Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Bar Management Tips: Identifying and Improving Areas of Vulnerability

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, May, 13, 2013 @ 10:05 AM
By Douglas Robert Brown
Atlantic Publishing


Part 1 of 2: Improving Profitability Through Proper Planning and Quality Control

describe the imageMoney losers in a bar come in many forms, and you will want to check your financial records carefully to make sure that you are not being affected by one of these:

  • No plan. Many bar owners have no clear plan of where their bar is headed and what they need to purchase and do to get there. Many say "I only want to run a bar." However, running a bar, like anything else, is a goal, and goals always require a plan. You should know where you will be expanding and how. You should know what products you need to order and when. Keeping everything on paper in the form of a business plan and purchase orders can help make it clear to you.
  • Lack of local products. Many bar managers will justify their lack of local beer by stating that their bar's style or type does not call for local beer. In fact, local beer and local food products are often the best-selling items in any bar. Many customers like or support the local beer, and visitors from other areas are often eager to try the local fare. Always offer local products, even if your bar has a uniquely international or exotic theme. As an added bonus, local products are often easier and less expensive to ship and buy, ensuring higher profit on your initial investment.
  • Spoiled food and drinks. Spoiled product is lost profit. In some cases, such as a major power disruption, this can be hard to avoid. In most cases, though, spoilage is caused by ordering too much. This is avoidable. Keep track of your inventory and past purchasing patterns and buy those products that you need in the quantities they were needed in the past. Frequent checks on inventory tell you when you are running low and when you need to stock up on certain products.
  • Cutting corners on quality. Many bar managers use a variety of ways to reduce quality. In many cases, they do this not to consciously deprive customers, but out of the mistaken belief that low quality costs less. They think that offering less for more will result in larger profits, when, in reality, cutting corners usually keeps customers from coming back. Quality products—be it fresh fruit in drinks, generous portions of drinks, or pleasant bathrooms—will bring the types of repeat customers who will ensure that you make money.
  • Staffing problems. There are many staffing problems that can cost you money. Hiring or keeping unqualified or unproductive staff (because they are friends or family members, for example) is terrible for your bottom line. Selecting the wrong staff is a problem that can cost you a lot of money.
  • Poor storage, wrapping, and handling of liquor and foods. Beer that is left out to get warm, meat that is thawed and allowed to spoil, and food and drinks that are incorrectly handled can mean waste or even food poisoning for your customers. You do not want the health department investigating your bar for poor management of food and drink. Make sure that you control how food and drinks are stored and handled. Food and drink preparation areas should be clean, and staff should keep all products that need to remain cold in the refrigerator or freezer. Food and drinks should be stored and served at their appropriate temperatures to ensure that your customers stay safe.
  • Poor attitude or atmosphere. Customers want a place where they can relax and get great service. If your bar is unpleasant, you will lose money by losing customers. You need to make sure that your bar is an inviting place not only to drink and eat, but also to linger.
  • No customer concern or no customer market research. Bar managers are busy people, and while they may not overlook customers on purpose, far too many lose sight of bar patrons as they worry about the many other elements of running a bar. Not catering to customers, however, can ensure that a bar will lose a lot of money. Not only will unsatisfied customers not return, but they will often share their experiences with other people—potential patrons. In order to avoid losing money, it is important for bar managers to not only please customers, but to impress them enough to make them wish to return. Regular market research will reveal not only who your bar's customers are, but also what they want.


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: Bar staff, bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, Increasing Profits, Hospitality

Maximizing Bar Profits Without Sacrificing Quality and Integrity

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Tue, Oct, 09, 2012 @ 14:10 PM
By Douglas Robert Brown
Atlantic Publishing


Making the Most from Sales

Bar PromotionThe savvy bar manager knows how to maximize profits and get the most sales possible without sacrificing ethics or drink quality. You can do the same if you follow a few simple tips. One simple way to maximize profits is by offering promotions or discounts. The small cost factor involved in initiating these promotions make them a good promotional vehicle.

"Happy hour," for example, a period of time when drink prices are generally reduced, can be an effective means of increasing bar sales. However, to be substantiated, it must draw a large volume of customers. "Happy hour" is most often run prior to opening the dining room, usually between 4 and 6 p.m. Drinks are sold at half-price or at a substantial discount. Hors d'oeuvres and salty snacks are often served, which will induce the customer's thirst.

In order to offset the enormous increase in the cost of sales due to the lower drink prices, total liquor sales must be increased substantially. A restaurant that lowers all drink prices by 50 percent during "happy hour" will be simul­taneously doubling its cost of sales. When analyzing the feasibility of a "happy hour," you must also consider the additional cost of labor during a non-operating period; the food cost of hors d'oeuvres and other snacks; and any variable costs, such as the use of additional utilities.

The gross profit margin during any "happy hour" is small, though it can be substantiated with sufficient sales. An increase in revenue, small as it may be, will be created where none had previously existed.

There are other possible benefits from initiating a "happy hour." Lounge customers will be exposed to the restaurant and may wish to return at a later date to try the dining room. Customers may stay past the "happy hour" period and purchase cocktails at the full price or remain for dinner.

Employees will also benefit from a "happy hour" by an increase in income through increased hours and tips. This point is an important consideration, as employees may become discouraged during periods of slow or seasonal business. A "happy hour" that may not provide the restaurant with the desired profit may be deemed worthwhile for increasing employee morale and decreasing job turnover, eliminating the costly expenditure of rehiring and retraining new personnel.

Bar Tabs

Bar TabsAnother way to maximize spending, and your bar's profits, is with bar tabs. Bar tabs make it easier for customers to spend without hassle, encouraging multiple orders of drinks. To allow bar tabs or not is a policy that can be debated from both sides with sound reasoning. Many bars and restaurants have been victimized by customers who walk out and do not pay their tabs. A policy of no bar tabs will alleviate the initial problem, but it will certainly be inconvenient—and possibly insulting—to some customers.

A bar tab should always be run if a customer so desires. The lounge is a place where the customer may relax and enjoy a cocktail before dinner. He should not be inconvenienced by paying for each drink order as he goes along. Drinks should also be automatically added to the dinner bill unless the customer wishes otherwise.



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: bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, Increasing Profits, Bar Promotion, liquor products

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

Loss Prevention: The Bar Manager's Key to Quick Profit Growth

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Aug, 16, 2012 @ 13:08 PM

How Keeping Close Tabs On Your Liquor Supply Can Both Cut Costs & Generate Revenue

Inventory ControlIndustry studies have consistently shown that a full 25% to 30% of a bar's liquor inventory never converts into registered sales. That is the equivalent of about six to eight 1.25 oz portions per bottle (which should yield at least 25 portions.) This loss of liquor volume--due to unauthorized comps, over-pouring, spillage or theft--should be of great concern to any bar manager. 

While losing 25% of a $25 bottle may not seem like a very serious problem--an unavoidable cost of doing business--the true cost is much greater than that $6 or $7 per bottle. The question you need to ask yourself is: Where is this lost liquor going? And how is it affecting sales? For instance, if your bartender is not pouring 1.25 oz portions, but is instead pouring 2 oz portions (say, perhaps, to curry favor with clients and receive a bigger tip), you're not just losing liquor volume, you're also losing potential sales. Where the customer may have been disposed to buy three drinks (3.75 ounces), he may now be content to buy just two 2-ounce drinks. Your bartender's actions, in this case, haven't merely cost you a dollar's worth of liquor, they may well have cost you $6-$8 in lost sales revenue (depending on how you price your drinks). And that's just for one customer buying two drinks. How often is this occurring? What if your bartender also happens to be giving away free drinks without your knowledge or authorization? The point is: "shrinkage" does not only affect supply costs, it can also affect revenues in a big way. 

That's why loss prevention is so important. The profitability of your business depends on whole bunch of variables--the location of your establishment, the overall economy, ever-changing customer tastes.... Achieving profit growth can be difficult and can rarely be accomplished overnight. Increasing the price of your drinks is risky, and can prove more harmful than helpful as far as your bottom line is concerned. And growing your clientele usually takes time. The best way to increase profits in the short-term, therefore, is not to try to fiddle with pricing or to increase your client base. (Of course, this is something you should always be doing. But it is not easy to do in the short-term.) The quickest way to increase revenue is to make the most of the clients you're already serving. And one way to do this is to improve operations by getting tighter grip on your inventory. Loss of liquor supply at double-digit levels is not an "unavoidable cost of doing business". It is "bad business". And it is entirely avoidable. Put simply, loss prevention can pay big dividends. What's more, it can be achieved quite quickly through the implementation of a quality liquor inventory control system.

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, bar efficiency, bar profitability, Bar Management, Liquor cost, Liquor Inventory savings, alcohol cost, Increasing Profits, Reducing Liquor Costs, bar control, inventory control, managing liquor costs

Pricing Drinks to Optimize Profits

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Jun, 28, 2012 @ 08:06 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Establishing a General Pricing Plan

Pricing StrategySensitive pricing can make or break your operation. Pricing decisions should never, ever, be made arbitrarily. It is crucial to achieve that fine balance between pricing for optimum profits and making customers feel that they're getting value for money. Of course, you want to sell the drinks at their optimum sales volume, but if you tip the balance by raising the sales price too high, the sales volume will actually drop. So will the profits.

  • Research target audience. Investigate your potential market. Check out the opposition, even if this means visiting every liquor outlet in your locality. Get a feel for how much guests are prepared to pay for certain types of drinks.
  • Compete. A realistic view of market positioning is essential. Aim to match, beat or pitch for exclusivity (known as a "highball decision", in the beverage industry). All three methods can work. What won't work is a "muddling along" approach. Make a decision, set your goals and price accordingly.
  • Type of operation. Customers' image and perception of your establishment play a major role in establishing a pricing structure. Guests have fixed expectations about costs. For example, they expect to pay above-average price at a smart nightclub or "adult" establishment. They expect neighborhood bars, on the other hand, to be cheaper. Devise a pricing strategy that meets customer expectations.
  • Portion costs. You may have done your research and drawn up the perfect plan to wipe out the opposition, but, if you haven't "bought in" at competitive prices, you're not going to win. Keep portion costs to a minimum by buying low.

Take a Fresh Look at How You Apply Your Pricing Strategy

Having carefully considered all aspects of your pricing strategy, including cost, availability, competition and target audience, it is essential to make your pricing plan as user-friendly and easy to operate as possible. Simplify.

  • Price lists. A complicated price list with too many options and variables leads to employee confusion and incorrect charging. Even if those errors result in higher gross sales, customers will soon complain and you will lose business.
  • Devise main price categories. Group products according to their wholesale costs. Use standard increments, like 50 cents, to separate price categories.
  • Keep drink prices based on quarters. Prices ending in quarters - $0.25, $0.50 and $0.75 - are easier for bartenders to add up mentally.
  • List product prices with their corresponding specific portion size. For example, alongside each item in the liquor inventory, list the appropriate portion size for that drink.
  • Point-of-sale system. Make bartenders' lives a whole lot easier! Invest in an automated system, where a few keystrokes are all that's required to find any drink or item on the price list.

Markup: Where to Pitch It

There are no standard markup guidelines in the beverage industry. Unfortunately, getting it right is very important. Profitability, cost control and so much more hang upon those difficult markup decisions. Here are a few guidelines to point you in the right direction:

  • Broad guidelines. You need to start somewhere. The following markup suggestions may help:

Cocktails......................................... 3 l/24 times cost

Other liquor......................................... 4 - 5 times cost

Beer................................................. 2 1/2 - 3 times cost

Wine by the glass ............................... 3 - 4 times cost

Carafe wine.................................... 2 l/23 times cost

Dessert wines.................................. 2 - 2l/2 times cost

  • Three main pricing methods. There are, however, three general approaches to markups in the beverage industry. A basic understanding of these options will guide you in the right direction:
    1. Traditional markup - a combination of intuition and local competition. Don't rely on intuition alone - you'd be on to a loser.
    2. Cost plus markup - here, price is determined by adding a markup to the  cost of the item. Easy to apply, this method is popular in the beverage industry.
    3. Item cost percentage markup - similar to cost plus pricing, but linked to profit targets.
  • Type of establishment. Markup is often driven by the type of establishment. For example, luxury hotels, restaurants and nightclubs can command heftier markups. Bars and taverns, on the other hand, have to compete more fiercely with similar outlets in the locality.

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

Topics: bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, opening a bar, Increasing Profits, pricing drinks

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 ( 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

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

Augmenting Your Bar's Profits Through Vending Machines

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jul, 25, 2011 @ 11:07 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Vending Machines Pay!Vending Machine

Your kitchen can't stay open all night long and when it closes, it will do you well to have a means for your customers to fill a hole in their stomachs. A vending machine will not only do just that, it can also supply everything from condoms to cologne, antacids to breath mints. In fact, if there's a need for it, you can bet there's a vending machine to fill that need. Check your local yellow pages for vending suppliers near you.
  • Respond to customer requirements. People go to bars for three reasons: to drink, have fun and meet people. That last reason might make you want to consider fitting your club with a condom machine. One of these machines in the women's and men's restrooms can bring you a great source of income, especially on busy nights. Offering other bathroom essentials, like cologne, lip balm, women's essentials and aspirin, can add further profitability to your operation.
  • Snacks.A selection of snack products can be another great earner, not just inside your bar but also outside. Chocolates, candy, chips, mints, cookies, granola bars; these snacks will keep your patrons going all night long without bothering your bar staff - or tempting them to enjoy the snacks themselves. Also, if you have some machines positioned outside your venue, they will continue selling for you even when the bar is closed!
  • Water. In a nightclub, charging for glasses of water can be seen as profiteering by your customers. However, installing a bottled-water- vending machine can not only save your bartenders the time spent pouring out free water, it can also bring you in a hefty profit when patrons start to work up a sweat on the dance floor. Initiate a "bottled water only" rule when the dance floor is in operation and have your bartenders point to the vending machine whenever they're asked for water. Or have a selection of bottled waters available from the bar. You might even consider a special menu just for bottled waters. Your customers won't mind paying for it so much if they're getting the bottled product.
  • Pay phones. It seems everyone these days has a cell phone, but there's still a huge need for the good old payphone. Incorporating phone card vending machines alongside a bank of pay phones is a way to double your profits on your customers' phone habits. Have them give you quarters for local calls or ten bucks for long distance. If you give your patrons options, they'll invariably choose one.


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, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, Increasing Profits

Bar Management Tips: How You Can Extract More From Your Customers

Posted by John Cammalleri on Wed, Jul, 20, 2011 @ 11:07 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Getting the Most From Your PatronsBar Management

The patron walks in with $20. When the well is dry, he or she will go home (or possibly procure more) but how do you make sure you get as much of that $20 as possible? Consider the following:
  • Value-add! It might cost you a buck to make a bourbon and coke and it might cost you two bucks to make a burger. Why not offer your drinkers a cut-price deal on that burger during a certain time of the night: buy two drinks, get a free burger to go with it. You're not making any money on that burger, but you are ensuring that the customer will stay in your bar while they eat it - and probably a little longer. Heck, they might even order a side of deep-fried mushrooms to go along with it.
  • Make it easier to stay than go. If your staff is asking people, "Should I get you the bill?" instead of, "How about a round of coffees?" you're only giving your customers an excuse to hit the road.
  • Keep the TV interesting. A big error many establishments make is that they leave a TV on but don't pay any attention to what's on it. Keep an eye on your screens and keep an even bigger eye on the TV Guide, to make sure that, if at all possible, you're giving your patrons a reason to stay: "Ooh, ER is on! Maybe I'll have another...
  • Read the crowd. On any given night, your entire customer base can change radically. If you look around and find that there are a lot of young people in the place, adapt to suit that audience. Run a one-off special on tequila shots or shooters or turn on the dance-floor lights. Likewise, if a sports crowd comes in unexpected­ly, get them into the swing of things by adapting to suit their needs.
  • Give valued employees the power to make executive decisions. There's nothing worse, as a customer, than being told, "I don't know, the manager isn't here until later tonight..." Make sure you always have people on staff who can handle a situation and even veer away from the way things normally run, if common sense dictates it. Trust your people to make the right move.
  • Cut down on your "no" answers. You might stock Diet Coke, but what about Diet 7-Up? What about veggie burgers? What about fresh-squeezed orange juice? There might not be a whole lot of demand for these products, but if you don't have them when they're asked for, you're giving your customers an excuse not to return, even if they don't make a big deal about it at the time. Don't sink money into something that won't sell, but don't go the other way and reduce what you can sell.
  • Merchandise sells! A funky logo doesn't just make your venue more appealing; it sells, too. Research shows that the McDonald's logo is more recognizable to children than the cross symbol of Christianity; so it stands to reason that you could profit nicely from a logo that is "cool" enough for people to wear. T-shirts, golf shirts, baseball caps, key chains, lighters and souvenir glasses - take a tip from the Hard Rock Cafe: if sold well, merchandise can be a bigger earner than alcohol.


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, NightClub Management, bar business, profit, Bar Management, Increasing Profits

The Bottom Line: Reducing Costs & Increasing Profits

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Jul, 06, 2011 @ 09:07 AM
Cutting liquor costsBy Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1 of 2: The Profits

What does each drink cost you?
Without profits, you're out of business, but so many managers see profits as what the owners worry about. Your job is as much to grow profits as to sustain them, so consider putting a little elbow grease into the growth of your establishment by learning about the nickel and dime stuff. A good bar operator needs to wear a number of hats, but the four most important are that of promoter, psychologist, host and accountant. This isn't to say that you need to be of professional standard in all four areas, but you do need a working knowledge of each area, so that you can fine-tune those aspects of your business. On the accounting side of things, you need to be able to assess what every piece of your business costs. Also, as your spirits and liqueurs are a very large segment of your inventory, you should learn exactly how much each and every drink you sell actually costs you. Follow these exercises and you'll be able to assess exactly which drinks bring you the highest profit margin and which drinks could use a price increase.
  • Cost per ounce. There is 33.8 ounces in a liter, so if you're paying $15 a liter for a certain spirit, simply dividing that amount by 33.8 will bring you the beverage's ounce cost (in this case, $0.44). If your bottle size is 750ml, then divide the bottle cost by 25.35 to get the ounce cost. Likewise, dividing a 500ml bottle by 16.9 will give you that product's ounce cost.
  • Total beverage cost. When calculating what it costs you to provide a mixed drink to a customer, simply figure out the ounce cost of each item in the drink. A half-shot means adding half the ounce cost of that shot, whereas a double shot would mean doubling the ounce cost. Make sure to include every aspect of the drink, such as mixers, dashes of cordial and garnishes. The total of each of these ounce costs will be your "beverage cost" for that drink.
  • Cost percentage.  When you're investing in inventory, you want to know that you're getting a good return on your money and the best way to figure out your percentage return is to estimate your cost percentage for each drink you sell. Simply divide your ounce cost (or bottle cost) by the sale price you've set for that item and then multiply that number by 100. The total will tell you exactly what percentage of the final drink price you are spending on the purchase of its raw contents. The lower the number, the more profit you're making.
  • Gross profit margin. To figure out each item's gross profit, simply deduct the cost price from the sale price. To figure out your gross profit margin, take the gross profit, divide it by the sales price and multiply it by 100. The figure remaining is your gross profit margin. You may well find it varies greatly from beverage to beverage. This will tell you which items have a high enough profit margin to push on your customers and which items are just making up the numbers.



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 business, alcohol cost, Increasing Profits, Reducing Costs, Reducing Liquor Costs, inventory control