Offering your patrons an upgraded experience is an easy way to earn some extra revenue. One of the best ways to do this in the bar and nightclub industry is by offering VIP bottle service. However, to create a successful program, you need to make sure you train your service staff properly. It requires a combination of customer service skills, product knowledge, and operational know-how to get it just right. To help, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to train your staff for bottle service correctly.

Set a Company Policy and Provide Orientation

In order to have standards, you need to set a strict company policy that everyone follows. Your policy should emphasize quality, safety, and customer satisfaction above all else. Once you’ve created your policies, you need to do a staff meeting for orientation. You don’t need to worry too much about specifics, just give a good overview of the process and expectations.

Educate Them About the Products

Image of a Bar Staff Being Trained in on Bottle ServiceBefore you educate the staff on the offerings, you need to be an expert yourself. It’s a good idea to look through your sales history to determine which types of champagne and liquor are popular enough to offer for bottle service. Additionally, you need to consider the presentation so you can be familiar with all the optional add-on products. For instance, if you plan on attaching sparklers to your bottles, you need to know about the sparklers and the process of attaching them safely. Furthermore, get to know the various misers, garnishes, and glassware that accompany VIP bottle service offerings. Then you can do one-on-one training with your staff to teach them what you know so everything is consistent.

Stress the Importance of Service Etiquette

Proper etiquette is the cornerstone of great service at a bar or nightclub. This includes greeting customers, introducing themselves, and engaging in friendly conversation without being intrusive. When you train your staff for bottle service, it’s crucial that you stress these aspects in a big way. The whole idea is that they are getting rock star treatment, so you need to make every aspect special. Additionally, they need to be prepared to handle challenging situations and customer complaints gracefully.

Enforce Proper Presentation and Promote Upselling

When a staff member approaches a table about bottle service, the way they present the concept is very important. First, they should highlight the features and improved customer experience that comes along with such VIP services. Second, they should be trained to upsell customers to the higher end spirits to increase your profitability. Lastly, they need to blend these two techniques together gracefully so the customer doesn’t feel pressured. If you balance everything correctly, it will quickly show up on your bottom line.

Handle Reservations Correctly

When patrons are ready to shell out extra for VIP treatment, they often times call ahead for reservations. When a staff member answers the phone or an email, they should be friendly and knowledgeable about the process. Additionally, you should try to collect as much information as possible including seating preferences, what type of spirits they prefer, and any special requests they might have. I always suggest using an online reservation manager to simplify all of these processes. If you do the legwork ahead of time, everything will go smoothly once the customers arrive.

Opening and Presenting the Bottle Service

One of the most crucial areas to focus on when you train your staff for bottle service is the actual presentation at the table. When teaching your staff, you should demonstrate how to open the bottles correctly. Additionally, they need to be shown how to attach and light bottle sparklers correctly to enhance the spectacle for onlookers. Lastly, they should deliver the bottles with flair and excitement while also maintaining the correct safety practices. If you balance all of these things, your customers will have an amazing time.

Embrace and Enhance Their Mixology Skills

Image of a Nightclub Employee Practicing MixologyAfter the presentation, your staff will need to “wow” the patrons with their bartending skills. Since all the cocktails will be mixed at the table, you need to train your staff to do the work remotely away from the bar. Once of the best ways to make the service exciting is incorporate mixology skills and techniques into the show. By teaching each staff member some simple tricks, they can easily pour drinks both accurately and stylishly.

Teach the Team to be Safe and responsible

When your establishment is open to the public, you have a responsibility to keep your guests safe. In terms of bottle service, there are specific areas that should draw your concern. Obviously, the sparklers are a potential hazard if safety guidelines aren’t followed. Additionally, some servers or bartenders may over-serve the customers since they are VIPs. Make sure to set standards for patron intoxication limits so everyone at your bar or nightclub can enjoy their evening.

Proper Billing and Transaction Protocols are Important

With so many moving parts, properly billing customers for bottle service can be challenging. People can make a lot of requests during the service, so make sure your staff is trained to ring in each add-on as it happens. Additionally, you’ll want to spot check your team members to make sure they aren’t giving special treatment to a table. It can be tempting to take a large tip and omit certain mixers etc. from the bill. By staying vigilant, you set the expectations early and eliminate any nefarious employee theft opportunities.

Focus on Teamwork and Communication Skills

Teamwork can either make or break nearly any place of business. However, in hospitality sectors, it is crucially important. Each staff member should be required to learn good communication with the other employees. During training, consider presenting various scenarios when collaboration is necessary to set a good standard. Additionally, have team meetings regularly to address any potential complaints or situations before they bleed over onto the sales floor. When your employees are coordinated, the customers will enjoy their bottle service much more.

Setup Mock Bottle Service Scenarios

One of the most important aspects to consistent service is practice. Since bars and nightclub can get quite busy, maintaining these standards on the fly is nearly impossible. Instead, setup training days with mock situations so you can observe and critique their performances. Additionally, this will give your crew some exposure to bottle sparklers before they go prime-time. If you see an issue while practicing, it can easily be addressed and remedied. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to train your staff for bottle service in a monitored environment.

Never Stop Training

Once you take the initial steps to train your staff for bottle service, it’s important to never let off the throttle. There are always new products coming out, so you need to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest and greatest innovations in the industry. Furthermore, even seasoned veterans need to be reminded of simple procedures from time to time. Employees tend to get sloppy in their duties over time, so doing routine education is a great way to keep your quality standards in check.

Offer Constructive Criticism and Quality Feedback

It’s important to let your staff know how they are doing based on the things you see. Whether it’s during training or on the sales floor, take notes about areas that need improvement. When approaching your staff, provide helpful instruction and note their strengths in addition to their weaknesses. Also, try to promote a healthy workplace where open discussion is encouraged. Being constructive in your criticism and feedback will help you train your staff for bottle service.

Is It Worth the Hassle to Train Your Staff for Bottle Service?

At the end of the day, your main goal should always be consistency. By providing ongoing training, support, and feedback, you can ensure the best experience for everyone involved. Additionally, you can’t be everywhere all at once. On certain holidays, you’ll be expecting your staff to use bottle sparklers on Thanksgiving for their VIP services without any supervision. By following these steps to properly train your staff for bottle service, you can enjoy your time away from the business without any additional stress. Take care!