger decisions in the early years. For example an expensive and maybe unnecessary club renovation.
3) Get used to managing people. Nobody prepared me for a life of managing people. i had to learn through trial and error, and it’s always something that you need to improve on. As a huge aspect of running a successful business, you need to pretty quickly get comfortable with being a manager.
4) make sure you pay yourself: For a very long time, I neglected my own personal incomes in order to make sure the business was healthy and our staff were happy. We needed to learn that if we weren’t taken care of and happy as leaders, then really the business isn’t healthy. Unless everyone is taken care of properly, there will be issues.
5) This is going to be a 24–7 gig forever. When we were younger, single and without kids and full of energy, working non-stop wasn’t much of an issue. It starts to get a lot harder when your life and relationships become more complex. It would’ve been great to have some perspective on this in the early days, at least to understand what we were headed for. I think a lot of early entrepreneurs think that after a couple of tough years they’re going to be able to kick back and put their feet up a little more than is realistic.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow me! Instagram RASA (@rasa)
Anything specific you’d like to have mentioned in the article?