Whether you’re a rookie trying to understand the nuances of bartending or a veteran who is looking to improve, learning the simple do’s and don’ts of interacting with customers can take you a long way. Here are our top 6 tips for keeping your bar patrons happy and creating a better workplace experience for yourself.
Do: Learn How to Sell
While you don’t need to reach Wolf of Wall Street levels of salesmanship, understanding basic upselling techniques is an important step to becoming successful. When customers come to you asking for something sweet or something with vodka, a good salesman will have a suggestion ready in their back pocket.
Beginner salesman tips come down to two steps: know your craft and talk the talk. Rather than saying, “have you tried X bourbon?”, a good salesman would say, “may I suggest X bourbon? It’s a barrel proof whiskey that pairs well with the appetizer you ordered.” Remember, the customers come in expecting you to be the expert and will respect you more if you know what you’re doing.
Don’t: Give Preferential Treatment
We get it: you’re 25 years old, your shift ends in 15 minutes, and somebody attractive comes up to the bar with cash in their hand and a smile on their face. Of course you want to serve them quickly, but you know the customer that looks old enough to be your dad has been standing there patiently with an empty beer for 10 minutes.
Bars don’t always feel like a first-come, first-serve industry without a formal line leading up to you, but it’s your job as a bartender to make it that way the best you can. Other people will notice if you’re giving priority treatment, which can lead to disgruntled bar patrons, decreased popularity, and smaller tips.
Do: Know Your Customers
Once you’ve got the hang of bartending, the next step is making bar patrons feel at home and comfortable around you. As your regulars come back, taking the time to learn little details like their name and their favorite drink can go a long way.
Once you’ve got that down, you can take it a step further and get to know them personally. Some customers aren’t the chatty type, while others love striking up a good conversation. Identifying who is who is a great way to keep them happy.
Another tip: do your best to keep up with current events. Some bar patrons might want to talk football while others prefer politics. Being knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects prepares you for any conversation.
Don’t: Serve the wrong customers
This one almost seems obvious, but it can be easy to get swept up and decide the trouble isn’t worth it. Basically, there’s two types of customers that shouldn’t be served, and that’s the underage and the over-drunk.
Asking for IDs from younger looking bar patrons can seem like a hassle that slows you down, but it’s essential to confirm that your customers are of legal drinking age. Serving minors can lead to massive legal issues and huge fines, often putting you out of a job in the process.
On the other side, cutting off those who have drank too much can be intimidating as it can lead to unruliness and aggression. But for the sake of the other customers, out-of-control drunks can lead to discomfort for everybody, and it’s your responsibility to deal with patrons who have hit their limit to keep help others feel safe.
Do: Keep a Tight Ship
Have you ever gone to a friend’s or family’s house and walked into a complete mess? It usually lessens your impression of them and lowers respect. As a bartender, your bar is your home, and your customers don’t want a mess where they’ll be drinking and/or eating. From putting down cocktail napkins to wiping up wet spots, keeping your area clean leads to a better experience for your customers and a better workplace for yourself.
Don’t: Focus on the Tips
This one might be the hardest for bartenders, but it’s a tiny difference that makes a huge impact. Customers don’t want to feel like you’re only there for the money. Focusing too much on tips can lead to a poor attitude when you don’t get what you feel you deserve, which will then carry over as you serve other customers.
Instead, it’s best to take the tips you’re given and move on with your duties. It will keep you happier and your customers happier, which will eventually lead to better tips in the long run.