Considering the pivotal role bartenders play
within your business, what they dont know can hurt you. But
lets be honest, whats easier to put off than staff training?
The irony is that few things are more pivotal to your operations
success than ensuring your frontline employees are well trained.
If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, imagine the terrible cost
of squandering the intellectual capacity of your entire staff.
Simply put, training is a dollars and cents issue.
If bartenders and servers are insufficiently trained, every aspect
of the operation suffers. Consider the ramifications of servers
who arent familiar with the menu, bartenders who dont
know about the products on the back bar, or who arent comfortable
cutting someone off. This just begins to scratch the surface of
the things your staff needs to know.
The most advantageous course is to institute a
continuous training program. Typically bars and restaurants concentrate
on training employees only before they initially open for business.
But why leave it at that? With turnover and the natural effects
of time, you can anticipate that the benefits of the initial training
will decrease dramatically. Bartenders often get complacent and
begin taking liberties with portioning or deviate from stated procedures.
Inevitably these breeches exact a toll.
The essential first step to designing a training
program is to determine what your staff needs to know, provide them
with the education and then hold them accountable for learning it.
To that end, heres my short list of what you should consider
including in your program.
- Product Training
Maintaining consistency of product is crucial to longevity.
Its a cornerstone of the kitchen, so too behind the bar.
This means ensuring that your bartenders are pouring the same
recipes in the same types of glasses and charging the same prices.
To find out what recipes theyre pouring, call a meeting
and give them a test. Ask the bartenders to write down the ingredients,
portion, glass and price for the top selling drinks at your bar.
The results may surprise you.
- Public Safety
Your entire service staff must be cognizant of the legal
responsibilities they incur serving alcohol. This involves making
certain that they know how to responsibly serve alcohol, effectively
refuse service and properly request identification. Each directly
impacts public safety and incurs civil liability. Add to the list
how to maintain health codes and an explanation of the establishments
- Product Knowledge
Operators are stocking more premium and super-premium brands
on their back bars than ever before. This means that bartenders
need to be increasingly more knowledgeable about what these spirits
are and why they are worth their elevated sales prices. From a
sales standpoint, some guests need a little prompting to switch
from their usual brand to a more elite spirit. This is easier
to accomplish when the bartenders can speak informatively about
- Food Service
Today it is more fun to dine in the bar than drink in the
dining room. This trend necessitates that the bar staff be comfortable
with food service and thoroughly familiar with the food menu.
They also must be versed in the proper procedures for placing
food orders with the kitchen. Providing competent food service
is not an inherent ability, it is a learned skill.
- Beer Training
As an industry we waste a staggering amount of the draft
beer, a figure that translates to roughly to one out of every
five kegs we purchase. A leading cause of this is that many bartenders
dont know how to properly pour draft beer. Wholesalers in
most cities provide training on how to pull a perfect pint and
get glasses "beer clean," a crucial factor in maintaining
the proper amount of head. In addition, bartenders need to be
knowledgeable about the beers featured at the bar.
- Service Standards
One consistent thread running through all genuinely successful
food and beverage operations is the ability of their staffs to
render efficient and hospitable service. Guests deserve to be
treated as guests, not paying customers. In the lounge, bartenders
should be indoctrinated to work quickly and expediently, but never
rush through a guest interaction. Each person seated at the bar
should be made to feel welcome and unhurried.
- Operations Review
Employees often need to be reminded that they are operating
within a business and made to understand what is expected of them.
For example, bartenders need to comply with the operations
cash handling procedures and capably perform their opening and
closing responsibilities. Likewise, they need to be proficient
with the POS system, know how to requisition inventory and properly
take a dinner reservation or "to go" orders. Again,
this only scratches the surface of what they need to know.
- Terms of Employment
A sobering trend in the industry is the growing number
of people who sue their employers for wrongful discharge. One
aspect of training should be a periodic review of the employee
handbook and the conditions of employment. The review should include
everything from your policies on sexual harassment to what constitutes
grounds for termination. If something is important for the employees
to know, tell them in plain English. People cant be held
accountable for things they havent be told in writing.
- Cross Training
There are considerable benefits to training food servers
how to tend bar, or bar backs on how to work the floor and bus
tables. Along the same lines, bartenders should be well versed
on the menu and capable of properly presenting food menu items.
When necessary, bussers should be able to go behind the bar and
competently prepare cappuccinos or help wash glassware. Cross
training allows employees to expand their skills to the fullest.
Your business will benefit by having a more capable, versatile
staff and a smoother running operation.