Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Bar Management Tips: Making Each Customer Count

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Sep, 06, 2012 @ 10:09 AM
By Douglas Robert Brown
Atlantic Publishing

Bar CustomersYour market and competitor research will likely reveal that most bars that are successful pay a lot of attention to customers. In fact, great service is one of the surest ways of drawing repeat customers. To draw more patrons to your bar on a regular basis, you do not have to spend a lot of money. However, you do have to think like a customer; you will likely notice a few things that need to change at your establishment:

  • Waiting lines. If there's a line outside the door, all it takes is a little creativity to either bring the line inside or disguise it on the outside. Remember, those people waiting outside are probably thirsty and they'd be more than happy to do their waiting in a courtyard area, at a temporary bar, or in a cordoned-off outside area where drinking is permitted. Of those who are prepared to brave the line, most will do so gladly if they know they can be inside within 30 minutes. Also, it's simple to change waiting-time perceptions by making that wait a little more comfortable or entertaining.
  • Parking can be a big hassle in many venues. If there tends to be a traffic jam outside your venue, consider installing a valet service on busy nights or posting a staff member outside to direct patrons to parking around the back or down the road. Signs pointing to parking areas also help.
  • Offer creative extras. Whether it is free hand massages, glow sticks, or a live band outside, making the outside dazzling will make people all the more eager to see the inside of the bar.
  • Think about your TV screens and sound system in relation to your waiting area. Can waiting people catch a glimpse of the big game? Can they hear the music inside? These things will keep a waiting person keen on staying around, whereas a blank brick wall and a disinterested bouncer isn't inviting to anyone.
  • Keep clientele informed. If there's a wait for a table, set up an electronic sign indicating how long their expected wait will be. Add to this anything you can think of that will make their wait more entertaining—sports scores, trivia questions, coming events. It might be a little more work, but if you can keep just five people from leaving, it'll be worth it. 
  • Freebies and incentives. Offer your waiting patrons a little something extra and they won't just "not mind" waiting, they'll do so gladly. Coupons to be used on a later date are a good option.
  • Create a waiting area if you know that there tends to be a wait to get into the bar. This can include comfy chairs or an outside patio where customers can wait and sit. This is a great way to make sure that customers do not get tired and leave.
  • It doesn't have to be expensive. Giving your waiting customers something to do doesn't have to be expensive, high-tech, or take up your employees' valuable time. Consider offering free reading material in your waiting area or even Internet access.
  • Act first. A long wait doesn't seem quite so long when a staff member keeps you informed on how long your table will take. Don't wait for the customer to ask you; go out and tell the customer.
  • Make your bar irresistible. Why will some bar patrons wait forty-five minutes to get into a bar instead of giving up and going elsewhere? They have a sense of urgency to get inside. Whether you are offering a hot live act, celebrities, or some other enticement, make sure it is worth the wait
  • Offer free appetizers to waiting patrons. A tray with a nice selection of different foods from your menu can actually be a great advertisement and may even generate increased food sales.
  • Supply your customers with pagers. Offering waiting customers a pager to notify them when their table is ready is a great alternative to the usual "public address" announcement or a yell over the crowd. When a table becomes available, your host simply dials the waiting customer's number, and wherever they are in the building (or outside), they know that their table is ready. 
  • Build suspense. If it appears as though there is something really exciting going on in your bar, people will be willing to wait to get inside.
  • Make sure waits are fair. Patrons who have been waiting for a whilewill get rightfully angry if it appears as though the staff are letting in people who are paying extra or who are simply "flirtier." Make sure that your security staff respect the queue and try to get everyone inside in an orderly and fair manner.
  • Keep your customers informed. Be honest. If there'll be a half-hour wait, don't tell them it will be a fifteen-minute wait and hope they don't walk out. Similarly, ensure your staff keeps them updated on the wait so they know they haven't been forgotten. Small things like this make a big difference in the eyes of a waiting customer.

Customers are your mainstay in the bar business. If you treat them better than other bars would, you are ensured repeat business. Customers love to feel like VIPs, and the more patrons you make feel like this, the more business you will have. Share these tips with your staff to ensure they treat every customer as through he or she were a star.


This article is an excerpt from the The Professional Bar & Beverage Managers Handbook: How to Open and Operate a Financially Successful Bar, Tavern and Nightclub, authored by Douglas Robert Brown, published by Atlantic Publishing Group. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: Technology, bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, Nightclub Consulting, opening a bar, bar location, Hospitality, Bar Promotion

Bar Management Tips: Fill a Local Need

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Aug, 27, 2012 @ 08:08 AM
By Douglas Robert Brown
Atlantic Publishing

busy barThere are many bars that go out of business each year. This is because the market for new bars is a challenging one. If you are in an area that has new bars opening all the time and a clientele who is always seeking the latest thrill, you need to work extra hard to ensure that your establishment stays exciting enough. There are many small details that can mean the difference between a bar that is merely surviving and one that is prospering beautifully. In this chapter, you will learn the small details that can push your success higher than ever. Not all of these tips are expensive. Many take only ingenuity and some effort, but the results can be spectacular!

Distinguishing Your Bar from Others

One of the first steps to ensuring that your bar is a success for a long time to come is to look around and make sure that you are offering value in the local area. Most of your business will be from people who can easily drive, walk, take a cab, or ride a bus to your bar. These same patrons will have the choice of many other bars in the area. There are a few ways to make sure that they select your bar:

Research the competition. Take the time to sit in every competing bar. After you order your drink, take notes: Who frequents these bars? Older patrons? Younger patrons? Yuppies? Tradespeople? What sort of bar is it? How much do they charge? What does the bar look like? What are the drinks and food offered? What are the promotions? What kind of entertainment is offered? How busy are they and on which night are they busiest? What are they doing wrong? What are they doing right?

Consider lower prices. If your competitors' prices are high, consider lowering yours. It will often get people to try your establishment for the first time. Your service and the quality of your bar will decide whether
they return.

Service. If your bar is known as the friendliest bar in town while your competitors tend to slack on service, you will make a profit. If your competition is already offering great service, you have to make your service stellar in order to compete.

Focus on what the competition is doing wrong. If you notice something that the competition is doing wrong, make sure that your bar is doing that same thing right. It will encourage patrons to see your bar as the local establishment that offers more.

Set your hours to take advantage of times when your competition is not available. If the competition stops food service early, think about extending your food service hours. Being able to provide something that the competition cannot or is not willing to provide is a great way to make sure that you lure in new regulars.

Do you know what the local patrons want? If you do not ask them and conduct regular market research, you have little hope of knowing the very things that will draw patrons to your bar.

Look at the bars that are succeeding elsewhere. What works in other cities and towns may work in yours. Pay special attention to the types of bars that are doing well in areas similar to your own (in towns or cities with the same demographics). These bars may have hit on an idea that may work well in your area as well.

Special promotions. Avoid using your best ideas and resources trying to compete on someone else's strongest night. Offer special promotions and discounts on nights when other bars are not offering anything. It will help lure in customers looking for something great on a slower night.

Remember, if you can offer something special, you are more likely to get more customers. It pays to make the extra effort to find out what is needed in your area—and then supply that need. Customers will flock to you.



This article is an excerpt from the The Professional Bar & Beverage Managers Handbook: How to Open and Operate a Financially Successful Bar, Tavern and Nightclub, authored by Douglas Robert Brown, published by Atlantic Publishing Group. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: nightclubs, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, Nightclub trends, opening a bar, Increasing Profits, bar location, Bar Promotion

Running a Bar Vs Managing a Bar

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Apr, 13, 2011 @ 12:04 PM
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Part 2:bartender

“The ultimate success or failure of your bar will be determined by those you hire. You must paint a picture for staff to follow so that your policies are consistent and there is no misinterpretation.”

As a bartender, you learned and practiced proficiency in bar terminology, product knowledge, mixology, tools of the trade, bar equipment, dealing with the public, cash controls, cleaning, stocking, bar organization, and the laws related to the responsible service of beverage alcohol. To be a bar manager you must continue your learning process far beyond that of a bartender, and here is where we run into a problem— learning the additional, necessary skills needed to effectively manage a bar.

A bar manager must have the knowledge and ability to directly oversee all bar operations and personnel, which includes the processes of hiring, training, evaluating, disciplining, terminating, and scheduling (human resources), and ordering, receiving, inventory controls, product cost purchasing (beverage control). Additionally, he should have the ability to properly price drinks, execute promotions, and pull a shift or two behind the bar to help out on labor costs as well as stay current with drink trends, maintain efficiency, and stay in closer touch with the staff and customers. I believe a good bar manager should work at least two shifts behind the bar every week (and never the same two days).

Topics: bartending schools, Bar trends, Bar Management, bar location