8 Tips for Owning a Bar – Part 2

female bartender bar owner pouring a pint

8 Tips for Owning a Bar, Part 2

As a bar owner, you want your business to be profitable.  That’s why you read our first installment of eight tips for owning a bar.  Well, we’re back with eight more tips for owning a bar.  This time, we dug deeper into the operational side of bar ownership to bring you these best practices.  These tips are also helpful to any bar manager who’s serious about his or her trade.  The advice here was culled from top bar owners and managers across the country.  We’re sure you can use these tips to improve business at your bar, pub, or tavern.  Try following these tips to improve business and operations at your bar, pub, or tavern: 

  1. Stopping Employee Theft in Bars

Employee theft happens in bars when bar owners make it easy for their staff to steal from them. Sorry, but this is an uncomfortable fact about owning a bar, pub, or tavern. Sometimes it’s wait staff grabbing a snack or drink. Other times, a bartender might be too generous with his friends or favorite customers. Selling drinks and pocketing the cash is another bad habit employees develop. As the owner, you need to make it clear that employee theft won’t be tolerated. When you catch someone doing this, fire them immediately. This is a great way to send the message to your staff that theft won’t be tolerated.

  1. Know Your Bar Data

Like so many other businesses, owning a bar is all about the numbers.  Your data shows you everything you need to know about what your bar is doing.  For example, a look at your numbers should tell you:

  • The number of customers each day
  • Breakage
  • Waste
  • Liquor and food inventories
  • Sales
  • Salaries

You must keep track of all this data on a regular basis.  It’s what helps you plan every aspect of your business from staffing to marketing and promotions and more.  If you need help, research the best industry software for tracking your numbers. 

  1. Study Bar Industry Trends

As a bar owner, are you staying up on the latest trends in your industry?  When people go out for a drink, they’re expecting an experience.  It’s up to you to deliver… or suffer the consequences of losing customers to more exciting bars and pubs.  To keep things fresh and exciting, you need to do your research into the latest ideas and bar promotions.  Your liquor reps can help you if you reach out to them.  It won’t take long for you to come up with a variety of special events and parties that you can host at least once per month.  You also should offer food and drink promos on a regular basis.  Referring back to point No. 2, keep detailed records of these promotions and refer back to the numbers.

  1. Cost-Cutting Tips for Bar Owners

Every bar owner loves the words “cutting costs,” but how many of them are actually doing it?  Are you?  There are many ways to keep the costs down at your bar, pub, or tavern.  In most cases, these are small things that are easy for you and your staff to do.  When these things become a habit, you might surprised at how big your savings will be in the end.  Here are just a few cost-cutting tips for your bar:

  • Empty kegs completely before changing.
  • “Marry” the ketchup to make sure bottles are completely empty before throwing out.
  • Stop staff from using bar napkins to wipe their hands. (Insist they use paper towels.)
  • If it won’t affect customer service, cut a half hour off each staff members’ start times.
  • Train employees on how to properly handle glassware to reduce breakage.

If you’re not already doing these things, you can start today.  These ideas should also inspire you to discover other small ways to cut costs at your bar.  Keep working at it and you’ll see huge savings at the end of the year.  (Remember to track your numbers, just like we told you to do in point No. 2.)

  1. Retain Regular Customers

No bar owner could stay in business without his or her regular customers, aka “the regulars.”  These folks make up a big portion of your overall revenue.  Since they’re so important to the success of your bar, you definitely should make a point to treat them well.  Here are just a few things you can do for your loyal customers:  

  • Give them a birthday drink on the house.
  • Keep a bottle of their favorite drink with their name on it.
  • If the kitchen makes a dish by mistake, don’t throw it out. Give it to one of your regulars instead.

Little things like this are a big investment that pays out in the long run.  When you show your regulars that you appreciate them, they’ll be happy to keep being your regular customers.

  1. The Importance of Bar Marketing and Advertising

You can’t build a hugely successful bar on word-of-mouth advertising. If you think so, do yourself a favor and get that idea out of your head. Every successful bar owner spends money on some type of advertising. You should, too. First, take a look at the different ways your competitors are advertising their bars. Instead of trying to match them ad dollar for ad dollar, find out which mediums work the best, then choose wisely. Note: every successful bar owner sets aside a certain amount of profits for marketing. You should, too.

Some people are born marketers, but most people have to learn these skills. You probably will, and that’s fine. Hiring a marketing coach is one of the quickest ways to sharpen your promotional chops. These folks will teach you many things you need to know.  There’s no shame in seeking knowledge, especially anything that helps your business.   

  1. Consistent Food and Drink Recipes

Who makes the best food and mixes the best drinks at your bar? If you named someone as your best cook and/or bartender, you’re doing it wrong. Everything you serve at your bar or pub has to be the same each time it goes out, no matter which employee makes it. If you have inconsistencies in your system, there’s only one person to blame – you, Mr. or Ms. Bar Owner. The way you fix this problem is training your staff. If you have a cook that’s better than others, have that person train everyone on the best way to prepare each dish.  The same goes for bartenders and wait staff. Take the best of the best and make it consistent throughout your bar.

  1. Think Like a Bar Customer

Do you ever look at your bar from a customer’s viewpoint?  If not, you’re really missing out on a golden opportunity to improve your business.  If you can do this, you’ll see different things you should be doing, and not doing, at your bar. For example, you might notice ways to improve your customers’ experience. You’ll also see ways to cut costs and make things easier for your staff. One great exercise is to go to your bar with a friend you trust. Ask him or her to look for ways to improve your bar while you do the same thing. At the end of the night, compare notes with your friend. You might be surprised at what you find.

Bonus Tip: Get DIRECTV for Your Bar

DIRECTV is one of the best ways to improve customer service at any bar.  Your clients will love watching their favorite shows.  They love it even more when bar owners have a sports viewing package.   This lets clients see their favorite teams on TV.  As an AT&T Preferred Dealer, Signal Connect can deliver DIRECTV to your bar, pub, or tavern.  We’ll match you with a commercial viewing package, satellite equipment, and much more.  We’re always help to help bar owner like you bring DIRECTV to your clients.  If you have questions, or would like to set up an installation, give us a call at 866-726-4182.

Best of Luck, Bar Owners!

We hope you enjoyed the second installment of tips for owning a bar.  Follow these eight tips to save more, and earn more revenue at your bar, pub, or tavern.  Signal Connect loves to share business tips with bar and restaurant owners.  That’s why we delivered this two-part series to bar owners and managers.  We hope that you put these and the other eight tips we shared to good use at your bar.  Signal Connect wishes you nothing but the best of success!