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Waste management might not sound that exciting but it is a vital part of any bar staff’s skillset. Here are some top tips on how to prevent the waste of time, stock and ultimately profits.

Being a good bartender isn’t just about making great drinks, waste management is one of our hidden skills. Customers are often unaware (as they should be) of the efforts involved by bartenders in making the most of two valuable resources… time and stock. Efficient efforts make a better bar, an easier shift, and happier customers. As bartenders, we have an obligation to be as efficient as possible to assist in the profitability of the business. Let’s have a look at some essential tips on how not to waste time and stock.


Working efficiently saves time. ‘Perfect preparation prevents poor performance’ is an expression often used, but it is true that working efficiently ahead of service makes for a smooth shift and saves time. For example, preparing the bar for service can be quite a challenge, so work to a time bound checklist to keep you on track.

During service, acknowledge customers promptly and in turn, try serving 1 ½ customers at a time - you should be already starting an order as you finish with your previous one. Efficient movements and teamwork as part of your bar’s service standards will ensure that time is not wasted.

Make the most of your time on a shift by prioritising your duties. There are many tasks to perform when on a shift, but prioritising these tasks helps you to work efficiently and use your initiative in finding something to do when it’s quiet.

The 5 Priorities Model is a tried and tested method to help bartenders:

The first priority will always be the customer. When a customer arrives at the bar or their table they should be immediately acknowledged and served as soon as possible. You should also be attentive and alert for a customer’s second order.

This is where you receive customers, so ensure that the bar top is clear of glassware and litter, wiped clean of any spillages and drinks menus are present, clean and complete.

Make sure that your stock looks as inviting as possible. All products should be orderly with labels facing forward. Also, if all stock is in place, then you will be able to to find products more easily.

Ensure your area is equipped with everything you need for service. Tidy and re-stock as you go. By preparing to be busy at all times, you’ll never get caught out by a rush at the bar.

This includes anything that takes you off the bar and out of service, such as, collecting and washing glasses, fetching stock and ice or stocking shelves and fridges. If a customer approaches the bar, drop what you’re doing and go back to priority 1. If you do this then the other priorities should follow as you will naturally choose to complete the task your customer will appreciate most.

There are a number of ways stock can be wasted, but there are things that you can do to minimise these…

• Spilling and dropping stock is often caused by a lack of coordination.

Remedy: Think about your style and movement especially when you are busy. Always take care and watch where you are going. More speed and less haste. Drink plenty of water. When dehydrated you lose concentration and mistakes are easily made. Focus on the task at hand, especially when assembling complex drinks.

• Over pouring is often caused by a lack of skill.

Remedy: Training and practice. Make sure you take some time to learn how to pour correctly. Using a jigger to pour your spirits makes you look professional, ensures good drinks and reduces the chances of overpouring and wasting the liquid.

• Complaints are often caused by poorly presented or badly produced drinks.

Remedy: Ensure that your drinks are presented to a high standard and according to your bar’s specifications. Taste all cocktails for quality assurance - doing this will reduce complaints.

• Mistakes and wrong orders are often caused by poor communication.

Remedy: Repeat orders back to the customer or waiter and check if you are unsure of an order. Good communication is essential to avoid mistakes.

• Fobbing beer and leaking pourers are often caused by poorly maintained equipment.

Remedy: Make sure that regular cleaning and repair is practiced. Faulty equipment must be reported promptly and action taken to replace it immediately.

• Leaving bottles open and doing bad stock management.

Remedy: Ensure you close bottles and rotate your stock so you use old bottles before newer ones.

We all want to work in a bar that performs well and is profitable. This often leads to enjoyable shifts, extra perks, high sales and high customer satisfaction. Not wasting time and stock will reflect well on the business. Try putting some of these tips into practice next time you’re on the bar and see if it makes a difference.

Do you have any other tips to stop waste time and stock? Tweet us at @diageobarac, share your photos on Instagram @diageobarac or like us on Facebook – we love to hear from you!

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As a bartender is responsible for dispensing stock, you must always ensure that you do your best to minimise waste and accurately record any waste that you incur. Stock wastage is costly to your bar and you are at the front line when it comes to making a return on your bottles. Overpouring and wasting stock not only affects your bar’s profits but when measures are wrong this can also result in poor quality drinks and customer dissatisfaction. As a control measure, your manager will carry out regular stock takes to ensure that your precious stock is not misused or wasted.

It is good practice to keep a record of all stock wasted. Diligently and accurately declare anything spilt, returned or wrongly prepared at the end of your shift. Your manager will be able to create an action plan to minimise stock wastage if you always record - what was wasted, the quantity, and the reason for it. Try to re-use or upcycle stock where possible, don’t throw away that mis-poured expensive spirit, make a cocktail with it.