15 Habits of a Successful Bar Manager

It’s your job to ensure that the bar runs smoothly.

You are either a general manager, bar director, or beverage director. Your job is to motivate your staff and keep them happy.

We know this is a varied role so we have compiled a list with 15 great habits to help you become a bar manager.

1. Regular trainings

Regular employee training sessions give your employees the chance to improve their skills and learn new ones. Regularly reviewing free-pour tests will help ensure consistent drinks between bartenders. It also helps to manage costs. Staff injury is costly, so it’s worth reviewing knife safety. In light of COVID-19, sanitation has never been more important to guests. Talking with your team about the unique characteristics of the products in-house gives them tools to sell to guests.

2. Respect your schedules and be prompt.

Scheduling is more than just keeping your bar staffed. It’s about showing respect for your team and their time. In the service industry, it is crucial to maintain a work-life balance in order to prevent team members becoming burnt out. This can be achieved by working with your team to create a consistent schedule. Your schedule should be posted at least four days in advance. Ten is better. You have more time to respond to staffing issues if you post your schedule earlier.

3. Receptiveness to the ideas of your staff is key

Open communication between managers and their teams is an earmark for successful managers in every industry. Listen. Your team members will feel more involved in the work if they feel valued. This will make them less likely to leave the company or engage in fraud. Your team can also be a great resource for ideas. Ask them for ideas on new cocktails, promotions, and what the next craft beer selection should look like. You don’t have to be open to all ideas that employees offer, but you can at least listen to their suggestions and encourage them to contribute.

4. Always learn

Being a manager does not mean you are done with your training. It is an invitation to learn more. You should also keep up to date with the latest trends in beverage industry. You can visit other bars to observe how they operate, attend bar management seminars and keep up-to-date with the latest bar and restaurant technology.

5. Be an example

Bar managers should not be afraid to do the dirty work. You must be able to prepare your staff for success, as well as know how to work during rush hours and deal with customers. You can schedule shifts in any area of your bar you are unfamiliar with so that you can gain experience. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be able perform any task assigned to your staff.

6. Know your regulars

Regulars, unless you work in an airport bar or restaurant, make up a significant portion of your overall revenue. It’s crucial to show them appreciation in order to keep them coming back. It’s important to get to know their names and what they like to drink. It’s a great idea to spend some time with them, and make sure you focus on their needs. You can always buy them a drink and an appetizer every now and again. Pay attention to your customers.

7. Customers are your priority

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the task of bar management. While managing your staff is an important part of your job, it’s also important to spend time with customers. Ask customers how they are doing and how their experience was. Greet regulars as they come in the door. You can help customers with any questions, clarify drink histories or smooth out any details. You will also be able to see what’s happening in your bar if you have concerns such as over-serving.

8. Customers should not be afraid to tell you no

Your establishment must ensure that all staff members are trained to responsibly serve alcohol. This will protect your customers and your employees as well as the public. To ensure that staff can refuse to serve customers who are intoxicated, you should offer alcohol awareness training. Your bartenders or servers will be better equipped to assess a customer’s ability to drink responsibly. If they make a decision to endanger a customer, it is important to support them.

9. Regularly update your offerings

It shouldn’t matter if you are going to change your drink menu. The important question is when. It’s vital to constantly change your menu in the highly competitive restaurant and bar industry. You can capture new customers and keep them coming back by following seasonal trends, using top ingredients and constantly changing your cocktail menu. You can sell “new” but keep your classics. When you are thinking of changing your menus or offering new products, your representatives in wine, spirit and beer can be a great resource. Referring to reps…

10. Create positive relationships with your beer, wine, spirit and spirit representatives

Many liquor reps work with quarterly or monthly placement quotas. It can be advantageous to establish a relationship with someone you have purchasing power. This could include helping them with product placement. Positive relationships can help you get free product, swag and tickets to sporting events. They will also remember your account when they are thinking about special events or deep discounts. They might even be able to source special products and help with menu printing.

11. Stay up to date with industry news

It might seem like an additional task to do, but it is important to keep up to date with industry news. Being informed can help you make better decisions, spot trends early and give you an advantage over your competitors. As a manager, this is an essential part of your learning. Bar managers are expected to be experts in their field. It’s crucial that you are knowledgeable in your field so that you can earn the respect and trust of your bar staff.

12. Put solid systems in place

Your team’s success depends on your organization. Your bartenders will know exactly where products are at any given time if you have a consistent organization system. Your storage area should be organized in the same way. It’s known as “mise en place” in the kitchen. This means that your team will find the right products quickly and efficiently. These systems should be extended to your handling of orders and inventory.

13. Regular inventory

It is vital to keep a bar profitable by taking regular inventory of liquor. This helps you to identify theft, price out low-quality menu options, evaluate pouring accuracy, avoid 86’ing products, and determine how much inventory was used. It is difficult, if not impossible, to measure the success of your bar without an efficient inventory.

14. Double-check all orders

You need to place orders regularly and receive deliveries in order to keep your bar stocked. To keep your beverage costs down, make sure your invoices reflect your orders. To ensure you get exactly what you ordered, make sure to go through your invoices while you are still there for delivery. You won’t have to pay for items you don’t get and you won’t have to pay for excess product you didn’t order.

15. Be vigilant

Your bartenders, even though you may not like it to be thought about, can increase your costs by giving away drinks and taking product. According to the National Restaurant Association 75% of stock shortages are caused by employee theft. While you don’t need to be paranoid, it is a good idea not to ignore fraudulent behavior. You can protect your bar against theft by installing security cameras, reconciling cash drawers and routinely checking the tabs of bartenders.

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