Nightclub and Bar Cash Register Basics

Choosing a bar cash register—or till as it is quaintly called in England still–may seem like a small matter when it comes to the overall success of your bar, but believe it or not, it makes a bigger difference than you might think.

What is your first line of defense against theft (both external and from your own employees)? What can keep a club from growing effectively and lead to the kind of poor service that drives customers away? What is your best friend when it comes to keeping track of inventory?

Yes that’s right. Your bar cash register can do all that. Your cash register or point of sale is the spot where the money actually exchanges hands and although this may seem like a minor aspect of the monetary transaction, making it efficient and orderly is important to success of not only bars but all for-profit businesses.

So whether you have a computerized PoS system hooked up to multiple bar cash registers spread throughout your bar or you have a just a good old fashion brass register like the kind you might see in the saloon in a cowboy flick, it is important to spend a bit of time thinking about the cash register and how you use it.

Cash Register Placement

Bar Cash Register

Bar Cash Register (courtesy of Infrogmation, via Flickr)

One thing you may no doubt have noticed, is that in the majority of cases, the point of sale—your cash register in a traditional bar–is placed on the back bar and centered. (The second most popular location being the end of a bar by the section that lifts to allow easy access behind the bar or, if you have a bar and grill, by the wait person’s pick-up station.)

Why is this location so popular, and is it worth it?

Back bar is the best location for cash registers for two reasons:

  • First, counter space=money. If you place your cash register on the counter you are taking up valuable counter space. Most customers will simply not want to sit in front of a cash register that is blocking their view. A poorly spaced cash register can take up the place of one, sometimes even two bar stools?
  • Second, there is a theft risk on the counter. Placing the cash register on the counter makes it a lot easier for customers to reach over and do a grab-n-run. One sloppy employee transaction, or a distraction (a glass breaking behind them) and the thief is off with a wad of money. This is a much bigger commitment for the thief than jumping the bar and then jumping back.

Improving Cash Register Efficiency

Beyond the simple placement of your point-of-sale, there are also a number of steps you can take to improve efficiency with your bar cash register. For example, just like a cashier register at most restaurants, most registers these days—even if they are not fully optimized with the full gamut of cutting edge options of a top-level PoS system—will have memory functions that allow you to program certain keys for certain high frequency items—so that you only need one touch to ring them up.

If you are a basic bar that sells a few different kinds of beer, having that easy to use method will save you and your employees quite a bit of time in the long run.

If you have a larger establishment or growing establishment, having multiple registers at multiple locations, will also increase efficiency since you will not create bottle necks at the bar cash register, slowing down customer service and delaying other customers’ service as wait people sit twiddling their thumbs. (This is also the time to seriously consider getting a fully integrated Point-of-Sale system for your bar or nightclub.)

Individualizing Cash Register Users with the assigned Cash Drawer

One of the best ways to create thieves among your employees is to let there be too many hands in the till. Although there are some employees who will try to steal from you no matter what precautions you take, you greatly increase your chances of having thieves among your employees when you allow multiple employees to have access to the bar cash register without proper oversight.

The best way to limit problems of theft is to make sure there is one assigned user to each cash drawer. When there is a switch in shifts, you switch out the cash drawer and take account of the tickets for it. Some bars have a trusted manager at the cashier register giving out all the change so that there is only one person for each cash drawer and thus the responsibility is focused on that one person.

(Of course, as you will see a computerized Point-of-Sale system—PoS—can also be effective because it forces employees to enter their individualized code when they use the register thus recording the amount of the transaction and when it occurred.)

For more on security measures for your bar or nightclub see: Bartender Theft.

Inventory and Promotions

Keeping careful track of sales can be helpful for several reasons:

  • First, it can help you track inventory—especially if you have a new promotion and it is doing particularly well for a particular drink, the register will give a good sense of whether you have increased sales overall and if it is due to the promoted drink. This can also mean that you need to order more of that drinks ingredients if you see that the rate you are using up that ingredient will outstrip what you have in stock.
  • Second, you may also begin to notice useful patterns according to time of day. If you are selling a lot of martini’s to lawyer types at lunch, it may be useful to put up a lunch sign to promote this to others with similar tastes who may be walking by at that time.
  • Third, sales receipts can also help determine whether you have hit the right price points. Undersold drinks may be overpriced, or you may have priced a very popular drink too low.

All of this, however, can be done even more simply with a bar PoS system that automatically records this kind of data so you do not have to go searching for it. In the 21st century, there is little excuse for not knowing exactly what is happening on the business end of your bar business.

Want to find out more about PoS systems that bring technology to you? Just sign up for a membership and I will send you a notice as soon as I publish my forthcoming article on it.

Filed Under: Bar / Nightclub BusinessBar / Nightclub Management


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