HOW TO START A MOBILE BARTENDING SERVICE

Mobile bartenders travel to various event locations, setting up wherever the event coordinator or customer needs them. Some bartending services provide everything—including alcohol, signature drinks, glassware, and staff—while others require the client to provide the alcohol and wine.

Learn how to start your own Mobile Bartending Service and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a mobile bartending service by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your mobile bartending service. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a mobile bartending service?

Once you have acquired the knowledge necessary to start your mobile bartending business, you’ll need to start building your inventory. While an office space is not required for success, there will be a great deal of equipment to store. For this reason, many business owners lease a space large enough to organize and store all supplies.

Once you have acquired your space, you can begin stocking the shelves:

  • Mobile bars and tables – for outdoor events, consider investing in a mobile gazebo for shelter. Mobile bars range in price from $200 to $3,500. Consider investing in gently used items to reduce these initial costs.
  • Glassware – $46 to $97 per case
  • Napkins and table covers – $11 to $19 a piece
  • Cocktail making equipment—shakers, strainers, muddlers, and speed pourers. Prices can range from $3 to $68.
  • Reliable transportation for transporting supplies to events – for mobile marketing, invest in signage for your vehicle
  • Insurance—speak with a trusted insurance professional regarding the type of coverage your business requires. Whenever alcohol is consumed, there’s a liability exposure.
  • Marketing and literature—business cards and pamphlets describing your services
  • Website

What are the ongoing expenses for a mobile bartending service?

Before an event, you will need to purchase alcohol, wine, mixers, and garnishes. In addition, your business will incur the following ongoing expenses:

  • Payroll taxes—bartenders earn a minimum of $150/event, plus tips.
  • Rent—should you decide to lease a building
  • Utility costs
  • Insurance—for the company vehicle and liability
  • Marketing

Who is the target market?

Preferred clients include anyone who wants to host a private or public event that will include alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and fundraising events happen year round, ensuring your services will always be needed.

How does a mobile bartending service make money?

Mobile bartending companies generate revenue from the services they provide. Some customers will only require bartenders, while others will need the full service—drinks, glassware, mixers, etc.  Be sure to offer a variety of options for prospective clients to choose from.

How much can you charge customers?

This depends upon how you decide to structure your business. Some companies offer a variety of packages, with a basic one starting at $250 for fifty guests, not including the cost of drinks. Some bartending services don’t supply the alcohol, while others will only supply beer and wine. Be sure you carefully map out your policies prior to meeting with your first potential customer so that all expectations are clearly defined in advance.

How much profit can a mobile bartending service make?

While this varies, depending upon the services required of your client, a majority of mobile bartending businesses start out with an annual profit of $24,000-$41,000. After the three year mark, many have reported an annual profit of $76,000 or more.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Consider some of the below strategies for maximizing your profits:

  • As part of your marketing strategy, concentrate on landing large clients who regularly host large events.
  • Share your mixology knowledge by hosting classes or a blog. This could be online and/or in-person.
  • Include catering snacks or food as an additional service.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

Find a Domain Now

  

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google’s G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your mobile bartending service is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: CorporationsLLC’s, and DBA’s.

FORM YOUR LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

TWO SUCH RELIABLE SERVICES:

Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It’s really easy and free!

A cube with LLC printed on its sides

You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: You can get $200 when you open a Chase business checking account with qualifying activities. Learn more.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business’ expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Businesses involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to obtain a liquor license from the appropriate state or local agency.

  • A comprehensive list of laws by state (including necessary licenses, zoning laws, etc), curated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, can be found here.

If you sell food at your events, you may also need licensing from a local health department. Food establishments are randomly inspected by the local health department on a regular basis. These inspections will check for compliance with local health laws, typically related to prevention of food contamination.

Tips for faring well on a health inspections can be found here.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

In addition, certain state and local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply.

Service Agreemnt

Mobile bartending businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.

Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your mobile bartending business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a mobile bartending service

Given the virtual environment we live in today, it is critical that you maintain an online presence. Your website should be simple yet informative and your social media pages should share articles and tips that could help educate your customers. Contact food and spirits bloggers in your area and offer them a free tasting of your signature drinks or ask to be an occasional guest blogger.

In this industry, networking will be your most effective marketing tool. Get to know the various party planners, catering businesses, and venues that don’t supply food and drink. A partnership with just a few of them has the potential to keep you busy throughout the season. Research bridal fairs in your area and attend those as a vendor for additional exposure.

How to keep customers coming back

To ensure repeat customers, make sure you provide a memorable experience to every guest. Every event you serve delivers you a room full of possible customers. Make sure every member of your staff is professional and friendly, as word of mouth could be your strongest marketing tool.

Partnering with a catering company or venues in your area should provide you access to as many new customers as your business can handle.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

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