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Top Ways to Increase Bar Sales

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Ask a room full of food and beverage operators why they’re in business and the likely response is "to make money." All except for the one businesswoman in the back, the one with the air of confidence, who knows that the answer is "exceed guest expectations".

The formula for long-term success in this business is far from tricky. Keep the clientele intrigued and they and their discretionary income will continue to return. Dissatisfied guests will leave and tear out your listing from the yellow pages and advise everyone they come in contact with for weeks to do the same.
In this highly competitive marketplace, you’re either on the way up, or on the way down. Taking a breather and maintaining status quo solidly fixes you at a point in space, allowing your competitors to surge past. Soon you’ll be known as yesterday’s concept, out of step and out of touch. Your employees will know it, your clientele will know it.

The same is true for your revenue stream. It’s either healthy and growing, or it’s not. The good news is that increasing beverage sales is an uncomplicated, straightforward process. The first key is to look at things like a consumer, which in fact you are. Regardless of whether we’re talking about alcohol or not, we all drink. So the question renders down to what would your clientele, many of whom you know on a firsthand basis, be interested in sampling and find savory enough to order again.

The second operative condition is originality. Give people great drinks that quench their thirst and spark their imagination. If yours is the only place on the planet where they can get those particular libations, where else will they go? It’s a time-proven practice.

If you think creating original cocktails is going to be the challenging part, it’s not. Granted there’s a bit of trial and error inherent in the process, but even that is neither painful nor costly. The procedure entails taking a drink concept, such as a Margarita, and tweaking its taste profile until it becomes something singularly delicious.

The final essential aspect of the strategy is to ensure that your operation is fully prepared for success. Are your people ready for the challenge? Have you outfitted your bar with the necessary equipment and inventory to deliver on the promise? Creating demand without being able to fulfill it is a pointless and frustrating exercise.

To streamline the process somewhat, here’s my short list of ways of stating on the right side of the income curve.

  • Back Bar Orientation — One can hardly expect to haphazardly throw products on the back bar and wind up with a cohesive marketing strategy. Get organized. Remove dead stock and make sure you have the premium products in each spirit category necessary to accomplish your objectives.

  • Order Takers — Banish the order takers from your staff, those thoughtless individuals who merely deliver whatever people think to order. You need enthusiastic salespeople manning your bar, people who are intent in matching each guest with the right cocktail. Suggestive selling is not necessarily learned technique, rather it is a tried and true method of ensuring that guests are well served. As a bonus, a motivated sales staff will get seriously bump up your revenue stream.

  • Staff Training — The most significant megatrend in the industry is that spirit sales are steadily increasing and people are drinking the good stuff. To sell premium products, your staff needs to understand what they are and what makes them worth the price you’re asking. They also need to be taught to place an emphasis on service. Competent training improves staff performance, which in turn, positively impacts sales.

  • Infusions — Infusions are a dynamic way to boost revenue. The secret to their success is that they’re a fun and profitable way to create something exciting, something the competition can’t duplicate. When you create a winning infusion, there’s only one place to get it. You can turn virtually any spirit into something extraordinary by infusing it with everything from kiwis to sun-dried tomatoes. The process involves marinating fresh fruit, among other things, in large containers filled with spirits. Several days to a week later, the fruit will infuse the chosen spirit with flavor, color, aroma and loads of appealing character.

  • Champagne Drinks — Nothing adds pizzazz to a celebration like champagne, so make every night memorable by promoting champagne-based cocktails. They’re light, effervescent and thoroughly delicious. Eye appeal alone qualifies champagne cocktails as bona fide works of art. It’s their luscious flavor, though, that makes them masterpieces.

  • Alcohol-Free Libations — Creating alcohol-free libations involves as much skill as does mixing with spirits. There are scores of interesting and high quality products that can be used in their creation. More importantly, alcohol-free cocktails are every bit as delicious and worthy of public acclaim as any that feature alcohol. If you need some financial incentive before jumping on board, consider the magnitude of this untapped market. The demographics of alcohol-free drinkers include literally everyone. Consider also that alcohol-free beverages and drinks are loaded with profit. Add in that these libations can be served without incurring civil liability and you’ll begin to see their true potential.

  • Beer Drinks — Blending different types of beers together has long been standard practice in pubs throughout Europe and Australia, but has only recently become popular in the United States. Beer drinks are delicious, intriguing and an innovative means of increasing sales. Mixing beers requires balancing the attributes of one brew with the characteristics of another. The key is using two beers with appreciably different properties—body, taste, texture, sweetness and bitterness. Don’t stop at the Black & Tan, there are scores of intriguing recipes to tempt your clientele.

  • In-House Marketing — Once you’ve created these masterpieces, let the world know about them through in-house marketing. Every bar should utilize a menu listing their signature drinks, beer offerings and food items available at the bar. Table tents are also highly effective marketing devices.

    Robert Plotkin