Cost Control Factors – A way to go through difficult times

Recently I was consulting for a big project in California, USA and reviewing the costs of the bar program was one of the tasks. I was surprised to discover that one of the owners and the director of the restaurant did not really know the factors that affect cost. I was surprised because this person owns other restaurants, but when he told me one of his projects were bankrupt and had to close down, then my surprise fade away. I thought that writing this post could help a lot of people.

In this (boring but pragmatic) post I will give you a few guidelines on cost control and the factors that affect it, since it seems not everyone is aware of those.

SOME FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE COST

  1. price of the goods bought (“cost of goods” or COGS)
  2. fluctuation in the price of COGS
  3. unrecorded lost, breakage, theft.
  4. unrecorded shift drinks or complementary items
  5. unrecorded spillage or changes
  6. over pouring (this can still happen with jiggers, so jiggers are not the solution, but training. jiggers can also be manipulated allowing bartenders’ theft)
  7. inventory inaccuracies
  8. ordering and deliveries: receiving the wrong item, at the wrong price, the wrong quantity.
  9. Brand  agreements / pricing not followed through the invoices.
  10. POS system (aloha, mycros, etc) not properly set up or reviewed (prices and items not in concordance with what is sold/pour)
  11. Servers/bartenders not trained on how to use the system  properly and ringing in wrong items at the wrong prices. (are your “modifiers” properly set up? and your Manhattans price?)
  12. Pricing is not accurate or up to date
  13. Sales mix. This is a very important and sometimes overlooked factor. Sometimes a higher cost  is not bad when we see the sales mix. Indeed it can be positive (for example if you are selling more premium brands -higher collaboration- over well liquor). Cost control without seeing the Sales mix is just seeing half the information and will lead you to bad decisions.
  14. Does your system to track costs works with the complexity of the bar program? and with what is actually being sold? (again…the Sales mix)
  15. And very important: how did you decide the objective cost (18%, 22%, etc) for your bar program? is it realistic to what is actually being sold (one more time: the sales mix!)? How does it relate to the cost of your competition (pricing?)
  16. Side bar costs? (garnishes, juices, fresh  ingredients, etc)

STEPS TO SOLVE IT,

Identify the source/factor of the problem.
Take action, make a plan to solve it. (it will vary according to your problems and needs)
Evaluate the results, fine tune the plan.
Re-evaluate.

And last one: share your experiences here!

 

Be my guest,

Lucas Ranzuglia

http://www.compassbarsolutions.com

 

 

 

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10 Commandments for menu success.

In 1994 Chicago based restaurant consultant Allen H. Kelson wrote an article called “The ten commandments for menu success” referring to food menus. I have kept the title of each commandment and edited the description of each so it could be applied to beverage menus. I hope that you find it useful and please share your commandments and ideas with us.

1- Speak plainly.
The idea is to be straightforward and clear, avoid jargon or words in other languages that your guests wont understand. Use them only if it works for the concept; and still they have to promote sales without sounding intimidating, snobby or off putting.

2- Say what’s important.
Don’t forget to name characteristic flavors or preparations in your recipe. For example, if your drink is frozen, make it clear. If it’s hot, make it clear. Does your drink comes with a pickled onion (like a Gibson)? Let the guest know they will find that flavor in the drink. Does your main drink has litchi? Call it a “litchi XXXXX” not an “Asian paradise” without making a reference to litchi in the description. The same goes with potentially allergic ingredients such as dairy (cream in a Ramos gin fizz) or egg white (in an sour maybe).

3- Describe it completely. try to make sure you let the guest know what they’re going to get. Avoid disappointments. can u add a simple drawing line or specify the glassware or if it is on the rocks or up? do it.

4- Less is more.Try to minimize the time guests spend reading the menu, this will put them to do what you want them to do: consume and spend money in your place. And they’ll have time to chat with one another, which is what they got together at the end. Also if your bar is full (like in a nightclub), you want your customers to order and move so you can serve other guests, a long menu doesn’t facilitate this traffic flow. TIP: don’t itemize every ingredient, just the ones that lead the flavors.

5- Be descriptive.This is a tricky one and goes hand in hand with commandment 4th. The author suggests being descriptive but only in those items that you want to sell. Check our previous post Right name – Right sales.

6 – Maintain a sense of perspective. As the author says “a menu that recommends everything recommends nothing”. Give preferential treatment to the items that you want to sell, either for profit or for identity.

7- Say it correctly.this is what the author says “A chef insisted in calling his caramelized onions “onion marmalade”. Some customers who know what marmalade is will be disappointed not to find any. Worse some probably felt that the restaurant didn’t know what it was talking about”.  Are you doing this with any of your drinks?

8- Spell it properly.
Make sure you are not misspelling something. If you are an expert act like one. If you can’t write it properly what chances are there that you can mix it properly? Have someone else  double check it for you, it is vrey easy to do typos.

9- Punctuation and grammar.
Check your grammar and group your descriptors. Learn about the grammar rules in the language that your menu is written in, or again, have someone make a proof reading for you.

10- Follow rules of good typography.
Don’t play around too much with your menu graphic design, leave it to professionals and keep it simple. Use as less types as possible and keep in mind the lighting in your room. You want your guests to be able to read it easily and quickly.
Try to avoid isolating your prices in a column (as its usually find in the right), since this will make them choose based on pricing.
Design your menu as to guide your guests eyes to what you want to sell.

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Most important of all is to hire a specialist or work with your Chef or bar manager to develop your items and menu content, once you have it then design it and adjust its text and layout. My clients routinely send me their copy; personal or skype consultation goes a long way to put money in your till.

Keep in mind that all your staff should be well versed in the menu; it doesn’t matter how tasty your drinks are, if you don’t have a professionally designed menu and committed staff, your drinks won’t sell.

This previous post will also give you more advice on how to write exciting menus.

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia.

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A little Mezcal has kept me busy

I know I have not being updated this blog as much as I’d like to in the past couple of months. But I have a good excuse and she is called “Mezcal”. With a capital “M”. The opening of the new mezcaleria La Urbana (www.laurbanasf.com) has been a very intense and happy project, and it is still in needs of attention, as a new born baby that feeds you back with smiley faces, but also shouting in the middle of the night. This is the 10th restaurant I open form scratch, and the most fun project so far.

It has been a very enriching experience so far, working along fantastic professionals such as restaurateur and architect Juan Garduño (http://www.notonlyarchitects.com/), chef Julio Aguilera and Ben Klein, GM Joel Ocariz and Alma Espinola, along restaurateurs and businessmen Eduardo Rallo and Alessandra Bonisoli.

In The meantime I got to meet a lot of people and to give a few interviews on Mezcal, here’s a link to one published on Conde Nast Magazine on how to choose mezcales form a menu. Hope it helps and leads you to be found that mezcal, remember that you don’t find mezcal, but mezcal finds you.

http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/10/san-francisco-mexican-restaurant-mezcal-tequila-drinking-tips

Thank you for being on the other side, and reach out if you have questions or comments!

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Lacto-fermentation as a way to increase aromas

While in Mexico working with the Chef Paola Garduño at one of her restaurants I learned a technique from his innovation Chef “Beto”, whom in turn learned it while his staging at World’s best restaurant Noma, with Chef René Redzepi.

It is similar to what you do when pickling. What salt does is preventing the grow of bad bacteria and yeast and allowing lactic acid bacteria to do their job.

The technique is surprisingly easy to apply: weight your ingredients to be fermented, add 2% of its weight in salt, vacuum seal it and let it rest fro 12 to 24 hours.

(However, I recommend you listening to THIS podcast and read about some preventions to consider in order to make it safe. For example it may be safer to leave a little bit of air inside the bag as opposite to a 100% vacuum).

Open the bag and taste. you can either strain it and use just the juice in an atomizer as I did, or use the fruit a well.

The result is a savory fruit juice and fruit matter that is slightly acidic and salty, but why I found more interesting was how the aromas increased. You need to experiment with different ingredients, for example pineapple didn’t result in a very pleasant aroma or flavor.

My favorite was raspberry. The resulting fruit itself was a little sour as well as the juice (after fermenting for 24 hours, maybe less fermenting time will result in a different flavor profile) but the aroma was stronger than non lacto fermented raspberries and very pleasant. I thought it could be used as a good addition as part for home made grenadine syrup or as part of a raspberry syrup. In the meantime I have used it with an atomizer to aromatize drinks with nice results.

I have also tried with Grapefruit, orange and lemon. Lemon was discarded, it was nasty! But orange and grapefruit resulted in very interesting flavor profiles worth experimenting with.

IMG_1358 IMG_1361

Let me know if you experiment with this technique and discover nice ways to apply it.

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia

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Tutoring novice bartenders.

The time of your career when you are becoming a mentor of other new bartenders happens without you really noticing it. It happens before you get titles such as head bartender, bar director, bar manager or whatever other fancy name you decide to use. Indeed it happens everyday.

When you realize of your new role is usually a happy and proud moment. I want to share some thoughts about this role that you will end up applying every day.

First of all you need to keep in mind that without helping each other there are very few chances that we would have prominent careers. (You probably remember these movie scene “help me help you” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGt5f70K02Q)

There is always something new to learn (or to remember) regardless of our career span. New professionals can teach us something as well. Be humble, show and share your passion.

If you are in charge of a group, the best thing you can do is to simplify your team members work, in doing so they’ll simplify yours. Be a nexus between them and directors so they know they are doing what is expected from them. When you are congratulated for something, let them know since they are your team. Recognize and stimulate efforts, help them grow in their career.

What about when you see something you don’t like? Try to communicate it in a way that something good comes out of the situation, a new perspective, a lesson, something that expands the analytical skills of who is being corrected. Raise the training level and self-confidence and lower the ego. Criticism can have a high impact in someone’s career, try it to be positive and useful.

Something I like is to have a set of principles on how to run my bar, rather than rules and policies. Rules and policies are either accomplished or not, they create a potential frame for punishment. I don’t believe in punishment as a way to create team spirit, trust, and professionals. Common sense guides, and stating the obvious even in an informal chat pays off.

What about when dealing with guests? Here you have to set the standards and example. Treat them as equal regarding of who do you think they are, there is no guest more important than other one. They’ve decided to spend some time of their lives going to your place. That is a big honor!

Leading by example:

When dealing with money, here you have to set ethical standards. Your money is your salary and your tips, money that should go in the till it is not yours. Do not steal or novice bartenders will take it as an industry standard, spreading all over and affecting the whole industry with that behavior.

Don’t cheat on guests. If you do, novice bartender will.

If there is time to rest, there is time to clean up, organize, study something, and think about how to improve our bar. Do something beneficial while you’re working.

Be impeccable with your word. Communicate clearly, ask questions, give answers, recognize what you don’t know.

Always do your best, be present.

And finally, relax and Enjoy, even when you are rushing and cranking out cocktails like an octopus, keep your mind under control, breath, smile, have a laugh. Everybody in your place (guests and coworkers) is there because they like having a good time, they are part of the hospitality and entertainment industry….if not guest would have stayed at their office and you could get a job selling tickets at the train station. Not much fun isn’t it?

Learn all the technical aspects of your trade, as Harry Johnson put it in one of my favorite quotes, “I try to impress on every bartender’s mind that he should study his business a much as possible, in every way, so that he be entitled to the highest salary paid; for I do not believe in cheap bartenders…cheap men, as a rule, are worthless” (Harry Johnson, bartenders manual, 1882, page 24)

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia.

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The Stork Club. 28 ways to go from shady speakeasy to the “New Yorkiest” club

A few months ago I read the book Stork Club, by Ralph Blumenthal.

A great book on why and how the Stork club became the best club in NY, and some insight on his owner, Mr. Billingsley, a fascinating character. You can buy the book and read it yourself (300 pages) or read the following post (2 pages) and get some examples of what he did to go from a speakeasy with serial gangsters as partners to become the “New Yorkiest” club in NY.

The stork club existed between 1929 and 1965 and it was the source of the term Society Café. It was a busy place that demanded lots of attention (even when it was a speakeasy) so Mr. Billingsley licensed the checkroom to a concessionaire and used that freed time to focus on more influential duties.

Here are 28 examples of positive actions he did as the owner,

  1. Above the bar stretched a long mirror that allowed Billingsley to look up and keep an eye on everything and patrons to admire themselves and one another under softly flattering lights.
  2. The cash register rang to music, as Billingsley had long since discovered. The peppier the sound, the more customers drank and ate.
  3. The ladies room was furnished with well-cushioned chairs. A counter was set with powder and perfumes, and in the stalls the toilet seats were sterilized by ultraviolet-ray devices
  4. The men had a rest room downstairs by the bar, but it was urinals only. For stalls they had to take an elevator up to the third floor.
  5. Billingsley’s love letter to his loyal patrons memorialized their comings and goings. And he also published and annual magazine called Stork Club talk.
  6. Each year Mr. B and his intimates selected a dozen of debutantes for a kind of Stork Club fellowship who would make the club their headquarters and receive food and drinks gratis. He figured that they might be short of pocket money now but one day they’d be rich or famous, and as he often said “the finest decoration the Stork Club can have is a lot of beautiful girls”.
  7. There were fresh flowers everywhere, multiplied by the omnipresent mirrors, and the signature Stork club ashtrays.
  8. Expenses: he had 200 employees (earning more than union employers)  serving the 374 guests who could be seated at one time. He spent 50K a year on redecorating (around 500K on today’s money) and lost 25K on theft, bad checks and breakage.  7K a year on flowers, 12K on lights, 1500 a week for his 2 orchestras.
  9. His guests were all the celebrities of the era, like JFK, Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Hemingway, Rita Hayworth, Ann Sheridan, Orson wells, A. Hitchcock, Shirley temple, Henry Ford II, Helen Keller, Clark gable, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, politicians and army lieutenants (who used to set up camps called The Stork club) together with other well to do guests from the highest level of society.  Most of these people had a Stork Club guest card. Hemmingway and Gelhorn at the stork club
  10. Everyone at the Stork Club had a story – especially the people who worked there (Note: Mr. B made sure that the staff he hired was not only well versed but also interesting)
  11. One fight a year was good publicity, he insisted, “providing the names of the fighters are big names” (Like E. Hemingway). One night Humphrey Bogart (who has been banned from Club 21 and El Morocco) showed up drunk and wanted to put up a fight with Mr. B.
  12. He hired a regular club photographer (who once was defended by Frank Sinatra against a furious Coca Cola executive who wasn’t drinking his product) , a young socialite and an ex model  for PR, and made friends with Journalist and advertisement agent Steve Hannagan.
  13. He lured pretty girls with champagne, pins, cosmetics and souvenir stocks. He also sent champagne bottles to the artist dressing rooms in Broadway, perfume to the ladies and shaving cream to the men. stork_club_box_w_perfume
  14. Mr. B was bullheaded, but he was also open to listen to sensible ideas and learn something from his staff, as he informed in one of his memos: “Any suggestions you can make for private parties or functions for the new private rooms you will be doing a lot of good for all of us. Don’t fail to give me any ideas you may have”
  15. He also was smart and used his staff’s skill on his favor, for example the doorman at his interview assured that he knew all the tough characters of the gangster era, Mr. B replied “you’ll be the doorman. Keep out everybody you know”
  16. Paramount had paid him 100k (1.2 million today) to call a new movie The Stork Club, to shoot some scenes at the club and to copy parts of the interior for its Hollywood set. The movie All About Eve also stages a scene at the Stork Club.
  17. He threw parties for his staff, with champagne, free drinks and ties as gifts.  In one occasion he handed them cash money or banknotes.  He also held family picnics for his employees. (also this were with the intention of blackmailing them against the union, which it worked out fine)
  18. He gave an interview to Good housekeeping, in which he counseled women on “how to behave in a nightclub” (At a time when women were starting to being accepted in clubs)

Don’t give reasons when going to the Ladies’ lounge. Omit the coy remarks. Simply excuse yourself.

Don’t become overfriendly with the musicians. It isn’t considered nice

Don’t talk to strangers at adjoining tables. And don’t be too friendly ever with people you know but who are not part of your party. Particularly, don’t flirt – it is embarrassing to your escort

Don’t table-hop, no matter how well you know the other guests. It often looks show-offy, and it’s always almost annoying

Don’t accept notes sent to your table by strangers, and never give your name, address or telephone number to anyone to whom you have not been properly introduced

Don’t engage in conversation with waiters. Don’t give your order to a waiter – give it to your escort; he, not you, is supposed to do the ordering

Don’t hold conversations with cab drivers while going to or from nightclubs

  1. He sent gifts to guests and tables like orchids, ties, suspenders or samples of his own perfume brand. He had silent signals identifying each present that he used to direct his maître d’ . Billingsley’s signals cleverly allowed the club to provide seamless good service to his favored patrons while also letting him be the bad guy with less favorable customers without them knowing it. stork-club-hand-signals billingsley
  2. On one occasion he sent pearls to of one of his customer’s new born baby.
  3. Mr. B was ahead of his time and he invested in a farm (today’s farm to table trend), willing to supply the Stork club with some produce, and had a truck marked Stork Club Farm. / He boasted in his menus his suppliers (such as Schweppes) stating “we buy the best to serve you best”
  4. He banned prostitutes, gamblers, and other undesirables. One time he removed the table of a madam who refused to leave, leaving her and her escort exposed.
  5. He selected a softer décor that he thought would appeal to ladies.
  6. When he opened he presented all the reports with a guest card numbered 353, as a reminder of the address (3 East 53rd st.).  One of them was Herald Tribune columnist Lucius Beebe, who later went on to write a book on the club.
  7. He hired private detectives to check out on other clubs (something usual at that time)
  8. He certainly was a hard- working man, being at the club 7 days a week for most of the day.
  9. He hold balloon parties with balloons containing prizes such as hundred dollar notes (u$1000 in today’s money) and other treasures.  Also eccentric parties were thrown, one in which the room was decorated with orange trees and stuffed birds.StorkClubDance
  10. And he cashed E. Hemingway a u$100K check at the end of the night.

As you can see, Mr. B. was fully passionate and dedicated to his club, some of his ideas were revolutionary at the time and still are today. I am sure this post will put you to think about what you can do for your place.

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia.

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22 Ideas to improve your sales. – part 2, the last 11 ideas.

Here we share with you the last 11 Ideas to complete the 22.The first 11 Ideas are HERE.
Feel free to give us your feedback or share with us any other one you may have.

  1. Alcohol- Free options

This unexploded segment has low risk and high profits. You will be using mainly the same ingredients that you already have, just develop creative cocktails with great presentation and you have good chances to improve your business. Consider healthy and caloric options, use local produce and fresh fruits.

  1. Create free or to sell souvenirs

This kind of program works because both the guest and the business walk away happy. Selling or giving away souvenirs works because it spreads word of mouth and increases profit margins. In the case of giving something away, it has to be estimated in the cost, and you can do this only if you sell in volumes, like the case of Trader Vic’s Menehune plastic figure.

Now if you want to sell a souvenir you have plenty of options, form glassware to bar tools or uniform. For example with the glass you serve it in the glass and give the guest the chance to keep it paying an extra cost. This drives sales and creates brand awareness.

  1. Wines from emerging areas

Carry great value. Consider south America, Australia, New Zealand and your local area to find great wines at a good cost.

  1. Drink Menus – What Works, What Doesn’t and What Consumers Want 

Spend some time checking out your sales rank and consider what customers order (even if it is not in your menu) that will give you good feedback on your menu and offer.

Consider carrying a simple research with your guests asking them what they will like to see on your menu. Asking a straight forward question gives you the answer you need, guests feel appreciated feeling that you really care by involving them in the process.

Have a look at what your brands call split is and have a look at your prices for premium, according to a research done by Nightclub & Bar, guests said, “they expected to pay, on average, $1.50 more for premium beer, $2.21 more for premium wine and an additional $2.80 for a branded cocktail.”

Consider your item descriptions and branding when appropriate. it’s clear that if your marketing strategy doesn’t include a well-conceived drink menu, you might be  wasting time and effort.

  1. Invest in Bar backs

They support bartenders, and if they are well trained and respected you will find yourself soon promoting them to bartenders whenever a spot is open. Bar backs support bartenders making them more efficient in serving and selling drinks freeing their minds and hands. Promoting from within creates a solid bar team and sneds a good message to the rest of the staff.

  1. Clean glasses

Don’t underestimate the importance of having perfectly clean glasses. Dirty glassware sends a wrong message.

 Invest in quality Bar Tools

As we talk about in our previous post, buy the right tools for your bar staff and they will certainly deliver you higher profits. As a Bartender, be ready to invest in your own bar tools, you will feel more comfortable and your professionalism will be recognized.

  1. Control your portions

There are different ways you can implement to control your portions, and the first of al lis to have your recipes properly written and communicated. The use of jiggers has become fashionable, yet some bartenders do not seem to know how to use them, a jigger volume is measure to its rim. Using a 1 oz jigger to measure 20 ml is a mistake. Another option is to use pour spots and regularly check your staff precision with an exacto pour. With properly used jiggers, training and practice, the necessary speed will come, and every guest ultimately appreciates a balanced, well-made cocktail. The ROI comes in less waste and happier guests.

  1. Draft beers – serve them right

While it is a rather profitable category, you need to pay attention to it. Keep the system in good conditions and at the right temperature. Use cold glasses and make sure they are clean, check out for lipstick since women tend to drink light beers and white wines especially in summer time. Make sure the bar team knows how to serve a proper pint and pay attention to the waiters delivery time, nothing worse than receiving a flat beer in your table.

  1. Talk to your suppliers and ask for what you need.

When you are negotiating with your suppliers and vendors make sure you tell them what you need and do not accept whatever they want to give you if it is not good for your business. Work with them to train your staff on their brand and in the category. Working as a team will be beneficial for both of you.

  1. Be aware of internal theft

Simply by monitoring you won’t reduce internal theft, if you are having the bad luck of it being occurring in your place. Start monitoring; let them know that you are controlling productivity, stock and cash.

Yet if you find someone stealing from you do not take it as an offense, indeed take it as a good opportunity to improve because when it happens it is because you are making a mistake. We’ll talk about it in later post but you need to think about the circumstance under which you hired that member of the staff, consider if they are making enough tips, if they are unhappy or upset at something, etc.

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia

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22 Ideas to improve your sales. – part 1, first 11 ideas.

Need to improve your sales and do not how to? here we have  22 ideas,
Part 1,  11 ideas
Part 2, the last 11 ideas (to be published on April 30th)

  1. Pay for your free drinks.

It is sometimes common practice or a matter of courtesy giving away free drinks to special guests; however today’s savvy guests know it’s not coming out from the manager pocket but from the owners pocket and the impact is not that great. Indeed it can encourage the group to come back expecting more free drinks. A way to avoid this is to establish a money limit policy and give that amount of cash to the manager who whenever pays with actual cash the tab of the special guests is leaving a long lasting impression. The bartender gets to keep a small tip so your costs don’t skyrocket while your staff remains happy. It is important in this procedure that the manager understands he is representing your place and not himself, put it in practice only when you know your manager is going to stay working with you for a long time.

  1. Display what you sell.

In the same manner a boulangerie displays its breads and home backed pastries; you should do it with your best products. Are you using fresh fruits or herbs? Set it in bowls and display it. Do you want to sell Mojitos? Display fresh mint and even try way aromatizing the space.

  1. Subtle messages matter.

What your staff and bartenders say matters since they convey subtle messages. Spending some time considering the way your staff approaches the guests can result in differentiation from competitors. While your staff should be professional enough to know how to handle different guests, there are certain principles that you can set. For example, saying “no problem” when asked for something by a guest indicates that it may have been a problem, but in this time is not.  Want another is less professional than asking “how was your drink? Can I fix you another one or offer you X or Y?”

Words and phrases you use should show that you’re glad people are there and that you are happy to serve them. It will pay off in better guest’s satisfaction and sale opportunities, resulting in higher checks and tips.

  1. Head hunt attitude and Hospitality.

When you look for staff, be picky. You are hiring those who will represent your values and drastically impact your business. Hire for the smile, the ethics, attitude, and commitment. Do not doubt to ask for and check out for references. When interviewing look for hospitality values a smile when adequate and common sense are the heart of the industry.

  1. Train your staff, tell them what to say.

Nothing can ruin your business as an uneducated front of the house. Be sure to train your staff on what you sell, your products, and categories and why you are different from the competitors.

Hire external training programs, ask drinks companies for staff trainings, use your chef or managers for internal staff training. Train them in the basics of different categories, the brands you carry, plan tasting sessions so they can sale them easier, increase revenue and get better tips with less effort.

Do you have signature drinks or dishes? Are you serving a week special? Are you using any uncommon ingredients? Make sure your staff tastes what you sell.

You may argue that staff training is too expensive and in most cases the leave anyway, but what if you don’t train them and they stay…

  1. Congratulate your Staff doing well.

Whenever your staff does something good, big or small, recognize them as soon as you can; if it is something inspiring make sure the rest of the staff knows about it in a team meeting or with a personal comment.

If you can give the staff some prize, a ticket to a movie theater, a gift card, a book or something they are interested about. Something meaningful to them can bring great benefits to your bar with a very low cost.

  1. Make sure your bartenders are having fun

It doesn’t mean that they should be getting drunk. That is a myth in most cases. What is real is that a bar where bartenders are to frantic and forgets to smile is not giving a good service, regardless of how fast drinks are being served. If your staff doesn’t enjoy being there neither will the guest.

  1. Work along your bar team

Control your temperament when talking to your staff or your team. Especially once the place is open, better wait to have conversations at the end of the shift or the following day.

Avoid using your rank in sentences, for example “As the owner, I…..” or  “….because I am the manager”, and for God sake! Don’t do it if you are the bar manager, you will certainly ruin your bar team. They state something obvious and sound authoritative, staff usually doesn’t appreciate being treated as less when they are in the front row (well, never actually), all of you together make a team and they are not your soldiers.

As an owner it may be a big chance that you don’t live paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us. So whenever you can try to avoid showing your fortune to the rest of the team. If you have a luxury car, park out of view and walk one block for example. It will prevent negative consequences and make you look like one of the team.

  1. Use social media to increase transit and revenue

While you can hire professional agencies to this for you, there are a few tricks you can do yourself. For example, tweet a secret word with a special offer. Promote a special event, share pictures of your drinks, share recipes, share information on a special ingredient you are using.

If you share something exciting, they will share it with their “Friends” and expand your customers base.

  1. Suggestive Selling – Increase Sales and Guest Satisfaction

Train your staff so they are able to make suggestions. Short description of options opens the doors for selling premium items or the one that brings higher benefits for your business. Guest will start trusting on your staff planting the seed for future sales.

  1. Infusions and home-made products

Find a nice container and fill it with something special according to your concept. Create a flavor that your competitors can’t duplicate. Place it in a prominent space in your front bar so guest can see it and create word of mouth. There you have a conversation starter. You must check your local regulations to make sure you are infusing something legal.

Put them in practice and let us know your results,

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia

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No need to drink from a urinal.

I found an article in The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reporting an upscale event where they served yellow “specialty cocktails” that “flowed from white ceramic urinals”. I saw no pleasure in a drink like that and It may me wonder what is the limit.

It instantly made me remember what Arrigo Cipriani said about what makes a good barman. Please take a few minutes to read both articles and share your thoughts with me.

THE EVENT AND THE URINALS:

SF gate urinal cocktails at event

and WHAT MAKES A GOOD BARTENDER ACCORDING TO ARRIGO CIPRIANI:

Arricgo Cipriani - Good barman

Just on a side note, you can read this article about a London bar infusing liqueur with Whale skin (yes, it’s true, they infused the same 2×5 cm piece of skin several times through out the year, also serving you an inconsistent drink). The bar got raised by the police because of this. I agree with the cops this time.

I would love to know your opinions or any interesting story to share regarding this topic.

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia

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Right Name, Right sales

There are plenty of alternatives when it comes to naming a cocktail and some of them will be better than others, but one thing is certain: the name will directly impact the sales.

It’s 2013 and we have left behind the 90’s with the overused formula: “(Apple) + Martini”, right? Well….not really to tell you the truth. Let’s have a look at any random contemporary cocktail bar menu and we find the same formula still in existence: “(city/person/fruit/herb/noun, etc.) + family cocktail”.  What has changed though is that with today’s cocktail trends and higher levels of professionalism among bartenders, we’re seeing more cocktail families (correctly) used. Now we may find “Apple fizz” or “Blackberry Cobbler” or “Gin Basil Smash” being served in the same way that Gin Cocktails, N.O. Gin fizzes or St. Croix Daisies were served 100+ yrs. ago. There is nothing wrong with this ancient technique, indeed it can contribute to intrigue and educate the guests while helping the staff to know what it’s in the drink. Yet if this were the only naming method used, we’ll be missing on Mojitos, Piña Coladas, Sidecars, Zombies and South-sides.

On the other hand, random words or naming drinks in honor of your beloved girlfriend* won’t always do the trick when it comes to business; neither will do using Spanish words just because you’re using Sherry, Pisco or Tequila (like the “Oye mi canto” from the Artesian bar in London, or Bloody Maria for a tequila based Bloody Mary, named like this at least since 1960′s). (* On the other hand grandmothers ,mothers, uncles and aunties name usually do work and people may buy Uncle Tom’s flip in Christmas season).

There is indeed a lot behind a name, such as trends, your guests’ interests, their age or your bar mood and concept just to name a few things that you need to consider.

In an article from 2011 the author refers to a study showing that people on  diet avoid some foods by its name before reading the ingredients itself. They may happen to pick a less healthy option that carries a healthy name and end up completely out of their diet without been fully aware but convinced that they’ve picked the right one. The word Smoothie for example sounds healthier than milkshake (and goes hand in hand with today’s concern for health); while the word batida will instantly transport them to holidays on the beach and tropical fruits, even though a real batida has plenty of condensed milk, not appropriate for your bikini size.

Think about how you react to “fruits blended with lemon sorbet” Vs. “fruits blended with lemon ice cream”. Which one has more sugar and more calories?

So the next time that you have to name a drink consider your purpose and the role of that drink within the menu and your offer. If you have a drink that tastes really good but its ingredients may carry a negative image or fact that may put off your clients, try to find a name that will disguise negative facts. For example, a traditionally made Piña Colada demanded some effort to be made, but today it takes very little effort, yet the word “colada” (strained) was and still is a huge fact in its popularity giving it a sense of real craft while hiding the fact that it has plenty of sugar and is made by almost carelessly blending the ingredients for 15 seconds. There’s a reason why the Coco loco didn’t make it to the hall of fame. Words can enhance a cocktail but can also distract the guest so they don’t notice what you want to hide about it. “Colada” speaks craft, in the same way as Infused or Aged or Maestro or Special or A la minute or Bartender’s choice have connotations as well.

             Avoid names with negative references because they usually don’t work (like a brain hemorrhage that will crowd your bar with shot slammers). The same with childish names, you’re selling a luxury not Fruit loops. Try to come up with names that are specific to your product, this will help its sales and makes things easier for your customers; it will also speed up the service. Not every single name has to be glamorous, remember that you need contrast to appreciate the tones. Avoid funny sentences or word combinations if they have nothing to do with the drink, write them down and keep them for a future recipe. Yet if you still want to use them, make sure that you clearly communicate what’s in the drink so the guest knows what he/she’ll get. Think about the Penicillin or the Albermale fizz, you know the latest is a fizz, but with this information, do you know what any of those drinks taste like? But if I tell you a Honey suckle or Bee’s Knees, you’ll certainly know that it has honey in its flavor profile. Or what about Hot buttered rum….you can’t miss that one. And what about the Aviation or the Alexander? Well, those are pretty useless name on their own and they’ll need some description backing them up.

 This list of cocktail families may give you some ideas:

cocktail, slings, sour, fizz, cobbler, punch, plush, daisy, flips, toddies, fixes, frappe, collins, crusta, grog, highball, rickey, julep, pousse café, smash, swizzle, cooler, sangaree, etc.

And for a list of useful words that will help you sell more check out this other post

Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia

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