Upsizing is Essential
When you go to the movies, quite often you can buy a double-sized popcorn for only $0.75 more than the $3.50 regular size. This would seem to be an astonishing bonus for the customer, so why does the cinema operator push this "up-sizing" so hard? Quite simply, because they're selling about $0.04 worth of popcorn for that extra $0.75. That second portion might not bring as large a profit margin as the first, but it's still profit. Your drinks run the same way - if you can get another buck out of a customer selling a drink that costs you $0.45 to prepare, it's worth doing.
Consider the cost per ounce of your well spirits. Let's assume you're using El Cheapo brand tequila at a base cost of $7.54 a liter. That would mean that an ounce of that spirit is costing your establishment $0.22, while a more-expensive brand of tequila, let's say Cuervo for the sake of this example, might come at a base cost of $14 per liter, or $0.41 per shot. Common thinking might lead you to say that by using the cheaper tequila you're saving yourself $0.19 on every drink sold. But, if you consider the alternative of up-selling the more expensive spirit for an extra $0.80 or so, you're actually making an extra $0.61 profit on every up-sized drink.
Offer your customers a discount to spend more than they planned. This works in other areas, too. Turning a single into a double for an additional dollar, or selling half-price burgers with every shot of a specific brand of spirit, brings you more money per order, while bringing your customers added value. Your profit margin might not be as high, but you'll be extracting more money from your customers than they might otherwise have spent - a definite win-win.
Up-selling. Most bar customers will bring out more money than they initially want to spend -just in case - especially those that don't have easy access to it through ATM machines and credit cards, so it's imperative that your staff don't let those customers walk out the door having spent less than they planned. Incentives for up-selling are commonplace in the theater and fast-food industries, so why not offer your staff an incentive to up-sell and watch your better staff earn a few extra dollars while earning you hundreds?
Incentives. For example, if a member of your staff engages someone in conversation and discovers they're looking for somewhere to hold a private function, birthday party, girls' night out - any large gathering of people - there's certainly no harm in making it worth their while to bring that prospective client to you. Twenty dollars here, $50 there - even a percentage of the bar take - if you offer the incentives, you'll be surprised how far people will go to bring you new business.
This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to: