Servers Archives | Sparkler City

Summer at a Bar

Enjoying a Profitable Summer at your Bar

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With summer upon us, putting together a game plan to maximize your revenues is vital for your bar or nightclub to have a profitable season. Potential customers are eager to enjoy their summer, so if you offer them what they want you can make huge profits in just a few short months. On the flipside, if you don’t entice your customer base, they will be just as content to stay home and drink in their backyard with friends. The key is to offer them something at your bar or nightclub that they can’t get anywhere else in town, and there are a few simple ways to accomplish that.

Get Your Staff Ready

Before you even consider trying to pull in more customers over the summer, you need to make sure your staff is set and ready to go. That means making sure you have enough bartenders and servers hired to accommodate any demand that may arise, as well as making sure that bar staff is properly trained. If you can have a complete staff of pros who know exactly what they are supposed to, your guests will stay longer and keep coming back to your bar which will lead to massively higher profits.

Plan Summertime Events

Events are the lifeblood to any successful summer marketing program for a bar or nightclub, so this is where much of your attention needs to be devoted in the months leading up to summer. You’re going to want to book a great variety of bands and come up with themed party nights such as beach attire or even a toga party. Make sure you book the most popular local bands in your area as soon as possible because they will get snatched up quickly for summer show. If you create events that are entertaining and make your customers feel like it is an exclusive experience, you can expect to see large profits follow.

Marketing

No matter how great your summertime event strategy is, it will be all for not if you can’t market it properly. You need to do all of the standard methods such as social media, your website, and even radio ads if you’re in a large enough market, but never underestimate the power of in-house marketing. By putting table tents of your next event on every table and having large banners boasting upcoming parties or bands, you will directly market to your best demographic of all: people who already want to come to your bar or nightclub.

Summer can be the most profitable season for a bar or nightclub, but if can also lead to a completely empty venue if you don’t know how to attract customers. It all starts with having a well-trained and competent staff that is ready to work, and everything else stems from there. Once you have a great staff in place, you can focus on putting together summertime entertainment and marketing it so your bar or nightclub packs out each night. If you can conquer those three factors, you can easily have a very profitable summer at your venue.

Bartenders Replaced by Machines

Will Machines and Software Replace Bartenders?

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These days, it seems like there is an app for pretty much everything. Machines and software have changed the way we do almost everything in our day to day lives, and there are constantly new innovations shaping the way we interact with the world around us. Fortunately, much of the service industry has remained unaffected by these sweeping changes, and that includes the bar and nightclub industry. However, there have already been some changes throughout the industry that are pointing in the direction of removing human interaction, and that spells trouble for many people who are employed in this field.

Now, I don’t want to start a panic because this is very early in the process and likely won’t be a reality for many years, if not decades, but understanding that there is a clock on all of our jobs is important to help you prepare for your future. The fact of the matter is that all jobs will likely be replaced by machines and software at some point, and bartenders and servers at bars and nightclubs are no exception. Here is how it all shakes down in the upcoming decades.

Replacing Servers

The die has been cast already for servers being replaced by machines and software, and you can find evidence of it at many of the most popular chain restaurants. It actually started in the fast food industry with the ability to order online before you get to the store, but now places like Jack in the Box have kiosks in their dining rooms that allow you to order through a machine rather than talk directly to a cashier. Though this replaces jobs, the sad truth is that it is actually more reliable and accurate than telling your order to another human to enter into their software. You can also see tablets on the tables at restaurants like Applebee’s and Chili’s where you can place your orders and print your check. You still have a server to physically bring your food and drinks out to you, but your interaction with them is otherwise eradicated.

Replacing Bartenders

Replacing bartenders with machines and software is a little further out sue to the personable nature of the job, but you can see the appeal. Imagine ordering your drinks from a tablet right from your barstool and a machine mixing your beverage precisely every time you order. No longer would you need to hope your bartender knows how to make an old fashioned properly because the machine will be programmed to do it perfectly every single time. They already have self-serve tap beer systems that allow patrons to pour their own beers, so taking this next leap is not too far-fetched.

In summary, there are many aspects of serving and bartending that you can expect to be replaced by technology over the next few years and decades. However, eliminating people altogether from the bar and nightclub industry won’t happen for quite a long time. Sure, you can have machines make your drinks and you can replace ordering and paying with software, but you will still need servers to deliver food to the table and bartenders to bring the drinks to thirsty customers sitting on their barstools.

Holiday Bonuses

Holiday Bonuses: Pros and Cons

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Most people think that the real compensation for an employee working at a bar or nightclub is their tips; and for the most part that is true. Many bartenders and servers consider their tips as their paycheck and their paycheck as their tip. However, many nightlife employees have families which rely on both their paycheck and their tips to make ends meet, so one night of bad tips or an unexpected illness can lead to some tough budgeting decisions; especially around the holiday season.

For these reasons, it has been customary for decades for an employer to give out holiday bonuses as an act of kindness to their employees. This practice is still in full effect for many occupations including office workers and upper management at retail stores, but most of the time the only ones who get to enjoy this perk are people who work for small businesses.

As a small business owner, you rely heavily on a very specific group of people. Each of them is an important fixture in your business, and you likely know every one of their names and see them on a fairly regular basis. Giving out Holiday bonuses is generally seen as a way to attract and keep top talent when you’re smaller than the big name competitors, but even small businesses have been getting away from rewarding their employees.

So, this begs the question: should you give your employees a Holiday bonus or not? Here are the pros and cons of giving out Holiday bonuses to your employees so you can make that determination for yourself.

Pros

The most notable reason that giving your employees Holiday bonuses is a good idea is that you will be building loyal and hard-working employees. If your employees aren’t feeling rewarded or appreciated, they tend to slack off more and care less about their job and your bar or nightclub. Additionally, you can have the best qualified bartenders and servers if you offer bonuses because the best people will always follow the money and the appreciation.

Cons

Obviously, most business men don’t want to pay people more than they need to. After all, your employees are getting paid a fair wage for their work, and you create an environment for earning tips to boot. Furthermore, once you give out Holiday bonuses, you’ve set a dangerous precedent that they’ll be receiving one every year. Giving out Holiday bonuses to your employees will ultimately hurt your bottom line, and that is also the most important thing at the end of the day.

Whether you see the value in giving your employees a bonus or you are more centered on the success of your business, weighing the pros and cons can help you make your decision. Just make sure you take into account that your employees might counting on their Holiday bonus before you decide whether or not give them out.

Employee Exit

Retaining your Qualified Bar Staff

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One of the worst things that you’ll ever need to deal with when you’re a small business owner is the departure of one or more of your most important and qualified staff members. After spending years finding and training the perfect employees for their position, watching them walk out the door to work somewhere else and having someone else come in to be trained can be very stressful and time consuming. The problem gets much worse when it’s your star bartender or server hits the road, so trying to increase employee retention is vital to running a successful bar and nightclub.

Though there are certain circumstances that are completely out of the control of both you and your employees, there are many reasons that bar owners lose employees that can be avoided. Here is a short list of reasons why employees quit so you can take the proper steps to rectify any workplace related issues that could lead to your being short-staffed.

Lack of Good Management

Management is the most important aspect of retaining your good employees. If your manager is not good at their job or can’t relate well with some or all of your employees, it may be time for a change. A good manager will communicate with your staff, keep updated with their needs and feelings, and keep your business running smoothly.

Staying Professional

Though many of your staff members and managers will form personal relationships that exceed the confines of your bar or nightclub, keeping a professional work environment is essential. When any employee feels that their personal space has been violated, they will seek employment somewhere else.

Poor Choice of Employees

Knowing who to hire is just as important as how you treat an employee once they’re on the staff, so make sure your manager knows how to interview people and check their references. Nothing leads to a vacancy in your staff faster than an employee who can’t do their job properly from the start.

Lack of Systems

Frustrated employees will always look for a less stressful work environment, and having a lack of systems in place is a fast way to accomplish this feat. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them and that their workday is somewhat predictable to keep your retention numbers as high as possible.

Lack of Positive Reinforcement

If an employee doesn’t feel appreciated in their job, they will look at other bars and nightclubs where they will be. You don’t need to give theme five figure raises; just an occasional “good job” to your bartenders and servers can be enough positive reinforcement to make the difference between a happy employee and one who is ready to walk out the door on a busy Saturday night.

Predictable Scheduling

Most people want a predictable schedule from their job, and jumping all over the place will lead to your best employees going elsewhere. Obviously, people will request days off and holidays will need extra staffing, but keeping your employees’ schedules somewhat fixed when at all possible will keep them happy and fresh for each of their shifts.

Lack of Opportunity

Most employees are interested in upward mobility that comes along with better hours and better pay. You should always promote from within instead of bringing outside staff into higher positions for your bar otherwise your staff that has been working hard for years will find a place where they’re appreciated a little better.

Though there’s no “magic bullet” for solving every scenario with your employees, having an idea of how to create a fun, productive, and stress-free work environment can go a long way. If you run your bar or nightclub properly and have the right systems in place, retaining your qualified bar staff and employees will be less challenging than you might think.

Employment Application

Attracting the Best Talent to Your Nightclub

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There are a lot of facets to running a successful bar or nightclub. In no particular order, your club’s location, the design and layout of your venue, and the quality of your drinks each play a major role in drumming up repeat business. However, one of the most overlooked pieces to the recipe is your server and bartender staff that will be the face of your operation. Without having competent and friendly staff to greet and serve your customers, having everything else in perfect order won’t do you the least bit of good.

From the customer perspective, the reason they are going out to a nightclub in the first place is to escape the rigors of daily life and unwind. Most of your customers are willing to pay a premium for this type of experience, and when they pay that fee they expect to have high quality service from a friendly staff. Unfortunately, the nightlife industry is riddled with angry and inexperienced staff members all over the place, so you need to take the necessary steps to make sure you’re hiring the best crew possible. Here are some key things to consider when you’re doing your hiring to help you attract the best talent to your nightclub that you possibly can.

Actually Call Their References

One of the biggest mistakes that most business owners commit is taking an applicant’s credentials at their word. It really isn’t hard to make up a laundry list of prior experience to make yourself look good on paper, and you’d be surprised at how often people are actually doing this to attempt to get a job that is way above their experience level. To combat this, you need to require a few references from qualified people on each applicant’s resume and actually follow up with those references via a phone call. Also, you need to make sure those people are real references and not just some of the applicant’s friends from high school or college trying to make them look more experienced than they actually are.

Use a Probationary Period

If you want to run a top-tier nightclub, then chances are you are going to be setting your servers and bartenders up for success in the form of higher tips. This is both through volume and actual check amount since customers at high class nightclubs typically have a larger bill and tip at a higher percentage than those at ordinary establishments. By holding your staff to a 30 day probationary period, you can encourage them to do the highest quality of work possible and learn good habits. As a reward, they will be receiving a bucket of cash in the form of tips and that alone can be enough to keep them performing at the highest level possible.

Create a Desirable Workplace

Lastly, you can’t get the top talent in any city without creating a desirable workplace that is fun, friendly, and encourages teamwork. As soon as a notable bartender is soured on your nightclub, they will tell other top bartenders in the area and nobody with any real skill or talent will apply for a position. You don’t want to make work a free-for-all where people break the rules and steal from the till, but attracting the best talent to your nightclub is best achieved by making work a place where your employees are happy to be.

Drunk Bar Patrons

Refusing Service: The Easy Way

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Every so often, you’re going to get a patron that has had way too much to drink and just doesn’t know when enough is enough. Sure, you can do your best to spot potential problems before they blow up into a full out fiasco, but sometimes that’s easier said than done; especially in a busy and crowded venue. Most people who enter the bar and nightclub industry are aware of the potential hassles associated with conducting business before their doors ever open, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to deal with. Fortunately, there are a couple of easy ways to go about refusing service to an unruly patron with both speed and class to interrupt your other customers as little as possible.

Identifying the Problem

The first thing you need to do to deal with a potential problem is to spot it in the first place. By properly training your bartenders and server to know when someone is reaching that point of too intoxicated, you can reduce the frequency that you have to take more drastic action. If a person is getting close to their limit, you can take your time serving them to try to let the problem work itself out. If you have to cut someone off from drinking, it’s a lot easier to do if they aren’t already way over the limit.

Optionally, many bar and nightclub owners are choosing to integrate monitoring software into their POS systems to give their employees the upper hand. After a certain number of drinks are served to a particular table or patron, you are signaled the next time you ring in a drink order that they are at a “checkpoint”. The bartender, a server, or the floor manager should stop by the table for a “meet and greet” to verify that everything is still good and they can continue enjoying your bar or nightclub without any problems. Usually, this trigger would occur after a table orders bottle service as well.

Dealing with the Problem

So, you’ve done everything you possibly can to prevent your patrons from getting way too drunk, but still somebody has slipped through the cracks and is making it difficult for the rest of your customers to have fun. Don’t panic, this is why you create a plan for refusing service ahead of time. Whoever is delegated as the head of security should head over to the table. Many bars and nightclubs have a bouncer on staff on busy nights for this very reason, but often times this responsibility falls onto the floor manager.

Your best option is to approach the table and ask the person causing trouble to step away and have a word with you. They are much more likely to cooperate if they’re on their away from their friends, and it is a less intimidating atmosphere. Simply ask them to leave, and hopefully they’ll oblige. If not, you can tell them that the police will be called to escort them off the premises. It’s a good idea to have a server or bartender observing your interaction, and have a hand signal ready if there’s too much trouble when refusing service. If all else fails, call in the police for reinforcements.

By standing your ground and keeping your other guests safe and entertained, you can make the experience at your bar or nightclub much better. It’s not always fun and sometimes you don’t want to deal with it, but you should never let one bad apple spoil the fun for every other paying customer.

Bartender Tips

The Best Ways to Make More Tips

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When you work in the food and beverage industry, a very large portion of your earnings will come in the form of tips. Some bartenders will make as much as 90% of their earnings from tips, so learning how to encourage your guests to be a little more generous can make a really big difference. Sure, you could just ask for a better tip from each of your faithful patrons, but more than likely you will just insult and alienate them and quickly see an increase in empty barstools; which won’t lead to a fatter wad of cash at the end of the night! Instead, you should use the ancient art of subtlety to make more tips, and here are some of the best tools you can use to accomplish just that.

Smile and Have Fun

When people head out to the bar or nightclub, they want to escape from their regular routine and enjoy life. The last thing they want is a bartender or server with a bad attitude and this will almost certainly reflect in their tipping habits. By simply wearing a nice smile and being friendly to your guests, you can put yourself on the way to earning more tips in no time.

Steady and Controlled Pace

It can be really easy to find yourself rushing around behind the bar or throughout the dining room; especially when it gets really busy. While it’s true that you need to get your drinks made and delivered in a timely fashion, running around like a chicken with your head cut off is not a good way to get your customers to relax. On the flip side, seeming too relaxed and disinterested can be equally off-putting. To maximize your tips, try to find a happy-medium between the two paces and you will also be rewarded with a less stressful workday.

Hone Your Skills

There’s nothing better as a customer than having a special bar or nightclub that can make a certain drink just right, so hone your skills and develop a specialty. Once you do, make sure everyone knows about it in a non-boastful manner. This will get you more repeat customers that you’ve built a solid relationship with across the bar and they are more likely to tip you well.

Learn to Upsell

Though you don’t want to shove drinks down the throats of customers that won’t enjoy their flavor, selling them a more expensive version of what they want will benefit both parties. Since most people tip based on the total cost of their bill, you will see more tips if it is slightly larger and they are more likely to enjoy themselves more if the drinks are tastier. When learning to upsell, you need to make sure you know what you’re talking about or you will look like a used car salesman and turn away customers.

Dress Well

Nobody expects their bartender to show up to work in a three piece suit, but shaving, styling your hair, and wearing a nice shirt can go a long way. Most customers aren’t interested in seeing the person making their drink where a wrinkly t-shirt and studies have shown that a bartender or server that looks classier is more likely to receive a larger tip.

Give Them a Show

Though it takes many years of practice and you don’t want to overdo it, doing a few bar tricks here and there can really increase the perceived value of your bar or nightclub. As you move around behind the bar, flip a bottle or two every so often if you have the skills and your customers will feel inclined to tip more because you are obviously a very skilled bartender.

Ultimately, there’s no sure-fire way to make a person tip more; but you can certainly stack the odds in your favor. Some people are cheap and always will be, and some people are generous and can give a great tip under the right conditions. Your best bet as a bartender or server is to create the right conditions, hope for the best, and count your wad of cash at the end of the night.

Training Servers

Training Servers, Not “Order Takers”

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To make money selling cocktails and beers in a bar, restaurant, or nightclub, you need to rely on your server staff to upsell drinks and pitch your highest margin items. Beyond just being a person who brings drinks out to tables, your servers need to be salespeople in order to be successful. This not only increases the bar’s total profits, but it also will earn them more tips each night and make them a happier employee. Fortunately, teaching your servers to be salespeople instead of just “order takers” is purely a matter of training, so here are some things to consider when preparing a new recruit to hit the ground running.

Orientation

Introducing your new server to the business is crucial to making them feel like they’re part of the team and ready to contribute. It is a good idea to have some of your veteran bartenders and servers present to welcome them into the family and also lay out the expectations of work ethics and attitude. This is crucial to giving them the tools to succeed.

POS Training

Next, you’ll want to get the technical stuff out of the way such as learning the POS system to ring in orders. Learning the basics of the job is very important because it will make your servers either very fast or very slow with their table turnaround times. You’ll also want to practice things like checking IDs and knowing when a customer has had too much to drink so you can spot and stop potential problems before they get out of control and require security’s intervention.

Shadowing

Once you feel that your new server ready to get out on the floor, have one of your veteran servers shadow them for a few nights to make sure they can do the job. There is nothing better than getting critiqued after each table visit by someone who knows the ropes; provided that the criticism is constructive. After each table your new server goes to, they can move onto the next one with a greater chunk of knowledge and new skills which will help to boost their confidence and prepare them for being on their own.

Secret Shoppers

Once a server is ready to wait tables without another person shadowing them, it’s always good to send in a few stealth customers to double check their work when nobody is looking. Known as “secret shoppers”, these customers will have a list of things they are looking for and will report them either directly to you as the owner or to the floor manager if you have delegated someone else to be in charge. This is a really great way to keep quality of service under control and grow the skill of your newest servers to make their performance better across the board.

Monthly Tastings

Once your new servers are fully trained, vetted, and working their own sections without any issues, you’ll need to make sure that they are up-to-date with all of your latest cocktails and specials. As I mentioned before, your servers are essentially salespeople, so knowing the product is vital to their performance. Consider having a monthly meeting where all of the staff gets together to sample the latest cocktail creations on the menu and learn about the monthly specials. You don’t need to give everyone a full cocktails; just a small sample so they know how to describe it to a customer and upsell your highest margin items with confidence.

Perceived-Value

The Importance of Perceived Value

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When you’re expecting someone to cough up a large chunk of change for food, drinks, and entertainment, one of the most important ingredients for success is to have your customers feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. If every customer that you have come through your door feels like they’ve been ripped off at the end of the night, you won’t be in business for very long. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give them larger portions of food, more expensive liquor, or lower your prices, but rather you need to make their perception of what their paying for palatable. This practice is a combination of science and art, and it is known as perceived value.

In essence, perceived value is the appearance of a product, service, or experience being more valuable than it actually is. Let’s face it; it would be a whole lot cheaper for your customers to go to their local liquor store and stock up on their favorite beer, wine, or liquor instead of coming to your bar or nightclub, so you really need to take a hard, long look at what you’re really selling. The answer my friends is an experience, and there are a few ways that you can make it a great one for your customers and have them paying more money for the exact same items.

Curb Appeal

First impressions matter in the bar and nightclub business, and for us it starts right at the curb. As your guests approach your venue, you want it to look like a fun and classy place that is safe to hang out at for the evening. Additionally, you want it to seem like it’s a little upscale but without that stuffy experience that many of the downtown nightclubs offer. If you can manage to pull all that off, you’re most of the way there already.

Interior Ambiance

Once your guests walk through the door, everything should be perfect. The decorations, the lighting, and the general mood of your entire bar or nightclub needs to be just right so that guests feel like staying longer and be willing to spend a little more on their food and drinks. The best way to do this is to make sure your venue is designed for the market in your area and follows a logical theme throughout the entire building.

Staff and Service

One thing that can make a customer’s experience terrible regardless of how nice your venue appears to be is bad service. Customers won’t tolerate waiting at a bar that’s way too packed to get service or at their table hoping a waitress will realize they exist. By hiring a great staff and giving them all the proper training, you can ensure that your customers get first class service and will come back again and again.

Presentation

Lastly, presentation is everything in the nightlife industry, so you need to be at the top of your game in this department. By simply mixing and garnishing your cocktails properly and serving them in a high quality glass, you can easily charge more for the exact same drink. Similarly, by making your plates look more decadent than they really are, customers are willing to pay more for smaller portions as long as the food is delicious and visually seems to be worth the money; which means that you will have higher margins without increasing your costs.

In the end, perceived value is all about creating the illusion that the customer is getting more than they actually are. You may think this is a little devious, but you just need to remember that the customer is paying for an experience. As long as you are providing that in abundance, most of your guests won’t mind the small upcharge for your bar or nightclubs efforts.

The Importance of Staff Training

The Importance of Staff Training

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Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do if you want to make money in the bar or nightclub scene is to have the best staff in the business. Besides having a great atmosphere and delicious cocktails, the number one reason that customers come back is because the staff does a great job catering to their needs. Additionally, in order to make as much money as possible, your staff needs to know how to properly portion their ingredients and avoid over-pouring, as well as creating up-sales when they interact with the customers one-on-one. This may sound like a difficult balance to create in your workplace, but with proper staff training if can be done quite easily.

Bartender Training

When training your bartenders, it is important that the person doing the training knows exactly what they’re doing. If you have a lead bartender, usually that is the person you’ll put in charge of training the new bartenders. Also, you should only hire bartenders that already have some experience so you aren’t working from a blank slate. Make sure that they understand your entire collection of signature recipes before you let them run the bar unsupervised, and also enforce pouring regulations so you don’t lose quality standards. You should have pour tests on a regular basis, and also do random audits to ensure that there isn’t free liquor going out to the patrons.

Server Training

When training your servers, it is important to remember the various functions that they need to provide as part of their job description. First off, they are the face of your company, so they need to be happy, polite, and accommodating. Secondly, they need to promote the highest margin beverages based on what the customer orders. If a customer is drinking vodka-based drinks, she can recommend one of your signature cocktails to make their experience better and also increase your profit margins. Lastly, a good server will be the eyes and ears of your establishment. If someone has had too much to drink or there is a fight looming, they should tip off the security staff to prevent a scene. With proper training, your servers will be able to accomplish all of these tasks during the course of a regular shift.

Manager Training

Your team is only as good as the manager who leads them, so it is very important that you have a properly trained manager on staff at all times. The role of the manager is not only to lead the staff through example, but also to snuff out any problems that arise and take care of the day-to-day functions and activities that are required to keep your doors open. Essentially, your managers will need to take care of everything that you would be doing if you were in the building while you are not, so there is a huge amount of trust that goes along with the job. You should make sure that your managers either have previous experience in the bar or nightclub industry before they are hired, or promote from within your own ranks. This will ensure that they are properly trained in every department and ready to take responsibility for your business regardless of what transpires.

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