This weekend as I mentioned in the podcast, I was working for World Magic Shop at their annual convention in Birmingham, with 5 world class magic lectures and dealers selling their magical effects. It struck me at the end of the day how much my background in bartending had helped me with working on the dealer stand during that day.

1: Set your station

In the same way that you would set your bar station at the start of a shift, we had to set up the dealer stand at the beginning of the day and make sure we had everything to hand rather than running the length of it (about 6-7 metres) every time we needed a carrier bag for example. Making sure they are prepped at each service point saved precious time as the day consisted of hour long lectures punctuated by 30 minute frenzied activity at the dealer stands while the magicians rushed to spend their money on magic dvds and props. Of course it was not only bags but everything else that needed to be on each station, but that was an easy example.

2: Working well under pressure.

The speed of service during each of the dealer sessions was incredible, with the full length of the stand’s ‘bar’ (made up of three long flight cases, filled with stock and now making up the service counter too). It was very much like being 3 deep at the bar on a Saturday night, so keeping track of who’s next was vital.

3: Product Knowledge.

At these speeds, its important to be able to quickly recommend items that would suit individuals and being able to quickly give a synopsis of the product’s effects. Just as with cocktails many magic DVDs have fairly cryptic titles that have little or nothing to do with the contents, so having a quick one line description of the products ready in your head is a great thing to be able to do. Have a look at your drinks menu and come up with these lines and learn them so that you can reel them off at will!

4: Maintenance in the lulls.

During the lectures was the perfect time to get out and tidy up the front of the stand where the guests had been picking up the products and putting them back in the wrong places, just as in the bar when it gets quiet for five minutes its vital to get out of the bar and tidy up the bar area collecting glasses and making sure everything is reset for the next rush.

5: Clean as you go.

While the advantage of selling DVDs and tricks is that your bartop gets less sticky than with Cosmos and Barnamint Bailey’s you can still make an effort to keep everything tidy behind the scenes to speed up your exit from the venue and pack away back at the unit, just like working a mobile bar.

Not every bartender wants to bartend forever, or even to go into managing bars, and the skill set is very different, great bartenders don’t always make great managers, but you should never discount the skill set you gather by bartending for years. While you wouldn’t benefit from telling future potential employers about the quality of your Old Fashioneds or that you make a mean Margarita, the fact that you remain calm under pressure, you can manage stock, and deal with clients while building rapport are exceptionally transferable. Your suggestive selling and product knowledge show you take pride in your work, and that is something that people want to hire you for.

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