Dollars, by the Inch

What’s your real estate worth? I don’t mean the plot of land your bar or club sits on or the building itself, I mean theDonna Hood Crecca real estate within your establishment. Are you squeezing dollars out of every square inch?

In this business, sometimes we’re flying so fast we let things slip. Before we know it, and usually without realizing it, we’re losing money instead of making it. So stop and smell the losses. Stand in the middle of your place and observe. Check out your backbar. Is every bottle on every shelf making you money? If some have dust on their caps and shoulders, or they just haven’t been poured in a while (a week? 10 days?) you’re wasting space and losing money.

Next, are your bartender stations set up for success? Watch your tenders during peak periods, and look for organizational changes that could reduce the number of steps they take or shorten their reach for ingredients and tools. Also, are your tenders using all of the available equipment, such as blenders? What about glassware — is yours sturdy enough to stand up to handling and washing without chipping or breakage?

Look around the rest of your place for dead space. Is there an empty wall or floor section where you could place another bar-height table or install a digital jukebox, cash machine or game system? Ca-ching!

Your drink list is invaluable real estate. Is it delivering dollars? Everyone takes a different approach to drink menus — Prices or no prices? Lengthy descriptions or just drink names? Photos or text only? — so make sure you know what prompts your patrons to buy. Also, are your point-of-sale pieces working for you?

Don’t stop at the front of house, though. Where are you wasting space and losing money in the back? Supervise the organization of your storage space as closely as you manage your actual inventory, and you’ll see bottom-line benefits. When barkeeps or barbacks aren’t tripping over empty kegs or spending 20 minutes searching storeroom shelves for bottles, they can focus on more profitable activities. Time really is money: Wasted time and wasted steps equal lost dollars.

It’s never too late for a little spring cleaning. Spend time assessing how well you’re using your real estate; make a to-do list and work through it by the Fourth of July. You’ll have something to really celebrate!
This issue is packed with ways to eek more dollars out of your bar. For even more how-to advice, go to
See you at the bar!


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