13 Ways to Impress Your Bar Manager

By Brie Shelley


Brie Shelley

June 7, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Bar managers have a lot on their plate.

Whether you’re striving for a promotion, or you simply want to understand how to be a better bartender, impressing your bar manager will go a long way in the food and beverage industry.

It never hurts to be in good graces with the person who makes your schedule and controls the activities at the bar. Plus, if you’re working toward a management position, it’s smart to pick up some extra tasks and earn recognition from your superior.

We spoke to some of BevSpot’s best bar managers to find out how their bartenders have impressed them over the years. Here’s a list of 13 things they recommend you do to impress your bar manager at work.  

1. Keep it clean

Recognize the importance of a spotless bar. A dirty one will scare off customers and potentially lead to a failed health inspection. Although it may seem like busywork, maintaining a clean bar and staying on top of your health inspection checklist will show that you take pride in your work and you care about the customer’s experience.

Make sure the bar surface isn’t wet or sticky, the soda gun and its holder are sanitized, the glassware is clean, all the trash makes it into the can, the dishes are done, the bar tools are organized, and the preparation area is spotless.

Marlon Hall, the Bar Manager at HobNob, in Jacksonville, FL, explains how organization and cleanliness are key.

“I’m most impressed when my bartenders respect the mise en place. Knowing how to work clean and efficiently is a high commodity and a valuable asset for a bartender to possess. It’s impressive.”

2. Always record spills and comped drinks

If you keep an accurate tally of every drink that’s accidentally spilled or been purposely given away, your bar manager will appreciate it. With accurate usage and sales tracking, your manager will be able to see what percentage of loss is attributed to spills and comps and take steps to control these occurrences if beverage costs get too high.

3. Know your alcohol

If you want to get your bar manager’s attention, know your alcohol. If you know the basics and can recall how to make a good number of drinks, it’ll go a long way. But, if you really want to go the extra mile, take some time to learn the story of the cocktails you make and the products you serve. Try new liquors, know the details of the beers on your draught list, and prepare answers for potential questions from customers.

4. Create new cocktails for the menu

As an ambitious bartender, take some time to come up with your own cocktails. Adding new drinks to the menu will help to bring in new business, keep current customers interested, and give you a sense of ownership in your work.

To get started, watch how customers consume different cocktails and use that as a springboard to come up with the elements of your next creation. One of the easiest ways to invent a new drink is to make variants of classic cocktails.

5. Come up with promotional ideas

Your bar manager has a lot on their plate. Show initiative by coming up with new ways to bring in customers during slower times. To come up with new ideas for drawing in a crowd, pay attention to what other establishments are doing and listen to what your customers are interested in. Want some ideas? Check out what these Boston bars are doing.

6. Cut off customers when necessary

Although it might be a difficult situation, you should always refuse service to overly intoxicated customers. In most circumstances, bartenders are in the best position to determine a customer’s sobriety. To impress your manager and show them you care about the business, your staff, your customers, and the general public, confidently cut off customers who’ve had too much to drink.

7. Work quickly

Speed is crucial for keeping both your customers and bar manager happy. Your patrons don’t like waiting for service, and the more drinks you serve, the more money your bar makes. Even if you work at a slower establishment, you never know when a large crowd will walk in. To prepare for the rush, it’s important to practice. For example, fill up empty liquor bottles with water, stick pour spouts in them, and practice pouring shots as fast as you can.

Rob McCaffery, the Bar Manager at Lincoln Tavern, in South Boston, explains his appreciation for fast-paced bartenders.

“This job requires you to adapt to a fast-paced environment. I’m impressed with bartenders who strive to develop a sense of urgency. It’s not easy and doesn’t come naturally to most people. I believe it’s what sets bartenders apart.”

8. Follow the schedule

Your bar manager takes a lot of time and effort to come up with a staff shift schedule every week. It’s not easy to create a schedule that includes full-time, part-time, set-schedule, and flex-schedule employees, especially if bartenders back out of shifts last minute or forget to come in. To impress your manager, always give them advanced notice when you need time off, and show up on time for the shifts you’re scheduled for.

9. Use the correct glassware

Glassware is an essential aspect of the drinking experience. Not only does it help with presentation, but a study done by a Japanese medical group found that glass shape affects how aromas are delivered. Impress your bar manager by knowing the correct glassware pairings for each drink. Check out our glassware guides to see detailed pairings for beer, wine and spirits.  

10. Pour beer correctly

Although it might seem like a straightforward task, pouring beer takes a certain technique. To impress your bar manager, learn how to properly pour a beer so no product is wasted and the customer receives a quality product.

First, make sure the glass is clean—a savvy beer drinker will recognize if their beer glass isn’t rinsed properly if they see bubbles stick to the sides of the glass. When you go to pour a customer’s beer, hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and aim toward the middle of the slope of the glass. When the glass is about ⅔ full, hold it upright and keep pouring toward the middle of the glass to create a foam head of about 1 to 1 ½ inches.

11. Know your regulars’ names

Regulars make up a substantial percentage of your overall revenue. To keep them coming back, it’s important to show you appreciate them. Learn their names and be sure to greet them when they walk through the door. It’s also helpful to remember what they typically like to drink.  

12. Use tactics to increase sales

In some ways, bartending is a sales position. To impress your manager, use sales tactics to improve your bar’s bottom line. For example, suggest premium products, don’t lead with what’s on sale, and list more expensive products first. Remember, the check total is also the greatest influencer of the tip amount. If you sell a second drink, it can increase your tips in increments of 100%.

13. Fully commit to hospitality

Holding a job in the food and beverage industry means constantly displaying happy, pleasant emotions toward customers. Having a great deal of patience and composure in all types of situations is difficult. Hall explains that bar managers like himself certainly take notice when bartenders are consistently composed.

“What really impresses me as a bar manager, more than anything, is the ability of my bar staff to remain consistently hospitable in the face of any circumstance. We often get so caught up in the spirits and cocktail pieces that we forget to really serve not only guests but also each other. Hospitality is impressive.”

McCaffery also notices bartenders committed to hospitality. 

“I’m always impressed by bartenders and their patience. It’s a great job to have but not everyone can tolerate what transpires during any given shift without getting annoyed or anxious. As a bartender, you’re on stage at all times. Your guests will recognize when you’re being sincere, and they’ll want to return to your bar to enjoy a genuine experience.”

A successful bartender doesn’t simply make drinks. They go beyond what’s expected and put effort into every aspect of the role. If you’re looking to bring in more tips, impress your manager, potentially get a promotion, and advance your career in the food and beverage industry, this advice will put you on the right track.

Want to help your bar manager with one of the most tedious tasks behind the bar? Tell him how BevSpot can cut his inventory time in half.

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