How to Increase Bar Sales at Events – Improve Service

Interior view of the Toll Gate Saloon in Black...

Interior view of the Toll Gate Saloon in Black Hawk, Colorado (1897). I’m betting these guys knew service!

The challenge that many food and beverage directors and bar and restaurant owners face is finding ways to increase bar sales. One of the easiest ways to do this for venues that struggle with how to increase  is to improve their customer service and see the accompanying rise in beverage sales.

Better service not only improves customers experience in the short term so they keep coming back to the bar that night, it keeps them coming back again and again in the future.


Improve Accessibility

The most basic way to increase bar sales at events is ensuring that customers can reach the bareven, or especially, when it is busy. A heavy crowd around the bar keeps away more clients than it draws in.

Often, the ones that do go up will just order the first thing they see, or an easy fall-back – a beer, a glass of wine.

Having enough staff and space are key factors. In a well-run bar, no customer should wait more than two minutes. There’s also a tendency for customers to nurse their drinks longer rather than fight for another drink if they know they’ll have to face the hoard in order to get a drink.

If you aren’t making it easy for your customers to get to the bar and order at your event, you’re leaving easy money on the table.

Handle the Rush

Obviously the type of event dictates the way you can handle the rush and increase bar sales.  One easy thing (and great help) is to let the customers know what’s available before they reach the bar.

Put up signs  advertising the drinks and their prices around the venue so that customers reaching the bar know what they want and how much it will cost them.

You can’t plaster the walls at a wedding, for example, but with a little tact and discretion you can spread the word at any kind of event by using sites out of the photographer’s direct line of sight.

Deploy Good Signage

A colorful picture of each drink you’re offering (or promoting), with the name and price in easy to read size that contrasts clearly with the  color of the picture, is worth two bar staff  for the time it saves. It is even more effective away from the bar – scatter the signs on the walls and surfaces outside the actual bar area.  In the restrooms, on the menu, on menus are all effective place to promote you bar service and increase bar sales.

Perhaps the most effective place is in a designated smoking area for customers at the event. Your smoking customers will have a few minutes of exposure to them every time they step out for a cigarette.

Use Effective Pricing at Busy Bars

Event bars can usually set their own prices. Round the prices up, or even down, to the nearest dollar. The time spent on making change will be halved for the bartenders. That means they’ll spend more time making and selling drinks.

If your bar staff rely on tips, make sure their cash drawers are well stocked with dimes and quarters to increase their chances of some of it being pushed back. Keeping your bar staff happy is a highly underated way to increase bar sales.

Make Access Easy to Increase Bar Sales

Deploy Portable Bars at Events in Improve Service and Increase Bar Sales

Deploy Portable Bars at Events in Improve Service and Increase Bar Sales

If your usual venue bar isn’t going to cope with the rush of a particular event, set up portable bar stations to add points of sale.

As a general role, one bartender for each 50 people allows for effective service. If you can’t accomodate enough bar tenders to work effectively at your venue, expanding the serving area with a mobile bar can be a simple and effective way to increase bar sales.

As most bartenders know, Pouring a beer or mixing a drink properly isn’t as easy as it seems, so having extra serving space available will take a lot of pressure off your primary bar.

You can close the bar (or move it away) when the worst of the rush is over and you need the staff member manning it to go elsewhere or want to recover the space.

Set-up Staff for Success

Waiters offering drink service at the tables or wherever customers gather at the event will always be an effective way to increase bar sales.

In a crowded event, where the waiters are struggling with a loaded tray to get past customers who will (jokingly or quite seriously) take the drinks off their trays, it can present a problem.  One option is to have several supply caches around the perimeter of the room, or a portable cache.  The waiter is then always close to the supply point for the drinks order and service is quick and efficient.

Brief staff with suggestions

The customer who is genuinely looking for ideas doesn’t want a blank or puzzled look.  A brisk “well, we’ve this applejack, and it’ll knock your socks off as a straight but we also mix it with whipped cream and soda and call it a Foamer, and that goes down really well” may not be a sale, but you’ve engaged customer with service.

Other listening customers might chip in with opinions, having tried it themselves. Regardless, there’s an immediate connection and rapport between the bartender and the customer so the customer feels more comfortable. Having a suggestion can also eliminate indecision and speed up service which should show in increased bar sales.

Our Portable Bars

If you’re looking for a simple way to improve service, our line of space-saving portable bars is designed to improve service, draw attention and drive sales. Watch our product videos to see how each of our products work or download our product catalog to see our full line.

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Due to extremely high order volume and freight carrier delays, please expect a lead time of 4-10 weeks.
Call us at 877-958-7901 if you need your bar by a specific date. We recommend placing your orders early to build in the delays. Dismiss