Ask TrueGuest: Bartender Selling Techniques

Dear TrueGuest,

I am a food and beverage manager at a hotel with two bars.  Can you tell me some ways that we can increase our revenues?  We are obviously a little bit slower lately, but is there anything that we can do to help?

The selling area of a bartender’s service is always overlooked. These selling standards are extremely important to generating higher revenues. Bartenders can come across as uncaring and unfriendly if they just approach and ask guests, “What can I get for you?” They also will not sell much more than the minimum guest order. Most hotel bars are not like bars or nightclubs that stand alone. People usually expect more from a hotel bar. The service of a bartender should be similar to that provided by servers to a table of guests that are eating. There are many selling standards that should be in place for each time a guest arrives at the bar. This includes practices such as offering your drink menu to guests whether they know what they want or not, providing a food menu, suggesting any specialty drinks, offering more beverages, and offering bar snacks. Each of these practices has its own effect and benefit on your bartender’s guest service as well as revenues. Here is a breakdown.

Providing Food or Drink Menus

Having a menu in front of a guest makes it more likely that he or she will order something in addition to their normal order. Something on your menu may catch their eye and the guest might try it, giving you more revenues. They may not have been extremely hungry at the time, but just hungry enough to order that shrimp cocktail appetizer. They would not have known about it if a menu was not given to them. This can be done by simply asking the guest if he or she will be eating and providing them with a menu regardless of their answer. It is surprising how few bartenders do this even if the guests are sitting next to other guests that are eating. You cannot wait for a guest to ask for a menu.

Suggesting Specialty Drinks

Most hotel bars have their own special drink creations. Usually, by placing these drinks on your menu, you feel that they are tasty and charge a premium for them. Why then, would bartenders not try to sell them? In addition to providing a menu upon greeting the guest, bartenders need to offer a specialty drink or two by name. Most guests have their own predetermined drinks but may try certain things on a bartender’s suggestion and recommendation. Why let the guest order an $8 vodka tonic when you can attempt to pour them a $13 special martini. This makes the bar more revenues and the bartender higher tips.

Offering Bar Snacks

Offering bar snacks to the guests will show that you are being attentive to them. There have been many times where our mystery shoppers sit at the bar and watch other guests eat their bar snacks without being offered any. Yes, most guests will ask for them but why make your guests ask. Provide them along with every drink that is served. Bar snacks also make your guests a little thirstier and can make them order more drinks. It is a small cost to pay to make your guests stay at your bar longer and order more drinks.

Up-selling To Premium Liquor

Many bartenders will just pour the bar’s well liquor if a guest asks for a generic beverage such as a vodka tonic. It only takes an extra second to ask if the guest would like Grey Goose, Belvedere, or Ketel One. This provides a choice of premium vodkas to the guest, earning your bar those extra few dollars in revenue. Instead of making your well brands the standard, why not make your premiums the standard and your well brands a second choice? If the guest asks what other vodkas your bar has, then you can tell them all your brands. It is pretty uncommon for bar guests to ask directly for the cheapest vodka you have.

Offering a Second (or Third) Drink

Before the guest is finished with the beverage in front of them, make sure that your bartender is offering them another one.  By doing so, you are attempting to keep the guest there longer and ordering more drinks.  They may not have stayed but by asking if the guest wants another beverage frequently causes the guest to quickly finish up their current one and agree to another one.  Everyone knows why guests go to your bar, so you have got to keep them ordering before they think they have had enough.  Obviously, remember your TIPS training and do not overdo it.

To make sure that your bartenders are consistently hitting these selling standards, continue to do regular mystery shopping.  You will see your revenues start to climb up in no time.

Have any tips of your own?  Post them below!  Have a question that you would like answered?  Post it below or send it to us via the contact page.

3 thoughts on “Ask TrueGuest: Bartender Selling Techniques

  1. IF any guest ask any drinks,ask them if they have any specific brand such as Joney walker black label,gray groose,chivas e.t.c it will helps to increase the outlet revune.

  2. Pingback: Five Diamond Hospitality, LLC » Blog Archive » Ask Five Diamond: The Importance of Watching Every Ounce of Liquor in Your Hotel Bar

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