It is said your message needs to be magnet-like: attracting desirable clients and repulsive to undesirable ones. If I had to point out one of them as the more important one, I’d probably choose the latter.
If you see a bar you like but has a three-drink minimum policy, there are a few possible scenarios
1) You think this is excessive, and go find a “revolving door” kind of place you like better, with no cost to you or the bar
2) You like the place, and were going to spend about as much anyway, so the policy is barely registered in your mind.
3) You didn’t expect to spend as much, but figure this could be a good experience, go in and have fun experimenting with drinks you wouldn’t usually order.
4) You had a bad experience with a bar where they pressured you into drinking more or leaving, so the minimum engagement policy looks like a guarantee of better treatment.
In any of the above cases, the policy was clearly stated upfront, so it’s hard to really resent it. Just by existing, it quickly polarises the crowd, separating people with the ideal mindset from others.
The correct industry term for this kind of rule would be a “minimum level of engagement” – how much the client is expected to spend regardless of the final mix of your services they need. If you broach the subject early enough, it can have the same signaling strength as a well-placed three-drink minimum.**