As a bartender, you’re the face of your bar. Yeah, sure, there are some stock image models splashed across the posters that promoters plaster around your town, but everyone is fully aware that they’re far to attractive to actually exist in real life. So it comes down to the bartenders to create a buzz on the night. Keeping your guests happy is the very bare minimum that you should expect, but to make them talk about your place they have to go beyond the guests expectations and blow them away with your service. But should the bartenders also be the ones getting your guests buzzing about your bar outside the bar and online?
Who knows your drinks offer better than the bartenders themselves? They are the ones who make the drinks every day, taste them, adjust the balance where its needed and take care of your guests needs. Bartenders are social beings, talking to your guests, your customers every single day. If you want to know what your guests are into, what your guests at the bar want, ask the bartender.
Why should bartenders care about marketing?
For your bartenders, helping drive more customers to your venue is a win win situation. Bartenders make money by being busy, the more (great) drinks they can make in a shift, the better the tips they will make, even when the average tip is low.
Of course there are ways and means to boost the average tip (and no, I don’t mean over pouring) but if you have asses on seats, that’s way more than half the battle. so how can bartenders bring in more guests? There are plenty of options.
How to make your bar more money.
Let’s be completely honest here. What is a bartender’s job? Mixing drinks? Nope. Giving amazing customer service? Nope.
When it comes down to it, the job of a bartender or any other employee in the service industry is to make the bar more profit.
Don’t get me wrong, those things above are important, but they’re not the aim of your position. Your aim is to make the boss money. Ideally, to make more money for them than all the other staff. I don’t mean simply putting the most in the cash register either, I mean making the most profit possible from the stock that you have behind the bar.
Now I could go into all the normal stuff, offering doubles, large wines (or bottles), the usual, but the best way to improve your tips is to get new people through your door, show them great service and get them to come back regularly because they have a great time.
So where do tips come into this? They’re a great side effect of being great at your job. So why give great service? Not to get the tips, but to keep the guests you have already coming back to the bar. As a result, yes, you’ll make more tips, but don’t forget that the main reason your manager has hired you is to make the business money.
Should bars hire bartenders based on their existing following?
A good bartender will keep their guests coming back time and time again, whether it’s for bar puzzles, banter, delicious drinks or entertaining flair, so often when a bartender moves from one bar to the next their regular guests will follow, making hiring the right bartender very lucrative for savy bar owners and managers. Bartenders will often post their schedules on social media so their guests know when and where they’re working, or check in on Facebook when they start a shift.
For bartenders, that means developing a personal social media following can make them far more attractive to the bars that may hire them. The bar teams at many bars will collectively have more followers than the business page for the bar itself, and as a result will reach a bigger (and often different and more engaged) audience. But can that backfire?
Are there risks involved?
Absolutely. If you have a bartenders and other staff who are the driving force behind your social media, you have to accept that sometimes they may post updates that you’re not so happy with. However, it turns out that the occasional less positive post might be good for your marketing too…
If you go to any product online, whether its the Facebook page of a bar or an item on Amazon, if the product or service has nothing but 5 star reviews, do you trust those reviews? Does it cross your mind that they could be fake, or that negative reviews have just been deleted?
Having a handful of negatives or the occasional ‘constructive feedback’ almost validates the vast majority of glowing reviews. Will everyone love the same product? Probably not. Will the occasional person come into your bar having had a bad day and pick up on the slightest thing to complain about and decide that it needs a one star review? Almost certainly at some point. Assuming that you’re not getting more negative reviews than positive (and if you are… you’re probably running the bar badly) its better to respond to those poor comments and try to fix their individual problems than wipe them out.
So what if your staff have a bad night and mention it online? Well, maybe their followers are grown ups too and can see past the occasional bad night but really enjoy seeing where their favourite bartender is working and comes in often because they have built that relationship. Honesty is not a bad thing.
If your staff are constantly slating the venue, then if they’re good at their job, maybe find out why and see if its something that can be fixed, as if its bugging one member of your bar team its probably bugging the others too, and a happy bar team will make you more money!
21st Century Word of Mouth Marketing.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the other social networks (I’ll not try to name them all as 5 probably launch every week) are the new equivalent of word of mouth. Everyone who’s ever done a training day about complaints have probably been told that people who have a good experience at a bar, shop, whatever, will tell 3 friends but if they have a bad experience they’ll tell 10. I think the numbers are made up but they feel about right. The average person on Facebook has around 130 friends. A single post could reach all of them, and if their friends interact with the post by liking or commenting, it will appear in their friends’ timelines too.
Empower your staff to talk about their work, when they’re behind your bar and invite their network to stop by and you’ll reap the rewards. After all, a busy bar means more tips for everyone. Occasionally everyone will have a bad shift, but pay attention to why and see if you can solve the issue for your team and embrace the fact that their positive posts about your bar become more authentic because they’re not forced to be artificially delirious about their work online while acknowledging their concerns and you’ll have a team that feels valued and far more likely to support your bar’s marketing efforts.