Owning and managing a bar is a labor of love. You have to work late nights and holidays, deal with disgruntled customers and try to keep track of an inventory and make sure that the books always balance out. With so many challenges, it is important to surround yourself with a stellar team. Bartenders handle more cash and are responsible for more sales than anyone else in your establishment. They are charged with a lot of trust and responsibility, which can make it all the more disheartening when you start to suspect that an employee is stealing.
In today’s unpredictable economy, many restaurant owners are in need of a jolt - something that doesn’t only attract new customers, but will also want to make existing customers come back every time. There are many elements that affect the overall value of your restaurant, from marketing and the menu to hygiene and technology. It’s important to take all these features into account when you’re trying to improve your business. There are of course many potential ways you can achieve growth, some of which we will discuss in this article.
A wise bar operator once told me, “any schmuck can put together a liquor order, but a smart bar manager knows the fine line of ordering enough so they never run out of anything, but never unnecessarily purchase too much inventory and have money tied up in stock that does not sell.”
When I was given this advice, I was managing a bar with approximately $150 to $200K in liquor, draft and bottled beer sales a week. My weekly liquor order would vary from $30 – $50K a week depending on what was going on. It was one of the biggest expenses of the bar. The raw size of the liquor order made it a huge concern for the owners, who wanted to make sure it was done right every week. Every week was challenge to find a balance between making sure stock was always where it needed to be so we never ran out of anything, but also not to over spend. Over spending could have meant thousands of dollars tied up in inventory that the business could have used elsewhere.
Whether printed or emailed, many companies regularly publish newsletters in the hopes of getting customers returning for repeat business. But what differentiates an average newsletter that gets grouped with the junk mail from a great newsletter that earns its place in the “A” pile of mail? The content that a newsletter contains is the main factor that determines readership by those to whom it is sent. Plain, boring and vanilla content gets skipped over and tossed into the garbage with the rest of the junk mail.
As a bar manager, your afternoons, evenings and early morning hours are spent trying to create a unique experience for patrons so that they become loyal customers and brand ambassadors. While this might sound like a glamorous gig to outsiders, you know that it also involves hard work, much of which can be downright monotonous. Inventory alone can be enough to make you reconsider your career choice. But what if you could streamline and simplify the worst parts of your job? In a world where cars can now drive themselves, there is no reason you should ever spend hours counting and measuring bottles by hand. If you are, it is time to hire an inventory control company and take back your free time.
Most operators do not collect their customers’ contact information, nor do they have a follow up strategy to continuously communicate with customers outside of their nightclub or bar. The strategy of keeping a list of your present customers is the easiest, fastest and most cost effective way to get new customers into your bar. After all, your present customers have a positive opinion of you, know who you are, and are more responsive to marketing messages from you. Operators who are vigilant about incorporating some form of list building and execute regular follow-ups reap many benefits from doing so.
With constantly increasing prices on beer and spirits, many operators are expanding upwards into their supply chains to keep their costs in check, and profits high. This strategy is largely dependent on the rules local governments have over the production, control and sale of products produced in house. In Alberta, the province I reside, recent changes in the laws regarding minimum brewing requirements have opened the door for producers to become producers for very little start up costs from what they were in the past.
When a company grows to a certain size, the way its employees are managed must also evolve. Many bar operators start out as the sole owner/operator of their business, and they often fill a labor role while they pursue opportunities to expand, open new venues, and create more value. This provides the owners with some level of assurance that things will be done a certain way because they are physically there overseeing operations. However, when a business starts expanding into different cities, success is less determined by the abilities of the owner and is more so about the abilities of the people hired. Despite the input from some management consultants who theorize about what makes good managers, bar management must be approached in a sometimes unconventional way due to the unique nature of a bar or nightclub environment.
Competition in the market has become fiercer than ever, so it is of upmost importance to operators that they ensure their customer service is of the highest quality. Delivering exceptional customer service is more than just making sure that food and drinks get out on time. Exceptional customer service is about going the extra mile and being ultra sensitive to guest needs. This becomes particularly challenging as your organization grows to include multiple venues, and it becomes nearly impossible for the owners to keep tabs on how their staffs are performing on a day-to-day basis with each guest.
To help you kick off 2017, we’ve gathered up our 5 most popular (and useful) blog posts over the past year. Read on to get up to speed on essential industry insights that will help guide your restaurant or bar for the New Year!
Owning and managing a bar can blur the lines between night and day, making you feel like you live at work. From late nights closing the place to early mornings spent counting inventory and preparing for the evening ahead, long hours can begin to take their toll. The good news is that there are specific steps you can take to avoid the black hole of bar management that threatens to consume all your time. By working smarter, you can not only enjoy more freedom, but also focus your attention at work on the things that are most important to you.
Growing nightclubs and bars with complex product needs require managers with above-average skills in the areas of organization, communication and judgement. When a busy venue has multiple bookings, and each booking has special needs that must be met, a liquor manager who is tuned into the requirements of the business is absolutely vital. Keeping track of a busy venue’s liquor inventory requirements can be extremely challenging.
Two of the biggest challenges in the hospitality industry are the management of people and ensuring employees are doing the tasks they have been assigned with high-quality results. Bar and nightclub operations require a large amount of people, each with different personalities, backgrounds and work habits. It can be incredibly difficult to manage a large amount of people, particularly as a business is growing rapidly and recruiting new people.
One of the key principles of successful bar management is reducing shrinkage. Inventory sitting on the shelves represents money that has been invested as is now waiting to be turned into a profit. If some of that inventory goes missing, that means that the bar's profit margin has just taken a direct hit. Fortunately, there are some effective bar management strategies that you can put into practice in order to reduce shrinkage and maximize your inventory.
As a bar owner or manager, the key to turning a profit is turning over your inventory. While you need to have a certain amount of inventory on hand to make sure that you can serve customers their favorite drink and keep the spirits flowing, too much sitting inventory will cost you. There is no point in having all your assets tied up in inventory that has been sitting on your shelves for over a month. All those dusty bottles represent money that you could be investing back into your bar. Have you yet to master the balancing inventory costs? Welcome to Purchasing 101 for Your Bar.
Violence can absolutely destroy a bar or nightclub operation. When a bar is mentioned in the news due to a violent or deadly altercation, its demise is usually not far behind. Any time an atmosphere of fear is associated with a bar’s name, it becomes very difficult to attract quality guests and build a sustainable business. While it is impossible to eliminate all violence, it is entirely possible to minimize it by taking as many preventative steps as possible.
Employees can be a tremendous source for new customers, referrals and customer retention. However, not every employee invests their time into promoting the business they work for. What separates employees that simply show up to work, from those whom invest their time and energy into building relationships that ultimately result in more customers? The employees that bring down the most customers to their bar are motivated by more than money. They are fired up, proud and passionate about the bar they work at. This attitude does not happen by accident. Employees that have a positive attitude towards the bar they work at become that way as a result of the work environment the owners create. Keeping staff morale high is a strategy that is no different than a recipe for baking a cake.
Tough economic times have operators scrambling for ways to cut back on costs. With overall demand down and costs rising for some products like spirits and food, finding ways to reduce expenditures is no longer an option for operators, it’s a must. While good times always follow bad times, there is no way to tell how long economic dry spells will last. Weathering a financial storm always starts with a good, hard look at expenses, and then streamlining where possible.
Stocking a bar requires a delicate balance between having enough product on hand and not tying up resources in inventory that ends up sitting on the shelves collecting dust. The more bottles that sit unused, the less money you have to put back into the business. This is one of the main challenges that bars face when trying to become or remain profitable. In fact, there are 4 important facts about sitting inventory that you need to know in order to operate a successful bar business.
Ask ten different people in the hospitality industry what they think about bartender school, and you'll probably get ten different answers. It's no wonder there are so many opinions, given the variety in quality of instructors, content covered by the course, and placement assistance offered by schools. There are also differences in pricing (around fifty bucks online to five-hundred for a top shelf class) that means you may be looking at a pretty serious time and financial investment.