May 13 2015 – Robert Fiumara
Beverage sales are on a decline and that spells big trouble for restaurateurs who depend on their bars to boost their sales. You might be wondering how you can get your patrons to begin ordering those high-margin drinks, once again. Here are some tips!
First, you need to take a look at your bar sales history and figure out which drinks are selling and which are languishing. Getting rid of the bottom ten percent right off the bat is the best move, but you’ll also want to check out current trends. Your suppliers are the best sources for what’s current and hot so start with them. Instead of offering every single drink out there, consider offering a few signature cocktails that really fall in line with your establishment’s concept. If you’re running a high-end sports bar, offer some beer cocktails to fall in line with your theme.
Something that you might have overlooked is your menu’s layout and look. There are many options out there for how to advertise your restaurants bar menu: a single page standalone inside the dinner menu, a beverage list, a multi-page binder, the list goes on and on. Whatever you decide, try and limit selections to five to six drinks per page, otherwise you run the risk of overwhelming your guests. You’ll also want to display your most profitable drink front and center to draw attention to it. If you’re selling signature drinks, include an icon next to those selections so your guests can easily pinpoint them. And remember that photography of your drinks really does help sell them – many experts say that drinks spotlighted by photos are often the top sellers.
Next up is training your staff - and not just the bartenders. All of your staff, including food servers, will need to be able to suggest drinks to patrons. Bartenders will need training on how to mix and garnish your new drinks and how to present them. Servers should taste the drinks so they can make confident recommendations to customers who are looking for something new and exciting to drink and when 75% of your alcohol sales come from the dining room, you can’t afford to overlook your food servers.
Perhaps most important is your menu’s launch. Create excitement around the addition of a new menu and cocktails – this should be enough to get your guests to at least browse your new menu. Using social media and any loyalty programs you employ will get the word out but focus on a signature drink that you’re really proud of and advertise some happy-hour specials to bring in the guests. Remember to keep training your new staff on the specials and signature drinks and advertise often, to keep up momentum with your repeat customers.
Do you know what goes great with a new bar menu? New chef and waiter uniforms! Fiumara Apparel is here to help with all of your chef coat, chef shoes and front-of-house uniform needs.