Build a quiz night to build your bar business

Short of a game-winning sports moment on the big screen or bar brawl, few things get groups of people in a watering h*** more engaged than a trivia competition. Most of us have a healthy competitive streak and the combination of little alcohol and a lot of desire to impress/beat your friends can make for a memorable night out. Not to mention that a quiz night can the best way to turn your slowest night into a regularly packed house.

But the question remains: How exactly do we go about creating a trivia environment best suited to bring in your particular customer base? Here are a few tips that should get you started in the right direction.

Getting an audience Your assistant manager is going to feel silly in her matching “Quiz Master” hat/shirt if you aren’t able to build and maintain a base of participants. Since just about everybody loves trivia (even some who don’t know it yet) the key is to start with your regular client base instead of the other way around.

Use feedback from those regulars to gauge the best night and use what you know about them to figure out content for the quiz. Assess your budget with respect to hiring a host, charging admission, etc. At this point start advertising in your bar. This should help get you a small, initial core.

Be ready Don’t go into you first quiz night without a clear plan. It will impact the quality of the experience and you will kill your chances for growth.

Do you have your host figured out? If you aren’t going to hire a professional you’ll need to make sure this person (you, an employee, a popular barfly) will be able to run the show. Collect your pool of questions (50-75, minimum), develop a general game format and print out score sheets. The web is full of sites that will help you with ideas for structure and content.

Building the audience The way to grow a quiz night is through use of the patrons themselves. You’ll want to create a sense of loyalty within the initial group that will lead to word-of-mouth invitations.

So make sure to really cater to the quiz crowd. Give participants a dedicated piece of your facility where they can hear the host’s instructions, the questions themselves and any funny comments from the players themselves. You don’t want a non-trivia jokers yellow out answers on the way to the bathroom. This night is about the players, so do what you can to make sure their experience isn’t tarnished with distractions from other patrons or your staff.


Stick with it It’s certainly possible the first few weeks will leave you underwhelmed in terms of participation numbers. It is not unusual for first trivia night to have no more than a few teams.

But remember that almost every thriving trivia night started that way. It is not uncommon to hear of bars beginning with 4-5 players the first night and ending up hitting their fire code capacity within a few months. Commit to a quality experience and the people will come.

Along with pumping up a normally slow night, quiz nights are a great way to bring together existing customers who don’t normally interact. People don’t come back to your bar for the drinks, they come back for the community.


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