Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

BAR MANAGEMENT: TRENDS TO LOOK FOR AND EXPLOIT

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Mar, 15, 2012 @ 13:03 PM

The nightclub business can be a rough. With a plentitude of competing venues, and with customer tastes in constant flux, the average half-life of a bar or nightclub is all too brief. Survival can depend on your ability to stay ahead of the curve and be in tune with your customers’ ever-changing demands. In short, you need to be constantly aware of what’s in  and what’s not in order to remain vital. Here is a brief compendium, in three parts, of some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, just a few things to look out for in 2012 and beyond:

Part 1 of 3: DRINKS

Cocktails and Spirits

infused spiritsHerb-infused spirits. Whether they be whiskies, vodkas or gins are gaining herb-infused drinks are gaining in popularity. Expect gin, especially, to continue to make a splash as both large producers such as Bombay and a slew of new micro distilleries continue infuse this old stalwart with fresh and interesting botanicals.

Flavored tonics. Tonic  water is a simplest mixer  there  is, and an obvious staple to anyone serving drinks. A variety of new tonics are hitting the market, however, which can transform the most basic of mixers into something more sublime. Look for new tonics to elevate simple drinks like gin and tonic into something for more interesting and complex.

Cask-aged cocktails. Drink mixes aged in wooden barrels for added nuance continue to gain popularity in major urban centers from New York to San Francisco.

Cocktails on tap. Cask-aged or not, expect mixed drinks to come out of a tap. For speed and consistency, many bars are starting to produce a selection of well-crafted cocktails in large

Solid summer cocktails. Remember the Jello shot? Expect to see it re-emerge, as mixologists exercise their creativity to concoct artistically-layered versions of an old party favorite. With the use of lecithins and other ingredients—which can alter the consistency and texture of fluids--becoming more widespread, expect solid-form cocktails to gain traction. You can also expect to see more and more cocktails turned into sorbets and popsicles when summer rolls around.

Super-premium beverages. Spirit enthusiasts and wine aficionados seem prepared to pay top dollar for a small taste of luxury potables. While they may not be willing to spend $300-$1,000 for a bottle of top-top-shelf cognac or premier-cru, more and more enthusiasts are showing a willingness to pay a premium for an ounce or two.

Smoked spirits. Flash smoking is making a move from the chef’s kitchen to the bar top. Still a relatively new phenomenon, bar-top smokers—used to infuse spirits with, you guessed it, a mild smokiness—are beginning to be found in a number of popular bars in most major cities.

Combination drinks. More and more bar owners are discovering the benefits of marrying two drinks and selling them together in order to boost sales. Whether it’s the classic shot with a beer chaser, or a more inspired combination of two cocktails with complementing flavors, double-hitters promise to become a hit among bar patrons.

Return to the classics.Cocktail menus have become chockfull of creative concoctions and signature drinks. More and more drinkers, however, are starting to embrace some of the

classics. It may be a good time to make room on the menu for the old standards—Daiquiris, the Manhattan, the Sidecar….

Skinny drinks. Expect cocktail menus to offer more and more low-cal beverages—whether lighter versions of standard fare or entirely new concoctions. Popular among the ladies and health-conscious patrons wanting to limit the number of “empty calories” they consume, skinny cocktails are a good way for drinking establishments to cater to this growing segment of their clientele.

Ingredient Trends:

Bitters—celery, whisky, lemon

Zwack, an herbal liqueur from Hungary made with a secret blend of 40 herbs and spices

Rye Whiskey

Honey Liquor

Beer

Vintage beers. A variety of aged, vintage beers are becoming available. The Modern in New York for instance offers a 1999 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale to drinkers wanting a taste of the past. Meanwhile many microbreweries are offering a variety of interesting, higher-alcohol beers meant mellow with age.

Lower-alcohol beers. While higher-alcohol beers continue to be popular, expect a rise in demand for flavorful, lower alcohol beers. Rather than nurse a pint of high-gravity, high-alcohol beer, many patrons will opt instead for high-flavor, lower-alcohol beers that they can drink in greater in quantities. Patrons’ taste for quality, low-alcohol beers is good news for bar owners, as they present an opportunity for increased sales.

flavored beerSeasonal and flavored beers. While nothing new, seasonal and/or flavored beers are starting to gain traction.

Wine

Local Wines.The movement towards locally-grown wines—from a variety of regions, including New York, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Ontario—c ontinues and is expected to accelerate in 2012.

Lower Alcohol Content. The popularity of big, fruit-bomb wines with high alcohol content is waning, while more classic –style wines—e eegant and more structurally balanced, with alcohol levels below 13% or 14%--are beginning to gain favor.

Burgundy Wines. With Bordeaux wines commanding huge prices, consumers are more and more turning their attention to the more affordable Burgundy region.  As reason wine auctions have shown have shown Burgundy wines are rising stars.

Organic Wines. The movement towards organic products has extended to the wine  world, where more and more wine makers are beginning to explore natural wine-making techniques. Expect consumers to start embracing these “sustainable” wines in coming years.

ProsecoValue. After several years of economic recession, consumers have acquired a taste for value wines. They are seeking bang for the buck—not cheap inferior wines, but good, well-balanced, flavorful wines at an affordable price. With many of these wines coming from Spain and South America, expect Spanish, Chilean and Argentinian wines to continue to grow in popularity.

Alternatives to Champagne. In keeping with consumers’ growing thirst for value, high-quality sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne are gaining popularity.  Sparkling wines from Germany, Austria, Portugal, the U.S. and Italy are expected to gain ground. Consumers are discovering that a nice, quality Prosecco can be just as enjoyable as a Champagne, often at a fraction of the price.

Non-alcoholic Drinks

Coconut water.  Already popular in cities like New York and L.A., coconut water will continue to gain popularity. With strong celebrity backing, and with major investments from the likes of Coca Cola, we should begin to see coconut water available everywhere, including the nation’s bars and nightclubs.

 

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, wine inventory, bar, alcohol, beer inventory, Bar trends, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar drinks, Bar Management, Bar products, Nightclub trends, blends

Bar Management: Standardizing & Optimizing Serving Practices

Posted by John Cammalleri on Mon, Jan, 09, 2012 @ 11:01 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 1 of 3: Establishing House Drink Recipes

A bartender makes a good drink with originality, panache, speed and skill - but a great drink starts with the boss. You determine the drink menu, you determine the recipes to be used and you set the price and make the rules. Your staff just follows your lead. In many bars, it's left to individual members of staff to know the "standard" formulas for cocktails and mixed drinks. Everyone is supposed to know that a Tequila Sunrise has one shot of tequila, right? Or is it two? Maybe it's a shot and a half... Profits are too hard won to just throw away alcohol when your staff crosses their wires about your drink recipes. Some easy steps to ensuring standardization of your house recipes include:

  • Recipe lists. Make sure when you take on new staff they receive detailed recipe lists to take home and look over before they start their first shift. It doesn't cost you a lot to photocopy a few pages of text and give them to your staff, so make sure there's no excuse for them not to know as much as they can before they start mixing on your dime.
  • Recipes on display. Ensure that there are either laminated index cards or recipes listed behind the bar at all times so that any member of staff - even emergency fill-ins and temps - can see exactly what is needed to prepare each drink - no more, no less. Below is an example of a recipe card and the information it should contain:
drink recipes

  • Cocktail menus. When you leave cocktail menus on tables, make sure that each one shows exactly what is in the drink - not just the ingredients, but the ounce amounts of each. This will not only serve as a more informative drink menu to your customers, but will also allow them to more accurately measure what they've consumed over the course of the night.
  • Premium ingredients. If you use premium or middle-shelf ingredients in your cocktails, make sure that your cocktail menus make a point of that fact by showing the brands used. There's no point in hiding the fact that your base spirits and liqueurs are of a higher quality than those of your competition, especially because your liquor distributor might chip in for some of the cost of printing if they're being marketed in your literature in this fashion.
  • Accuracy. Make certain that the cocktail and mixed-drink recipes give a clear indication of what glass is to be used, what garnish should be used, for how long and on what setting any blended drink should be blended and what brands of alcohol should be used for their creation. If you leave anything out, you can bet someone will get it wrong - and with alarming regularity.
  • Bartending recipe computer programs. For example, Interworlds Software's "BarBack for Windows" can tell your staff how to create a drink even if a customer asks for something ridiculously obscure. BarBack includes over 10,000 different drink recipes, as well as information on glassware, ingredients, mixing methods and garnishes. Rather than taking away from the skills of your staff, insightful programs such as these actually complement their skills to ensure your customers get exactly what they want in the quickest possible time. BarBack can be downloaded at www.barback.com .

 

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:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: inventory managers, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, Bar staff, bar profitability, alcohol, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, bar control, Drink Recipes, controling costs, liquor products

Outfitting Your Bar to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by John Cammalleri on Tue, Dec, 06, 2011 @ 11:12 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 3 of 3: Streamlining Service Areas

underbar layoutWhen you design your service area, it's important to realize that every step a bartender takes in the serving of a drink is costing you money and making your customers impatient. Where does your staff need to walk to get a clean glass? How far from there to the ice bins and then to the spirit dispenser? And where are your soda guns in relation to the bottles? Is the cash register yet another trip away from the customer? Even if your bartender has to take only four or five steps between each of these posts, consider how far that means your bartender has to walk in the course of serving 500 drinks a night! This is bad enough for a solo bartender, but when two or three people are working behind the same bar and sharing facilities, it can be an unproductive nightmare.

  • Most bartenders are right-handed. With this in mind, your bar setup should allow your staff to pick up glasses with their left hands and bottles with their right, so that the drink creation process is at its most productive. If your bottles are on the left and glasses on the right, your people will do a lot of crisscrossing back and forth, resulting in more time taken to prepare a drink - and a lot more breakage and spillage.
  • Consider your customers. If they're lined up three deep to get a drink, and the bar staff need to take extra steps for every drink, each of those customers doesn't just wait longer for his or her own order, but for every order ahead as well. These people are lining up to give your business money - the last thing you should do is make it difficult for them to do so.
  • Low-cost equipment. If you can't afford to equip your bar with brand-new reach-in refriger­ators, there is another low-cost alternative. Consider keeping a sink full of ice directly beneath the bar top. Have three or four dozen high-turnover bottled beers in the sink at all times. Your staff can refill the "Bud bins" from refrigerated stock whenever there's a slowdown in customer traffic, thereby saving dozens of unnecessary trips to the fridge every hour, not to mention giving your customers faster service.
  • Pre-made mixes. To save time during their busiest periods, many bars pre-make cocktail mixes. While this is a good plan, be sure not to have these pre-made mixes sitting out in plain view. Ensure your staff don't refill them in the public eye. If your bottom line dictates that you have to use tequila from Peoria, it's best not to advertise the fact when you're charging eight bucks a drink.

The Under-Bar

Your under-bar is the engine of your bar area. If it's designed well, your staff can get from order to delivery in seconds. If it's poorly designed and dys­functional, your customers and staff could spend a good portion of the night stuck in bar traffic.

  • Focus on the customer. Employee interaction is the key. The under-bar area should contain everything your staff needs to fill 80 percent of their drink orders without moving a step away from the customer. If your staff aren't able to engage your customers in steady conversation as they're filling their orders, you're not only putting your staff through more work than they need, but you're also making your customers wait too long.
  • Bar layout. If your staff can work more effectively within a smaller area of the bar, you will be able to fit more staff behind that bar during peak periods, ensuring faster service and higher productivity. Take a fresh look at the bar area and consider what changes you can make to improve productivity.
  • Streamline your workstation. Many bar-fitting companies sell sink units that include speed racks, jockey boxes, ice sinks and more. They can also replace aged fittings with a minimum of fuss and expense. This will give your staff a compact, efficient workstation from which to maximize their time and effort. Prices vary, but when you consider the time, labor and customer tolerance savings, it's a purchase that will pay for itself many times over. BigTray (www.bigtray.com) can sell you this kind of equipment online or over the phone at 1-800-BIG-TRAY

 

 

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:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: Bar inventory, Bar staff, bar efficiency, bar profitability, bar, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, opening a bar, bar design, Increasing Profits

Outfitting Your Bar to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Oct, 27, 2011 @ 17:10 PM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 2 of 3: Design Your Bar With the Customer in Mind

 Consider Customer Comfort

Bar DesignHave you ever sat under a blue neon light for an hour? While neon decor might look great when a bar is packed to capacity and the music is pumping, when business is slow it's like a power drill closing in on the center of your forehead. Certainly your customers should be impressed by your decor, but will the very look that draws them in end up driving them away early? Consider the following:

  • Invest in comfortable seating. Wooden barstools may look fine, and are usually very cheap to purchase and maintain, but are they likely to give your patrons buttock cramps after an hour? Try padded seating. Make sure the customers can move their seats to suit with a minimum of fuss - never have barstools and tables bolted to the floor.
  • Consider installing booths. Replace those cheap tables. If you want your customers to stay all night, give them the kind of seats that will make them too comfortable to leave. Customers tend to settle into booths, especially if a venue is crowded. If your drink servers are attentive and food is available, a group in a booth is all the more likely to settle in until closing. Remember, a shaky table is very easy to walk away from.
  • A comfortable bar surface keeps your clientele happy. Make sure your customers can lean on the bar and get comfy without getting cold elbows. This is much more likely if your bar surface is wood than if it's stainless steel or marble.
  • Lighting. Your lighting does more than just keep people from bumping into one another - it sets a mood. If you've inherited a system of overhead fluorescent lights or neon, consider getting a lighting specialist to give you suggestions on potential improvements. It won't cost as much as you think. Generally a quote is free.

Color Schemes Influence Buyer Behavior

Have you ever wondered why fast-food outlets almost always follow the same color scheme? The McDonald's decor and logo are yellow and red, as are those of Taco Bell and Burger King; KFC's are red and white, just like Pizza Hut, Wendy's and Jack in the Box. Coincidence? Not quite. Research has shown that certain colors promote cravings in consumers. When an establishment is decked out in reds and yellows, customers tend to experience feelings of hunger, not to mention an inability to settle down and relax. It's believed that those colors will cause a moderately hungry person to order a little more than he or she needs. They also will prompt customers to move on quickly once their money is spent. Blues and greens, on the other hand, promote relaxation, serenity and even lethargy amongst customers, which might be the better option for an establishment like a bar, where you're looking to keep your clientele seated for the long haul. How can you utilize these colors to quietly "persuade" your customers to buy, buy and buy?

  • Menus and food areas. A red and yellow color scheme on your tabletop menus or food area signage may cause your patrons to develop a stronger urge to order food, yet not be so over­ whelming as to chase them out the door.
  • Bar decor. Some hardy potted plants, maybe a few palms and a little pastel color on your walls may help your bar promote a feeling of island- like serenity in your customers, compelling them to relax a little - and stay.
  • External decor. Your signage and building front are supposed to draw people in. But does your frontage inspire the desire to party? Or does it drive people to the KFC down the street?
  • Staff uniforms. Do the colors of your employees' uniforms say to your customers, "Welcome, stay a while," or "I'm busy, what do you want?" Your staff uniforms are an important part of your overall decor. Your decisions about their design can radically change the atmosphere of your establishment.

 

 

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:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: nightclubs, bar efficiency, bar, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, bar design

Outfitting Your Bar to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by John Cammalleri on Fri, Oct, 21, 2011 @ 10:10 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 1 of 3: Bar Design

bar designThe way your bar operates depends on many factors, one of the most important being the "machinery" of the bar. Sometimes, no matter how efficient your staff, the bar just isn't set up to allow maximum productivi­ty. Avoid that happening to your bar.

  • Form over function? Think hard about potential consequences before spending too much money on interior design. Of course, how a bar is perceived aesthetically is very important. But, don't put aesthetics above function. It could radically hurt your business. Before starting on the renovations, stop and think about how they will affect your staff and the duties they have to fulfill.
  • Cramped working areas reduce productivity. Make sure the new bar has enough room for bartenders and glass collectors to move about freely.
  • Storage space. Is there enough storage space behind your bar to ensure your stock doesn't run dry three times a night? Consider extra fridge space or even bins full of ice for fast- selling bottled beer products.
  • Is the bar decor comfortable, attractive and easy to clean? Not only does clutter look bad; it can reduce productivity.
  • Comfort. Are your seats and tables the sort of quality furnishing that will keep a customer happily seated throughout the evening? A little more money spent on customer comfort will translate into dollars over the bar.

The Front Bar

Your front bar is your first line of attack in the fight to keep a customer coming back for more. When looking for ways to impress your clientele, remember that the impression this bar leaves on your patrons is of paramount importance. Consider these issues and make sure the design of your front bar works as well as it can:

  • Customer interaction is vital. Is your bar top too wide? Is the music too loud for a customer's order to be heard over a crowd? Does it inhibit your staff from being able to engage in friendly chat with your clientele? Interaction with your customers is crucial if you're going to turn one- off customers into regulars.
  • Be wary of mirrors. Mirrors may give a momentary illusion of more space, but they also fog up and smear an hour after they're cleaned. Mirrors might look good initially, but their maintenance does cost you money. Consider replacing them with artwork, memorabilia, menu boards, or something else that will draw people in. Don't just fill a space.
  • Appearances count. Do you have bits of paper stuck to the walls which might contain important information for your staff but look terrible to the customers? Make sure that any staff notices are out of your customers' eye line.
  • Design a bottle display with enough space to add to your inventory easily. A good selection of wines, beers, spirits and liqueurs is an essential part of a popular bar operation. You should always be looking to introduce your customers to something new.
  • Stock requisitions. Is there enough room on your bottle display to accommodate two bottles of each brand? When one bottle runs out, you don't want your staff to have to dig around a stock room for a replacement. Talk to a bar fitter about improving your bottle display. Add capacity. A small expense now can bring you future benefits.
  • Make it easy for your customers to see what you have on tap. Can your customers see what draft beers you have without craning their necks? Do patrons have to ask the bartender what's on offer every few minutes? If you watch the bar staff closely, you'll see that they spend a lot of time telling customers what beers you stock. Solve the problem by adding a small draft beer menu to each table and another on the wall behind the bar. Have the menus professionally prepared so that they add to, rather than detract from, your bar's appearance.
  • Is your entire inventory on display? Are your fridges in plain view? Floor fridges make access difficult for your staff. They also hide your product lines from your customers. Consider changing the setup behind your bar so that most of your fridge space is in clear view.

 

 

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:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: bar efficiency, bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar supplies, Bar Management, opening a bar, bar design

Safeguard Bar Profits by Identifying and Preventing Bookkeeper Theft

Posted by John Cammalleri on Tue, Oct, 11, 2011 @ 09:10 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

accountingAccounting (bookkeeping) theft is a major concern within the beverage industry. From falsifying daily inventory records to complicated auditing abuse, this area of theft is often the most difficult to detect. Sometimes, it is the managers themselves who are behind the scams. Owners need to be aware of the following possibilities:

  • Sales records - falsifying daily sales records and stealing the difference between recorded and actual cash received.
  • Inflating overtime - adding overtime or extra hours to payroll records in order to increase wages.
  • Discounts - recording higher-than-actual discounts when reimbursement checks from credit card companies are deposited.
  • Forging signatures - making checks payable to oneself, then forging signatures or using signed blank checks, then destroying paid checks returned from the bank.
  • Falsifying bank statement reconciliations - overrecording deposits that have not been recorded, underrecording outstanding checks or even deliberately miscalculating reconciliation worksheets with the intention of covering cash shortages.
  • Overpaying suppliers' invoices - then converting the suppliers' refund check for personal use.
  • Resubmitting invoices - duplicating requests for payment and splitting the difference with dishonest suppliers.
  • Dummy companies - setting up "dummy" companies and using them to submit invoices for payment.
  • "Padding" the payroll - issuing checks for fictitious members of staff or employees who no longer work for the company.

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: inventory managers, Bar inventory, liquor purchasing, Bar Management, alcohol cost, inventory control

Safeguard Bar Profits: Introduce Basic Theft-Reduction Procedures

Posted by John Cammalleri on Mon, Oct, 03, 2011 @ 11:10 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

 

Safeguard Liquor AssetsTheft reduction policies and procedures are no good unless they are strictly enforced. Employees must be made clearly aware of the dire consequences of flouting house rules. There can be no gray areas. New members of staff should be asked to sign a confirmation that they have read the rules and fully understand the implications.

  • Prohibit bartenders from totaling the cash at the end of their shifts. This policy also protects honest bar staff.
  • Prohibit bartenders from both on- and off-duty drinking. Off-duty drinking leads to fellow bar staff overpouring, giving away free drinks or undercharging.
  • Prohibit bartenders from taking part in physical inventory counts. Ideally this should be a management-only function.
  • Bartenders should not be involved in ordering, receiving or issuing inventory. Again, this should be a management-only function.
  • Security. Enforce security procedures for all liquor, wine, beer, spirits and any other high-value inventory. Also, only key personnel should have access to the storeroom.
  • Require bartenders to record post-shift bar par readings. This refers to the number of bottles behind the bar at any given time. Bartenders should take a bar par reading at the end of the night shift.
  • Prohibit bartenders from recording more than one transaction per drink ticket. If bartenders are allowed to use a "running" ticket, they can easily neglect to record all the drinks they have actually sold.
  • Enforce voiding procedures. Bartenders should request managerial approval before continuing with a void. 

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, liquor theft, bar theft, Bar Management, bar control, inventory counting, inventory control

Insider Theft Can Have a Major Effect on Bar Profits

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Tue, Sep, 27, 2011 @ 15:09 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

bartender theftThis is an alarming fact: most types of beverage operations lose a crippling percentage of profits through insider theft. The vast majority of employees in the beverage industry are honest and hardworking; it is the small minority of staff that can ruin your business through dishonesty. Insider theft can often escalate if there are weaknesses in the following general areas of the operation:

  • Lack of supervision. Theft from behind the bar, storeroom or storage areas is a major problem. Curb losses by increasing supervision, either in person or by means of strategically positioned security cameras.
  • Proprietor attitude. Don't make matters worse by treating all employees with suspicion. Get the honest staff on your side.
  • Weak management. Unfortunately, some beverage managers compound the issue of insider theft by turning a "blind eye" and simply increasing prices to cover "shrinkage." Owners need to question unwarranted price rises.
  • Pouring costs A common danger area. These costs need to be carefully monitored, especially in relation to bartender productivity.
  • Inventory records. This is one of the easiest areas for dishonest employees to "fiddle the books." Tighten up your record keeping. Never leave inventory control to one person. Double-check.
  • End-of-shift cash count. Another prime target area for insider theft. Never let a bartender reconcile the cash in the register at the end of his or her shift.

 

Bartender Theft: Top Ten Ploys

Controlling theft behind the majority of bars is no mean task; eliminating it altogether is virtually impossible. Temptation is a fine thing, and unfortunate­ly, the opportunity for bartender theft is overwhelming. However, in the interests of long-term survival, you have no choice but to tackle the problem head on. Be wary of the following top-ten common ploys:

  • Open theft. A bartender pours a drink, doesn't ring the cash register and puts the cash in a "holding" place, such as the tip jar.
  • Overcharging. Bartender pockets the difference. A variation is to charge regular prices but ring up "Happy Hour" prices and, again, pocket the difference.
  • Ringing "00" on the cash register. The bartender simply steals the value of the drink.
  • Overpouring. Bartender hopes to get a heavy tip.
  • Underpouring. Bartender keeps a mental note of the number of half measures poured throughout the evening and then thieves the equivalent value in drinks, gives them away or drinks them him-or herself.
  • Rounds of drinks. Bartender rings up for a "round" rather than separate items. It makes it easier to inflate the overall price of a round of drinks, particularly if guests are unfamiliar with individual prices.
  • Shortchanging. Common variations include: counting aloud while handing the customer less money, distracting the customer by sliding the change along the bar, and giving change for lower -denomination bills (while keeping the difference).
  • "Soft" inventory. Bartender neglects to charge for the mixer component of a drink.
  • Substitution - bringing in own liquor. This is often done with vodka because it is odorless and looks like water. Dilution is another similar ploy.
  • Padding the tab. The bartender pencils in an inflated total and later erases it, replacing it with the correct total. Warning! Ban pencils from behind the bar.

 

Less Common (But Equally Damaging) Employee Theft

The more experienced the dishonest employee, the better equipped he or she is to manipulate the system. Thieving members of staff are quick to detect exactly how much an owner really understands about the business. In the beverage industry, take nothing for granted. Alert yourself to the following, somewhat extreme, possibilities.

  • Reusing closed tabs. The bartender appears to ring up the drink price but, in actual fact, only halfway enters the tab into the register. He or she then hits "0" to give the impression of ringing it in.
  • Over-ringing. When the customer isn't looking, the thief over-rings an amount on the tab and then re-rings the tab for less than the amount charged.
  • "Paid outs." The bartender claims that the money was refunded for various reasons, such as faulty cigarette machines.
  • Jigger substitution. The bartender brings in his own shot glass that looks identical to the official jigger but is actually smaller. Several short measures over a shift add up
  • Changing shifts. It is easy for the thief to make, serve and collect several drinks during a busy "hand-over" period.
  • Deliberate mistakes. Drinks are then returned and resold or given to a friend.
  • Breaking empty bottles and pretending they were full. Full bottles are then requisitioned to replace the "broken" empty bottles.
  • Substituting water in the drip tray. The bartender pretends he or she had to waste a pint to clear the lines and then pockets the difference.

     

    This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

    Atlantic Publishing Company
    Amazon.com

Topics: bar inventory levels, bar business, Bar Management, Reducing Costs, bar control, Control

Drink Selection: Optimizing Your Liquor Inventory

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Sep, 19, 2011 @ 10:09 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic PublishingLiquor costs
 

Part 4 of 4: Trim Liquor Costs

Liquor prices don't vary a great deal from one wholesaler to another. Packaging and size also tend to be fairly consistent. So, what can you do about reducing liquor costs in your operation? The answer is quite a lot! It's a misconception in the liquor trade that your options are limited when it comes to selling liquor. Consider the following opportunities:

  • Bulk buys. Purchase staple liquors, such as whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, rum and other popular spirits (e.g., fruit brandies) in bulk. They have a long shelf life and you know you can sell them within a reasonable period of time.
  • Trends. Stay ahead of consumption trends. Respond quickly. For example, the current trend in the United States is toward "light" spirits such as 80-and 86-proof whiskies, instead of 100-proof (50 percent alcohol) bonded whiskies. Wholesalers, too, are keen to promote these alternatives.
  • Distilled spirits. Their shelf life is exceptionally long. Buy distilled whenever possible, and minimize wastage.
  • Well liquors. Which well liquors you choose can really make a difference in reducing costs. But don't buy at any price and compromise on quality.Your reputation is at stake. Customers often judge an establishment by the quality of its well liquor.
  • Call liquors. Increase margins on call liquors (brand names). Guests who ask for Gordon's gin or Jack Daniel's whiskey, for example, are loyal to the brand and will probably not question the price.

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: Hotel Inventory, Liquor Inventory savings, alcohol cost

Drink Selection: Optimizing Your Liquor Inventory

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Sep, 14, 2011 @ 10:09 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 3 of 4: Cocktails--Reduce Costs While Cocktails, LiquorIncreasing Customer Satisfaction

Cocktails are good for profits, and cocktail hour can be serious, big business. The customer feel-good factor is crucial. This can be achieved at no extra cost. Imagination is free.

  • Well brands. Reduce costs by sticking to well brands for cocktails. Don't pour away your profits by using premium brands in cocktail recipes.
  • Premium brands. Your establishment might be the sort of outlet that can make big profits out of selling premium brands. If so, use premium or middle-grade ingredients in your cocktails. Take every opportunity to advertise that fact. Emblazon quality brand names across your menus. Also, speak to your suppliers - they may be interested in offering you reduced rates in exchange for some free advertising.
  • Signature drinks. Use your imagination and create something really special. Above all, a signature drink must look special. Choose unusual colors. Use different garnishes, such as asparagus, pepperoncini, jumbo shrimp, crab claw or scallions. Stand out from the crowd.
  • "Stirred, not shaken." Don't shake mixed drinks that contain carbonated ingredients, particularly if those components are clear liquids. The bubbles will go flat, and the liquids will become cloudy. Stir instead.
  • Presentation. Dare to be different. How about serving Chambord on the side for a Meltdown Raspberry Margarita? Let customers pour the liqueur portion themselves. As the liqueur blends into the drink, it will release wonderful aromatic raspberry flavors. It will also look visually stunning. Guests will think, "value."
  • Champagne. Many recipes use champagne as a base ingredient. Once opened, a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine becomes a liability, because the bubbles are short-lived. Buy a bottle sealer specifically designed to cope with this problem. Ensure that bartenders know how to use it. You can't afford champagne wastage.
  • Ice. Choose a cocktail station that has a deeper-than-average ice bin (up to 15 inches, maximum capacity). Put a divider through the middle of the bin and use it for storing both crushed and cubed ice. When the bar is busy, hanging around waiting for ice supplies costs money.
  • Speed. Reposition liquor, wine and soda guns directly above the cocktail station. The soda gun should be placed on the left-hand side of the station, so that the bartender's right hand is free to hold a liquor bottle at the same time. A bartender using both hands is working at top speed and maximum efficiency.
  • Perceived value. Improve customer perception of value and quality by increasing the high-cost portion of the cocktail. Up the liquor content to two ounces. Guests will feel they are getting real value for their money; you know this is good for profits.

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: liquor inventory timing, restaurant trends, liquor products