Educating Bartenders Worldwide.
By Beverage Trade Network
By and large, the bartender is the key figure in a bar. This is the person that can make or break a business in such a competitive industry, as their demeanor, talent, and experience will shape the perception of your bar in the eyes of your customers, preferably inspiring them to keep coming back. On the other hand, if you hire the wrong person for the job, you run the risk of alienating your customers through bad customer experience. And mind you, word travels fast in this niche.
This is why your top priority should be to improve the relationship between your bartender and your guests through proper training and education in order to help build a community. Needless to say, there are a lot of proverbial balls that your bartender has to keep in the air at all times to make your customers happy and spread the good word of your brand. So today, we’re talking about the best ways to build a thriving business through bartender-customer relationships.
There is no denying that, in such a competitive field, talented bartenders might not be difficult to find, but they surely are difficult to keep. This is not only because the best bartenders will not work for anything less than a hefty paycheck plus tips, but because new lucrative opportunities arise in their profession on a daily basis. If you’re not careful, someone is going to poach your bar’s greatest asset, which is why you need to invest in and appreciate your bartender.
But first, you will need to develop an effective hiring strategy that will appeal to the best of the best in the field, and inspire them to become a part of the team. Most importantly, though, you really do need to assess if the candidate is the right fit for your bar’s culture, your brand’s identity, and the narrative it creates. This will allow them to assimilate into the team, recognize your bar’s needs and adapt their style quickly, and it will ultimately influence their demeanor in front of the customers.
It doesn’t take much for a customer do build an opinion of your bartender, and therefore your brand as a whole. In fact, you can expect a new customer to form their opinion (that’s not likely to change) as soon as they come into contact with your bartender, which is the reason why first impressions matter so much in this industry. While it is true that every customer is different and that some will form a negative opinion no matter the bartender’s demeanor, it’s still important to establish a strict code of conduct that resonates with your brand, and has the highest chance of making a lasting, positive impression.
Your bartender and your team members need to be professional, passionate, and experienced enough to know that there is no room for their personal issues in the workplace, and that the customer always comes first. Depending on the identity of your bar (serious and rugged, classy, whimsical, or other), they will need to create a healthy balance between courteous and professional behavior, and an approachable and friendly façade to appeal to your customers and create a welcoming ambiance.
One of the biggest reasons why people keep coming back to bars is, of course, the prospect of innovation. Nowadays, customers can get bored quite quickly, and while most have their favorite drinks that they order time and time again, there is no denying that being creative and innovative as a bartender drives customer acquisition and retention. This necessitates that your bartender innovates new drinks on a regular basis, and keeps up to date with the latest trends, should a customer ask for a new type of cocktail they saw on the internet. Take the bartending scene in New York as a prime example.
This is a global hub where the top talent in the industry resides, where bartenders and catering companies such as Alchemiq are constantly innovating their recipes to transform professional mixology in NYC into a true artform, and appeal to an increasingly-demanding customer base. This allows bars to stay competitive, and capitalize on the traditional, beloved recipes as well as the new drinks that bring a dash of excitement into the mix.
A common mistake bar owners tend to make is to hire bartenders that don’t quite fit their brands identity, or are unwilling to adjust their talents, skills, and demeanor to portray their brand in the best possible light. After all, your bartender’s brand shouldn’t outshine your bar’s brand, rather, the two should complement and lift each other up in the eyes of your patrons.
Finding this right fit for your brand requires a bit of trial and error on your end, as you will need to analyze every candidate, learn about their own brand, and finally assess whether your two brands will clash or complement each other in the long run. The last thing you want is to hire a bartending superstar whose brand is loose morals and unadulterated fun if your bar is all about class.
Finally, never underestimate the customer’s ability, propensity, and desire to chat. This is a very delicate matter, as on the one hand your bartender has a job to do and a busy bar to run, but on the other, you can’t ignore a customer if they’re chatty because they will form a negative opinion, which is the worst form of bad marketing.
For this reason, your bartender needs to be experienced in interpersonal relationships, and they need to know how to handle and manage talkative customers. They need to be able and willing to listen, but without forgetting about the other customers, or focusing too much on a single person – they need to navigate the bar with ease and keep up the conversation all the while staying productive and positive.
Needless to say, the job of a good bartender entails much more than mixing drinks. This is one of the major reasons why some bars are simply more successful than others, as some bar owners understand the importance of bartender-customer relationships, and how to leverage the talent, experience, and personality of their bartenders to push their business forward as a whole.
*** About The Author ***
Diana Wills is a freelance writer and a Biochemistry graduate. Besides her PhD studies, she has a special interest in writing about nutrition and beverages. She's a regular contributor at HighStyleLife.com and Ripped.me, along with many other online publications. Her case-study publications on bartending and mixology topics were featured on relevant websites from the niche and her current projects are focused on beverage industry news and researches