Rhonda and I chat about the bar industry and the impact COVID has had on both mobile bars and the brick and mortar business models.
Rhonda is not only the other half of SWIG Culture, the mobile bar industry conference we host every year, but she is the founder and owner of Perfectly Cordial cocktail mixers and Bar Seat with RSC.
Sarah Murphy 0:00
Welcome to the Mobile Bev Pros podcast, a podcast dedicated to providing mobile bar professionals with the information they need to succeed. I’m your host and fellow mobile bar owner Sarah Murphy. Each episode I’ll be bringing you interviews, knowledge, anecdotes, or opinions with the goal of assisting you in building a profitable, sustainable and scalable mobile bar business that will support the lifestyle you dream of. I’m excited for today’s episode, so let’s get started.
Welcome back everyone. Today we are talking to Rhonda Cannon- is that how you sya your last name, Rhonda?
Rhonda Cammon 0:36
Sarah Murphy 0:37
Yeah, Cammon. Awesome. We’re speaking with Rhonda Cammon today. She is a multi-passionate. She has- she has a number of different businesses. She has Barseat, which is her mobile bartending company. She has Perfectly Cordial which is her delicious mixer company. Oh, she’s showing me a picture. I love it. Is that the new Strawberry thai basil?
Rhonda Cammon 0:59
Yes, I’m trying to do it-
Sarah Murphy 1:00
I cannot wait to try that one.
Rhonda Cammon 1:02
I’m trying to do it like the vloggers do hold on. This is this is when when they mature, see how they always do with the hand? I have no idea why, but
Sarah Murphy 1:14
There ya go
Rhonda Cammon 1:14
Yeah. Okay, so. Okay.
Sarah Murphy 1:16
That’s awesome. And she’s also co-owner of Swig Culture, which is our annual mobile bar industry conference, which we just had this past February, which was so much fun. And we are actually in the midst of planning 2021’s. Very exciting. And today, we’re talking about the state of the union, just the bar industry in general. COVID has wrecked the world as we know it, including that of the bar world, and so today we’re going to talk it out.
Rhonda Cammon 1:47
Sarah Murphy 1:48
Rhonda Cammon 1:49
Sarah Murphy 1:50
Where should we start?
Rhonda Cammon 1:51
I have a lot I have to say.
Sarah Murphy 1:51
Yeah, where should we start?
Rhonda Cammon 1:53
Well, we can start with this. Mobile bar owners- you are not alone. The world is upside down. And you are not the only person that’s saying, “Where are the events? Revenue is drying up? What in the Holy hell are we going to do?” It’s the whole industry! It’s the entire food and beverage industry. So I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone.
Sarah Murphy 2:18
At least we’re not alone. I think everyone can take heart and the struggle is real for everybody.
Rhonda Cammon 2:24
Sarah Murphy 2:25
But where do we go from here?!
Rhonda Cammon 2:28
Well, I have been on lots of zooms, lots of meetings, lots of think tanks, lots of everything-with a large number of people in the bar industry. Here in Nashville, we got double hit. We had a tornado.
Sarah Murphy 2:45
Rhonda Cammon 2:45
Which kind of shut everything down. And then right when we were on the cusp, of like saying, okay, we’ve kind of overcome a little bit, then COVID hit and you have a double whammy. So Nashville is very unique in that we’ve dealt with a lot of tragedy. Oh, really, really back to back. So I’m also on the board here for the Nashville USBG. I’m also on the board for the Nashville Bartenders Foundation. And I’ve been working really closely with all of those organizations on how do we rebuild the hospitality industry and how it affected us. I was on a call today with a number of people from different brands, some of the owners of like liquor.com, Tobin, who’s out of Nevada, who I hope will come down for Swig. He’s kind of helped everyone. Uh, I actually was on the Bar and Club Convention, um, and I was on a panel with the people from Marriott. And also-it was me Marriott, oh! and the person who created Partender, which was freakin amazing. However, one of the things that we all agreed upon was we have to not do the same things that we were doing before. Because they didn’t work.
Sarah Murphy 4:10
They never did. The industry was hanging on by the thread at all times.
Rhonda Cammon 4:15
Right? Like the cat, you know the cat. That was the industry. So it’s really about rebuilding the right way. And I have been a big advocate of additional revenue streams.
Sarah Murphy 4:31
Rhonda Cammon 4:34
And it’s so amazing Sarah to hear people who own three and four brick and mortar bars. And when you talk to them about additional revenue streams, or addition, they’re like what?! What are you talking about? Who? What? l I got to do what? And I was like, dude. This, this is not the time for just to sell a Jack and coke. This is the time for you to think about how are you going to pay your employees. How are you going to keep the lights on? And what can you provide to the customer?
Sarah Murphy 5:09
Yeah, I think the old way is- if you want additional revenue stream you open up another location, right?
Rhonda Cammon 5:15
Sarah Murphy 5:16
But what happens when it’s not a single unit being damaged through the tornado, or something that’s local to that particular community? What happens when the entire industry goes down?
Rhonda Cammon 5:31
Sarah Murphy 5:32
Rhonda Cammon 5:33
Yeah, and- and we saw that so- I’m a little- okay so this is why me and Sarah, we mesh. Kay? We’re literally Ying and Yang, kay? And anyone who saw me at Swig, at Swig Culture, you know, that I told everyone this. “Sarah does weddings. I don’t. I am not your wedding bartender, okay?” I will even and quiet as a cat- I work for Sarah!
Sarah Murphy 6:02
Rhonda Cammon 6:03
Like if Sarah needs someone, I’m here to pop your bottle.
Sarah Murphy 6:07
Rhonda Cammon 6:07
I don’t want your wedding! That’s Sarah’s ministry, not mine. But one of the things that I have been very successful with with Barseat is we quickly pivoted that into a corporate education component. So we were already doing corporate bartending, so we- we just pivoted over to corporate education, corporate cocktail classes, corporate happy hours. I’m telling bartenders and bar owners, maybe it’s time for you to do a small- a small bar book of your favorite recipes or custom, get your customers involved! Customer favorites. So that if they come in if they- if they feel Froggy, and they want to mash it up for tacos and tequila will not only sell them their tacos and their Margarita, but sell them a coaster, a punch card, a loyalty card, a pair of socks- do what you got to do to get the revenue in!
Sarah Murphy 7:10
Yeah, be creative, right? Like that’s, I think that’s what I love most about with- with the mobile bar industry, and not everyone in the mobile bar industry is doing it right. I mean, you you’ve heard me lament at how many mobile bar owners have gone rogue and started doing illegal like side hustles just to bring in the money. It’s not great for the industry. It really isn’t, I promise. But I’ve seen some really amazing things anywhere from virtual cocktail classes, to cocktail kits to little micro weddings, where they’re dropping off at people’s houses, like really, really pivoting in a way that like, this is why entrepreneurs are the way they are right? Like we do things that are otherwise impossible because we get inspired and we figure out ways around things and I hadn’t ever thought about that Rhonda, but I can how fun would it be if you have a favorite restaurant– I have one here in Nashville– if I walked into get my takeout and they’re like, hey, for an extra five bucks, 10 bucks, 15 bucks, I don’t care you put a price on it. I will feature your favorite cocktail recipe in our restaurant regulars book, right? And then you get to be a participant in something and you get to support a business that you already really love. And you get to be a part of them and that just like no no who’s out there thinking like that? Why aren’t they think like that?
Rhonda Cammon 8:30
It was it was funny because the people that- there’s a team from for Marriott that goes and just opens up resorts, they open up hotels, and they really focus on the restaurant and bar concepts on on site. And they were they were debating. I tell you no lie, they were about to invest money in igloos. For COVID.
Sarah Murphy 8:55
Rhonda Cammon 8:56
I’m thinking you’ve missed the memo? It’s summer.
Sarah Murphy 9:00
Well, greenhouses– sweatshops.
Rhonda Cammon 9:04
Yeah, hot yoga. Hot dining. Like who in the hell told you that that was a good idea?! and these were the people from Marriott, but that’s the thing. That’s the beauty of the mobile bar industry is that we are agile, okay? Because we’re not tied to a brick and mortar so we can pivot quickly, then we can pivot more quickly, than our brick and owner counterpart.
Sarah Murphy 9:38
Rhonda Cammon 9:39
And we have an additional skillset where we already are dealing with customer service.
Sarah Murphy 9:45
Rhonda Cammon 9:45
We’re already multitasking. We’re already thinking out the box. We’re already thinking about our backs and what’s gonna margins because our margins can go for sugar to shit real quick, but it only takes one bad event, one event where you cleared maybe $100 and got a couple extra buttons on your feet before you go back and you look at how much you were charging and you’re able to make that quick change that quick pivot to increase margins. So that’s one thing in the mobile bar industry is I want to really empower people and encourage people to think outside the box.
Sarah Murphy 10:28
Rhonda Cammon 10:28
This is not a time to- when I see a- when I see a trailer being sold or rig being sold. I’m like, why?! Like, this is not the end. It’s not.
Sarah Murphy 10:39
Yeah, I had this conversation with someone who reached out to me earlier today, and he’s a little nervous because he wants to get into the industry but as like a dry hire, he wants the rig. But he’s like, I’m scared to buy one of these us rigs because, to me, I’m scared it might be indicative of the industry kind of going down the tube. And my response to that it’s that there’s depth there. But first of all, I think a lot of people get into the mobile bar industry because they think it’s cute, easy, and fun, which can be all of those things. But what they fail to consider is the financial investment on the front end, the hard work, the heavy manual labor, and the hustle that it’ll take before you even book that first event. And it’s not always gangbusters straight out of the chute. Like sometimes there’s, there’s a significant nine month ramp time before you get any sort of regular events booked,right? And so you, you can’t like quit your job and start a mobile bar like-you CAN, people have done it! It’s not the best idea, just because it’s an industry that takes you can’t just open your doors because you’re mobile, right? You can’t just like you’re not in the corner of some busy Thruway where it’s like location, location, location. You can’t just pop yourself up, open the doors and hold a grand opening party and expect everyone to run in. Because that’s just not how mobile bars work. And so I think that people get into it because they’re super excited, but then they get out six-eight months in they’re like I’m not booking as much as I should be or I need to be and they kind of lose hope. And then even in year one, one and a half, there’s they’re like, look, I’m booking more now but I’m still not booking enough to make my initial investment worth it. And so they lose their their faith and they’re like it’s easier just to go work for some dude down the road and then I’ve got benefits and a salary and and all of those things right? And so
Rhonda Cammon 12:34
Well, yea and then–
Sarah Murphy 12:35
You see peopl– how
Unknown Speaker 12:36
How long was it before you– because you were working your corporate job for how long?
Sarah Murphy 12:42
Oh my gosh, 18 months. I worked- I worked my side hustle for 18 months or I worked my main job and then Bar Magnolia as a side hustle for 18 months. And and even then, I mean, I had broken $100,000 top line by that point, but the expenses were so high that I still wasn’t like making tons of profit. It wasn’t paying my six figure salary, that’s for sure. Um, there’s a leap of faith that went into it, but I think that I just think that there’s this kind of glaze when you see that camper, you see that rig and you’re like, Whoa, How pretty! How fun would it be to like, spend every weekend at people’s weddings?! Like wouldn’t that be great?! That’s how I want to live my life! And it is fun. It’s a ton of fun. But the people just need to be realistic about what it takes to really be successful in this industry, which is ever more competitive. I think all the time. It’s not impossible. It’s very possible to make great money and live a lifestyle that allows you to pick your kids up from school and take vacations and like as a mom, being a mobile bar owner provided me with a quality of life working for the man never did.
Rhonda Cammon 13:50
Sarah Murphy 13:51
But it’s not easy, right? Like you have to be dedicated to it. And then right now the industry is getting squeezed a little bit. And so those that like really aren’t dedicated to it are bailing. That doesn’t mean the industry isn’t viable. It just means that we got to be a little scrappy.
Rhonda Cammon 14:06
And this is a this is a funny say, if there still was no COVID- if COVID wasn’t an issue, the new bartenders, the new mobile bar owners, they would still have, it would still be slow.
Sarah Murphy 14:18
Rhonda Cammon 14:19
You have to build up! I started Barseat in 2015 and I’m still working my corporate job!
Sarah Murphy 14:25
Rhonda Cammon 14:26
Because I love it.
Sarah Murphy 14:27
Rhonda Cammon 14:29
I love it, but I am getting to that point. I remember. I remember like, it was yesterday, you were like, Hey, I gotta make a decision. I mean, something’s got to give.
Sarah Murphy 14:38
Rhonda Cammon 14:39
And I’m almost to that point. Like, I’m almost there, trust me. But even if there wasn’t COVID if you’re fresh out the gate, it- it wasn’t gonna- your cup was not gonna runneth over with, with events. You were still going to have to build and that’s– right now COVID because of COVID, and because things are so slow, it is a good opportunity for new mobile bar owners to kind of get their foundation more shored up.
Sarah Murphy 15:11
Rhonda Cammon 15:12
Sarah Murphy 15:12
Amen to that. I mean, for anybody who’s listening and you’re just starting your business, there is so much that can be done to ramp so that when the doors do open, you’re like, gushing out the gate, right. Like, a lot of times when you start your your mobile bar, you start any business and you’re just kind of like, Okay, I gotta do it, I gotta do it, I gotta do it. You’re,
You’re missing– you’re missing those foundational blocks that really build the scalability and longevity and foundation for that long term growth and success. And so what happens is you find yourself getting to this point where you’re super busy, but you haven’t put the right systems in place. And so while you’re super busy, you’re also having to build those systems and it’s that they’re called growing pains. That’s basically I call them I get calls all the time from mobile bar owners like I’m experiencing this issue. I’m like, no problem. We can fix this with systems, you can do that before you get to that point. You don’t have to wait till it gets so crazy that you’re having to kind of what when I used to work in corporate, we used to call it rebuild the plane while in flight.
Rhonda Cammon 16:19
And nobody should be rebuilding any plane while its in flight! And that’s what happened to the food and beverage in the hospitality industry. We kept fixing the plane while it was in flight, and no one had the proper system. Yeah, you’ve got that POS, but you have no other system. So when the plane was like, I can’t take it anymore. We can’t fix this. We got to land. Nobody knew what like what are we going to do? What are we going to do? So for new mobile bar owners, this is a time to get your systems in place. Because this is the other juxtaposition of it. Okay. I own Perfectly Cordial also. And with any business, you go, there is a level that you get to where you go from doing nothing to doing everything. And if your systems are not in place, then when you actually get to the point where people are trying to book you, it’s going to be a shit show, because your systems are not in place. And what you end up doing is you end up risking your reputation, bad reviews, losing money, losing customers. It can go- it can just not be cute at all. And it’s only because you just didn’t have the systems in place.
Sarah Murphy 17:40
And what does that look like? One example would be a lead funnel. If someone reaches out do you know exactly what the funnel is that you’re putting, like when you’re sending them the any questions email, when you’re sending them do you have- do you need more time like when are- because if you can’t get that first few steps, every time someone reaches out it’s gonna look different, right? If someone books you then what? Do you know? Do you have that documented? What happens first? What happens second? What- at what intervals are you doing all of those things? Because if someone asks, hey, do you do a cocktail tasting? And you say, Yeah, sure. And they’re like, What? How does that work? What does that look like? And you’re just like, we just kind of schedule a time and show up with a bunch of booze and then we just chat and we shake some things out, then, I mean, how scalable is that, right? But
Rhonda Cammon 18:26
Sarah Murphy 18:27
If you- if you can sit there and be like, oh, about 60 days out from your event, I’m going to send you a questionnaire, you’re going to fill it out. And I’m going to take that preferences and I’m going to build a custom, tailored cocktail menu, about six different cocktails. I’ll show up. We’ll shake it up. You guys can pick two, then we’ll whatever. If you get those systems down, then when you end up with 30 weddings in a month, there isn’t any like, Oh gosh, what am I doing? Right? Because you’re just doing the thing that you’re supposed to be doing!
Rhonda Cammon 18:56
And if this is the thing as long as you keep working at it, as long as you stay in the business, you will get to a point where you’re gonna have 30 weddings in one month!
Sarah Murphy 19:05
Rhonda Cammon 19:05
It just, it happens. You just have to stay consistent.
Sarah Murphy 19:10
Rhonda Cammon 19:11
Just stay consistent. There was a point where I don’t know it was just like one year I went from doing one event a month to doing one event every weekend to the point where I was start started telling people No, I can’t do it. Find somebody else. But, um, that’s the thing. Really good example. Okay, really good example where because I didn’t have my system in place, it cost me money. So when I first started Perfectly Cordial, I was already deal-dealing with Barseat, kay so if it’s enough just to have systems for Barseat. These are two separate companies, okay? So I would get an order and I was not printing out the invoice and the order for the packing- I was a six pack I was not printing out a packing slip. I had a customer in Memphis, she ordered nine bottles. Okay. Nine bottles! That’s a lot of product, a lot of shipping, that’s a lot of packaging, that’s a lot of handling. I send everything off. However I sent the wrong stuff off.
Sarah Murphy 20:19
Rhonda Cammon 20:21
She was like, I got my package! Delicious. This is not what I ordered. Do you know because I had I messed up, it’s about customer service. I had to resend her the right stuff for free because she was like, Well, I can mail this back to you ma’am. You’re not gonna mail that back to me. That’s like going back to Kroger with a with a half a pack of chicken. No, I’m good. Keep it, it was my mistake. However, that mistake cost me like $125
Sarah Murphy 20:57
Rhonda Cammon 20:59
now, print out packing slips and we double check them.
Sarah Murphy 21:04
Rhonda Cammon 21:04
Because I just didn’t have the process in place.
Sarah Murphy 21:06
Yeah. And I think you could, you could macro that or micro that. Like I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through in the early days when I was like, Oh, this event has ginger beer on it. That means I got to run to Kroger because I didn’t get it from Empire which is wholesale, I got to run to Kroger and I spent four times as much for ginger beer at Kroger, but you just got to eat it, right? Or if you screw up a calculation on ordering something and you bring too little and then you’re having to leave in the middle of the event and like, that’s a pain in the butt too. So yeah, systems are everything.
Rhonda Cammon 21:40
And, and that’s what we’re seeing in brick and mortar’s- that the systems that were not in place, that revenue revenue does not have to be razor thin. There are ways if you look at things you can build a bar menu that maximizes your your revenue and your time. So this is the time. This is the time I will tell you this, I will tell you this. If we come out of this post COVID and somebody posts a post in the Facebook group, how much should I charge for beer and wine? For four hours? I’m gonna come through the phone. I’m gonna ring his neck. When you’re slow to kind of put it down on paper and figure out your costs, this is how much I want to make, how much time it will take. This is how much a beer costs. Figure it out during this downtime. Yeah, is the time not in the Facebook group, the day before the event? Okay, I’m gonna get off my soapbox.
Sarah Murphy 22:46
I’ve told you this before I there’s something about the people in this industry who go out there, they launch a business, they hustle the sale, they sell the damn thing, even though they aren’t really sure how they’re going to do it, they sell it anyways. I have a ton of respect for that. Just do. I mean like, yes! Yes! You know that you’re capable, you know you can figure it out. Go out there and get that money, and then figure it out! I love that! Do i do i love the repetition of the same questions over and over and over and over again? No, I do think that there’s some power in the search bar there. But I do. I do love that about the people in this industry in that they were kind of like, yeah, we can do that. Sure.
Rhonda Cammon 23:37
But I think is the time that you as a mobile bar owner, that you kind of get everything together, get your menus, get your costs, and figure out what type of revenue you want to make. Not me. Not Sarah.
Sarah Murphy 23:52
Rhonda Cammon 23:52
How much revenue do you want to make? And that will determine a lot of things. The second point I want to bring up is that I’ve been a big advocate of collaboration. Collaboration has literally brought in an additional revenue stream. It’s a line item. Okay, collaboration is now a line item on the spreadsheet. I did a pop up here two weeks ago? Two weeks ago, I had a friend. She was launching a new ice cream concept. I just happen to know her. I was like, Hey, why don’t we do a boozy ice cream? I’ll give you some perfectly cordial. We’ll add- we added gin to it so we called it Gin and Juice. We packaged it up and we did a pop up at a local cafe, it was like a cafe-type of really like cool vibe place. And we did it for a couple of hours and everyone made money. Everyone. I made money. I was able to sell my product. The person my friend, Loki, who has ice cream. She sold out. We sold out in like two and a half hours. The- and because we all utilize our social media and our network. It was like packed, I mean. It was- not COVID packed, but it was a steady stream of people and they sold like they- they sold cocktails they sold. They have a cafe. So everybody bought food. I mean, it was a great day. So collaboration person, people who are doing really good at that Set the Bar Kentucky. Those girls are hustling.
Sarah Murphy 24:47
Rhonda Cammon 25:37
I love them. They’re hustling. They’re like, who can we partner with? And that’s what you have- that’s something that anyone can do. Reach out there. And if you don’t have a network, open your mouth and make a network, find a network, grow a network,
Sarah Murphy 25:55
Rhonda Cammon 25:56
Get a network. Just use your words. There’s somebody that- you compliment, they compliment you, and you compliment them. And you guys can do something. You got a rig? You know a florist? Make it a flower truck.
Sarah Murphy 26:11
Rhonda Cammon 26:12
Both of you guys work it. Let’s go out here and make this money.
Sarah Murphy 26:16
Yes and don’t discount the non alcoholic beverages because there’s a little bit more regulation with this and so I do invite people to like, call their- I mean, I don’t know about everywhere but the health department guy here in Nashville. His name is Steve, super nice guy! He’s very responsive to emails. He’s very- I- I’ve talked to him on the phone, like they’re great people. And it’s not a ton of work to get like a single day food permit. If you want to like do a pop up bar and do like shaken lemonades or something like I can charge six bucks for a shaken lemonade that is literally simple syrup, lemon juice and water guys. It’s super easy. There’s margins there. You can you can do the farmers market. You could do your own little lemonade stand just make sure you get the proper permits and your business license. But you don’t have to be at private events if private events in your area aren’t going down
Rhonda Cammon 27:10
Dude. Farmers markets are popping right now, do you hear me? Popping. I have- I was supposed to do some farmers markets and I was like yeah, I’m not quite there yet you know, I’m not that COVID secure. However, I have a couple of friends, they’re clearing a thousand dollars a Saturday.
Sarah Murphy 27:30
Rhonda Cammon 27:31
Sarah Murphy 27:33
And to do the math for everybody… that’s $52,000 a year. That’s not bad!
Rhonda Cammon 27:40
So if you- I mean you have a trailer, if you got a rig. You partner- partner with somebody that makes baked goods, they make turnovers. You do craft sodas, or- or lemonade. In Tennessee, CBD is a food- kind of like a food product. Put some CBD in it, dude. Find you- get, you know, get some good quality grade.
Sarah Murphy 28:03
Rhonda Cammon 28:04
Well, definitely, disclaimer, but you can do things like that. You could do sugar free, you could do iced coffees, that’s really popular.
Sarah Murphy 28:14
Rhonda Cammon 28:14
Um, you can do so many things where you’re utilizing the skills that you have as a bartender, and as a mobile bartender, meaning you’re off premise, meaning you’ve never had a brick and mortar, meaning that the farmers market is a day in the park for you, literally, because it’s what you do every day. And you partner with somebody in the community and you guys do it. People are out there because they don’t have any place else to go.
Sarah Murphy 28:42
Rhonda Cammon 28:43
So yeah, maybe you start doing juices? Get a generator, get a juicer, get- you got farmer bill over here, get you a bushel of beets and start making and people will- people love it. People will pay for it and it’s additional revenue stream. And you’re not letting your- you’re not only are you making money, but you’re also streamlining those processes. And trust me, you’re going to meet people are gonna be like, oh, what else do you guys? Do you have a card? Follow us on Instagram, follow us on Facebook. And trust me, there’s going to be that one day that somebody bought your beet juice two years ago, they’re gonna say, Hey, I’m having this corporate party for Google. Can you do it? Yeah.
Sarah Murphy 29:31
Absolutely. I think you’re right. I think that we’ve seen a bunch of this in the mobile bar world, but we have also seen some hesitation to kind of pivot, which I get, but there’s nothing wrong with diversification. Do I think you should spread yourself too thin? No. I don’t think that we should get outside our wheelhouse. I don’t think we should start doing things that aren’t directly within the realm of what we already do and are capable of, but there are so many things that we as beverage caterers are capable of doing that may not be in the package that we currently have it but that we could utilize the skills and the resources that we have. And w- after we had the tornado I reached out to Highgarden, which is one of my favorite places here, and I mean, I knew that my camper wasn’t going to be used because it was what? February when that happened? And we didn’t have any events booked in February/March with the camper. (This is before COVID) And I basically said you guys can have my camper for the next couple months while you rebuild if you want to do your tea house but you don’t have a rig, right? And, uh, they ended up not using it because well other things happened. But I mean, we have rigs- why let them sit there if you can make it a billboard out there somewhere else? Lend it to a brewery, lend it to a venue, lend it to like wherever it may get some, some eyeballs on it.
Rhonda Cammon 30:55
Sarah Murphy 30:56
Rhonda Cammon 30:58
Pretty much, pretty much. All the things. It’s about thinking outside of the box. And not thinking that this is the end because it’s not. Will the industry pop back? Yes, it will. Will it pop back tomorrow? No, it won’t. However, if you hold tight and you- you think outside- you get creative. You can- you could bring in some some revenue.
Sarah Murphy 31:24
Absolutely. Yep. And some events virtual. Right? We’re seeing some real fun cocktail classes. Some engaging, uh, you- you actually, you and was it Andrea and Shannon? Who just did that educational, uh bit?
Rhonda Cammon 31:42
Oh, yeah, it was good.
Sarah Murphy 31:43
Yeah, it wasn’t a cocktail class per say?
Rhonda Cammon 31:46
I was. I was in the class.
Sarah Murphy 31:48
You were in the class?
Rhonda Cammon 31:49
Yeah, I was the ticket holder.
Sarah Murphy 31:54
But I love that ingenuity, right? It’s well I think he was talking about history. Cocktail history’s super fascinating.
Rhonda Cammon 32:01
Oh, there have been- and there are a number of untapped opportunities where it does come to education, our classes, our virtual cocktail classes. Those have been really, really successful going out there and networking in your market, that you do cocktail classes as Nashville continues to open up, like other cities. We can have small gatherings. I do have people booking me for, uh, I do Bourbon 101. So they’re booking me for small bourbon education classes and also the corporate thing, but even with it goes back to processes, okay. So if you are going to do a corporate happy hour, or corporate cocktail class or a virtual cocktail class, guess what? You still need to have processes. Um, you just can’t show up on the time, you know, it’s time to start time is seven. You can’t just show up at seven and say, Hey guys, we gonna do a class. There’s a lot of prep that goes in before that. And there’s also things that you have to do to communicate to these business owners. Because that’s what we’re seeing. They’re still customers. So most definitely go out there and get the processes right. But go out there and start marketing cocktail classes, virtual cocktail classes, maybe a behind the scenes of what it what you guys do. People love behind the scenes stuff. Don’t ask me why, but they do.
Sarah Murphy 33:36
That’s why reality TV is so popular,
Rhonda Cammon 33:38
I guess so. And also, collaborations like Airbnb experiences. I used to do an experience. I think, Sarah, you used- she may still be up there. I don’t know.
Sarah Murphy 33:50
I do not do it any longer, but I did. Yeah, and they switched it to virtual experiences now, and they haven’t, uh, at the moment they don’t have in person experiences. But if you have something that you can do virtually- apply! They’re going to do all the marketing for you.
Rhonda Cammon 34:06
Yeah. Um, there’s also CourseHorse? There was also another one that came across my feed yesterday, but it was really weird. Because they were- they had like really good Michelin star chef and it was like you was in class for $29! I was like, really? You guys are giving it away!
Sarah Murphy 34:27
That’s how bad the restaurant industry is right now.
Rhonda Cammon 34:30
Yeah, but yeah, you’re right. But there are programs out there where they do the marketing for you. And you just teach the class but- but there are ways out there to do it. Also products and people are selling t-shirts, Set the Bar Kentucky they did a really good job of pivoting over to selling syrup at the farmers market, okay. And, and I’m always, you know, channel and echo what Sarah does. Call your local health department.
Sarah Murphy 35:00
Rhonda Cammon 35:01
Maybe you should take a food handing class?
Sarah Murphy 35:04
Rhonda Cammon 35:06
Yeah. Yeah, you know, uh-
Sarah Murphy 35:07
Real quick here’s my soapbox- simple syrups don’t qualify anywhere under the cottage food law, right? The simple syrups a lot of people are like ah simple syrup cottage food law sorry it does they don’t keep that that well. So they really need to be handled with more process and, uh, you
Rhonda Cammon 35:27
Have you ever explained, have you ever explained what the cottage food law is?
Sarah Murphy 35:31
No, I honestly this is not a topic that we’ve delved very deep into in the membership yet or the community.
Rhonda Cammon 35:41
Well the cottage food law are a set of rules and laws for people who make stuff out of their homes. And you tend to see that with like bakers.
Sarah Murphy 35:50
Rhonda Cammon 35:51
Yeah, cookies, cakes, pies. Things are tend to be shelf stable, have a longer life and so once they’re cooked their good for consumption and you sell it,
Sarah Murphy 36:02
Right, popcorn maybe.
Rhonda Cammon 36:02
Yeah, or it’s like a hot sauce or something that’s pickled, or acidic or has, you know, a syrup or stuff like that? Where there’s bacteria involved? If something’s wrong in the process,
Sarah Murphy 36:16
that’s right. Juices, never the cottage food law. Syrup’s never with the cottage food law. And so what that means is that if you are in your kitchen, making a simple syrup, and you are trying to sell it on your Instagram, chances are you are doing so illegally. And not even, not even just state law. I’m pretty sure it’s like federally, the agriculture the Department of Agriculture, I think, oversees that. So like, try not to sell your simple syrups from your kitchen unless you’re doing it in your home commercial kitchen. Because those obviously are inspected by the health department and therefore don’t require coverage under the cottage food law.
Rhonda Cammon 37:04
So what we’re saying is that if you do make that pivot over to a product, congratulations, just do it correctly.
Sarah Murphy 37:12
Yeah, that’s what I’m- that’s what I’m saying. I don’t think people truly understand how dangerous simple syrups can be. I think that we just, I mean, I have worked at bars where bartenders kept it on the on the rail, they didn’t even realize it needed to be refrigerated. It’s not- that’s not how that works. And if you use it fast enough, I guess maybe like 24 hours isn’t gonna kill you, but it’s-
Rhonda Cammon 37:34
It’ll just make you slightly sick.
Sarah Murphy 37:36
It’ll just yeah, you might. You might make him sick and who wants that?
Rhonda Cammon 37:42
But no, so products are ways that I’ve seen some mobile bars pivoting. Just do it correctly, do it safely. And look for your local commissary or a shared kitchen space.
Sarah Murphy 37:54
Rhonda Cammon 37:55
It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a Department of Ag come by and just check you off. It doesn’t take a lot of money at all. It takes more time and more paperwork, but that’s another way and then also products like, like a T-shirt or a coasters. Coasters are really cool. I got to tell a lot of restaurants, you know, if you have a recipe book, if you have a loyalty card, if you go out to the farmers market, and you’re selling, say cold brew coffee or mocktails or whatever. Think about a loyalty card where people can come back next Saturday. You punch it, and they come back and you get loyalty. I’m reading, look at what I’m reading now, let me show you. It’s an oldie but goodie: Raving Fans.
Sarah Murphy 38:50
Rhonda Cammon 38:51
Yeah. So it’s about customer service, and building that brand loyalty, where the premise is that you want If you only had 100 raving fans, you’re good. They’re gonna- they’re ride or die.
Sarah Murphy 39:06
Rhonda Cammon 39:06
They’re gonna be there, yea and you can do that- you can do that now during this time of COVID and it doing something than just selling coffee or teas or sodas, you can do that! And keep them coming back for more.
Sarah Murphy 39:20
Yeah, I think you’re hit on a really, I don’t know if you meant to hit on it. But with whatever you do, and I think I’ve talked about this in the membership before, with whatever you pivot- don’t think of this as just until COVID is over, because it’s going to likely cost you some time and some energy and some money to ramp up a new revenue stream. So ideally, it’s going to be something that you can continue to maintain and grow even after you’re doing events again. So whatever you’re pivoting to try and think of something that energizes you enough to keep doing for a while, but also will be relevant after COVID, right. So if you if you decide that you want to do mocktails are craft sodas, like build a following that won’t just disappear after COVID. Build the people that will come and visit you no matter what’s going on. Or if you’re going to do a product or something like, I don’t know, maybe maybe not selling COVID masks or something right?
Rhonda Cammon 40:21
Toilet paper, toilet paper and hand sanitizer is not the way to go.
Sarah Murphy 40:26
No, that’s right. Well, thankfully that those uh, those product lines have rebounded.
Rhonda Cammon 40:32
There were people selling on the corner! They were selling toilet paper. I tell you no lie. They were selling toilet paper on the side of the corner. They had face masks, and they had hand sanitizer.
Sarah Murphy 40:45
They used to have roses for like your mom.
Rhonda Cammon 40:48
Now they got, now they got 2-ply! They got 2-ply for you, boo boo! It’s like what?! So yeah, you’re right stick with something thats going to carry- that’s going to still translate well and carry over post-COVID.
Sarah Murphy 41:01
Yeah, this isn’t a COVID problem, right I, I’m a big believer in multiple income streams or revenue streams for anyone. You won’t find a single millionaire out there with a single revenue stream, because diversification is an important part of scalability and sustainability. And when you’re building a business, your focused usually on one, but this is an opportunity for everyone to build a second or even a third revenue stream. Ideally one that is slightly different than the one that you currently have. So that if one thing goes down, you’ve got this other right. So not- not just a COVID lesson, it’s a recession lesson. It’s a depression lesson. It’s a market shift lesson, right? It really is just good, good general practice.
Rhonda Cammon 41:43
It is. And the other thing is mentorship. I’m a real big advocate for mentorship. It’s part of the reason why I came to Sarah was like we need to do Swig because there was not enough representation and enough education and enough mentorship for bartenders in the mobile bar industry or for bartenders that wanted to start their own business. There’s just was nothing. So this is the time where if you see someone who’s doing something a little different, why don’t you ask them, Hey, try to have a conversation. Hey, can you show me that? This is a time for education, learning new things, or certifications. This is that time. So if you’re saying, Hey, I don’t really want to pivot, however, because I’m not- I’m not hurting right now. I’m financially okay. This is a time to continue your education and build upon that. Because once people do start booking you again, that gives you the ability to charge maybe a little bit more because your skill sets a little higher and that’s why the “How much would you charge?” question? That’s why that just makes me grind my teeth. Like literally. Like just back molar is gone to dust, dude. Honestly, dust. And the reason why is because what I may charge another person can’t- may not be able to charge, but I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I have multiple certifications. I know it didn’t look like it at Swig. I looked like, I looked, I looked like a- like a- like a banshee because I was running around. However,
Sarah Murphy 43:42
Not this year Rhonda. We are not doing that this year.
Rhonda Cammon 43:45
We are doing better we are comin full circle, babe, full circle. However, I have certifications in bourbon, tequila. I have done fine dining. I’ve done fast- I’ve done like fast concept dining. I’ve done A.M. dining, which is a whole nother beast. Who knew?! Who would have known? I am with- I have a real Dom recipient. I am USBG, I am done worked with a number of nonprofits, but I’ve got skills, dude! So when I come to people with a certain monetary point, it’s because I’m worth it! This is the time if you want to say, hey, I want to be able to charge a certain amount of money once I- once the bookings do come in. This is the time to shore up your resume. This is the time to get the certifications. This is the time to sharpen your skill set. You don’t know garnish? This is the time you get some lemons and practice. You don’t know about modifiers or amaro liqueurs? This is the time for you to practice and to get that together. It’s just no reason because that all translates just like your degree. For those who do have them- you’re like, Okay, I got my my high school diploma, I got my AA, I got my bachelor’s, I got my masters and I got my PhD. And every time you would get some additional letters, that was supposed to translate some more dollars. It’s the same thing with your bar education.
Sarah Murphy 45:16
Amen. I think that’s really important to remember, especially with a mobile bar community, because we do get a lot of people that come from all areas and so not, not all of our members are mobile, or our bar in origin, right? Some people never sling a drink, but they get into it for the other aspects of it. And to be fair, like making a jack and coke does not require training, right? Like anybody can make a jack and coke. And if that’s your brand, and you’re just like, Hey, I mix and pour, and that’s it. And that’s cool. there’s a there’s a place in this industry for that. But if you want to charge more if you want to kind of climb the scale a little bit higher so that you can charge more than the mix and pour. Then demonstrate that value, right? If you have a tequila certification, and you put together a fiesta package, and you’re like, certified in tequila, we’re going to have the best tequila drinks at your event ever. People who appreciate tequila will resonate with that.
And the people that really truly understand like, the value of having someone who really knows their shit and tequila, they’re going to pay for that. Right? And so, I think people fail to understand or fail to to recognize that if you have a passion for the bar industry, and you continue to learn and grow, you can turn that into dollars, but you have to tell people about it right? You have to, you have to make sure you translate that knowledge into the products that you’re offering. Don’t keep that in your back pocket, list that you’re about! Make sure that you when you’re putting your packages together you tell people as to why getting a tequila package from you is different than getting a tequila package from the person next door. Cause people will pay for the confidence of knowing, well, the experience will be better with this person because they know what they’re doing.
Rhonda Cammon 47:06
You ever seen that commercial, where it’s the doctor and he was like, he’s like Hey! they let me off probation. And the doctor was like, so what do you want to do about about this doctor? Because I got we’ll figure it out. Don’t be that bartender! Be like yea, we’ll figure it out. You want someone who’s competent, who knows what they’re doing. And when, if you list all these things, and they get a bid from Joe Schmo, who’s just like, Yo, I got one package, here it is. Nine times out of 10. I’m gonna take a second look at your offering.
Sarah Murphy 47:41
Right. Yeah. Don’t be afraid to tell people your qualifications. I mean, we are, I think, for the most part, very humble beings. And we want to- we don’t want to come off as being egotistical, but I can tell you that when I tell a bride I’ve done over 200 weddings, that resonates with them because a good portion of brides that’s the only wedding they’re going to have in their lifetime. They don’t necessarily want someone who’s only had a handful. Now, if you don’t, if you’ve only done a handful, then don’t tell them that that you know, like, tell them the other awesome things you’ve got going for you. Maybe you worked in the industry for 15 years before you started your mobile bar, like you’ve got something to offer, but tell them what it is that you’re offering. And if you have nothing to offer, as Rhonda said, now’s the time!
Rhonda Cammon 48:27
Yeah, now it’s time to get something to offer people!
Sarah Murphy 48:30
Take a course, learn something new. And if it’s if it’s flair bartending that you’ve decided to learn, please take pictures and tag me because I will never be a flair bartender but I am obsessed.
Rhonda Cammon 48:45
Too funny. I just want em to tag me so I could see it. I’ll be like, good job. I will- I will cheer you on. I will be your number one cheerleader. But no, I’m not going to do it either. But that’s the thing though, Sarah, we were talking about this. Flair bartending is like ultra premium, you can pretty much say this is what I charge. And guess what? They’re gonna pay it. Why? Because there’s nobody else doing flair bartending.
Sarah Murphy 49:13
And it’s fun to watch. And it’s also entertainment and it’s booze. It’s like the best of all worlds.
Rhonda Cammon 49:18
It really is.
Sarah Murphy 49:19
And there’s fire- most of the time.
Rhonda Cammon 49:22
Well, yeah, there is you’re right- most of the time. So no, this is the time where you can do so, so much. So, if I had to kind of like sum it up, it would be think outside the box for different revenue streams, collaborate, and educate.
Sarah Murphy 49:39
Amen.That’s it. That’s the State of the Union, folks.
Rhonda Cammon 49:44
Yeah. But, however, shameless plug! If you’re into education, we have some great things cooking up for you for Swig Culture 2021. If you haven’t signed up to be on the newsletter, or notification list, so www.swigculture.com. Sign up! Next year is going to be oh, so good, so it’s going to be full of education. If you haven’t sling a drink ever, this is your opportunity. We’re going to have double the number of classes, double the number of educators. It’s going to be- as the kids say- What do the kids say, Sarah?
Sarah Murphy 50:23
Fuck if I know!
Rhonda Cammon 50:24
Off the chain?
Sarah Murphy 50:25
Off the chain!
Rhonda Cammon 50:29
I don’t know. It’s gonna be TikTok-able. There you go! That’s gonna do it!
Sarah Murphy 50:33
Oh, amazing. Yes. It’s gonna be all of those things and so much more. And the one thing that we are really honing in on with Swig Culture that is super exciting to me is that we, as far as I know, are the only industry conference for bar professionals that’s focused entirely on building businesses.
Rhonda Cammon 50:56
Correct. Say it again for the people in the back! Say it again!
Sarah Murphy 50:59
People in the back! If you are in the bar industry and your goal is to make money and build a business, we are literally the only conference in existence that focuses on that- Swig Culture 2021. Join us, build your business, make money.
Rhonda Cammon 51:15
Hell, yeah! Cheers to that!
Sarah Murphy 51:18
Cheers to that.
Rhonda Cammon 51:20
I’ll drink to that! Cheers!
Sarah Murphy 51:22
And that wraps up today’s episode. I hope it was valuable. I would love to hear from you what you thought. You can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram @MobileBevPros. If you’re looking for more valuable mobile bar related content, we have a website full of it! You can find us at www.mobilebevpros.com and I’d love to see you in our Facebook community, also by the name of- you guessed it! Mobile Bev Pros. Thank you for joining me today and until next time, cheers!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai