Play your cards right, and you can make your bar the cash cow of your dreams. It can be a sustainable source of revenue and a wholesome experience for your diners and guests.
Do it wrong, and it can become a costly endeavor and leave you with no guests at all.
If you have years of experience running a bar, then you probably got this. Though, even the best players need a coach (Tiger, Lebron, etc.). For any other bar owner – you may need a bit more than the occasional pep talk from me.
This article will give you some perspective on why you should be thinking about hiring a bar consultant, how you should go about it and what you should expect from the hire.
Isn’t it time to raise the bar with your bar consultant? Let’s get started!
Read Also: How to Hire a Restaurant Consultant
Table of Contents
Is a Bar Consultant Worth the Investment?
Apart from the basics where consultants help you improve efficiency, profit margins (covered briefly in our restaurant consultant post), here we talk about additional scenarios that will make you consider hiring a bar consultant specifically.
More Bar Customers, No Problem! – This Is Where You Go Wrong
You might think that having too many customers is the opposite of your problem. What happens when you pack the bar but can’t serve everyone? Well, a few things, you have not optimized for revenue, and you lose out on repeat business. Losing customers is easy if you are not prepared.
Most bar owners focus on their present situation, but consultants prepare your business for future growth and opportunities. If your business takes off well, you should prepare to serve the new crowds with the same efficiency and attention to detail as you did with the smaller groups. This approach does not just require multiplying your current efforts and staff, but rather a new manual, new bar menu, back bar configuration, operational tweaks, and other changes.
A bar consultant can give you a blueprint for your future prosperity.
Strategizing to Focus on Specific Guests (Like Travelers)
Many bars and restaurant establishments profit from the tourist crowd, that is their bread and butter as they say. It could be business tourists, leisure seekers, families, and so on. Merely having your bar at the right location for them is not enough.
To leverage niche crowds like this that contribute significantly to the bottom lines need a top-notch strategy from marketing to them to giving them the experience. You can’t stop there though, everything in between has to be covered too. This subset of your strategy could be different from your general approach and needs unique planning.
A bar consultant with experience in this subject matter (traveling guests) can bring in insights that give more guarantee for your investment than shooting in the dark.
Cocktail Making Is a Science and Your Staff Needs Training
Your bar’s profitability is highly dependent on the people behind the drinks. You could have the perfect menu, but when the staff does not properly construct those drinks, that complete menu is useless. Mixing drinks properly is also as important as serving them right.
It is not just the training, but the staff also needs to be motivated to execute your plans and reach the sales targets. Bartenders can train in many areas. From proper pours, mixology, small chat, customization, and multitasking, to name a few.
Consultants can also provide specialized training for each of these niches in your bar.
You Want to Raise the Bar!
Average products and ingredients, a menu that is a decade old, packed with store-bought juices (what are fresh juices), store-bought syrups – bars often get into ruts like these and with just small tweaks in these areas can make a difference. Not only a flavorful difference but one to your bottom line and customer experience.
A bar consultant can bring in fresh ideas (along with fresh juices), help you get on the recent trends, and make sure the changes are profitable and sustainable.
How Do You Find Your Consultant?
Spending money on bar consultants does not automatically equate to significant returns. Finding the right consultant is instrumental in guaranteeing your expected changes.
What you should look for in a bar consultant is highly dependent on your bar and your needs, but here are some general points that everyone must consider in their hunt for the next great consultant.
Perfect Consultant, Wrong Project – the Concept Is Validated
Just because a consultant did a really good pricing project in the past, does not mean he can help you with the same. The bar he worked for before caters to students and tourists in downtown Nashville, but your bar is more high-end in New York City catering to young professionals. You get the point.
Of course, experience and a specific knowledge set are essential. Dig deeper though and understand the kind of clients they worked for and the timelines in which they delivered results.
Understand the type of commitment they give (for instance, you might want more hands-on, but they only give you broad-level strategies).
Question the number of clients they take at the same time and other factors you think might be relevant to your bar’s needs.
The One Who Is a Jack of All
If you know your specific needs or demands from a bar consultant, then it is easy to pick them. If you are going for a more general approach, then it is advisable to appoint someone who knows more than just 1-2 areas of running a bar.
Consulting agencies or teams are a better option than an individual as they offer a myriad of services and can give you a comprehensive package for your bar.
They Knows What You Don’t Know
Your bar consultant, in many ways, is your partner, so he or she should be able to complement your knowledge and strengths. In your initial meetings with the consultants, it is advisable to discuss your gaps and weaknesses.
For instance, you are not very good at drafting operational methods for your bar operations or how to correctly price a cocktail menu – then bring these points out. Understand if the consultant knows these topics better than you.
Want to figure out if they are a real winner? Try to analyze if he or she can recognize the gaps in your business without you bringing them up.
Fits the Bill
When you go looking for your consultant, do not just look for big names in the industry. Your needs could be different than what they offer. Look at past projects, experience areas, client recommendations. Some consultants provide niche services, and they could be more fitting to your demands than the more prominent players.
In addition to the professional qualifications, look into personality traits. Organized, able to articulate, presentation, communication – these are essential aspects to look into as you will be working with them for a reasonable period, and they will also potentially interact with your staff, customers, and partners.
What to Expect From a Bar Consultant?
Whether opening a new bar or providing solutions for existing bars – a consultant should be able to help you with both situations. With both scenarios, they have a lot to offer from bar management to staffing to training and bar design (layouts or themes) to menu adjustments.
Let’s have a more in-depth look at some of the main expectations you should have.
Menu Design and Development
Bar consultants should have the knowledge or a team to help you with the development of your bar/cocktail menu (or, at the very minimum, the refinement of it).
The service offering varies, but you can think on the lines of custom design for cocktails, signature/featured items for your menu and offering structure, curated list of exotic or exclusive ingredients, details with maximum profitability, and the adequately structured pricing.
You might wonder why you need staffing services from your bar consultant because, as an owner or manager – you often feel equipped to do this. When consultants get involved in staffing, it is with other changes they propose and implement.
For instance, they bring out changes to the menu and introduce high-end cocktails. The consultant will help you to pick out the right staff that can deal with those specific products and can help train the rest of the staff on the new procedures or process.
The consultant could help with preparing your staff to upsell, learn new tricks, develop a standard across the team, and so on.
The bar bottom line is related to sales, cost, overhead, and so many other factors. The bar consultant can step into any of your problem areas and devise a solution.
Most restaurants struggle the most with cost control. You can get guidance on topics like costing, areas where you can increase margins, techniques to increase sales, and so on. Further, you probably already have an accounting structure in place. If not – they can help you set it up. It is also advisable to have an expert look at your existing structure to ensure that it is optimized and compliant.
As always, feel free to email me!
Inventory mismanagement is common, especially in a new bar or when you introduce significant changes. Drink shortages, incorrect order size and frequency, and excessive waste are common problem areas.
The bar consultant can help you not just with these areas but also in areas related to optimizing your inventory to raise margins, setting up a structure to log inventory daily or weekly.
Bar designing is not just related to aesthetics or the theme of the venue. The consultants should also be able to help with making the bar more ergonomic. The ergonomic design helps with making the work and operations smoother and faster.
They should also be able to consult on topics like the equipment, tools, build-out timelines, and more.
Quality management is of the utmost importance when you run a bar or a restaurant. Consultants can help you set-up more efficient and foolproof systems to assure quality in your bar. From the consistency of drinks, customer service, pour, cleaning, ingredients, and more – there is a whole range of factors that one must look into to maintain the bar quality.
A consultant should be able to draft you a checklist and a system to keep the items on the list under the expected quality.
It’s Time to Raise the Bar With a Bar Consultant
Hiring a bar consultant is a good investment if you make it one. With the different kinds of services and pricing available, fortunately, every type of bar owner can find a fit. Finding the right approach and results is much more challenging, but this post should have set you on the right path to finding your next bar consultant.