Tips to being a Better Bar Manager

I found this really cool post on that identified 10 ways for bar managers to increase their skills and hopefully their success in these difficult times.

Only too often do bar managers become complacent in their jobs but the article suggests that just like baristas and chefs need to constantly improve and keep up to date so do bar managers. Bar managers have a unique position because not only do they have to know how to serve alcohol, they are also responsible for keeping things running smoothly in the bar, orders flowing, cash register balancing and staff and customers happy. A good thorough knowledge of one’s industry certainly increases the chances of promotion and for those ambitious bar managers these 10 tips provide some useful information on how to reach the top of your industry.

This is what the post had to say:

1.Upgrade your tech skills. Email and Google are easy to use, but how are you with spreadsheets for crunching stocktake numbers, or updating customer lists in a database? Learn how to interpret and download key reports from a Point of Sale system. Security cameras, TAB systems, staff monitoring and entertainment all use complex equipment. This can be intimidating for ‘old hands’, but why not swap some of your people-skills for a tech update from someone younger?

2.Learn how a business works. Not just case and keg prices, but how all the overheads fit into the total profit picture. Most staff don’t understand the real cost of doing business: your work is a central part of the profit and loss statement. If you’re given a budget, make sure it’s explained to you, and ask for all figures to be available weekly.

3.Keep up with the latest product trends. Bar and nightclub blogs and websites, discussion forums and webinars are a brilliant source of information. Yes, there’s sure to be some ‘on the job’ learning needed – late nights are part of the job description.

 But when you visit the latest flash bar you will be keeping a clear head and working out how they serve drinks so quickly, manage noise control, use clever lighting and also charge more than their competitors.

4.Learn about modern bar marketing. The real skill is designing a beer, wine and cocktail list that not only looks good, but also maximises profitability through design and pricing. Keep a portfolio of your own lists and menus, analysing why they’re  successful.

 Add to this a good understanding of social media, text messaging and online marketing – they can be the lifeblood of successful campaigns. You don’t have to run them all, but you need to know what’s possible.

5.Grow your experience with craft beers, wine lists and modern spirits. There’s no shortage of help from suppliers, but where they zig you zag; not just following the latest big promotion but gaining a reputation for originality and fresh ideas.

6.Develop your people skills. When you’re in charge of a team, leadership ability can make the difference between over-stressed or under-control. Develop your experience with modern recruitment, rostering, teamwork, personality types, conflict management, delegation and efficient meetings. These can feel intimidating when you’re new, but there are many young bar managers in charge of a team before they’re 25. Watch how the most effective leaders operate and ask for their ‘secrets’.

 Modern bars are like the United Nations, and you need the ability to work with everyone: Brazilian or Irish, French or Italian, young or old, gay or straight, male and female.

7. Be clever at training staff. Most bar staff don’t know enough about flavours, product origins and products beyond their own drinking habits. The more you teach them, the more they’ll look after you. Their tips increase, the boss is happy because sales are up, and your pay rise is easy to justify.

8.Be smart with drug and alcohol problems. You help people get drunk, but you’re also meant to stop them having problems. Your staff love a drink or three, and ‘recreational drugs’ are often a part of the scenery. But the legal penalties are severe, and you may be the licensee who takes the rap.

 No-nonsense bar managers identify staff with problems and get them into treatment or out the door.



The other points suggested by the writer of the post, was to “gain the respect of senior management”. This can be done by presenting the information you provide them about the running of the establishment in the most professional way. This may involve writing reports, spreadsheets or even compiling Powerpoint presentations. While it may be time consuming and you may have to work into your personal time, this will gain you the respect of your senior management which will help in the long run.

The post also advocates becoming environmentally responsible. By introducing energy and water saving measures you will not only be helping the environment butb you will save on costs. This has a snow ball effect and will also gain your respect from senior management as discussed above because after all the bottom line is all they are really concerned about.

Posted by Peter Cutforth