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Bar Management

5 Tips to Sell More Drinks

June 2, 2014 By: Amanda Baltazar


Upsell DrinksYour bar or nightclub may be falling short in selling additional drinks and at a higher price point, which means loss of revenue and loss of tips. Nightclub & Bar spoke to Tim Kirkland, author of The Renegade Server, and CEO of Renegade Hospitality Group and he shared these five tips for selling more drinks and selling more expensive drinks:

1. Identify the Premium Purchaser

Servers often approach a table and ask “Can I get you something to drink?” which is a mistake, says Kirkland. If the first and second people order an iced tea, the chances are the other people at the table will order the same thing—even if they’d been thinking of a premium beverage, he explains.

Instead, says Kirkland, “approach the table and allow the premium purchaser to identify themselves.” Ask the table, for example, ‘It’s hot outside, who could use an ice cold beer?” That premium purchaser will place his or her order for a higher priced drink, and the trend will continue around the table.

2. Start High

“Servers often cheat themselves out of premium purchases,” Kirkland says. “If a diner asks ‘What kind of beers do you have?’ they’re into expensive beers.” When asked this question, most servers will start at the bottom with Miller and Bud, but this is a mistake, he says.

Instead, servers should say the bar has an impressive beer list and start at the top with the imported craft brews. When they’ve heard the prices of the most expensive drinks, it makes the mid-range ones sound inexpensive. If servers start with the least expensive, those drinks then seem pricey.

3. Two For The Price of One

Do not promote two-for-one marketing once a customer is inside your bar. “This kind of marketing is designed to drive traffic through your doors,” Kirkland says. “Once someone is in the bar that special has already done its job and it’s the server’s job to sell something else.”

Two-for-one offers also mean smaller tips, since customers tip on the check amount (one drink), not on the work the server does (two drinks).

4. Timing Is Everything

Bartenders and servers typically offer the second drink at the wrong time, Kirkland says, and it shouldn’t be when someone’s drink is half or a third full.

Drinkers decide whether to have a second drink by looking at how much their companion still has left. They then make a quick calculation as to whether they can drink another one in the time it will take their companion to finish it. “Then the law of diminishing returns means the second one doesn’t go down as fast so the server can ask the other person if they’d like a second drink,” Kirkland says.

“Sell to the empty glass when the companion glass is as full as possible. It’s all about timing.”

With groups it’s a mistake to ask ‘Are you guys ready for another round?’ Kirkland says, because that means a time commitment for everyone. Instead ask one person with an empty glass if s/he wants another drink. That person will see if there’s a full glass at the table, and if there is, will typically order another drink, and this can lead to an entire new round.

5. Female Followers

Men typically know what they’re going to drink before they enter a bar but most women don’t, says Kirkland. So, when you design a specialty beverage, you should design it to appeal to women.

“The way to do that is with color, garnish and glassware. It should look fun, funky, frivolous, fruity. Even a wheat beer gets an orange slice if it’s going to a lady.”

Want more expert information on how to properly run your bar, restaurant or nightclub? Stay on top of industry trends and new product releases at the biggest on-premise operator event of the year, the Nightclub & Bar Show, celebrating 30th years March 30-April 1, 2015 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Visit www.ncbshow.com today!


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