This systematic method of thinking is nothing game changing or heavily leftfield, and sounds slightly bizarre, but once you understand it is simple enough to explain to each and every staff member under your command.
Take this approach: your bar is a machine.
No, I don’t mean a giant robot fighting-machine, or a car-welding machine, I mean a machine in a hypothetical sense. By way of basic definition, a machine is a device that takes certain inputs, processes them and delivers an output. When you examine a bar closely, it is fundamentally a machine:
The bar-machine: Labour and basic product ingredients are input, and customer service and quality products are output. The bar-machine has many different functioning parts: bartenders, bar-backs, glassies, wait-staff, security, hosts, beer taps, fridges, elevators, glassware, etc., and every part of that machine has a role to play.
If one of the parts of the machine stops working, the machine can’t produce its output as efficiently as possible. With this in mind, you (as bar manager or operator) are the driving force and strategist of the bar-machine, and its efficiency is reflected in your ability to ensure all parts are working correctly.
Your bar-machine should operate using the following basic rules:
- Get as much money out of as little stock as possible (profitability).
- Get as much production out of as little employee hours as possible (productivity).
- Get as many customers to return on their own accord as possible (customer service).
You can always enhance and optimize processes of the bar-machine (I recommend that you do so, regularly), but do so slowly – remember the old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
By clearly defining and checking all parts of your bar-machine, you can be confident that your bar-machine’s non-human parts aren’t going to fail, and that every human part knows where they are working and what their output is going to be (and by writing it down, you don’t have to repeat yourself to each staff member). If you have troublesome staff, remind them that they are part of a greater process, or ‘bar-machine’. Remind them that their input (and lack of input, if they are underperforming) into the machine has an effect on other staff.
Hopefully now you can identify, examine and optimize the influential components of your venue, using the approaches I’ve described above. By clearly defining these components, it’s possible to enhance and optimize them for overall higher levels of customer service, productivity and profitability.
Performing an audit on aspects such as atmosphere, physical and emotional offering, verbal and non-verbal customer service, internal staff culture, productivity and profitability strategies may help you produce new elements not seen or used by your competitors – effectively giving you the competitive advantage.