Thursday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, so we want to share some info on how to show that you sincerely respect and value your women guests.
With that in mind, one of our favorite contributors is here to give you a few tips for making the women who visit your establishment—and those who work for you—want to come back.
Hint: Cleanliness, empowered female employees, respect and safety are all key. —David Klemt, Editor
A Clean Bathroom
As you see, this is at the very top of the list, and for good reason. Your bathroom doesn’t have to be fancy, but it absolutely, positively cannot be dirty, smell bad or be out of hand towels, toilet paper or hand soap. Keeping the women’s bathroom working perfectly at all times should be a top priority. Whenever things break you must act immediately to make repairs. I have seen some bars where a hole in the drywall has remained for months. That is unacceptable.
The bathroom is the women’s refuge, their safe place, and an escape from attention, wanted or unwanted. To ensure that women frequent your establishment, you must keep the women’s bathroom fully functional and perfect. During the night, do frequent bathroom checks and make certain everything is kept pristine.
As an added benefit, as Dennis Madden from the Rose and Crown says, “Keeping the bathroom tidy at all times prevents a chain effect of people just throwing garbage on the floor. When a guest sees paper towels piling out of a garbage, empty beer bottles and glassware on counter tops, and miscellaneous trash on the floor, it leads to them leaving [and] also throwing their trash everywhere, thinking that it is okay.”
Women with Hustle Working for You
Look for women who have hustle. A wise operator once told me, “Your guests are a reflection of your staff.” On your staff, you must have women who understand how to build relationships and establish regulars, and who are connected within the industry. You must be actively seeking out these qualities in every new hire you bring on board your team, and then encourage this attitude in the women who are already on your team.
I have seen some women from small towns go into big city nightclub bartending with little more than their looks, build a following just from their eccentric personality, and maintain constant communication with their regulars through basic social media. You only need a handful of women like this working for you to keep your bar filled with the right kind of people. One more time: Look for women who have hustle.
Seemingly minor details such as glassware, garnish, soda delivery (gun or bottle) and ice are a potential conversation starter if they’re worth showing off to someone. This is something that operators of cocktail bars have caught onto, and it is the big difference between the bars that get talked about and those that don’t. There are cocktails that look just as good as they taste.
For example, I drank an Old Fashioned at a local cocktail restaurant recently and the ice they used was a perfect sphere. The orange peel was fresh and inviting. When I received my drink, it was brought to the table under a plastic dome full of smoke the bartender had burnt off the bar’s oak barrel. When the server removed the dome and the smoke rose through the air, it got looks and it was an instant conversation starter. People at my table ordered that drink immediately after seeing mine. My girlfriend took a picture of the drink and posted it on Instagram. Intelligent operators who “get this” concept weave visual appeal into every aspect of their business. Everything must have visual appeal.
Respectful Guest and Staff Interactions
While some staff members engaging in consensual extracurricular activities is an inevitable part of the bar business, this type of behavior cannot be standard practice for those in ownership or management positions. Environments in which such behavior is allowed outright or through willful ignorance ultimately harbor some forms of sexual harassment. For reasons that should be obvious, this is not professional, respectful, healthy or safe for women or anyone else in your employ or subject to your management authority.
Remember that all the women in your establishment, whether they are staff or guests, will only be retained if they feel safe in the environment you have created. This is a topic many operators want to avoid, but addressing it is overdue and must acknowledged, confronted and changed meaningfully. There are many people who work in the bar industry who are in it as much for the sex as they are for the money. While this was a common mindset in the past, it doesn’t work today (and never worked in the first place). Today’s aspiring and established bar and restaurant entrepreneurs must treat every staff member and guest in a genuinely respectful manner. To run the best business with the least amount of problems, keep it professional at all times.
People talk, guest and staff member alike; be known for operating with respect and providing a safe environment and you’ll never want for rock star employees and supportive customers.