If you look at your bartender as “overhead” as opposed to a profit center, you need to adjust your thinking or perhaps your practices. A bartender can be a key moneymaker for your operation if you hire and manage him or her properly, while if you hire and manage poorly, then the bartender will be a money pit. So how do your get the most out of your bartender? Here are five tips for maxing bartender profitability, taken from the “50 Money-Making Ideas in 50 Minutes” session presented at the recent Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show by author and Beverage Management Consultant Robert Plotkin of BarMedia and Nightclub & Bar Publisher and Editorial Director Donna Hood Crecca.
Barmanship — The Intangibles Only an Operator Can Provide
Hire for Hospitality Gene – Everything Else Can Be Taught
The recession has resulted in a lot of people looking for work, many with a variety of skills. If you’re looking for staff, be picky. Hire for the smile! That’s the heart of hospitality. When you interview them, ask yourself, “Are they friendly, reasonably outgoing and engaging? Are they showing any personality?” If the answer is “no,” take a pass on that candidate. You can’t train friendliness or personality, but you need it in your bartenders and waitstaff for your bar to be successful.
Ensure Staff Knows What They’re Talking About
Once you’ve hired Mr. or Mrs. Personality, be sure to train them. Numerous training programs exist, so go to the pros! Most are inexpensive and cover the basics — like the fact that all bourbons are whiskey but all whiskeys are not bourbons. People serving drinks must know this stuff! Make sure they know what brands you carry and the differences between them and make sure they are able to make suggestions to the undecided. Teach them your signature drinks so they can describe them and sell them to the guest. Finally, create an environment where staff never stops learning — bring in speakers, post interesting articles on the corkboard, have them taste new products. Get them excited about what they’re selling! Now, a lot of bar owners will gripe about the effort and cost required to train employees who might just up and leave in six weeks. Tho that we say, what if you don’t train them, and they stay?!
Read Nightclub & Bar Magazine Cover to Cover
Shameless plug, but NCB is all about the Best in Bar Management! Our writers are knowledgeable — they’ve actually tended bar and managed bars, clubs and restaurants. The magazine, web site and newsletters are chock full of ideas from experts and other operators, so read it to succeed!
Send Flowers to the Living — Catch Your Staff Doing Good
Recognize your bartenders and servers for the great things they do, big and small! Whether on the spot or after their shift, let them know they did something right with either a personal comment or point it out during a team meeting. Follow it up with a gift card to the local movie theater or tickets to a concert. A token that’s meaningful to them goes a long way in motivating them to keep doing good work.
Get them to Slow Down — Bartenders Lose Their Smiles When They’re Frantic
A bar where the person behind it doesn’t smile isn’t a good bar — that’s the bottom line. If a bartender isn’t having fun and enjoying himself, neither will the guest. When your bartender is slammed, coach him or her to pace themselves, breathe and then greet the new guest at the bar and smile. That will help them relax, and it lets the guest know this is a hopping and happy hot spot and everyone is glad they’re here.