This article is a continuation of Bartending Pro Tips Part 1: How to Make Money and Have Fun With a Career In Bartending
8. If there is trouble or violence try, at all costs, to avoid coming out from behind the bar. Raise your voice and attempt to take control verbally, while you are dialing 911. Many bars do not provide security. A personal friend of mine came out from behind the bar and hit an assailant with a full bar bottle since the assault was against a woman. That bartender (who owned the bar) is still in prison not because the bad guy died days later, but because the bartender “came out from behind the bar.”
9. Tip jars are sort of an optional thing, depending on the type of bar. If you follow the sort of relationship-building techniques I have suggested, then when your customer is cashing out it should be a face-to-face, handshake-to-handshake experience They are a lot more likely to deal with you fairly (maybe show off a little bit too) than if they can sneak a few quarters and a dime into a tip jar when you are busy. If you have waiter and waitress staff, one surly server can easily cost you a considerable amount, and that is only if you ever even see their tips. Tip and bar/service accounts should, in my opinion, be kept separate and are in many establishments.
10. That naturally brings me to keeping the other staff happy! Their ability to make money has to do with how well the drinks are made and how quickly they can deliver them, so there is a delicate balance between your bar customers and the table customers. Keep an eye on your own customers, and try to anticipate when they might need another drink. Take care of it, in advance, and if you you are filling table orders (very important) always acknowledge your bar customers and let them know that you noticed. Assure them that their drink is coming right up!
11. Even if it is not within your job description, help the table staff clean up and flip the chairs. Support them any way you can. The only time I would ever advise coming out from behind the bar would be in defense of the staff, and, even then, yell loudly, several times (to staff mostly), for someone to call 911. They will need to know that they have your support (even in if your place of employment has bouncers), so just always do what you can to protect their sense of having a good place to work because, in spite of all your efforts to provide a fun atmosphere for your customers, unhappy staff can detract from that.
12. When you have time, spend time talking with your customers. Don’t sit on a stool sipping a coke and obviously trying to find some time alone, even if you are “on break.” You can be on break at home. Talk news, talk about local folks and interesting places, but more importantly try and get them talking about what is important to them. They aren’t in a library, they are in a bar, and maybe they want to talk, a lot more than be talked to. It’s easy to walk away when you get busy; they can wait and, if they can’t, start gauging their intoxication level.
13. Thank every customer for having spent their time there with you and, if possible, shake their hand. That sort of thing means a lot to people and will keep them coming back. Look them in the eye, particularly when they are cashing out. (Tip Time)
14. If that moment isn’t available, because you are otherwise involved, when you see them rise to leave (and you are sure the bill is cleared), just yell over your shoulder “Hey (name) thanks! Be careful and come back, OK?”
15. Study any bartender’s book on mixed libations carefully, but it’s just as important to watch your co-workers mix drinks. It is a craft that can be learned from experience. If anyone requests a drink that might be from their local area, or by a name you are not familiar with, don’t be ashamed to say “Hey, I don’t know it but I’ll make it right now. Teach me!” They will usually be proud to.
Some bars are just crazy some nights, or are just always that way, and you might be one of four or five bartenders with very little time to employ some of these techniques, especially with loud music or live bands. I know, I have worked in them as well but, even so, you will have brief moments when you can utilize these suggestions and, believe me, they will pay off. Even with multiple and busy bartending situations, customers will seek you out, try to sit near where you are working and, when you aren’t working, they will ask when you are going to be working next.
By the way, once you have a “following,” changing jobs is easy!
Bartending is a fun, interesting and lively job! I have made up to $50,000 a year bartending as a second job!
Find a place you enjoy living, a bar you like and ENJOY work for a change!