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What Your Bar Needs to Succeed

Posted by Bryan Wang

So you’ve taken the plunge or are about to. You are about to become or already are a bar owner. You have that great location and space and are ready to serve eager patrons. But do you really know what it takes to succeed as a bar owner and operator? There are many courses for would-be bartenders but less for bar owners.

Here we go over what you should watch out for in order to run your own bar and maybe even see it grow to multiple locations:Train Staff

Not only should you hire knowledgeable bartenders who know their craft from the inside out but you should keep an eye on training them and other staff continually after they are hired. Remember patrons visit a bar as much for the people serving them and by extension the experience as they do for an expertly mixed drink. Hence training should center on customer service and product knowledge. There are a number of ways to do this whether it’s having a beer rep train them on how to pour a draught to having a wine sommelier explain the basics of wine tastings. 
 Also remember to check pour levels; inaccurate pouring can lead to lost inventory. Try tools like Bevchek which helps monitor beer pour levels in real-time. When integrated into a POS like Vexilor specialized for restaurant and bar this type of tool can be very useful in having exact numbers and stats on how your inventory is depleting. Aside from this, use jiggers or measuring pourers for newer bartenders. 

Please the Eye

The first impression you make on your customers is what they see and feel when they step into your bar. Ambiance matters as much as good customer service. As such focus on decor as much as you focus on your menu. Patrons visit bars for relaxation and entertainment – as well as some quality menu items. Part of providing them with that experience is through decor. Current decor trends for bars include creating an intimate atmosphere, having a lounge space, featuring beautiful architecture and casual seating at bar height. These trends center around creating an intimate atmosphere which promotes spontaneous interaction between patrons. 

People come to bars often to meet others and increasingly bar owners are recognizing this in their decor and layout decisions.  Comfortable seating in a lounge-like space or architectural and decoration features which spark conversations are elements of this. In creating or updating your bar space always think of the human factor. 

In addition to looking at design trends another way to decide on which decor direction you want to go with is by theme. What is the theme of your bar? Urban or country for example. If it’s urban then you know you need to go with decoration decisions that reflect this theme. Also think of your target patrons. Who lives near your establishment? And who do you want to frequent your bar? If it’s female, young professionals who live downtown for example then choose a decor style that would appeal to them.  Remember image is very important for bars which usually need to be perceived as ‘hip’ and relevant. 

Menu Matters

Both the presentation and the content of your menu are crucial to your bar’s success. Make sure you hire a professional designer to create your drink and food menus and consider showcasing high profit items with professional photos. Make sure you’ve covered the basics such as making sure the items are easy to read and have insightful yet short descriptions of the items. Also post your menu on your website and on the window of your bar so that you are continually advertising your great food and drink items to potential customers. 
Consider the moves in the bar industry towards small plate items to encourage experimentation and sharing, an emphasis on reasonable prices and providing gourmet food options with quality ingredients.  Previously bar food was considered to be sub-par to restaurant options. Now however bars are hiring chefs to craft and curate their food menus. Partially this is as bar owners don’t want their patrons leaving their establishments late into the night to grab a bite from a burger joint. Instead they want to keep them in their seats and ordering from a food menu which features a variety of small items which allow for a sampling of flavors.  This gels with bar patrons’ desire to linger over their drinks with their friends. As they get hungry as their night continues they want to be able to enjoy reasonably priced fare which is smaller than an entree. Again, like with decoration make sure you get food and drink items that will appeal to your target patrons. 

Get a Specialized POS

Certain POS systems, like Vexilor POS, are specialized to the restaurant and bar industry and as such come with a slew of features (at an affordable price) that will help you reduce hassle and drive sales. Some of these features are:

  •  Inventory and Recipe Management – Assign recipes to your sellable items to deplete ingredient inventory in real-time. Vexilor’s Bill of Materials (BOM) integrates seamlessly into the menu and inventory controls systems to provide an intuitive recipe building system.  Take the guess work out of your drink and food ingredient inventory.

  • Scheduled Price Changes – This feature allows for automatic price changes on day of week, times in a day, periods within a month, or on specific dates. This feature is perfect for happy hours, weekly promotions, or special events, and ensures accuracy.  

  • Employee Management – Vexilor can easily provides analytics on employee labour costs against sales in real-time to determine if too many people are staffed or not enough. Vexilor also includes robust clocking, scheduling and push to accounting payroll capabilities. Receive detailed time and attendance information at the POS. Beyond this try employee gamification via the employee contest feature which tracks and compares sales data for staff. Contests can encourage employees to sell more. Remember your bar staff’s productivity is key to your success.

  • Mobile Payment – Vexilor supports Givex’s Single Use Number (SUN) technology to allow for mobile-based promotions and card-less programs. Customers can generate a QR code or barcode on their mobile device to redeem coupons, discounts, or promotions. The SUN provides additional security serving as a token for the full coupon, gift card, or loyalty number.  Younger patrons especially will be looking to be able to pay via mobile wallet.

Market to your Market

Figure out who your target market is and then start publicizing your bar to them over the channels that they most use! Whether it’s Instagram or Twitter, make sure you represent your bar’s brand with engaging content and appealing photos and visuals! Offer promotions over these mediums and remember that positive reviews matter! Monitor your Yelp reviews and also have your establishment featured on Foursquare and Zomato!

If you want to learn about how a specialized POS can help your bar succeed and even grow contact us for a commitment free call!

Topics: Point of Sale