The bar and restaurant industry is a risky place to be. Over 60% of new establishments go under in their first year; 80% by their fifth year. But we’re all still here because we love it.
Bar managers build successful businesses and call the shots on every aspect of a bar’s operations. Beverage directors develop innovative cocktail menus and create drinks for their guests that establish a love affair with completely new flavors.
But running a bar is hard work. Being responsible for so many aspects of a business is a lot of pressure—overlook the smallest thing, and you could see the numbers come crashing down in front of you.
That’s why we’re here. We’re helping bars and restaurants streamline operations so that you can spend more time on the important things.
It’s a bumpy ride. Here are some of the bar management mistakes you need to avoid along the way.
Successful business management starts with the staff—you can’t run a good bar without them. Your establishment will live or die based on how your customers are treated and whether or not they feel comfortable in your space.
This responsibility falls directly on the shoulders of your employees, but it’s your job to provide them with the knowledge, ability, and tools to do so. Support your staff and they, in turn, will support your customers.
Are you aware of what’s popular in the industry? Do you know what cocktails people are looking for right now? Do you know why Old Fashioneds, Mezcal, Sour Beers, Nitro, Bitters, and tapped cocktails are trending?
One of the most common bar management mistakes is losing touch with industry trends, and this is an automatic loss of business. People love to get a taste of what’s hot, and if you’re not stocking it, they’re not staying. The easiest way to stay up to date is by reading relevant publications and following popular social media channels. We recently compiled a list of our favorite industry blogs—check out this roundup of the top 20 bar industry publications to follow.
It’s also a good idea to visit online forums (we frequent industry groups on Linkedin) and attend industry events in person in order to expand your network and stay in touch with what’s new. We recently attended the Nightclub and Bar Show in Vegas, and it was a wild couple of days (and super educational).
A menu is one of the most significant and revealing aspects of any bar or restaurant. Often, we see beverage directors develop exciting and innovative menus only to neglect them during the following months, or even years. A menu carries massive weight when it comes to an establishment’s profitability and success—the nuances of your menu will have a substantial affect on your numbers.
Here are some important things to consider when designing and pricing a bar menu:
When designing and updating your menu, allow your staff to submit cocktail recipe ideas. Narrow down the list to a selection of your favorites, and taste and tweak the recipes. Build your recipes with as many fresh, high-quality ingredients as you can, while also focusing on minimizing waste and maximizing profitability. With beer, put together a good mix of local beers, domestic beers, and international beers that cover each beer type. Your wine list will depend heavily on your menu, clientele, and price points.
Marketing your bar is more than just creating a Facebook account, and this is one of the most common bar management mistakes. Publishing irresistible #foodporn is important, yes, but marketing your bar is a multifaceted process that requires significant dedication.
From counting inventory and ordering alcohol to calculating your pour cost, understanding correct inventory practices is crucial to running a successful bar. As a bar manager, if you don’t develop and uphold solid processes for each stage of the inventory process, your numbers are going to suffer.
These are the most crucial elements to inventory management. If you’re not on top of them, your bar is in trouble:
If you don’t control these aspects of the inventory process, your variance could grow out of control, you’ll be 86-ing more often, and your sales and profitability could take a huge dive. Teach your staff how to correctly monitor liquor and pour drinks. Organize your invoice history. Use your POS system to compare sales numbers to inventory counts. It’s not the most enjoyable aspect of bar management, but liquor inventory could very well be the most important.
Here at BevSpot, we’ve developed inventory software that’ll take care of this for you.
Looking for more help behind the bar? Get in touch with one of our bar experts—we’d love to chat.