How to be a good bar manager

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Running a bar is not easy. You need to have good people skills, good organizational skills, and good leadership skills. You are responsible for everything that takes place behind the scenes as well as in the bar. As a result, the job of a bar manager can appear daunting to many. Thankfully, with a little infusion of passion into this cocktail of responsibilities, you can transform the difficulties into challenges, thereby making the experience exciting. In this article, we share tips to succeed as a bar manager.

What is a bar manager?

A bar manager is an individual responsible for the smooth running of a bar. Bar managers are extremely important players within the hospitality industry, especially as bars are a major source of revenue for establishments that are licensed to serve alcohol. 

The position comes with a long list of responsibilities, including:

Customer service 

Managing bar staff

Inventory management 

Training staff 

Budget management

Menu planning 



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Is it hard to manage a bar?

Since there are many components that go into ensuring that a bar is run successfully, the job of a bar manager can be tricky. Having said that, the right person can make the job look effortless. What makes the job particularly challenging is the hours. Bars are busy in the evening and on the weekends. As a result, bar management differs from regular 9-to-5 work. 

You also need to be willing to deal with difficult customers. Where there is a bar, there is alcohol, and with it, the possibility of inebriated customers who are only too willing to speak their minds. Not everyone has the customer service skills required to be able to deal with an intoxicated client in a constructive manner. If you can’t keep your cool in heated situations, maybe being a bar manager isn’t for you. 

Although not all bar managers take a front-of-house approach to the job, the best ones do. This means that, in addition to dealing with customers and dedicating your evenings and weekends to bar operations, you also need to perform administrative tasks. In other words, you need to keep track of inventory, fill out liquor license paperwork, and take charge of property maintenance, among other things. 

How to run a profitable bar

7 tips to succeed as a bar manager

Be passionate 

Let’s begin with your attitude. If you aren’t passionate about your job, there’s no point in trying. Without passion, you will perceive the long litany of tasks that accompany bar management as chores. Thankfully, with a bit of enthusiasm, you can make the experience of running a bar an enjoyable one. People often assume that the most important qualification for a bar manager is experience. However, this is a wrong assumption. Success in bar management, as in all other professions, is founded on passion.

Lead by example 

Leading by example is important for anyone in a leadership role. This is especially true for leaders in the bar industry because they are often supervising staff who have to deal with customers. The example you set is often the lead that your employees follow. By not leading properly, you risk demotivating them and negatively affecting customer service. This can in turn affect your bar’s reputation. Leading by example includes treating everyone with respect, getting actively involved in everyday work activities, and maintaining positive team dynamics. 

Regular inventory checks

If you want to ensure that your bar is working at optimum efficiency, you need to regularly check your inventory. In order to do this, it helps to invest in the right inventory management software. This can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on inventory checks, help you minimize waste, identify poorly performing menu items, and better assess pouring accuracy. In other words, an inventory management software that seamless merges with your POS system can help you maximize profits.

Regular training courses 

Your success as a bar manager depends not just on your success, but also on that of those you supervise. In order to ensure that your entire bar staff are doing the best job possible, you need to hold regular training courses and provide them with opportunities to learn.

Your training courses should focus on a variety of things, ranging from ensuring your bar staff can accurately pour in a manner designed to avoid alcohol wastage, to making sure that everyone knows how to use your POS system. By running regular training courses, you can rest assured that all your staff are working to the best of their ability. 

Know your regulars 

Customer satisfaction is what guarantees a bar’s success in the long run. This is particularly true for regular customers. By keeping them happy, you ensure that they continue to consider your establishment their bar of choice and keep returning. After all, when business is slow, it’s your regulars who keep your business going.

Getting to know your regulars doesn’t take much effort. Basic steps such as learning their names and their favorite drink can go a long way towards nurturing their loyalty. You can also take your relationship to the next level by regularly talking to them and offering them special perks. 

Mix things up 

As a bar manager, you shouldn’t be afraid of change. Even though there may be items on your menu that your customers love, you can keep mixing things up to make life at your bar more interesting. A great way to change things up without being too drastic is to introduce a new cocktail list each season. 

Everyone loves seasonal drinks, and you can introduce them for a limited time, thereby creating a sense of exclusivity. We also recommend paying attention to current trends in the bar and restaurant industry, as this will help you learn more about which cocktails work and which don’t.

Build relationships with liquor reps 

As a bar manager, you have purchasing power. You should use this to your advantage to  foster beneficial relationships between your bar and liquor reps. This can be achieved easily through a bit of product placement. Once the reps see that you are willing to help them promote their brand, they will be more likely to reach out to you for special events, and keep you informed of discounts. They may also offer you free products.

Optimize inventory management

Bar managers have a huge task on their hands, as running a successful bar is not easy. However, there is a lot that you can do to make the job easier. One of the ways in which you can lighten your work load and make bar management easier is by investing in an inventory management system

RapidBar is an inventory management system designed to make inventory counting 80% faster. By eliminating the need for old-fashioned spreadsheets, our software merges with your POS system to instantly update your stock levels, ensuring that you know exactly what you have left at any time. Our system also allows you to create streamlined connections with your suppliers. As a result, whenever you run low on a particular item, you can order at the tap of a button. 

Learn how an inventory management app can help your bar