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A Successful Bar Starts with a Good Bar Manager

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Good Bar Manager?

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A good bar manager knows not only the ins and outs of managing the bar, but also how to manage people well.

Managing Bar Employees

The mantra of a good bar manager is "write it down, write it down, write it down." For example, job descriptions must be clear, create reasonable boundaries, and be written down for future reference. For a bar manager job description, nothing is too pedantic to be written down.

The job of the bartender is different from the job of a waitress or waiter, although both types of employees are able to serve drinks. Defining the boundaries of each job increases the success of the position.
  • What hours are bartenders and wait staff expected to work?
  • Who sets up the bar? What does bar set up entail? (Getting ice, cutting fruit, etc.)
  • Who cleans the bar? What does cleaning entail? For example, if the bartender is excused earlier than wait staff, it may be the wait staff's job to sweep and mop the bar area.
Wait staff are often required to tip out a bartender for his or her services. Tips outs can be abused, so think this policy through to be fair to all involved. If the bartender is not present for the whole shift, and the wait staff do some of the bar work, a full 10% of tips to the bartender is not needed. Some bars require a tip out percentage of bar sales to the bartender, instead.

If you are a bar manager and a bartender, you have a conflict of interest when deciding upon tip out policies. Managers should not take tip outs from staff, and in some states, it is illegal to do so.

Dealing With Employee Problems

A bar manager has to take care of the staff that work under him or her. When controversy arises, have an appropriate system in place for employees to express their grievances. Avoid and do not tolerate staff members acting out their feelings while working.
  • Be available. Allow staff to request time to speak with you.
  • Listen to staff grievances from each employee involved. You need to understand what is happening to make an appropriate decision.
  • Be firm. You met with staff members. You listened. You thought about the issues. You have made a decision. Staff members are required to abide by your decision if they wish to continue to work with you.

Bar Employee Behavior

Make sure to reward professional and appropriate behavior among your staff. When you have valuable employees working for you, take care of them. Thank them for a job well done. Ask them how things are going. Take them out for a beer now and then and have an occasional staff party. Make good workers feel appreciated and they are most likely to stay.

Written by: Beth Taylor