Running a bar operation is a risky business, not only because of the nature of the business but due to the potentially dangerous product. Alcohol affects all people differently, and all bar staff should be aware of how to serve it responsibly, as well as how to cut someone off when needed. Take time to learn the local laws and licensing requirements as well to keep your operation legally sound. Caring for customers, following the law and being responsible with product are important, not only for your reputation but for your customers’ health and safety.
Train your staff.
A well-trained staff is essential to your business. Bartenders who know their craft inside and out will be more likely to help your bar stand out above the rest. Beyond training them to be skilled behind the bar, your bartending staff must be personable, friendly and generally able to converse with customers.
Create a signature drink.
Creating a signature drink is important to developing a unique vibe and identity for your bar. Putting your own spin on your drink menu gives customers a special reason to visit your bar instead of the one down the street.
Organize the back bar.
Unless your bartenders’ work space is well organized, bartenders will be bumping into each other and wasting time running back and forth to fulfill orders. Organize your back bar area so that the major drink-making stations are in the same areas. For instance, group your beer taps together so that a bartender filling an order of beer will not have to run from one end of the bar to another to pour two different brews.
Market your drink specials.
Marketing can be as simple as word-of-mouth, or you may have a strong social media presence. Even a well-constructed happy hour menu and a few table tents can provide some good marketing for your bar.
Run a clean operation.
Many bars claim to want to achieve the atmosphere and vibe of a neighborhood dive bar, but dive bar and dirty bar are not necessarily the same thing. Customers notice things like dirty restrooms and a sticky bar top, which would turn anyone off. Make it a priority with your staff to keep the place clean so your customers feel comfortable.
Keep an eye on pour levels.
One of the quickest ways to lose inventory in the bar is inaccurate pouring. When bartenders pour improper amounts, not only does it affect the inventory you have on hand, but the customer receives an inconsistent product from day to day or from bartender to bartender. Train thoroughly, test frequently and use jiggers or measuring pourers for less experienced bartenders.
Keep bar equipment in working order.
When your bar equipment is not working correctly, chances are that your entire operation is thrown off track. Be sure that you maintain and update your beer draft system, dishwashing set-up, back bar coolers and ice machine in order to keep your business running smoothly.
Change the drink menu periodically.
This is generally true of most restaurants, but offering a variety is especially important for a bar. Try switching up the draft beer you provide every few months, and bring in new wines from different wineries to offer your guests something new. You may even offer a new cocktail with the seasons, offering your staff a chance to be creative and mix something new. Changing your menu, or at least parts of it, keeps customers interested and gives you the opportunity to do away with items that are not selling.