Not all people working as bartenders take their work as seriously as they should.
You probably know the type, if you’re working as a professional bartender. They’re the co-workers who make your job harder, because you’re constantly having to pick up their slack.
This blog is for the rest of you. It’s for those of you who know that bartending is a great job if you like talking to people and moving around a lot. A good bartender connects with customers the same way a close friend or a therapist would. You can’t just show up, make drinks and not try to relate to the people on the other side of the bar. You have to show off that personality of yours.
Here are eight tips to keep in mind. They’ll help you take your bar service to the next level and maximize your earnings every shift:
Run a clean bar. Make sure everything is clean and tidy. An unkempt bar with spilled mixers and fruit flies buzzing around the garnishes will send your clientele to another establishment in short order.
Greet every guest. Even when you’re busy, make sure you make eye contact and smile. This must be done quickly. Even if a customer has to wait only two minutes for you to say hi and take his order, to him it feels like an eternity. Address them by name if you can; customers want to feel welcome.
Remember what the regulars drink. It makes people feel important when you know what they like. After you greet a regular by name, offer their usual beverage of choice and mention any unusual feature of the drink you can recall them wanting in the past. Maybe they like their martini with extra olive juice, or maybe they like a cherry instead of a lime in their Cape Cod.
Be everywhere at once. Bartending is customer service on steroids. You have to be on top of your mixology, the cash register, your listening skills, your dish washing, changing out kegs, discussing wines—everything and anything, and often all at once. Bar service is a juggling act, and how much you earn is directly dependent on how well you can juggle.
Be aware. You have to know what’s going on around you. The second a customer finishes his drink, you have to ask if he would like another. Just like when you greeted him, a two or three-minute wait is too long.
Be a matchmaker. And no, we don’t mean that you should encourage romantic interludes between your guests. We mean that you should match an indecisive customer with the perfect drink for them, even if they’ve never heard of it. Here’s where your listening skills and liquor knowledge come into play. Ask them questions about what they’ve enjoyed in the past and what they have in mind for this experience. Make something hand-tailored and you’ll make a huge impression.
Have fun. A bartender fills many roles, and one of them is entertainer. Telling jokes may not be your forte, but you probably have a trick or two up your sleeve. Don’t intrude when two customers are having an intimate conversation, but feel out your guests and do what you have to do to make sure they’re having a good time. Bar flair, if you can pull it off, is a great attention-getter. If you’re not comfortable setting fire to shots or flinging bottles into the air, that’s okay. You’ll find the gimmick that works for you.
Don’t over-serve. Learn to recognize the signs of intoxication and don’t be afraid to cut someone off when they appear intoxicated. Offer them something to eat or a non-alcoholic option. Some of this is common sense; some of it you will learn when you take your alcohol seller and server training with Learn2Serve.