HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE
By Ian Foster of Sculpture Hospitality
Your ‘regulars’ are critically important to the health of your business. Unless you operate an airport bar or a tourist-focused establishment, the regular guests who visit week in and week out are the backbone of your business.
So, how are you “looking after them?” How are you making sure that they feel appreciated and valued?
Many bar and restaurant operators have not really given this question much thought. But your bartenders probably have. If you don’t have a policy to acknowledge your regulars, your bartenders are almost certainly trying to do that by giving your regular customers heavily over–poured drinks.
And the odds are that this is benefiting your bartenders more than it’s benefiting your business.
Of course we need to look after our regulars. But letting our bartenders over-pour is ineffective – and far too costly. Here’s why:
Over-pouring becomes the new normal
Once you allow the bartenders to over-pour when they think it is warranted, the inevitable result is that almost everyone will get an over-poured drink. Maybe at first over-pours will just be for the regulars; but then the bartender’s friends will benefit too; then employees from other bars; anyone who throws a buck into their tip jar; and, eventually, over-pouring just becomes habitual and almost every drink is routintely over-poured
It is impossible to manage
There is no way to track or control which guests are getting “a little extra.” Without this most basic information, your management team won’t be able to see what is and isn’t beneficial for your business.
It is too expensive
Every industry study has discovered that the average bar is losing 25% of their alcohol to over-pouring and lost sales. The Glenfiddich example (above) fits this pattern. Our client had priced his drinks based on a 1-1/2 ounce portion but the bartender poured over 2 ounces, representing a 26.8% over-pour. This level of over-pouring has the exact same effect as giving away one drink for every four sold. And no owner or general manager would comp at that rate to anyone.
Your regulars don’t appreciate it
After awhile, this generosity is taken for granted or simply goes unnoticed. And even when they do notice, your guests don’t value it very highly, thinking only about the cost of the extra liquor, not your labor costs, rent, overhead, taxes and other costs: “they can afford it – a bottle of Jack Daniels only costs $25 and they’re only giving me an extra 1/2 ounce”.
So letting your bartenders over-pour your regulars is a poor policy. What should a bar operator do to make sure the regulars are happy? More on this next week.
Great Read … I loved it!
I had some comments about this too.
“And the odds are that this is benefiting your bartenders more than it’s benefiting your business.”
The bartenders aren’t benefiting that much either because when they give away drinks gratis they are losing actual sales which in turn decreases gratuities – well honest gratuities. Secondly, overpouring drinks a customer will reach an alcohol threshold quicker and thus not purchase as many full priced drinks which again reduces their gratuities. Lastly, overpouring drinks can develop dram shop liquor liability issues.
“After a while, this generosity is taken for granted or simply goes unnoticed.”
I really like this statement because it is so true. Giving somebody their first drink becomes the new normal to them and therefore it is taken for granted and if they ever are not given this “normal” gratis drink then they become disgruntled with the establishment. It’s been over a decade since I owned a nightclub but what I did was tell our bartenders if they need to give a drink anyway give away something like a kamikaze shot with well liquor that cost less than a quarter. That way the guest feels like they still got the freebie drink but then ponies up for the five dollar beer.
Most importantly, in my opinion, any alcohol that is given away gratis should be directed to the hospitality of the owner and not used as a tool for a bartender to increase gratuities and/or social status. It’s not his or her booze inventory – it’s the owners. And they should be the ones to benefit.