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Taking Care of your "regulars" - Should you “comp” them or give them “a little extra?”

March 13, 2015 18:14 by administrator

HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE

http://www.hospitalitycheckpoint.com/

By Ian Foster of Sculpture Hospitality

Your ‘regulars’ are critically important to the health of your business. Unless you operate an airport bar or a tourist-focused establishment, the regular guests who visit week in and week out are the backbone of your business.

So, how are you “looking after them?” How are you making sure that they feel appreciated and valued?

Many bar and restaurant operators have not really given this question much thought. But your bartenders probably have. If you don’t have a policy to acknowledge your regulars, your bartenders are almost certainly trying to do that by giving your regular customers heavily over–poured drinks.

And the odds are that this is benefiting your bartenders more than it’s benefiting your business.

Of course we need to look after our regulars. But letting our bartenders over-pour is ineffective – and far too costly. Here’s why:

  • Over-pouring becomes the new normal

Once you allow the bartenders to over-pour when they think it is warranted, the inevitable result is that almost everyone will get an over-poured drink. Maybe at first over-pours will just be for the regulars; but then the bartender's friends will benefit too; then employees from other bars; anyone who throws a buck into their tip jar; and, eventually, over-pouring just becomes habitual and almost every drink is routintely over-poured

  • It is impossible to manage

There is no way to track or control which guests are getting “a little extra.” Without this most basic information, your management team won't be able to see what is and isn't beneficial for your business.

  • It is too expensive

 

Every industry study has discovered that the average bar is losing 25% of their alcohol to over-pouring and lost sales. The Glenfiddich example (above) fits this pattern. Our client had priced his drinks based on a 1-1/2 ounce portion but the bartender poured over 2 ounces, representing a 26.8% over-pour. This level of over-pouring has the exact same effect as giving away one drink for every four sold. And no owner or general manager would comp at that rate to anyone.

  • Your regulars don't appreciate it

After awhile, this generosity is taken for granted or simply goes unnoticed. And even when they do notice, your guests don’t value it very highly, thinking only about the cost of the extra liquor, not your labor costs, rent, overhead, taxes and other costs: "they can afford it - a bottle of Jack Daniels only costs $25 and they're only giving me an extra 1/2 ounce".

So letting your bartenders over-pour your regulars is a poor policy. What should a bar operator do to make sure the regulars are happy? More on this next week.

 

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Great Read … I loved it!

I had some comments about this too.

“And the odds are that this is benefiting your bartenders more than it’s benefiting your business.”

The bartenders aren’t benefiting that much either because when they give away drinks gratis they are losing actual sales which in turn decreases gratuities - well honest gratuities. Secondly, overpouring drinks a customer will reach an alcohol threshold quicker and thus not purchase as many full priced drinks which again reduces their gratuities. Lastly, overpouring drinks can develop dram shop liquor liability issues.

“After a while, this generosity is taken for granted or simply goes unnoticed.”

I really like this statement because it is so true. Giving somebody their first drink becomes the new normal to them and therefore it is taken for granted and if they ever are not given this "normal" gratis drink then they become disgruntled with the establishment. It's been over a decade since I owned a nightclub but what I did was tell our bartenders if they need to give a drink anyway give away something like a kamikaze shot with well liquor that cost less than a quarter. That way the guest feels like they still got the freebie drink but then ponies up for the five dollar beer.

Most importantly, in my opinion, any alcohol that is given away gratis should be directed to the hospitality of the owner and not used as a tool for a bartender to increase gratuities and/or social status. It's not his or her booze inventory - it's the owners. And they should be the ones to benefit.

 

Michael Zenner - CEO      
Hospitality Checkpoint LLC
hospitalitycheckpoint.com

bartheft.com  (blog)
PO BOX 995 Gilbert AZ 85299
Office: 480-777-7056
Toll Free: 800-880-0811


HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE

November 6, 2014 21:04 by administrator

HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE

BARTENDER THEFT:

Bartender Summary

 

There were three bartenders that will be denoted as bartenders A, B, and C.  Bartender A was a female Caucasian with long blonde hair wearing a low cut Xxxxxxxxx tank.  Bartender B was a Caucasian male with a tall Mohawk haircut with blonde tips.  He was unshaven, but did not wear a beard.  Bartender C was a bulky Caucasian male with spiky blonde hair in somewhat of a faux-hawk style.

 

When this agent arrived in the bar, the rail was relatively full with a group of what appeared to be regular female patrons.  The first impression that this agent had of this bar was Bartender C taking Bacardi 151 directly from the service pour spout into his mouth and spewing fire behind the bar as he lit the 151 he was expelling from his mouth.  The violations, health infractions, and liabilities are numerous on this one initial impression.  This agent will leave it to the managers and owners of Xxxxxxxxx if they want to continue with this type of activity.  This agent would strongly recommend that this be discontinued immediately.

 

Bartender A was the first bartender to approach this agent on the bar top.  She mentioned the specials for the night and mentioned that Miller Light bottles were on sale for $2.  The agent opted to start the night with this.  This female bartender immediately rang the drink through the POS and the screen notated the $2 charge.  Change was returned immediately and there were no issues with this transaction.

 

At 1015pm the bar really began to fill up.  Multiple groups came in through the front doors and began to gather and order from the bar.  From 1015 until after 1115, this agent sat near where Bartender C was working.  This was the middle well. 

 

This agent counted 5 NO SALE deposits from drinks that were paid for in cash over this well.  The bartender would approach the terminal with the money, simply hit the NO SALE key, which would flash across the POS and deposit the money directly into his drawer.  This was so brazen that there wasn’t even an attempt to shadow the terminal or hide it. 

 

Literally, the only drinks that were actually run through the POS system were those drinks where a credit card transaction was needed.  Unfortunately on this night, this terminal was heavy on cash transactions and light on credit.  The bottom line is that if a report were run during the middle of this shift, Bartender C’s drawer would be found way over. 


In addition to this, Bartender C was also seen giving an unrung long neck over the bar with a thumbs up to a male patron, which is a violation of liquor ordinance concerning free alcohol as well as a bartender theft loss to the club.

 

TITLE 4, CHAPTER 3

4-242. Sale of liquor on credit prohibited; exceptions

It is unlawful for a licensee, or an employee or agent of a licensee, to sell or offer to sell, directly or indirectly, or to sanction the sale on credit of spirituous liquor, or to give, lend or advance money or anything of value for the purpose of purchasing or bartering for spirituous liquor, except that sales of spirituous liquor consumed on the licensed premises may be included on bills rendered to registered guests in hotels and motels, and spirituous liquor sales for on or off premises consumption may be made with credit cards approved by the director, and sales of spirituous liquor consumed on the premises of private clubs may be included on bills rendered to bona fide members.

 

Half way through this evaluation, the agent had to actually wave Bartender B down for another Miller Light Bottle.  This agent had been told that the special of the night was $2 Miller Bottles by Bartender A.  This agent paid with a $5 and was given $1 in change.  Consequently, Bartender A was waived down and asked if the special was off at that time or had expired.  She replied that it was all night.  The agent noted the deficit and she immediately opened the drawer and gave the agent money from the drawer.  This might sound like great customer service.  However, upon closer inspection it really lends itself to the unmistakable conclusion that she knew there was plenty of extra money in that drawer and in fact things like this happen continually and it was in no way out of the norm. 

 

To further exemplify bartender theft and integrity issues, this agent heard the price on this same bottle of beer quoted to other patrons at $2.50 and $3.00 respectively within a ten minute period.  This is strong evidence of buck boosting as well.

 

In terms of Bartender B, NO SALE deposits were also noted happening on his terminal, which was the far end nearest the kitchen.  This agent counted two of them on his drawer that were flagrant.  Bartender A was the only bartender on shift for the night that was not seen making NO SALE cash deposits into her drawer.  However, many of her drinks were seen coming in from cocktail servers, as she was working the terminal closest to the front door.

 

Showmanship appears to be something that the bartenders or the managers or both consider very important on this bar.  However, they as a group are not very good at it.  This agent witness long draw pours from free pour spouts where a good 1-2 count of liquor actually hit the floor.  Additionally, one group of three mixed vodka drinks actually drained half a bottle with this showmanship.  Bartender C was seen guzzling energy drinks one after another behind the bar in the well, and Bartender B was seen with a huge gallon of water that he was drinking from and storing near the ice well. 

 

Midshift bar drawer audits are an absolute necessity, along with the immediate replacement of all but Bartender A, and this agent believes that she is also complicit, knowing what is going on.  Thousands of dollars in combined sales and cost are being lost here.


Michael Zenner - CEO      

Hospitality Checkpoint LLC

hospitalitycheckpoint.com

bartheft.com  (blog)

liquorassessment.com

PO BOX 995 Gilbert AZ 85299

Office: 480-777-1919

Toll Free: 800-880-0811

© Hospitality Checkpoint LLC 2014


HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE

November 6, 2014 20:45 by administrator

HOSPITALITY CHECKPOINT SPOTTER SERVICE

BARTENDER THEFT:

Bartender Summary

·       Bartender 1- Caucasian male, thin/athletic build, short, gelled/spiked dark hair, with a xxxxxxxxxxxx, wearing a black uniform t-shirt with a logo diamond on the front, and black shorts.  Working lower patio bar.

·       Bartender 2- Caucasian male, stocky/athletic build, with brown, gelled hair, and a thick mustache, wearing a black uniform t-shirt that read “I *heart symbol* *mustache*”, and khaki shorts.  Working lower patio bar.

·       Bartender 3- Caucasian male, athletic build, with short buzzed brown hair and a thick handlebar mustache, wearing a black, uniform, diamond logo t-shirt, and khaki shorts.  Working lower patio bar.

·       Bartender 4- Caucasian female, tiny, thin build, with long stringy brown hair, wearing a black uniform t-shirt.  Working top satellite patio bar. 

·       Bartender 5- Caucasian female, medium build, with dirty blonde, light brown, and blue hair, wearing a black uniform t-shirt.  Working lounge bar.

·       Bartender 6- Caucasian male, medium build, with short dark hair, a dark mustache, wearing a uniform t-shirt and black shorts.  Working the lounge bar.

 

When the agent and associate approached the bar located at the bottom of the patio bar the agent was quickly greeted by Bartender 1.  The agent placed a drink order with Bartender 1 as well as ordered two shots (Please see Food and Beverage Summary for details).  Bartender 1 quickly poured the beverage, garnishing the glass with his bare hands, and served the agent, then poured the two shots.

 

Bartender 1 asked the agent if he wanted to start a tab or pay cash and the agent closed the tab using his credit card.  Bartender 1 rang the beverages into the register, swiped the card, and provided the agent with a bill with accurate charges.

 

Bartender 1 did not serve the associate or the agent with a beverage napkin. 

 

Bartender 1 was noted to scoop the ice from the ice bin using his mixing tin and then guide the ice into the glassware by cupping the ice in his hand and letting it fall against his hand and into the glass.

 

Bartender 1 was observed drinking an orange drink in short glass with ice.  The agent was not sure if the beverage contained alcohol; as the agent did not observed Bartender 1 pour the beverage.   The agent did note that Bartender 1 appeared to sip the beverage over the course of the first hour of the evaluation.  The agent notes that all employee beverages should be held in enclosed containers with lids, however, that most small beverages typically do not get slowly consumed over the course of an hour.  The agent would not be surprised if the drink did contain alcohol.

 

When the agent was ready for another beverage the agent was again helped by Bartender 1 (Please see Food and Beverage Summary for details). 

 

Bartender 1 quickly served the beverage and listed the price of the drink.  The agent performed an integrity test and Bartender 1 passed  (Please see Food and Beverage Summary for details).

 

At 11:38pm Bartender 1 served two shots and a beer to a patron and only charged with patron $10.  The patron waved off the change from a twenty-dollar bill provided by Bartender 1 and Bartender 1 put the change in his tip cup.  It appeared that it was unspoken but appreciated that Bartender 1 did not charge the patron for all of the beverages served.

 

At 11:50pm Bartender 2 was observed trying to show off for the patrons and perform a flame trick.  Bartender 2 cupped a lighter in his hand and held down the button to release gas into his enclosed hand.  Then he simultaneously lit the lighter and opened his hand producing a quick cloud of flames.  Unfortunately, Bartender 2 had also doused his hand in lighter fluid and had lit his hand on fire.  After shaking his hand a few times and unsuccessfully putting out the fire on his hand Bartender 2 stuck his hand into the beer cooler to his left that was filled with ice.  Although the patrons were very entertained, the agent cautions that performing flaming tricks behind a bar that is full of highly flammable items and next to a bar top covered in spills of liquor is not the safest practice.

 

Throughout the evaluation Bartender 2 was observed the frequently step out from behind the bar and mingle with the patrons and other staff members.