A bar is only as good as the smiling faces behind it.
That also means a grumpy staff member has an outsized effect.
If you’re managing a bar or opening a bar, hiring the right people is key. It increases your business’s efficiency, sales, traffic, word-of-mouth, and ultimately bar profitability. It’s the silver bullet.
To take advantage, understand the positions you’ll be hiring for, how many staff you’ll need, and how to pick the right ones.
Bar Staff: A Bar Jobs List
Not all bar restaurant staff is exactly as below. You will likely outline what positions will be used at your bar in your bar operations manual.
If, as the bar owner, you decide you want someone to take charge of bar operations, you need a good bar manager. A bar manager's duties include a lot. All the purchasing, inventory management, marketing, quality control, operations, and staffing. You should also make sure they know how to spot a bartender stealing to keep your shrinkage down.
High-end or high-volume beverage programs may choose to hire a beverage director. A beverage director works within the beverage program. They ensure that the menus suit the clientele and pour costs are low. It’s a specialized role that involves a lot of research and sourcing.
Like a bar manager, a beverage director also spends time ordering, knows how to do bar inventory, and handles the consumables.
Beverage Director vs Bar Manager
Unlike a bar manager, beverage directors don't spend much time on bar or restaurant operations. Or marketing or human resources. A bar manager is a people manager. They oversee the bar's operation, and have to manage the people responsible for that. But a beverage director is concerned with the drinks.
There is usually one beverage director for a hospitality organization. They set the general beverage strategy for all locations. While bar managers exist at each individual location within the hospitality organization.
They mix drinks, serve beer and wine, ring guests up, and provide casual therapy (conversation) to the drinkers. They’re responsible for making sure the bar is clean and well-organized. Including making sure all the right bar and restaurant cleaning supplies are close at hand.
And sometimes they’re responsible for making sure the bar is stocked. That means they often have a hand in taking the bar’s inventory and placing the necessary orders to vendors. They’re familiar with the cocktails and the drinking habits of the clientele. So they often have a hand in drink menu engineering, as well.
To make your life easier, check out our bartender duties checklist.
If the server is working in the area near the bar with high-tops, they’re usually called a cocktail server. They’ll seat guests, take orders, and deliver food and drinks. If there’s no busser, they’ll be the ones clearing and cleaning the tables, too.
It makes sense to have a server at a bar if there are tables the bartender can’t get to quickly. Or on nights when you’re expecting a lot of traffic.
What is a barback? The barback does everything the bartender doesn’t do to keep the bar running. They're the oil that keeps the FOH machine running (see FOH meaning slang). That includes keeping the bar stocked with dishware, plates, and utensils. And any and all bottles of beer, liquor, and wine the bartender needs, of course.
They’ll also change empty kegs, restock ice, and collect empty glasses.
Bouncers will card folks as they enter the bar, and they’ll make sure nothing illegal or out-of-hand happens during the shift. If it does, they’ll remove any patrons that need to be removed. And, if needed, be the point of contact with law enforcement. But how many of these fine folks should you hire?
How Many Bar Staff Do I Need?
Generally speaking, and assuming your customers are mostly ordering shots and simple drinks, you should aim for 50 or fewer customers per bartender. It’ll be less than 50 if you’re making complicated craft cocktails and blended drinks.
Of course, there are volume bartenders who can handle up to 300 customers. These people are rare, and the venues that ask them to handle such volume are, too. That would mean, assuming people have one drink per hour, the bartender is making 5 drinks a minute.
But it’s useful because it illustrates the absolute upper end. One barback per 4-6 bartenders is about the norm. That could go up if there are different bars across the space. Like a bar on the upper level, a bar on the roof, or a bar on the patio.
How to Staff Your Bar with the Right People
You’ve got to attract and hire the right people.
First know the positions you’re going to fill and have a bar staff training manual in place. Then write and post accurate job descriptions. Then hire for personality and culture fit.
How to Write Bar Staff Job Descriptions
Here are a few rules you can follow when writing job descriptions for the bar positions you’re hiring for:
Stay away from words and phrases like rockstar, expert, world class, etc. Lots of people are too humble to identify with those words. You may lose out on some great candidates if your job description uses extreme language.
Don’t Use Cliché Words and Phrases
Applicants don’t connect with phrases like “fast-paced environment” or “excellent communication skills” because they don’t communicate much. Every restaurant is fast-paced and requires good communication. What makes your business different? You want applicants who get excited when they read the description.
Focus on Growth Potential
Connect the responsibilities and duties to the growth of the business. That will show applicants that there is room for advancement. Something like “We’re anticipating hiring 20% more staff in the next few quarters. We're looking for some early hires to take the lead!"
Hire for Personality and Culture Fit
Hiring for experience and skill has been the standard for decades. It makes sense to focus on proficiency in the task for which you’re hiring. But that neglects something crucial that has become clearer as the field of psychology evolves. People are naturally curious and enthusiastic. In the right environment, they’re literal learning machines.
- Employees who come to work in a good mood bring new ideas. And a willingness to participate in the ongoing improvement of the business.
- Guests notice and are affected by negative energy. There is nothing more unwelcoming than patronizing a business with an unhappy employee.
- Happy, dedicated people make stronger teams. That's because there is more communication and collaboration.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure all this out in a job interview. So think about administering a personality test to get a better read on the candidate. The DISC personality test is a popular one.
Bar Staff: Achieved
Now you know a little bit more about what the positions are in a bar! And how to find the good eggs. Now, make sure you give them the tools they need to succeed. Start with a simple opening and closing checklist and teach the leadership how to update the restaurant chart of accounts.
Once your bar staff is trained up and in place, you can make their lives easier.
By automating your bar’s beverage inventory management.
Bar managers and bartenders will breathe a sigh of relief when they understand that they can use a liquor inventory system to automate inventory counting t effortless scanning. Owners’ and beverage directors’ eyes will light up when they realize BinWise puts them in a position to grow your bar's profits with a full analytics and reporting suite.
Schedule a demo and let us walk you through everything BinWise Pro can do for you. It’s a free demo. There’s nothing to lose but more time counting. We can even recommend some of the best restaurant management books to help you master your craft.