10 Best Hookah Lounge Business Ideas to Increase Your Profit Margins
When it comes to making money in your lounge, every dollar is precious. This is a volume game, where success will be dictated by how many hookahs you can rent each night on a consistent basis. By bumping the average ticket size in your hookah bar a few dollars, then doing that hundreds of times each week, you can really start to see the profit adding up. Here are 10 easy ways to incorporate some extra upgrades into your menu and increase your sales. Some of these can be implemented with almost no cost, others might require an investment in some upgraded supplies.
1. Ice Ice Baby
Adding ice as an additional $2-$5 charge is one of the most profitable and easy up-sells you can offer. Adding ice to the ice bucket on the stem, as well as the base is easy. If you have an ice maker on site, it's almost free, so those extra dollars go all the way to the bank. Customers enjoy it as well, because they can feel the cold smoke and get a very tangible effect for the money spent. If you want to go extreme ice, invest in some Ice hoses such as the Deezer Freeze Hoses, Mya Freeze hoses or Mystique Ice hose tips for the trinity of ice cold smoke.
2. Base Additives - Soda, Liquor, Fruit
These extras can add extra flavor or effect, create a more striking presentation or both. This type of up-sell can be great for lounges and clubs that like to promote conspicuous hookah consumption filling the base with cut fruit to add some extra eye candy. Food coloring to dye the water is another cool visual effect. Spirits like wine or liquor to add a little extra kick and flavor or you can offer juices and soda as flavor enhancers as well. Just make sure you are cleaning the hookahs and hoses thoroughly after these customers to prevent a sticky situation!
3. Fruit Heads
Fruit heads are a fun way to serve up shisha with a tropical flare. Apples, oranges, melon and pineapples tend to be the most popular options. All you have to do is hollow out a space for the shisha tobacco and punch a small hole in the bottom of the fruit to insert the hookah stem. Fill the fruit just like a normal bowl and foil the top. You can see tutorials on YouTube and plenty of awesome pictures using google search to get some ideas.
4. Glass Hookahs / Premium Set Ups
Most lounges are using commercial grade Egyptian style hookahs for most of the hookah rental business, but having some extra glass hookahs like the Oduman Glass hookahs or Art Hookahs can offer an upgraded hookah experience. Other options might be extra large hookahs or premium wood hookahs such as Regals or Wookahs.
5. Hookah to Person Limits 2-3
Setting a limit to the number of people per hookah is essential for lounges. Too many lounges let big groups come in and share 1 or 2 hookahs, take up too much space and not order enough food or drinks...It's just not worth it. Putting a limit of 3 per hookah during the week and 2 per hookah during peak weekend hours is very common and gets your customers to spend more money. If you are worried about losing customers, just consider that you are losing people who don't want split $20 hookah 3 ways. Why would you worry about keeping customers like that?!?
6. Offer Package Deals (with included drinks and snacks)
Pricing your hookahs as a package deal with drinks. You can charge $3-$5 more per hookah, but you give them a choice of 2 drinks with their purchase. It costs you a few cents per bottled drink to create the package deal, but you are locking your customers into spending that extra bit of cash. And hopefully you aren't letting people bring in their own outside food and drinks...if they want to drink their own stuff, they can do that at home and smoke alone!
7. Premium Shisha, Premium Prices
Have you tried carving out a space on your menu for the most expensive shisha brands. Al Fakher is a great shisha and is very affordable, so it's not unusual for lounges to have a premium section for the Starbuzz, Social Smoke, Fumari or Trifecta flavors that can cost 50%-75% more than the standard shisha brands like Al Fakher, Al Waha or Nu.
8. HMD's (Heat Management Devices)
Have you tried a session using the Kaloud Lotus and Vitria Bowl? This option gives you twice the bang for your buck. First, the HMD will produce a more even heat and give your customers a more even session all the way the through the bowl. It will trap the heat and extend the charcoal life, which will save you money in the long run, plus these hookahs need much less maintenance, so you can run your lounge with a lot less labor. Lounges that go exclusively to HMD's make the money back quickly in saved labor costs because you don't have to constantly change and rotate coals for all your customers.
9. Disposable Hoses
Some of your customers will love the idea of using a fresh hose with their hookah session. The customer gets a pure flavor experience without any flavor ghosting from the previous customers and they are more sanitary for those more germaphobic customers. Since many of these disposable hoses are available for a dollar or less, you can can easily pocket a few extra dollars with each hose you sell, and the customer can keep it and bring it back next time if they want to.
10. Bigger Bowl Upgrades
We're gonna need a bigger bowl! For customers who want a longer lasting session, pick up some of our larger bowls, like the Shika Phunnel bowls that can hold a lot of tobacco. It may be easier to get a $5 up charge up front for a bigger bowl with more shisha, than to sell a "refill" hookah for a discounted price after they have been smoking for an hour.
We want your hookah lounge business feedback!
Do you have any special offers that are popular in your hookah lounge that we missed? What tips do you have for other lounge owners to make a few extra dollars off each hookah customer? Let us know in the comments below!