If you are running a business with a bar, you know it’s crucial for at least one person in your team to be a good bartender. At least a few others should understand the basics of bartending in case of an emergency. Easier said than done, though – there’s a lot more to how to be a good bartender than being able to mix a great cocktail. It’s okay to specialize, but the basics of bartending go well beyond this and are as sophisticated as any customer-facing job.
Bar customer service or, if you’re in a more traditional setting, pub customer service, can serve up special challenges. After all, while many people relax after a few drinks, there is always the possibility that your bartenders will have to deal with more volatile personalities than servers in the main dining room. To make sure that everything goes smoothly throughout the whole shift, it’s important to deploy great bar customer service whenever you can. This leads to great reviews, word of mouth recommendations, and the kind of clientele you want.
Here are six secrets that can get you closer to the best in pub customer service:
1) Have a Great Point of Sale System in Place
Your point of sale system is absolutely key to making sure that things go smoothly in a situation where multiple people, many of whom might have enjoyed drinks recently, have all been running tabs. Make sure that your POS system is easy to operate, that your bartenders understand how it works, and that it takes all of the mental work out of managing multiple tabs per table.
2) Keep Things Clean
Although bars have a tendency to be darker than the main dining area, don’t be tempted to think that patrons aren’t paying attention. Keeping the bar area clean and neat is one of the main tips offered by About.com’s The Importance of Customer Service for Bartenders. A clean bar will help encourage people to stay and spend a bit more money. Plus, accidents will be less likely.
3) “Follow the Golden Rule”
Another Wine Blog’s Tale of Two Bartenders highlights the importance of making sure that your bartenders are friendly, positive, and upbeat – basically, “do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” The bartender’s attitude makes a huge difference for your customers. Be sure to give bartenders the chance to take brief breaks and recharge, especially later in the night.
4) Anticipate the Small Details
In 20 Rules for Bartenders, Serious Eats columnist Michael Neff asserts that “great bartenders are born, not made.” While we won’t go that far, it’s important to make sure that your bartenders are able to spot small details and act on them, “reading” your patrons just the same way that your other service staff would. Check out that link for a few of the “small” but crucial details.
5) Help Newcomers Get to Speed
The Maryland Bartending Academy’s Rookie Bartender Tips help to remind us that just getting started in a customer service role can be a lot more complex than the “advanced” stuff. Review these points with your new bartenders and be sure that one of your “old hands” is available to take newer bartenders under his or her wing. You’ll benefit in terms of the reviews you get.
6) Card Customers Constantly
Although it might seem like this should go without saying, it never hurts to be reminded: Card your customers every time. Although the vast majority of customers at most establishments are legitimate, it is very easy for underage patrons to “look” as if they’re of drinking age. Be aware of the signs of fake photo IDs and take action accordingly – just as you would if someone had one drink too many.