In a time of economic downturn, pubs everywhere find their clientele shrinking. So what is a pub owner to do, when he finds his pub near empty evening after evening?
In Gurgaon, some believe that morale cannot be allowed to sag. If customers aren’t coming on their own, they have to be induced. They are actually paying young people to drop in and sit around, to give their establishment a crowded, happening look. The dummy customers they hope will draw in genuine ones, who’ll run up bills.
They have been roping in college students and the very young among BPO workers. “My friends and I are in great demand as club fillers,” said Akshay Dhiman (22), a BPO agent (name changed on request). We are offered complementary food and beverages too.”
Others pub owners are offering commissions to those who can get them customers.
Meet SS Mohanty, a full time organiser of customers for pubs. An MBA from the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, Hyderabad, the 24-year-old quit his Rs 50,000 a month job two months ago.
“My job is simple,” he said. “I bring in customers and charge the pub owner 20 per cent of the bill they pay. I earn much more than I did when I was with a BPO earlier.”
Where does he find these customers? “Through social networking portals, or by sending random SMSs to numbers I’ve acquired by various means,” he said.
Earlier he put in 10 hours a day at a BPO and earned Rs 50,000 a month. Currently he organises 7-8 parties a month, and rakes in around Rs 2 lakh.