Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

A Successful Bar Begins With a Quality Staff

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, May, 26, 2011 @ 09:05 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

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Part 1: Hiring the Best Possible Staff

Finding the Right People

A successful bar operation depends on people more than anything--the people coming into your bar and the people behind it. How you treat your staff, how you find them, how you train them and how they work are keys factor in hospitality success. Many bar managers find that one of the most difficult tasks in their job is finding the right people to join their staff. If you want the best possible employees (and you shouldn't want anything less), these rules might assist you in your search:

  • Headhunt. If you want simply to fill a handful of roster slots with physically able bodies, classified ads may be a fine option. Classified ads will certainly bring you applicants. However, the best hospitality people are generally not unemployed; they're already working for your competition. Take a look around the better local establish­ments. If you see someone worth headhunting, make him or her an offer.
  • Ask your existing staff. They can be a great source of new staff; they usually know plenty of industry colleagues that would be a nice fit in your bar, and though you don't want to form "cliques," a personal reference from someone you respect sure as heck beats a cattle call.
  • Offer a finder's fee.  If someone working for you brings in a new employee that stays with you past a probationary period, a $75 bonus will get your existing people thinking hard about staffing possibilities.
  • Keep applications on file! If someone walks in the door and asks for a job when none has been advertised, you can bet they already know and like your establishment and truly want to work there. Motivated souls such as these make prime pickings, so don't disregard their applications - keep them and get in touch when you need to.
  • Time is money. Don't waste too much of it by interviewing everyone who applies to you. If an applicant isn't to your initial liking, thank him or her for the application and move on to someone who is.
  • The need to earn. It's traditionally thought that the more stabilizing factors there are in a person's life, such as being a student, having a mortgage or being married with children, the less likely that person will be to leave suddenly or jeopardize his or her job through tardiness.
  • What are you looking for exactly? Different roles require different skills. While not every position requires abundant experience, every position does require a mix of stability, intelli­gence, personality, honesty and a willingness to work. If an inexperienced applicant shows these qualities, look past any lack of skills and make an investment in a quality human being with training.
  • Every employee is a reflection of your corporate personality. It's important that employees view every customer as a potential friend, not an irritation. Certain people can light up a room with a smile, and if you can find two or three of those people, your customers will be back.
  • Never interview an applicant who has just made his or her application. Let him or her show enthusiasm when you call about an interview at a later date. If the applicant can't make it or doesn't show up, you're better off without.
  • Ask the right questions. If you want to be sure you have all the information you require from each person, put together a list of questions in advance. This will allow you to get comfortable, focus on the answers and stay on target.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a demonstration. If a prospective bartender has trouble uncorking a bottle of wine or mixing a good martini, it's better that you find out ahead of time.

How Do You Test for Honesty

Dishonest employees are not always going to make themselves obvious. Sometimes the person with the biggest smile has something even bigger to hide. When hiring your staff, how can you go about discovering who is to be trusted and who should be shown the doors?

  • Background check. This might seem a draconian tactic to determine if your potential employees are who they say they are. You can run a check on your prospective staff online through an outfit like US Search (, who will take the person's details and run a check on credentials for only $59.95 - $99.95 for a criminal background check. The results of these searches can, in most cases, be e-mailed to you within 24 hours, with full details taking up to seven days.
  • References. Thorough checking of all references is a must, especially for a person interviewing for a position of trust. Call every company listed on the employee's resume and be sure to ask the correct questions: Why did the person leave? How long was she there? What position did he hold? Would the company gladly take him back if given the opportunity?
  • Credit check. If prospective employees will be in a position where they're exposed to a large amount of money, it may be prudent to run a credit check before you employ them.
  • Sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Why not just ask potential employees if they've ever taken something that wasn't theirs? Watch their body language when you ask the question. Do they blush? Do they avert their eyes? Do they fidget? Do they nod their head, as they say "no"?





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

Topics: Bar staff, bar business, Bar Management, bar control