The Power of a Bar Communication Book (Guest post)

While I’m on vacation I have some guest posters who wrote something for the blog which is related to the service industry. This one comes from E.C. and it’s for the bartenders out there, however, this idea is also used by managers and also by some service teams. A big thanks to E.C. and enjoy everyone!

Behind the bar we have many tools, shakers, pour spouts, bottle openers, wine corks, muddlers (I could go on). In my opinion, a Bartender Communication Book is one of the most powerful tools behind the bar. Depending on the establishment you work in you may have several shifts of people. It is possible that you rarely see one another. This book provides you with a means to communicate with each other important information to allow you to do your job better.

Getting into the habit of writing at the end of each shift can be beneficial in many ways. The most obvious is stock levels. It is much easier to go to a single source to find out that you are out of a certain product than to check every single fridge and shelf at the beginning of your shift. Most of the time there is a backup storage area in another location. This will save you the trip. This makes it easier for you to communicate shortages and outages with the rest of the staff as well.

Recording how busy you are can be helpful in anticipating business. If you see that for 3 Thursdays in a row you were crazy busy for lunch, you can better prepare for a busy lunch. Perhaps you will cut extra garnish, pre-polish extra wine glasses, or bring up extra stock. The more information you write down the more power you give the tool. Don’t be afraid to write down specifics.

This tool can also create harmony and understanding among the bar team. If you write down that you got a rush at 30 minutes to close, the opening bartender might be a little more understanding should “the close” be less than perfect. It can also help identify jobs that did or didn’t get done. No one likes doing something twice when it doesn’t need to be. For example, if you write “It was a slow night. Cleaned out right glass fridge” the next bartender will know if they have time, to clean the left glass fridge.

One trick a learned at my previous job was to create a separate section at the back titled “REGULARS”. Every bar has them so make them feel special. In this section, we would record the regular’s name, and a brief description (remember to always be nice here, you never know who might see it), and any other helpful information (for example, their drink). This will help any new staff get to know the regulars faster.

I would use this section all the time, even with first-time guests. If I had a really nice chat with “Roger” about his house renovations I’d write it down. When he walks in the next time, I might not remember his name, or what he drank but I’ll remember his face and that we had a nice chat once. By having this information I can quickly check it, spin around from the book and greet him with “Hey Roger, how are you today?” Then I’ll ask him how the renos are going. I guarantee he’ll be impressed and it will increase the chance that he will return.  That personal touch is what turns occasional guests into regulars.  Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.

Working the bar can be a challenge. There is a lot to do in a small amount of time. It is also all about establishing relationships. Creating a Bar Communication Book is a tool to help you work smarter not harder.