A six pack of knowledge for bar managers
By David Puck, TAM® Program Director
Managing a bar is tough work. A bar manager can be in charge of many different aspects of the business. Hiring, firing, training, ordering, customer service, accounting, custodial and countless other duties that other industries may have spread out over several people. Corporate organizations and other companies may spend lots of time and money on training, educating and shaping their manager in leadership and the nuances of the industry. The Hospitality Industry is quite different. Bartenders on the receiving end of a promotion often find themselves steering the ship without a map, with little training in how to lead team-members, set an example and make tough decisions while keeping morale high (and keeping the operation afloat). So, if you want to be a bar manager or you are one and want to be a better one, it may be simpler than you think.
Below are several simple, basic tips to think about to become a better, more effective manager.
The main task of a bar manager is managing staff. From hiring, scheduling, training and discipline, this may take most of your time. However, having a good staff can take much of the burden off of you. While hiring, keep in mind “hire for attitude, train for skill.” Hiring a hardworking, flexible and personable staff will help solve many issues before they become full-blown problems. Almost everyone can be trained on bar policies and procedures, but teaching teamwork, personality and work ethic is much more difficult; therefore, you will want to look for those skills when hiring.
Training your staff before throwing them behind the bar should be a big part of your management style. TAM® training will give them the tools and knowledge to serve responsibly and legally but other training is needed as well. Even the most experienced staff will need training on your policies and what you expect in your establishment. Also, don’t skip the small stuff while training. Some things may seem like common sense, like how to speak to a customer, or how to be attentive and engaging.
Know Your Market
Knowledge of the industry as a whole is very important, but knowledge of your establishment and how it fits into your market is key. Knowing who you are competing against and why someone may go to the place down the street is very important. Is your bar just another place to go or do you have something that will bring people in the door? Understanding the competitive landscape you occupy is a necessity for all bar managers.
Keep Things Clean
While much of the cleaning duties may be delegated to your staff, it is your duty to make sure the work is done and done correctly. Having an unclean establishment can have major consequences. 96% of customers consider cleanliness first when choosing an establishment. A dirty kitchen or bar may also cause you to fail a health department inspection and incur expensive fines. Make sure your staff has a clear view of what to clean and how to clean.
You may have a clear idea and picture in your mind of how you want your place to operate; however, if you don’t clearly communicate with your staff those goals they will never come to fruition. Coming up with policies and procedures for every aspect of the business, from washing glasses to refusing service to an intoxicated customer, will give you the peace of mind that everyone is doing the same thing and it will help you more than you’d expect.
Establishing a rapport with each type of person that comes into your establishment can make your job much easier as well. Interacting with customers, especially regulars, will keep them coming back and will turn them into promoters of your place. Creating relationships with suppliers will help you solve any issues or problems you have because you have a direct line of communication to the company. A relationship with local law enforcement is also key in the hospitality industry. Liquor licensees and law enforcement must work together to ensure that everyone has a good, but safe, time. It is always better to work with the police in accomplishing that, than working against them. Ask them what they expect of you and don’t be afraid to let them know how you would like the relationship to go.
It can be overwhelming to be a bar manager, but starting with these simple tips can get you on the right path to a hopefully less-stressful, smooth career in the very rewarding hospitality industy.
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Dealers and Gaming Association