If you own a restobar, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as…well, a restaurant and a bar combined, then you know that it’s not as easy as it sounds.
It’s not as simple as inviting people in to enjoy a refreshing cocktail, watch a game, talk to old friends or meet new people.
Maybe your bar is profitable. But is it running as efficiently as possible?
If you also own a restaurant, you probably already know that managing a bar is entirely different from running a restaurant. There are a tonne of new things to focus on, and one bad slip could cost you a lot, faster than your regulars can chug their beers.
With that said, Alsco is always here for you, so here are 5 tips that you can implement in your restobar to make it run as smoothly as a brand new Lamborghini.
Make sure your staff are up to the task
There’s a saying that goes, “hire character, train skill.” That’s fine until one of those mates causes you big trouble by constantly spilling your drinks, overusing your ingredients, and wasting your inventory.
One of your bartenders may be pouring too much, which will eventually hurt your profit margin.
Even worse, one of your staff may be voluntarily giving away too many “on the house” drinks. Giving away one or two glasses can be okay for your brand rep, but if this happens too often, you stand to lose a lot.
Why not ask your trusted manager keep a close eye on his/her workmates. That might solve the last problem, but not others – you can’t really afford to fire people left and right, only to train new ones who might also do the same things, right?
It falls on you, then, to provide a constant, ongoing training program. Train them up on proper techniques, stress how important it is to pour the exact volume consistently, teach pro tricks, build up good habits, and reward great performance. Take care of your staff, and they will take care of your business.
Invest some effort into your marketing
Having a weekly happy hour is awesome, but practically every other bar in town does that.
It can work, sure. Your regulars love that, and they keep the business flowing. But does it provide growth? How much – or how little?
You probably know this by now, but when you are growing your brand, you must think of what makes your business unique. Discounts during happy hour does not make your business special.
Are you offering a special snack to go with your wine? Are you holding special promos every now and then? Have you partnered up with a local pastry shop to offer some yummy bread and cakes? Create a special menu that you can switch up regularly.
Speaking of partnerships, you could try partnering up with local companies and/or artists so you can occasionally host special events.
Let the people know – they’ll be interested to try you out, and you’ll get old-timers coming back. How can you do this? Well…there’s the internet. Social media is an awesome marketing tool! Post Instagram-worthy photos, share your events and invite people to join. A hashtag for your brand also makes you easier to remember.
Pro tip: Create an email marketing campaign. It’s still a very powerful tool, and it’s useful for attracting new customers and retaining new ones.
Here are the basic things you need to run a successful email marketing campaign for your restaurant:
- Build and manage your contact list
- Think of a creative mailing strategy
- Create effective content and attention-grabbing calls to action
- Measure and analyse the results
Organise your inventory properly
Showing off your liquor bottle collection for every customer to see is awesome, and it gives your bar a well-established feel. Most top bars have at least 120 different liquors on display.
Yeah, it looks cool, sometimes you can even colour-coordinate them, but can you ensure that auditing is simple when it’s time to do a count?
If there is no specific method to how you stashed your bottles, then your own bartenders might have trouble locating the liquor your customer specifically asked for. That means trouble – you can’t really tell your customer, “Sir/Ma’am, your wine will take 15 minutes to prepare. Are you willing to wait?” That would be disastrous.
Here are some tips on how you can segment your bottles:
- Keep 10-12 drinks with the “highest volume” in an easy-to-access place. 60%-80% of your investments probably go to these bottles, so you want them to be easily seen.
- Keep 60 or more “medium volume” wine in another easy-to-spot location. You order these at least every other week, so you would have to count them often.
- Find a safe place to keep your 40 or more “low volume” liquor. They’re probably the most expensive, and you’ll only be ordering them twice a year, more or less. Very few customers would order these.
Track all of your expenses
It goes without saying. All the money that goes in and out of your bar must be accounted for – especially the liquor purchases.
It is of utmost importance to check the prices before buying, as some suppliers take advantage.
Look out for price spikes every time you purchase. It’s easier to do this with technology! If you find that your regular supplier is taking you for a ride, it’s time to find a new one.
Pay close attention to your stocks
There is an important thing to consider when doing your counting – the variance. Variance is the difference between what you think you have in your stock, and what you actually have. Yeah, it’s like one of those ideal versus reality memes you see on Facebook.
Managing this is important to the profitability of your business.
No, you don’t have to check everything, only a few specific things: your high-usage items. Identify any variances regularly, track the biggest losses and identify the problem. You can refer back to the first point to help prevent huge differences in your variance.
Use modern tech well
All of the additional variables that factor in when running a bar compared to running a restaurant is not simple. There’s good news for you, though!
There are some solutions that can make life easier for you. While no software or app can train your bartenders how to handle their mixes well, or plan your next marketing campaign.
Modern tech helps you track your costs, keep yourself updated on prices, and ultimately, saves you money.
It isn’t simple, but it is rewarding
Running a restaurant bar can be more exciting than running just a restaurant. It has its ups, and its downs – just like everything else.
To help you stay mostly on the ups, Alsco has prepared free resources for you – this time, a treasure trove that contains 126 ideas that can help you grow your business.