Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

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 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