Bar Problems

Top 5 Overlooked Bar Problems

Okay, so you know about common bar problems like unruly customers and theft (a subject big enough to deserve its own article). But many of the bar problems that can hamper the effectiveness of your business are those that stay just beneath the radar, festering but not really erupting. Nevertheless, these low intensity problems can often lead to your business underperforming.

It is best to recognize and address these problems before they get out of hand, however. So here are some of the most common problems you are best off addressing early before they become too big to be addressed.

Bar Problems

Photo Courtesy of Savv (via Flickr)

Bad Hiring Practices

The mother of all bar problems is bad hiring practices. Of all bar management problems the inability to hire properly heads the list because it leads to all sorts of other problems. Bad hiring inevitably results firing an employee and needing to get yet another poor hire.

The most common reason for bar management problems in regard to staff is improper hiring practices. Many owners simply do not want to go through the work of the hiring process and so settle for the first candidate that walks in the door rather than going through the process of searching for the right employee for his or her establishment.

When this issue extends to the back bar is when it can cause the most ramifications for a bar. A bartender problem is a problem for all other employees and for the business itself, because the bartender is the heart of a drinking establishment.

What is a typical bartender problem? Incompetence is the most pervasive bartender problem. Many would be bartenders simply are incapable of dealing with the pressures of a busy bar and will lose their discipline when the pressure rises during busy periods. Some are simply green and need further training, while others are burnt out from too long a career. Many simply can’t interact customers.

The key however to avoiding having a bartender problem and to avoiding firing an employee every other week, is hiring the right candidates to begin with. Having the right hiring process and sticking to it will not get rid of the need for firing an employee every so often, but it will decrease this need and make your overall establishment much more successful in the long run. For more about effective hiring practices see Bar Hiring Guide.

Poor Layout and Signage

One of the much subtler of the bar management problems has to do with the actual physical layout and appearance of your bar or nightclub. The way things are set up in your bar will have both practical and psychological effects on your clients and your staff. Little things can have all sorts of knock on effects.

For example, if you do not clearly indicate the presence of your establishment from the outside, you may having difficulty getting clients without advertising. I’ve seen many bar owners fall for the idea that it is cooler to have a non-descript exterior to create a sense of mystery only to discover that playing too hard to get just leads to loneliness in the end.

On the inside, how you position your tables (and where) can lead to a cluttered feeling that clients find uncomfortable or to inefficiencies in terms of movement. It is especially important to have a well-organized bar well that avoids creating a bartender problem in itself. Cramped working conditions for the bartender can make it difficult for your drink mixer to do her job and can lead to broken drinking glasses or inefficient service. For more on bar layout see Discovering Bar Design Ideas for Your Bar or Nightclub Space.

Overextending Payroll

One of the most common of all bar management problems areas is hiring too many employees or trying to stay open on nights when there simply isn’t enough business to justify opening. Often Mondays and or Lunch Hours account for much of this problem. If you are only getting two or three tickets at noon or only a handful of barflies on Mondays and you have three employees working, it might simply be better to put up the closed sign during those times.

Hiring too many workers also leads to the need for firing an employee, which can have a ripple effect for morale overall. Generally it is best to wait until the need presents itself to hire new positions rather than firing an employee just a few weeks after hiring.

Inventory Problems

Another critical bar management problem is not ordering the right supplies in the right amounts. If you are always running out of key ingredients, clients will get fed up and take their business to your better managed competitors. Having a carefully managed inventory and ordering system and making sure it continues to work will can mean the difference between a well-oiled operation and one that founders.

Promotional Pitfalls

Finally, another one of the most destructive bar problems is overdoing it on promotions. Many new bar owners fall for the notion that any problem with low patronage can be addressed by creating promotions. Two for one nights, special event nights, ladies half off nights—these are all good promotions for particular nights but if you get so many promotions that you can barely keep track of them, you create a series of extra bar problems for your establishment.

First these constant promotions will condition your clients to paying less for your drinks and drive many of them away on nights when you do not have a promotion. Second, the constantly changing promotions may annoy many regulars who just want to know what to expect on particular nights. Often by bringing in new clients, you drive out some regulars who may not like the new vibe of your bargain shopping promotion seekers. (What is now often referred to as Groupon groupies.) For more on running effective promotions see The Ins-and-Outs of Club Promotion.

What are some of the common bar problems you have noticed? Tell us about them.

Filed Under: Bar / Nightclub ManagementBar Management


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  1. Manny says:

    What a great posts you have in this blog congratulations and thanks a lot for the help

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