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The Complete Bar Profits Guide: 5 Steps to Better Profits

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2022 could be the year you're first venturing into bar management and ownership. Maybe you're looking for a way to come back strong post-pandemic. Either way, there's no doubt about the importance of this year for bar profits. This bar profits guide is just what you need to navigate the bar profit scene of 2022 and beyond.

You may be looking for assurance about bar profits in 2022. Maybe you're looking for fresh new bar promotions. Maybe you're choosing this year to open your bar, and you just want to know where to start. No matter the case, this bar profits guide is the place for you.

binwise bar profits guide 2022 beverage inventory

Are Bars Profitable?

Through the hundreds of years since public bars first opened, they’ve been a profitable business model. As the types of bars and creativity behind bars have grown, so has bar popularity. 

2022 bar profits are a topic of interest in the bar world. Bar owners, managers, workers, and patrons alike all have a role to play in the profitability of bars in 2022. 

Profit Vs Cost

Of course, you can’t talk about a bar profit margin without talking about bar costs and overhead expenses. While bars are a great source of revenue, the price of owning and operating a bar is extremely high. 

These last few years, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the hospitality industry, bar owners are looking for insight into profitability for the future. 2022 bar profits are a hot topic. The profits this year are closely tied to bar profits in general, and the bar and restaurant industry as it currently stands. 

How Profitable Are Bars?

On average, one bar brings in about $39,600 a year in profit. Even with the changes of the last few years, that number remains a solid standard for bar profit projections.

That said, the effects of the pandemic are still weighing on the bar industry. 2022 needs to be a year of substantial growth in order to keep bars moving forward. 

However, there’s plenty of hope for the future bar industry. The market size of the bar industry is expected to increase by 14.1% in 2022.

This is substantial, especially when you think about the toll the last few years have taken on the industry. Bar owners have a lot to look forward to with 2022 bar profits, and a lot to plan for as well. 

2022 Bar Profit Growth Plans

There’s no doubt about it, bar profits are looking up in 2022. To turn potential for growth into reality and boost profits, there are several things bar owners should focus on. These 2022 bar profit growth plans include:

For current bar owners and those of you looking to open a bar, we predict 2022 will be a good year. Now is the time to create new plans and prepare for the potential growth coming your way.

How to Make a Bar Profitable: Post-Pandemic

As all signs point to a near end to the pandemic, ways of boosting bar profits will need to reflect the last few years. This includes the tried and true methods of:

  • Understanding the liquor cost formula (with the liquor cost calculator)
  • Knowing when to waste alcohol and when to be very careful with standard pours
  • Understanding the basics of how much your bar business brings in versus how much you’re spending

... will remain important. But bar owners and marketers need to adapt to today’s times, too. 

Pandemic Economic Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact on the bar industry stems from some specific instances. Those specifics are:

  • Lockdowns
  • Employee shortages
  • Stay-at-home orders

To come back from these economic hardships, there are plenty of things bars can do to bolster bar profits. A good starting place is these top 10 post-pandemic bar promotions:

10. Expand menu types, to offer up tasty treats (like these Mexican food appetizers) to surprise your patrons.

9. Throwback to the roaring ‘20s, to remind everyone the ‘20s aren’t just about 2020.

8. Home comforts cocktail drinks, to bring every home bartender out for a night of comfortable fun.

7. Game nights (maybe happy hour game nights), need we say more?

6. Neighborhood pub crawls, to bring the whole community together.

5. Dog park days, to bring out all those quarantine pups and their owners.

4. Make-your-own drinks night, to infuse a little more variety.

3. Share on socials, win in the bar, to give your bar media exposure and give Instagram fans a treat.

2. Friends and family deals, to bring everyone out together.

1. Pandemic trivia nights, so everyone can share the past few years in a fun way.

All these marketing tips will achieve the main goal. That is, bringing people together and giving them a place to spend time with loved ones–ultimately buying more food and drink.

Bar Owner Profits: Profit Growth

Bar profits are important for bar staff, bar owners, and bar patrons. Right now, we’ll be focusing on bar owners. The staff relies on bar profits to keep them employed. Bar patrons benefit from a bar that is forward-thinking. The bar owner, however, is the person who has the greatest personal investment in bar profit growth. 

From opening the bar to choosing staff to setting up marketing deals and promotions, the bar owner is intimately involved in every aspect. If a bar doesn’t take off, the workers may be let go, but the bar owner will have lost their business.

When a bar does well, of course the workers are happy and paid commensurately. The owner, however, has personal success and a business they can regard with pride, as well as a solid future investment. 

Because bar owners are so invested in their bar’s success, they have a unique role to play in growing their business and profits. Bar owners have the most say over changes to make and marketing plans to implement. What they do with information about the bar scene and plans for increasing profits will directly affect the profits of their bar. 

Are Bars Profitable?

Of course, even without a marketing plan (maybe eCommerce marketing) or a bar owner who is planning ahead, bars are often a profitable business to have. Profits come in from:

  • Beverage sales
  • Menu sales
  • Regular customers

The job of the bar owner is to tap into the potential profit growth of each of those revenue categories. Keep reading to learn more about how revenue needs to be allocated in order to produce profit. 

Profits And Costs

A percentage of all revenue generated at a bar goes to expenses like:

Beyond those expenses, the bar owner has the option of taking home a sizable salary while still investing in their bar. Of course, those aren’t necessarily either/or.

That said, bar owners need to be aware of the potential their bar can fulfill if they invest back into it. Not just with inventory and maintenance, but marketing and growth as well. When it comes down to it, the true job of the bar owner is figuring out the profitability of their bar and making plans for a future of profitability. 

When Is a Bar Business Profitable?

According to Investopedia, a bar normally becomes profitable after about two years of operation. Those first two years will involve a lot of hard work and sacrifices on the part of the bar owner.

The focus is on keeping the bar going, finding room for growth, and, of course, paying employees. That said, that two year period is perfect to ramp up promotions and profit growth, and establish even longer term plans. 

If you’re just starting out in the bar industry, or you’re always looking for ways to grow your profits, there are new ideas to consider. Of course, basic marketing, budgeting, and planning ahead will be important.

If you’re looking for something innovative, however, there’s plenty you can do. These top seven ideas for bar owners to implement will get you started:

7. Promote your top shelf bottles, for the highest profits.

6. Upsell on group deals to bring in friends.

5. Invest in the best equipment (from this bar supplies list), to keep everything running.

4. Boost bar activities like game nights and promotions, to give patrons more to love.

3. Max out mocktails to attract everyone, not just those who like alcohol.

2. Master bar marketing, to stay on top of relevant consumer trends.

1. Streamline your inventory, to make bar inventory management a breeze.

When it comes to streamlining your inventory, having some extra help will make things a breeze. BinWise is here to help, and you can learn more in a demonstration of the BinWise platform. 

Bar Owner Profit Growth Plans

For a bar owner, these top seven tips are great because they're actions that can make a substantial difference for your profits. But these aren’t the only things you can do. 

Throughout this bar profits guide you’ll find far more than seven bar profit ideas. Implementing ideas from this guide will position your bar to be the best it can be. From the 65%-225% revenue boost from game nights and trivia (Trivia20) to the 60.5% of bar profits generated by happy hour promotions (Chron), you’ll see a measurable increase in bar profits when you start working with these bar promotions.

Remember, however, that while you grow your bar for your employees and your patrons, you should give back to yourself too. Your bar growth is something you’ll be able to look back on with pride.

binwise bar profits guide 2022 beverage inventory

Best Bars: Location and Layout

A bar profits guide wouldn't be complete without taking a look at current bars. If you’re looking for inspiration for your bar, looking to current successful bars is a good idea.

Modeling your bar, in bar layout, location, promotions, and more after bars that are doing well is a good starting point. A lot of the best bars share a few common factors. Two factors of note are quality locations and exceptional layout and design. 

Of course, location and layout aren’t factors you always have complete control over. There are only so many spots available (unless you’re building from the ground up).

Some locations are only able to be renovated to a certain extent. However, that doesn’t mean everything is out of your control. It never hurts to plan and figure out what you can do with your location and design.

Bar Locations

Your bar location is not a factor you have all that much control over. Yes, you can pick a city and look for locations, but there will be a lot that you can’t do much about. 

You may be stuck in a city with lots of bars. You may have to do some renovating and building of your own to even have a building. Wherever you’re at with your bar location, looking at other successful bars can be both aspirational and educational.

The following seven bars have done well for themselves in terms of location. They give you some goals to work towards, or at least some idea of what you may work with:

7. Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee, WI

6. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans, LA

5. Library Bar in Los Angeles, CA

4. The Castle Bar Pub Restaurant in Cockermouth, Cumbria, England

3. Cabin Tavern in Anchorage, AK

2. Ministry of Brewing in Baltimore, MD

1. Comfort Station in Cincinnati, OH

Bar Design

When it comes to bar design, you have a little more wiggle room to work with. Even in the most bare-bones location, if you have an eye for design and a goal in mind, you can make a spectacular bar.

Whether you choose to open a themed bar or a classic dive bar, the important thing is that you have a plan. Taking a look at the next seven beautiful, uniquely designed bars will give you something to work with:

7. The Carousel Bar & Lounge in New Orleans, LA

6. The Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale, FL

5. The Coffin Club in Portland, OR

4. The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs, CO

3. The Chandelier in Las Vegas, NV

2. The SafeHouse in Milwaukee, WI

1. The Spirit Room in Rochester, NY

Bar Profits Alongside Location and Design

You may be thinking to yourself, “Isn’t the most important thing that I’m selling drinks?” Or, “What’s wrong with simple booths and beers?” Bar location and design are things that occasionally get overlooked, since they aren’t a product you’re selling.

Don’t let that fool you. A great location and layout can make or break any bar. While you can’t always control everything about these factors of your bar business, drawing from these examples and doing what you can will help.

Bar Profitability Ideas: Unique Profit Points

There’s nothing wrong with traditional marketing, a classic bar, and word-of-mouth sharing how great your brews and burgers are. This bar profits guide isn't here to tell you to stop those traditional practices.

If, however, you want to branch out and try something unique to boost your bar profits, there are so many ideas to try! Whatever type of bar you have (or if you’re still opening your bar), there’s an idea on this list that will work for you. 

Cool Bar Ideas

In general, if you have a straightforward bar that speaks for itself, you don’t have to go crazy with any themed marketing. There are plenty of bar promotion ideas out there to keep the calm atmosphere of your bar with just a bit of excitement. From dive bars and wine bars to beer halls and other locations, these cool bar ideas will suit your spot and bring in a unique crowd:

  • Game Nights
  • Creative Happy Hours
  • Themed Deals
  • Sample Stations

Coffee Bar Ideas

Of course, you may be looking for profit boosting ideas for another type of bar: a coffee bar. If you specialize in all things caffeine, from morning cups to after-work espresso martinis, you can bring in all the coffee lovers.

The world runs on coffee and profits. Tying your profits to some coffee-related marketing techniques is a surefire way to increase your bar growth. Check out these possibilities:

  • BYOB
  • Express Your Martinis
  • Bring Your Own Cup
  • Coffees Across the World

Basement Bar Ideas

Plenty of bars these days are finding space wherever they can, including in the basements of other establishments. If you’ve set up shop in a basement or lower level, there’s a lot you can do to make people feel at home.

Whether you want to give house party vibes or remind people of That ‘70s Show, the basement aesthetic will give your bar something special. What does that mean for profits? Well, people will want to keep hanging out and buying more drinks. Here are some ideas:

  • House Party Nights
  • Lean Into the Basement Theme
  • Create an Outdoor/Indoor Space
  • Gamer Cave

Bar Room Ideas

If your bar is a large space there are ideas perfect for bringing in revenue and making use of the space you have. Maybe you have an old pool hall. Maybe you converted a warehouse into a bar.

Whichever way you came into having a large space, these ideas will take advantage of every inch. Check them out below:

  • An Indoor Market
  • Dance Hall Nights
  • Event Evenings
  • Group Rates

Unique Bar Profit Points

You may find that this list covered your bar to a tee. Maybe you need to do a little extra digging to find profit points that will fit your bar. Whatever the case is, these bar profit ideas are a good start towards discovering marketing ideas to implement at your bar in 2022.

binwise bar profits guide 2022 beverage inventory

Your Bar Profits Guide In 2022: In Conclusion

This bar profits guide is designed to help you throughout 2022. Refer back to this post and the rest of the BinWise blog when you're looking for more.

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