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Bar Staff: How to Hire the Right People for Your Bar

November 20, 2019
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Scott
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A bar is only as good as the smiling faces behind it.

If you’re managing a bar or opening a bar, hiring the right people will increase 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.

What Are the Positions in a Bar?

Not every bar will require each of the positions listed below. However, every bar will definitely need a bartender.

Bar manager

If, as the bar owner, you decide you want someone to take charge of bar operations, you need a bar manager. A bar manager's duties include all purchasing, inventory management, marketing, quality control, and bar staff.

Beverage director

High-end or high-volume beverage programs may choose to hire a beverage director. A beverage director works with the beverage program, ensuring that the menus suit the clientele and pour costs are low. It’s a specialized role, and like a bar manager, a beverage director also spends time ordering, taking inventory, and handling the consumables. Unlike a bar manager, they don't spend much time on marketing or human resources.

Bartender

Wondering about how to become a bartender? Well, buckle up because bartender duties and responsibilities are virtually endless.  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, 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.

Cocktail Server

If the server is working in the area near the bar with high-tops and other nearby tables, they’re more accurately 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.

Barback

The barback does everything the bartender doesn’t do to keep the bar running. That includes keeping the bar stocked with dishware, plates, utensils, and any and all bottles of beer, liquor, and wine the bartender needs. They’ll also change empty kegs, restock ice, and collect empty glasses.

Bouncer

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, e.g., a bar on the upper level, a bar on the roof, a bar on the patio, etc.Now let’s find the people to fill these positions!

How to Staff Your Bar with the Right People

Once you have an idea of the positions you’re going to fill and have a bar staff training manual in place, you’ve got to attract and hire the right people. That comes down to writing and posting accurate job descriptions and hiring 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:

Avoid Superlatives

Stay away from words and phrases like rockstar, expert, world class, etc.Lots of people are too humble to identify with those words and you may lose out on some great candidates if your job description uses such extreme language.

Don’t Use Cliché Words and Phrases

Applicants don’t connect with phrases like “fast-paced environment”, “excellent communication skills”, or “positive attitude”  because they don’t communicate much. 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, and are 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. Consider these when making your hiring decision:

  • Employees who come to work with a positive attitude 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 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, how many bartenders and barbacks you typically need, and how to hire the right people.

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 BinWise Pro turns manual inventory counting into 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.