Competition in the hospitality industry is fierce.
To be successful, you need to differentiate while implementing standard best practices. That’s right, you need to provide a unique experience to your customers and at the same time learn from other people’s mistakes and accomplishments.
In this article, we’re going to look at industry best practices for increasing your bar revenue and improving profitability.
Some of our tips will focus on sales specifically, while others will help you decrease operational costs and thus influence profit.
Ready? Let’s go.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1. Upselling Strategy
By training your bar staff and servers to upsell, you can significantly increase your sales.
Customers who come into your bar are there to order at least one drink. One of your marketing goals should be getting customers to buy more than one beverage and to order higher priced items.
Your employees need to be skilled at recommending these higher priced items and get customers interested in trying something new or ordering a similar premium expensive beverage.
Here’s how to upsell and see higher bar tabs:
When waiting for customers to decide what drink to order, servers can offer suggestions about your signature drinks or new items on your menu.
Recommend pairing drink selections with food items
Select a feature wine or craft beer to pair with specific food items on your menu. Your servers can recommend these pairings when taking orders or you can include these recommendations directly on your menu.
Upsell top-shelf liquor
As your bartenders take orders, they can ask the customer what their preferred brand is. Train your bar staff to suggest one or two other top-shelf brands, outlining the difference in better quality and taste as encouragement for customers to order a more expensive drink.
Encourage customers to try something new
Keep your menu new and exciting so your servers can regularly entice your customers to try something new. This means creating weekly drink specials, bringing in a new craft beer, or featuring a new wine-of-the-month.
Focus on signature drinks and food items that are more profitable
Create two or three signature drinks that are unique and exciting and on brand with your bar atmosphere. Offering these signature cocktails at a special price is a great way to get the evening started and inspire your customers to move on to higher priced drinks.
Do the same with your food menu – signature dishes that offer a new taste sensation can be paired with drink recommendations to boost your bar sales.
Before, during, and after drinks
When customers come into your establishment for food as well as a drink, train your staff to offer cocktails before the meal is ordered and then again with their meal. And when customers have finished a meal, offering alcoholic coffee drink specials is a nice way to wrap up an evening and increase the bar tab.
2. Create Mocktails
Have a good selection of alcohol-free drinks on your menu.
Mocktails are important for both designated drivers to feel included and for those customers who are choosing to abstain from alcohol but still want to experience a great night out.
One of the biggest trends today is to craft delicious and specialty mocktails using fresh, local, and unique ingredients. By creating a separate mocktail menu that stands out, you will appeal to a new customer segment that’s growing quickly.
3. Boost Premium Liquor Sales
It’s not just your top-shelf liquor sales that will increase your bar revenue. Train your bartenders to recommend premium brands when pouring for customers – these drinks are more affordable for customers which encourages them to order more than one drink over the course of the evening.
4. Offer Free Tasting
To bump up your drink sales, offer your customers a free tasting.
When given a sample, people are more inclined to reciprocate your generosity and buy the full pour drink. This strategy is also a good way to determine if a new local wine or craft beer is gaining approval from your customers and should become a regular item on your menu.
Do the same with your food menu – create a new appetizer and offer customers a small sample to introduce them to a new menu item.
5. Update Your Menu
Trends in drinks and foods are always changing – this means you need to know what people want when they walk into your establishment.
Your regular customers will spend more if you update and renew your menu at least once every three months. Otherwise, a boring and familiar menu may push them over to your competition.
So consider introducing some novelty, like a new drink and food special each month to create a buzz among your regular clientele.
Check out what your competition is offering to their customers and don’t forget your menu design. Does it need a new and creative look? Changing the design of your menu and adding new images of the drinks and foods you offer is a good way to keep your regulars coming back and impress first-time customers.
6. Create a Cozy Bar Atmosphere
Take a close look at your bar – is it cozy, comfortable, and appealing to customers? If not, it’s time to update your bar seating and décor to form a unique experience.
Consider these factors for a great bar atmosphere:
- Lighting – Avoid bright fluorescent lighting that creates a harsh and sterile atmosphere. Instead use ambient and recessed lighting or industrial drop lighting over tables to create a classy and warm feeling throughout your bar.
- Seating – The more comfortable your bar and table seating is the longer your customers will stay. This means hard wooden chairs are out and soft upholstered seating is in. You’ll also want to pay attention to seating arrangements – you may want to have as much seating as possible but leave enough space between tables creates a more comfortable experience.
- Sound – Carefully choose music that suits your bar brand, with a playlist that appeals to your target customers. Select pop or light jazz early in the evening, moving on to more upbeat music later in the evening when the bar is packed.
7. Introduce Bar Games and Themed Nights
A great way to boost your bar sales is by introducing bar games and themed nights. You want to engage your customers, so they stay longer and put your themed nights on their calendar as a recurring event. When people head out for an evening of drinks it’s all about the customer experience – and it’s this customer experience and engagement that will make your bar the one that people keep coming back to.
8. Promote Your Bar on Social Media
Social media is here to stay, and customers are using it more now than ever before. Using social media such as Instagram, and Facebook can bring in more customers to your bar and keep them engaged and entertained.
Here’s how you can use social media marketing:
- Promote new drinks and drink specials.
- Feature images of the inside of your bar.
- Announce bar events and themed nights.
- Interact with your customers through comments to build relationships.
- Profile and applaud your employees by featuring personal stories.
9. Control Liquor and Food Costs
Controlling your liquor and food costs is essential to increasing your bar profitability. Here are some of the main areas you’ll need to consider:
A reliable inventory management system will let you accurately keep track of what you’re selling and how much inventory cost you have on hand at all times.
Reducing waste (spills)
Bar waste, including over pouring and spills, can quickly eat up your profits. You can reduce waste by:
- Developing a pour policy
- Keeping track of spills
- Avoiding over-buying inventory
Standardizing your drink and food recipes will help you set menu prices that can give you the best profit margin.
10. Invest in Modern Bar and Kitchen Equipment
Investing in modern and up to date bar and kitchen equipment ensures that you’re giving your bar and kitchen staff the tools they need to produce exceptional drinks and food.
Buying equipment that’s essential for your bar operations comes with three main benefits that will increase your sales:
- Better efficiency
- An elevated customer experience
- Cost savings
11. Improve Compliance and Operations
Use reports from your POS system and software such as Glimpse to provide detailed reports to identify and monitor risk and eliminate unnecessary costs. You’ll be able to get statistical reports about your employees to compare performance across your team, identify “at risk transactions,” and review video and photos to check for unrecorded sales. All of this data combined will help to decrease your costs and improve your sales.
As the owner or manager of a bar, it can be challenging to improve your profitability. By implementing the strategies outlined here, you’ll be able to increase your bar sales by encouraging your customers to buy more while lowering your operating costs so you can see more profit.