Operations — The Devil is in the DetailsJune 2, 2010 By: Donna Hood Crecca, Robert Plotkin
Bar Backs – Improve Service, Save on Labor Cost and Promote from Within
Bar backs are the bartenders’ best friends, and if they’re well-trained and engaged, they can be the owner’s best friend should the bartender call in sick or simply not show up. Bar backs make the bartender more efficient and productive. What’s more, invest in developing your bar back, and you’ve got your next top bartender. Soon you’ll be hiring bar backs and not bartenders, resulting in a bar team that delivers a great guest experience!
The Bar’s Achilles’ Heel – Dirty Glassware Send Entirely Wrong Message
Lipstick or grease on a glass speaks volumes about what’s happening behind your bar and in your kitchen – and it’s not a good message. Take the club soda test: Pour club soda into the glass. If bubbles adhere to the side, you’ve got a less-than-clean glass; the bubbles are sticking to grease or other material instead of rising up in the liquid. Re-visit your glass washing program and equipment and emphasize the importance of clean glassware with your staff.
If Nothing Else, Keep Your Bathrooms Clean!
This is very important if you want to retain your female clientele, and we all know how important the ladies are to your business. If the restroom is dirty, they may not stay long and may never come back. Worse, they’ll tell their friends! Be sure to clean your bathrooms thoroughly and regularly, and check them hourly on busy nights to replenish towels and paper, empty trash and wipe up sink areas.
Be Prepared For Success – Stock Proper Bartending Tools
This is one of first things King Cocktail Dale DeGroff teaches: Chefs have their own tools; bartenders should too. Chances are good that the house will not provide them, so as a bartender, you need to put together a tool kit with the necessary tools to build great drinks: jiggers, shakers, strainers, bar spoons, muddlers, even knives. When you arrive, set up your station so everything you need is within arm’s reach and ready to go. For the operator, look for this level of preparedness and professionalism when hiring bartenders.
Coping With Labor Pains – Schedule As a Percentage of Sales
Do you know your labor costs? What you don’t know can hurt you! For most restaurants, labor costs are about 30 percent; a bar or nightclub, should be 18 – 24 percent. Owners and operators need to forecast labor based on forecasted sales – you’ve got to do the math. Then, you’ve got to constantly monitor it daily and make adjustments quickly if things are out of whack.
Portioning Safeguards – Winning the Battle at the Point of Thirst
Improper pouring, be it spirits into a cocktail or wine into the glass or pulling a draft beer, is a constant culprit of loss for many bar owners. Train staff to follow recipes, use measured pouring techniques and dispense draft beer properly, and you’ll see waste reduced significantly and quickly. And don’t forget to let them know that you’re watching and monitoring!
Measured Pours – Low Tech, High ROI
Yes, free pouring looks cool, but measured pours deliver cold, hard cash. Using jiggers prevents over- and under-pouring, resulting in better cost controls. Now, some bartenders will complain that it’s too slow and makes the guest think the house is being cheap by watching every drop. But through training and practice, the necessary speed will come, and every guest ultimately appreciates a balanced, well-made cocktail. The ROI comes in less waste and happier guests.
If You’re Going to Serve Draft Beers, Do it Right
Draft is only profitable if you’re paying attention to it. Make sure kegs and lines are at the right temperature – about 38 degrees. Maintain your draft lines, which means scheduling regular cleanings, and brush clean taps. Use beer clean glasses; make sure they’re not hot right out of the dishwasher! Finally, pour properly. Don’t open the tap until the glass is in position — at a 30 degree angle — and allow an inch of foam. Serve with a smile and watch your profits grow!
State Your Case With Vendors – Make Them Work For You
Ask for what you NEED to be successful! You want mixed cases of flavored vodkas? Ask for it (who needs an entire case of coconut vodka?)! You want split cases? Ask. You need to teach your staff about bourbon versus Scotch versus Irish – ask if vendors will provide a speaker. No one knows your business like you do, and your vendors aren’t mind readers. Speak up and see what they can provide; they may surprise you. Leverage that relationship and you’ll both be successful!
Watch For Sticky Fingers – Improve Profits by Eliminating Shrinkage
The thieves among us are creative – beat them at their own game by monitoring everything. Create variance reports, monitor bartender productivity and account for every transaction and every drop poured. Most of all let them know you’re watching. You’ll see improvements in profits right away.