To make money selling cocktails and beers in a bar, restaurant, or nightclub, you need to rely on your server staff to up-sell drinks and pitch your highest margin items. They need to reach 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 that makes 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.


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. You can also cover basic things like what bottle sparklers are and how read the patrons.

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. That way, you can spot and stop potential problems before they get out of control and require security’s intervention.

Shadowing While Training Servers

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. You don’t need to watch them with video cameras; just have someone follow them around. 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. These new skills will help to boost their confidence and prepare them for being on their own.

Secret Shoppers

Now, your server should be ready to wait tables without another person shadowing them. However, 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 Help When Training Servers

Once you’re done training servers, they should be working their own sections without any issues. Next, 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. Remember, cross-promotions can be a huge money maker!

Consider having a monthly meeting where all of the staff gets together to sample the latest cocktail . They can learn about the menu and monthly specials. You don’t need to give everyone a full cocktails; just a small sample. That way, they know how to describe it to a customer and up-sell your highest margin items with confidence.