- Carlos Machado; Jiu Jitsu Legend; definitely not a dancer.
Great quote, though.
This article is meant for more seasoned dancers, but just in case you’re new to the industry here’s some background:
A shark is a term used for dancers that “steal” or aggressively approach customers.
In a locker room you might hear:
“Anna is a total shark. She took my regular last week”
“that girl totally sharked me! I went on stage to do a set and when I left she took my customer to the VIP”
This term usually gets thrown around to complain about other entertainers at your club.
But you know what? The dancers that are out there really making money never seem to complain about these “sharks.” The women that go in and out of rooms every night, that never seem to take a day off, that get customers to say yes when other dancers are only getting “no”?
Those dancers aren’t out there sitting around the proverbial cooler and complaining about how slow the night is.
Those dancers are the sharks.
So, if you are complaining about “sharks” every night, this might be your wake-up call. It might pay to think about why you’re worried about what they’re doing instead of worrying about what you need to be doing.
If you're complaining instead of acting...
It might be because you know they're taking risks you're not taking and capitalizing on opportunities that you didn’t see.
It might be because you’re taking rejection personally or sitting with customers for way too long before asking for dances or for rooms.
It might be that you think having a customer come see you means that he’s “your” customer.
But whatever the why, it’s time to break out of this mindset. If you want to be in the top 10, 5, or 1% of your club, then watch what those entertainers are doing.
They move around the club, and don’t stop until they sell dancers or rooms.
They show up early, stay late, and minimize unnecessary breaks.
They don’t get hung up on losses or momentary setbacks.
They keep moving, and they keep reeling in big wins.
There’s nothing wrong with moving quickly and efficiently, and often it may place you in front of other opportunities that your colleagues don’t see.
The Value of Sharks
I want to use this as an opportunity to go over the best traits of sharks: the ones that most dancers who complain about them don’t get to appreciate.
Sharks make it easier for you to interact with more customers: dancers who move quickly don't babysit customers or get in the way of other potential sales. I can guarantee you that if someone doesn't buy from me, I will not sit there for an hour and a half having drinks and chatting. That means the next dancer can come try to sell him on a room or dance. Instead of getting in the way, sharks take their fair shot and then move along.
Sharks test the waters first: Often dancers will sit around while there are customers on the floor. It usually only takes one or two dancers to start doing the rounds before everyone settles in and starts moving in on customers. Show up early to your club and you'll see this start-of-shift dance almost every day.
Sharks are often great resources to improve your hustle: you will become like the people you surround yourself with. Often, just working with dancers that are selling more than you are will give you great ideas for how to improve your game if you pay attention. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten on room sales and on club etiquette has come from more experienced dancers that were easily able to make sales that had been difficult for me.
Sharks bring a culture of efficiency and speed: when you work at a club with a good handful of "sharks" that move, hustle, and try every customer you will either get better or get out. The best thing sharks do for other dancers is force them to improve their game. If you want to compete with efficient, fast-paced sales people the only way to do so (without resorting to breaking the law or the rules of your club) is to get better at their game. If you take it as an opportunity to grow it will make you better, faster and stronger.
Finally, and most importantly,
Sharks collaborate, respect each other, and show up for each other: Among dancers who succeed at high levels, there is a ton of respect, a ton of politeness, and a ton of collaboration. When you consistently see the same dancers in rooms together, they're usually working as a team to get rooms and to upsell customers on bottles and group options.
It is an outdated and inaccurate concept that to be a shark in the club means you have to swim alone. It's actually much easier to work with someone you trust and respect than it is to try to go at it alone. And over the long run, building relationships makes it far easier to succeed.
For example, if you are a positive and friendly entertainer, performer and sales person I know that my customer and his friends will be more likely to buy. That means I want to invite you to rooms when I'm making money. Most high-end customers don’t mind adding another dancer, and a lot of times the appeal of having two dancers means we both get to relax a bit more and take over for each other when one of us gets tired.
And you know what?
Most of the time, when I show someone respect and appreciation by helping them earn money, the most competitive dancers give back the favor. When you create great connections at a club, it’s possible to be brought into rooms that net you thousands of dollars just by looking out for each other.
A lot of times those aren't entertainers that I spend a lot of time with outside of work. Some of my most beneficial work relationships have been with dancers that I only see when we're in the same room. But because there's a mutual understanding- because we're both sharks reeling in big catches- we can use our skillsets to increase what we're both earning.
A Grain of Salt...
There is a difference between being a shark and being a disrespectful, unprofessional jerk.
The reason this term has negative connotations is because there are dancers that take good elements (hustle, speed, efficiency) and mix them up with straight up disrespectful behavior. Where is the line? Every dancer has a different idea of what is or isn't disrespectful but try to stick to the golden rule. Do to others what you would have them to unto you.
Treat others with respect and kindness. This includes shit-talking. If you don't have something useful, positive, or kind to say, then don't say anything.
Aim to help others make more. There is more than enough for everyone to succeed. Find ways to make opportunities for your co-workers.
Think ahead. In the long run, you will lose out on much more than money if you refuse to treat the people around you with basic decency and respect. Dancers are expendable, and there are hundreds or thousands of people in your town that would love to have the opportunity you have. If you treat your co-workers and support staff with disrespect, you will likely find yourself out of a job.
Plus, being kind, respectful and as nice as possible to everyone around you will take you much farther than any amount of “mean girls” behavior ever could. You can be kind and loving to those around you and be ruthless when it comes to getting your money. Becoming a great salesperson means you're capable of doing both at once.
Even if you are the kindest, friendliest person you could be, realize there'll still be times when someone upsets you. I've had dancers step between a customer and me and try to drag him to a VIP room by grabbing his crotch (turned out he wasn't about that life, but I never worked with that dancer again. That move probably cost her thousands of dollars in unearned income). I've had dancers come into my rooms and yell at customers for "cheating" on them that had to be dragged out by management.
If you work in this industry long enough you'll see some outlandish, unprofessional behavior...
But Before You Get Too Salty..
As a salesperson you have to understand that not every interaction is going to be smooth. Sometimes you will be passed up for rooms. Sometimes other dancers will approach a customer while you're busy elsewhere and he will prefer them over you. Sometimes you will be kicked out of rooms because a customer wants someone else instead. Sometimes someone will do something so outlandish, so rude, and so disrespectful that you will find yourself an inch from blowing up.
But guess what?
If you want to succeed, you have to get over it.
You are not special. You are not the only one that has goals, ambitions and desires. And no one owes you anything.
If you want to earn your goals, it's up to you, and not up to anyone else.
It's not up to your manager.
It's not up to your customers.
And it's most certainly not up to your competitors.
Worry about You.
Take Care of You.
And You will see the results.