There are two kinds of bar managers in this world: those who encourage the free pour and those who are wholeheartedly against it. While each side of the argument certainly has some valid points, a lot of it might just come down to proper training. The free pour is a skill that needs to be practiced and perfected so that the drinks still taste great, customers are happy, and the bar is still turning a healthy profit.
Bar Practices: The Best and the Worst
A well run, profitable bar reflects a disciplined code of conduct. When you establish a clear set of rules and expectations, you set the scene for success. When you communicate your expectations both verbally and in writing, you’ll leave no room for doubt. You’re also able to create a benchmark for performance measurement, incentive programs, staff rewards or disciplinary action.
Managing a bar and restaurant means having to deal with employee turnover rates that you just don't see in other industries. That means more time spent hiring and training staff and less time spent on other areas of the business. While high turnover is part of the industry, there are some steps you can take to make sure that your employees want to stick around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.