4 Reasons Your Bar is Horrible: The Guest Perspective

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Wow, I bet I got your attention with that title!

Would you ever want your guests to tell you that your bar is horrible? Of course not—we always want to think we run the best bar around.

I can tell you if you really look deep into your bars operation you’ll always find something to improve upon. I also want you to look at your bar from the guest perspective. I promise you that you’ll see things that you’ve never seen before.

Is your bar good, bad or just plain ugly? How’s the service in your bar? Is your menu exciting or just adequate? Do you have a training program in place? I’m going to share some tips for you to use to determine which category your bar is in. To really get an accurate picture of your operation, I suggest you either experience your bar as a guest or have friends go to your bar so they can deliver the truth on your operation from beginning to end.

1. The Entrance

Is your entrance Inviting? Are guests greeted by a friendly staff member? Are the windows dirty? Are the menus sticky? Did three staff members pass you, your friends or guests without a greeting?

These things that affect your business from the start, they’re the first impression. If your windows are smudged up, there’s trash on the ground at your entrance or ashtrays are overflowing with cigarette butts, your guests can (and most likely will) develop a negative perception of your bar from the beginning.

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Does your staff say “hello” or “welcome” as the guest enters? You’ve just set the expectation for the rest of their experience…if they bother staying.

2. The Bartender

Did they greet you in 60 seconds? Did they walk you through the drink menu? Did they suggest their favorite cocktail or special from the kitchen? Did they not pay attention to you? Did the manager stop by your table or barstool?

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Waitstaff, bartenders and managers are all responsible for the success of your establishment. They’re the face of your bar, and if that face isn’t a friendly, helpful and efficient one, your reputation is at stake. One of the things that guests complain about is waiting: waiting long periods of time for a drink, waiting too long for the bill, or even worse, waiting to be tended to at all in the first minutes after sitting down.

3. Food & Drink

How’s the food? How are the drinks? Are drinks made to recipe or did the bartender overpour the amount of alcohol in the cocktail? Is the hot food hot? Cold food cold?

Seems simple right? If you don’t keep your finger on the pulse of these simple things they’ll eventually kill your business and turn guests away.

4. You, the Leader

As the owner of your bar, the leader, you need to have processes in place.

Food safety is number one! Is all your equipment working properly? Are you training your employees correctly? Do they have the tools they need to do their jobs properly? Do you have a training program in place? Training your staff to go above and beyond for the guest is the key to success. Do you have checklists for the bar and kitchen so you can hold others accountable?

Think of your bar as the engine. Who keeps the engine running? You do. As the owner or manager, you have that responsibility. Share your vision for the bar with your staff. Your excitement for its future can generate great team morale. After all, “Great Managers make you feel like they are important. Great leaders make you feel like YOU are important.” Be the leader your employees need you to be in your bar or restaurant.

Read this: Bar Marketing and Promotions Ideas Essential to Your Business

In my session, “Bar Undercover” on March 25 at the 2019 Nightclub & Bar Show, I’m going to show you how leadership, guest service, and quality standards will keep your guests coming back to your bar over and over, declaring it their neighborhood bar. I’ll talk more about how to take your bar to the next level and show you what guests are really thinking: the good, bad and ugly.

See you at the Show!

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