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Whether you’ve opened up a chic wine bar or a local neighborhood watering hole, here are ten bar management tips that will teach you how to run a bar successfully.
1. Scope out other bars.
Make a list of your favorite bars and decide why you like them. Look for commonalities and take note of anything that stands out. Then visit them. Chat with the owner or take a seat at the bar to watch the service. Make sure to take notes.
Then list out establishments that don’t appeal to you and find similarities amongst that list. A trip to a bar that you don’t like may not be a lot of fun, but you can learn a lot about what you want to avoid by observing it.
Your research shouldn’t end there. Aside from highlighting the best and worst attributes of a bar, make sure you know the bars in your neighborhood. Spend an adequate amount of time understanding what works and what doesn’t in that area.
2. Ensure your finances are in top shape.
A big issue for a lot of owners is lack of funding when they are learning how to run a bar. Startup costs aside, running a successful bar takes a lot of money, and you want to be prepared. Business funding can cover a variety of other aspects of your bar like inventory, marketing, and building renovations. Find the right investors and select a business loan that works for you.
3. Optimize your bar layout.
Overcrowded spaces are everyone’s worst nightmare. When you’re designing your bar’s layout, be sure to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. How much standing room will your customers want? How many barstools can you add without cramping the space? Putting yourself in the mind of your customers when you are planning the design of your bar can be extremely beneficial down the line.
4. Establish relationships with neighbors.
As you are learning how to run a bar, there’s a relationship that needs to be fostered which goes beyond your customers. Other neighborhood businesses — whether it’s a clothing boutique or another bar — can add tremendous value to your business. Because they have a better understanding of the area and typical clientele, other owners can provide insight on how you can be successful. Down the line, you might even work together on special promotions or marketing campaigns.
5. You can’t survive on the weekend alone.
While crowds tend to be the heaviest on the weekends, you can’t keep your bar in business if you rely solely on Saturday night. To encourage customers to come in during the week, most bar owners have a schedule of regular promotions and events like happy hour, game night, and karaoke.
6. Stress hospitality.
The customer experience at your bar makes or breaks your business. Customers remember an inattentive or rude bartender, and the poorer your service, the less likely they are to come back. When hiring and training your employees, make sure they have a genuine manner and a customer-first attitude.
Additionally, get feedback from customers as often as possible, so you can see, control, and improve the perception of your bar.
And remember, keep your employees happy and they will keep your guests happy.
7. Don’t skip out on inventory planning.
It’s not a secret: Planning inventory is tedious, but learning how to improve bar inventory is critical. To successfully run a bar, you need to use an effective inventory management tool for better visibility into what’s in stock and what needs to be ordered. Additionally, having analytics software allows you to evaluate your sales, look for trends, and better forecast inventory. Making decisions based on your data can help your bar grow.
8. Keep your drink menu simple.
Have you ever picked up a drink menu and felt overwhelmed? Sometimes, having too many options can have a negative effect on customers. It can also make your costs skyrocket because of the increase in inventory and potential for waste.
So keep your menu simple when you open and test out drinks by featuring a new item on a weekly or monthly basis. An added bonus of testing drinks is that a changing menu keeps your customers coming back for more.
9. Create a signature drink.
An easy way to generate buzz in the community and intrigue new visitors is to create a signature drink exclusive to your bar. Once you’ve settled on your signature drink, make sure you promote it in your bar and via social.
10. Offer something for everyone.
Dietary restrictions — whether they’re because of an allergy or a lifestyle choice — are common these days. And there is a huge opportunity to target an underserved market, whether it’s gluten-free eaters, vegans, or people with dairy issues. Make sure you have items on the menu that everyone can enjoy. Research different gluten-free beers and explore cocktails with natural ingredients.
Running a business is no easy feat, but Square is here to help. We have all the tools you need to start, run, and grow your business, whether you’re selling in person, online, or both. And we’ve made all our tools to work together as one system, saving you time and money — and making decisions easier. So you can get back to doing the work you love and focusing on whatever’s next. See how Square works.