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How to Improve Event Bar Service (and Profitability)

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improving-bar-service

Remember, a happy customer translates into profit.

As anyone in a service industry knows, better customer service means happier customers that are more likely to come back and do business with you again. You need people to have a great time at your event so that they’re more likely to work with you on their next event.

It’s not fair that people rarely remember good service but always remember poor service, but that’s the way it works.

However, people do remember remarkable service. That is, service that truly goes above and beyond.

Improving bar service isn’t only about serving drinks faster, although that’s part of it.  It’s about thinking smarter. Are you already using every one of these ways to improve bar service at events?

 

Make it Easy (and Profitable) on Yourself

Staffing Considerations

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Adequate staffing is important to serve all of your guests

Improved bar service requires easy access and good service. Of course, you need to ensure that all the bar staff serving know how to create the cocktails on offer for the event and are adequately trained.

Make sure the bar staff knows what’s available  and are briefed with alternate suggestions for event guests who can’t get the drink they want.

If a guest wants a specific IPA beer, staff should know which alternative IPA beer is stocked, rather than offering a light lager. Putting up helpful signage behind the bar means the bartenders don’t have to keep it all in their heads, and keeps the guest informed too.

Limit the choices

The bigger the range of drinks, the more bartenders you need. Your bartender carefully pouring color layers over the back of a spoon to make showy cocktails can’t also be serving thirty other thirsty guests!

You know all the research lately about how people don’t like making choices? You really can do your customers and yourself a favor and narrow down your offerings.

For a full bar you can limit the wines to two dry red wines, and two dry whites. Unless there is a reason to focus on the wines, opt to only stock one option each. You can even limit your mixer range, which won’t make much financial impact but will cut down unpacking and packing times.

Offering a limited selection of drinks would enable your customers or guests to easily choose what they want and in turn make your bar efficient and cost effective.

By their nature, events are busy, and limiting the range of brands reduces time, wastage and costs. Even if you have more variety tucked under the bar, keep your top shelf simple.  Design your cocktail range to use stock you already have, or can use at the next event.

This applies to stock generally. Event bars, whether on or off site, are almost universally more efficient and cost-effective with a limited range.

Measure!

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Mixing drinks is like baking, everything has to be precisely measured to make the most out of your ingredients

The fastest way for a bar to lose or make money is the pouring levels.  Selling drinks short won’t please the customer. Pouring too much won’t please the bank. Use jiggers or optic measures. Check your top bartenders in time trials, under pressure, for their accuracy without one if you haven’t yet made them standard practice.

Organize

Get your bartenders involved in the organization process – you may know what you think works best, but encourage them to make suggestions and think about improvements.  If they find they’re constantly running from one end of the bar to another to fulfil orders, the back bar could need rethinking. Everything should be streamlined (you have a speed rail right? pre-sliced garnishes?)

Use a POS System

It’s not only simpler for the bartenders, it keeps track of your stock and makes re-ordering a breeze. ‘Nuff said.

Good signage for the bar

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Having a menu posted on your bar would speed up the process of choosing what to order

Good signage or a menu means that guests know what’s available before they start asking, or trying to read the top shelf labels.  Feature your best and most popular beers, wines, and the event’s cocktails. It isn’t only good promotion, it speeds up ordering and service and saves your bartenders from having to explain options over and over.

 

 

 

Memorable Touches

While those are the basics to make sure you’re providing adequate service. That will keep you out of the cellars, but it doesn’t really go the extra mile. Here’s a few tactics that will really make you stand out.

Consider Dietary Limitations

gluten-free beer

Include in your stock items that could be offered to people with special dietary considerations

Those on a gluten-free diet need to be cautious of any beverages containing barley, but would be safe on wine, and most spirits (including whisky, because of the distillation process). If you’re handling a wedding, or other family event, and you’re warned that some of the family will need gluten-free drinks, make that an important consideration.

As  gluten intolerance is hereditary, this could be very much appreciated by an entire branch of the family. This is another special way of improving bar service that really pays off in good word of mouth and future bookings!

Remember the designated drivers.

Non-drinkers really appreciate a bit of a fuss being made over their drinks, so a little garnish and pizazz goes a long way when you want to improve bar service at your events. This is a small touch that can make a big impact on non-drinkers and designated drivers in addition to keeping everyone safe after the party ends.

Specialty Drink Bars

Portable bars are ideal when you want to set up specialty drinks bar in your event or venue

Portable bars are ideal when you want to set up specialty drinks bar in your event or venue

One option to provide a range of drinks without having to hire a team of bartenders is to have complicated drinks at separate bar points and turn it into a unqiue feature.

These specialty cocktails have gotten particularly popular lately and I bet people at your event will love them. Your other option is to have a few scattered bar points offering the simplest options at high speed – a wine bar in one spot, beers  dominating another. Portable bars are particularly good for this because they can be themed accordingly, and lit to attract attention.

 

 

Personalize

The biggest difference you can make is to go above and beyond to make the event special by doing something unique and personal. Though it depends upon the event, good ideas could be having a specialty cocktail and naming it in honor of the event or host (if you can make up a cool story about why it’s named after them – bonus points!) Get the bartending staff to build rapport with customers.

Events can be scary for the less social among us so if the bar staff can grease the wheels and get people talking then that can make everything go much smoother.

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