How to Train New Bartenders - Expert Advice and Useful Tips
Anna Sebastian, a food and beverage consultant, shares her insights on the best ways to train your staff.
Training for me is such an important part of one’s professional growth: without training there is no consistency, focus, or development. For every role in the industry, having the proper training not only helps you understand the ethos of the venue but also the goal a venue wants to achieve operationally.
BASIC BAR SKILLS FOR BRILLIANT BARTENDING
There are essential skills all new bartenders should know and master. Here is a quick guide for preparing your staff and setting them up for success:
1. Heighten Your Drinks Knowledge
While this might seem like an obvious one, it is important that bartenders have a great knowledge of drinks. Some key things that every bartender should understand are:
- Know your products. Understanding different drinks categories can help a bartender to make recommendations and develop unique cocktails.
- The Food Opportunity. Being able to distinguish different wine and beer styles, as well as spirits will help your team to give customers the ultimate experience.
- Learn classic cocktail recipes. Once you have mastered the basics, you will be able to build your knowledge base out and add your own twist to cocktail serves.
2. Get Ahead with Organisation and Setting Priorities
The hospitality industry is one that can be demanding - prioritising organisation and a good set up before guests arrive will reduce stress and help your team flourish.
Create consistency through mise-en-place or ‘set up of the bar’. This is important as it lays the foundations for every shift. When training new bartenders, having clear guidelines and “how to” manuals, and even cocktail recipe books, provides structure and ensures consistency. Consistency helps customers to trust your venue and revisit with the confidence they will have the same experience every time.
3. Becoming Communicative and Calm
Venues with the most successful training programmes and staff are those that prize an open communication style with all staff.
Introduce an ‘open-door’ policy for work-related matters where the team can approach you easily to communicate any issues they are facing.
Problems will arise – even for people who have been in the industry for years – so it is important to keep calm and collected when dealing with difficult moments. Listen to this podcast episode on mindfulness techniques by wellness expert Andrew Johnson who works with people in the hospitality sector:
4. DEVELOP CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
An important trait for every new bartender is great customer service skills. Offering new staff the basics can help them shape their customer service style.
- Ask guest questions - encourage staff to ask them what flavours they like and what they don’t. This allows new bartenders to make assertive and informed drink recommendations that please guests.
- Being attentive is critical for good customer service. Asking customers simple things like ‘Are you enjoying everything?’ or ‘Is there anything else I can get for you?’ can help your bar stand out simply by making a customer feel valued.
- Being patient with questions and demands from customers can also reduce stress and encourage staff to study their cocktails to be prepared to answer questions about the different elements.
HOW TO STRUCTURE the TRAINING SESSIONS
Monthly training is important as it sets standards and allows staff to feel confident in their role and the tasks that they perform on a day-to-day basis.
Training sessions should be mapped out like this:
- Advance notice of the session
- An agenda published in advance, outlining the session
- Provide training assets during the session
- Practical examples to upskill their cocktail-making abilities
- Make the session engaging with colourful presentation
- Provide attendees with all content used in the session
- Any follow up actions confirmed with deadlines
- Guest speakers/bartenders are always great to have
Senior Staff Training: I really believe in ‘Up training’ and ‘Up mentoring’ for senior members of staff. Having more junior staff give 360 feedback to senior staff, and showing different elements of their day-to-day, gives an opportunity for greater understanding of every element of the business as well as building relationships between team members - no matter what the role is.
Training New Staff
- Develop a staff handbook
Having a staff handbook in place can help your bartenders understand their role, what their responsibilities are, and what your business goals are.
- Honing your craft with bar tools and techniques
Your staff should understand each bar tool and it’s uses. Show them best practices for delivering drinks to tables – this will ensure drinks are consistent and delivered to a high standard.
- Offer Bartender Resources
There are plenty of online resources that your staff can utilise to help them grow
Five Key Takeaways
1. Be transparent when setting expectations with the team.
2. Create a timeline and dates with clear achievable goals for the team.
3. Create manuals for cocktail creation, service standards and in-depth information about where they are working to get a good understanding.
4. Regular trainings each day / week / month.
5. Ask for feedback from staff members all the time.
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