Essential Tips to Enhance your customer's drinking experience
Being a great bartender doesn't stop at making great drinks, customer service is a very important part of the job. We caught up with Andrew Coyle from our partner training team, Flow Hospitality, to get his tips on creating the best customer experience.
Many people come to bars for an experience, to be entertained and to spend their money on having a great time. As bartenders, we should aim to create a safe and friendly atmosphere that will allow our customers to relax and have fun, but we should also be looking for opportunities to enhance the customer's experience. If we are successful at this then we will encourage repeat customers and maximize sales, these in turn will give the bar a good reputation and reflect on the success of the business, we may even make more tips.
Let’s have a look at some essential tips on how to enhance your customer’s drinking experience and maximize sales opportunities by focusing on four key factors: speed, style, etiquette and knowledge.
Speed often requires experience with your movements eventually becoming second nature, but being organized and efficient in the way that you work will also help with speed. Keep these tips in mind:
- Prepping the bar according to the way you like to work will help you to work more efficiently.
- Use a checklist to ensure all the equipment you need is in place.
- Have a set procedure for the way that you prepare cocktails and rounds of drinks.
- Use both hands at once.
- Clean as you go and put everything back where it belongs once you’re finished.
- Try prioritizing your duties, for example, customer first, then bar top, back bar, under bar and finally preparation.
Top Tip – Remember the 2-step rule. Have all your essential equipment convenient to your workstation so there are no delays when you are serving customers.
Bring some style to your service. A slick, polished performance adds value to the drink and it is important to consider how your movements look from the customer's perspective. Always display a professional manner and involve your customers where possible. Keep these tips in mind:
- Body language is crucial to the impression you give to the customer. Always appear approachable to customers by using open body language such as open hand gestures.
- Take pride in your personal appearance. Remember, during service all eyes are on you, so take advantage of this. Anything you can do that is fun, skillful or unique will add a little theater to your service.
- Read your customers and try to tailor your style of service to meet their needs.
- Always move with a sense of purpose, this means head up, scanning the bar and acknowledging customers as you work.
- Don’t be afraid to approach customers and ask them how their drinks are.
Top Tip – Smile and make eye contact with your customers and be confident in handling your equipment and glassware.
Etiquette is all about the rules of service, treating customers well and with respect. Awareness of your environment and of your customers is key to good bar etiquette. Keep these tips in mind:
Anticipate the arrival of your customers by facing the door so that you can give them a warm welcome as soon as they enter.
Once your customer has arrived at the bar or is seated at a table, provide them a drink menu and offer your recommendations.
Be in constant communication with your customer and always serve in turn.
Make frequent checks back during service to help you determine if your customers need or want anything else.
Topping up wine and water for your customers shows you are there to look after them and in many cases this will lead to further drink orders.
Be alert and aware of your customers and open to potential sales opportunities that may arise.
Make sure customers are given a fond farewell and feel appreciated as they leave. Let them know about upcoming events or offers and invite them to return.
Top Tip - Using a change tray can enhance service, but don’t forget to thank your customers for any tips you receive.
Finally, your knowledge will assist the customer in making good choices. Customers will ask you questions about drinks that you sell and they will expect you to know the answer. If you are equipped with at least a little knowledge then you can enhance the customer’s experience by being as helpful and informative as you can. Ongoing learning will be vital to you as a bartender to help develop your knowledge. Keep these tips in mind:
- Get to know your menu back to front so that you can make appropriate suggestions for your customers and help them make good decisions.
- Point out anything unique, particularly good, or unusual about any of the drinks on your menu.
- By informing customers of specials or offers and by making personal recommendations you can enhance the drinking experience of your customer and encourage them to explore new drinks.
Your knowledge of both upselling and suggestive selling will maximize sales opportunities! Both these techniques are about offering your customers choices. Upselling is adding value to something the customer has ordered. For example, if you are trying to convince a customer to order a more exceptional Gin than the house Gin, you need to be able to tell them why they should buy it. To do this highlight the positive aspects of the product such as quality of produce, superior taste and value for money. Suggestive selling is offering the customer something they did not know they wanted. For example, if you are trying to sell bar snacks to a customer, entice them by letting them know how the food will complement their drink.
Top Tip—Recommending products with real enthusiasm makes customers feel welcomed and valued. People love stories about their drinks - you could talk about the unique ingredients, the brand’s heritage or the inspiration behind your signature serve.
Try it and see the results!
Focusing on speed, style, etiquette and knowledge will not only improve profitability but will also enhance your customer's drinking experience and help you to make more tips. Try putting some of these essential tips into practice next time you’re on the bar and see if it makes a difference!