Like any business, managing a bar and restaurant involves many responsibilities and moving pieces. As a manager, you must keep track of inventory and expenses while leading and managing your staff to ensure good customer service. It doesn’t take experts like Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue to know when an establishment isn’t up to par and suffers from poor management. Plus, the ripple effect of the pandemic is still being felt by the industry, as sales have only reached 75% of what they were prior.
Despite this, over 55% of diners still eat out several times a week, and in 2023, full-service restaurants saw a 1.1% growth in revenue reaching a $208.9 billion market. Your restaurant will excel with proper management, staff, and a great product to show. Check out our tips from expert owners and learn the secret to running a successful bar or restaurant.
Tips for Owning A Bar
Train and Listen to Your Staff
It’s obvious when bartenders know what they’re doing and have the experience and training to run a bar spitting a hundred drinks an hour. Ensuring that your staff has the proper training, cross-training, and effective communication will spell success for any bar.
Making sure they know how and when to upsell certain items you are trying to get rid of or just learning how to keep the bar area clean is essential to bar health. Additionally, as a manager, you must be open to criticism or suggestions that will ultimately help your staff. Implementing this understanding between you and your staff will create a cohesive and balanced team.
Curate A Creative Menu
Everyone loves a themed bar menu or even a couple of signature drinks unique to your location. They make for an intriguing product but also help curate and include people in a local culture they can be part of. Sometimes, it can even be the main attraction. Take San Francisco’s Trick Dog Bar, for example. This James Beard award-winning bar makes ordering a drink almost as fun as drinking it. From tourist maps, zodiac calendars, and even a Pantone color swatch, they’re a great role model for bar menus. Take a page out of their book (literally) and make something your customers will remember forever.
To Rent, An Event or Even A Band
Events of all kinds are a great way to entice people to flock to your establishment. You can hire local bands and musicians to come and play house shows. This can transform your bar from a simple hang-out spot to an event location, and if it becomes a regular occasion, it can help increase profit margins.
Speaking of, including discounts (especially if they’re tied to specific holidays or events) is another excellent way to boost profit margins. Moreover, you can include private event bundles if your space allows it. Instead of relying on standard operating hours and traffic, you can guarantee some revenue and extra profit by offering private rooms, watch parties, or similar events.
Stock, Clean, Repeat
Great ambiance and superb staff will get you far in the bar business, but if your cocktails and cleanliness are at a different level, you will suffer. Nothing is more embarrassing than a customer asking for their favorite vice and your bar not carrying it, especially if it’s a commonly asked-for brand. Performing regular inventory checks and communicating with distributors is a surefire way to stay on top of things.
We’ve mentioned it before, but keeping your bar clean is a #1 priority at all times. Of course, you want to ensure your staff, customers, and drinks are safe and tasty at all times, but keeping the bar clean helps your bartenders stay organized. Barbacks are a great way to help if your bartenders are typically overrun with orders.
Tips for Running A Restaurant
Although you may not think of quality when you imagine McDonald’s or Taco Bell, you know what you’re going to get every single time you get there. Their consistency and dedication to quality control are one of the reasons these brands are so successful.
Proper training and reaching a good understanding between your kitchen and front-end staff is the first step in achieving this success. It is essential to constantly taste your menu, ensure your tables are cleared and cleaned correctly, and keep your customer turnover rate consistent. Sometimes, mystery shoppers are an excellent way to test this and get an unbiased overview of your service.
Purchase with Purpose
According to Toast’s Restaurant Industry Outlook Report, 1 in 3 restaurants have started using lower-quality ingredients to cut costs and increase profits. According to Lightspeed’s Food Cost Formula, they recommend that restaurant owners dedicate around 28%-35% of their budget toward ingredients. Of course, you always want to maintain quality over quantity, but there are ways to be budget-conscious while guaranteeing your product will still be the best it can be.
Take note of your other expenses, too. Consider the cost of your food stations, dinnerware replacement, decor and furniture costs, etc. Ensuring a healthy balance between spending across the board will help manage quality and keep you organized.
Establish Yourself Online + Reviews
According to a recent study, more than 77% of diners visit a restaurant’s website before they dine in or order out, with more than 70% of that group opting out from ordering if they dislike the website. COVID-19 also blew up the online delivery and booking market, making it more applicable now than ever before. Your website and online presence can do much for or against your business, and tons of affordable options are available.
Hiring a website agency is a great way to get a branded and unique build, but it can get expensive. Luckily, some websites like Squarespace, Wix, and countless others have tons of customizable templates to choose from. Including your own delivery or ordering options on your website is also a great way to get repeat business.
When your restaurant is just starting, it’s essential to gather interest from locals and tourists interested in your business. But retaining these customers as repeats is how you keep it running. Continued patronage is at the heart of restaurant work, and there are tons of ways to get people interested in returning. Besides having fantastic food and service, you can introduce special recurring dinner nights, loyalty programs, or even tastings.
Restaurants and bars fail all the time, but the common leading factor in almost all of them comes down to management and elements that are within the owners' control. Even if it’s not broken, it can still be improved. The food industry is constantly evolving, and ensuring that your business doesn’t grow stale and stuck in its ways is crucial. Use the tips above to get started the right way in the industry, and view our blog for endless tips on the best way to run your bar inside and out.