5 tactics to keep your bartender honest and increase bar sales

If you ask the typical restaurant operator how they perceive the honesty/integrity of their bartenders, in general the answer will be “negatively”. It is an old axiom that all bartenders steal and it’s just a matter of how much. While I have observed the truth of this generalization over a 20+ year career in the industry, I also know that it can be minimized and in many cases eliminated as a problem.

The real deficit in behavior is not on the part of the Bartender, but rather a lack of leadership and vision on the part of the operator. Yes, Mr Owner/Manager, if your team steals it’s your fault and not theirs!!! You may be asking, “How can this guy tell me it’s my fault when a staff member steals?” Fair question with an equally fair answer….Locks were created to keep honest people honest. Read the list of tactics you can employ to help your staff stay honest. When you are done, if you aren’t doing over half of them, then you are reaping what you have sown….

The following ideas are easy to implement. Create an atmosphere of trust for your team and it will net you real profit increases.

1. Do a weekly liquor inventory – Typically Beverage Alcohol sales account for under 30% of an average restaurants sales, but over half of its profit. I say this with complete confidence, if you do a complete weekly inventory and respond to the results, you will increase your bottom line profit by 25% within 4 weeks of implementation. If you are already doing them, make sure you are sharing results with your staff and holding them accountable.

2. Is you booze locked up? – It’s shocking to me how many operators don’t lock their liquor storage. Make it easy on your staff to honest and protect this expensive inventory asset

3. Create Competition between bartenders – I always loved contests for my staff. It creates a lively atmosphere and improves overall performance with measureable effect. A simple $50 Gift Card(that you can trade another restaurant for) weekly for the best ring average or other performance metric will get them to focus on ringing and not stealing. It also increases their tips because they are increasing their sales.

4. Give your Bartenders their own tab – Rather than assuming they won’t give away an occasional drink why not encourage it. New faces, old regulars, potential clients are all potential recipients of this benefit, but the real value comes when you reward your bartenders with trust. They will be less inclined to steal when they know they are entrusted with this type of faith

5. Involve your staff in the solutions – What you don’t know is that your team REALLY wants to participate in running the business. By involving them in the management process you get their commitment to protecting your business because they see it as their own. Meet regularly with our Bar Staff. Ask them their opinion often and act on their suggestions. It’s about empowering them.

We all have enough experience to know that we can do more things with more people participating. The challenge is always about Leadership. It’s your job to lead and they will follow as long as you make your best effort.