Can you make your bar customers happier? (This is a trick question. The answer is “Yes.”) Since increasing your customer satisfaction is most important thing you can do to grow your business, we’re offering you eight tips to use in your bar, starting tonight.
1. Talk to your customers. Your guests want to know who you are, so introduce yourself! When you make the effort to say hello to your customers, you’re showing them that they matter to you. Try to make the time to chat for a few seconds with each available table, and make sure to come over and personally check on and catch up with your regulars.
2. Make your drinks to your guests’ specifications. Mixed drinks are such a gamble at bars. With a clear ordering system, you can allow your patrons to completely customize their order, and you can charge them top-dollar for the privilege. When you allow your customers to order a “Rum and Coke with two shots of Kraken rum and Diet Coke,” they’ll feel like they brought a drink from home.
3. Create an organized line for ordering at the bar counter. It’s always easier to order at the bar counter when you know you’ll be paid attention to. When pushy bar customers are allowed to crowd everyone sitting at the bar and effectively “take cuts” in front of less assertive guests, no one ends up happy, least of all you. Frequently, ordering at bars can be such a mess for customers that they find it easier to go to another bar than to deal with your crowded counter.
4. Post your prices. Guests don’t like to be surprised by totals, and if your prices seem high or are inconsistent, your guests are going to wonder if your bartenders are skimming off the top. When you clearly post your prices, your guests will feel more comfortable ordering, and they’ll be more likely to return.
5. Post your specials in many locations. No matter where your guests look, they should always see your specials. Consider: your specials are your point of sale advertising in your bar. If your bar customers can’t see what you’re trying to tempt them with, they certainly won’t order it. Try sitting in various areas of your bars and looking around. Change things around if it’s hard or impossible for you to see your posted specials.
6. Keep your bar clean. No one likes sticky tables or a sticky bar counter. Even worse than those? A sticky bathroom floor. Please, please, please keep all areas of your bar clean and wiped down, especially when it’s busy and especially when it’s late. Your patrons will reward your cleanliness by returning to your bar again and again.
7. Engage your customers with a gimmick. Fun, exciting, and crowd-pleasing gimmicks put smiles on your bar customers’ faces and pack the house. What is there to lose?
8. Hire enough staff. We know, we know. This is expensive. Of course, only you know how many servers, bartenders, barbacks, and other staff you can hire, but when you have enough staff, all of your customers are taken care of all the time. When your customers can order a new drink within three minutes, they are guaranteed to be happier and they spend more money. At least consider adding more staff on your busiest nights.
Chances are that your bar can work on at least one of these tips, maybe even more. Your homework for a more successful bar: Choose one item on this list that you need to work on, and put it into action immediately (as a hint, #1 is a pretty good one to start with). Over the next eight weeks, try to implement the rest of these tips, and in two months time, you’ll have much happier bar customers who can’t wait to go out to your bar.
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