Your busiest shifts are the times you will be able to make the most concentrated amounts of income. So, it makes sense to be prepared for these busy shifts. As a general rule,
Your busiest shifts are going to progress and ‘flow’ a hundred times better if you plan them strategically. If you invest time and energy at the start of your shift into planning and checking that every element of your bar is ready, chances are things will run like clockwork. Be prepared for anything. Have a ‘plan B’ (and ‘plan C’) in case things go awry.
If you have planned your shift properly:
- You won’t run out of anything crucial,
- Your staff will know and understand all the information they need to work the shift, and
- Ultimately your customers will be delivered the best customer service experience possible.
If you remove all possible problems at the beginning of your shift (and be prepared as possible for unforseen problems), you’ll be freed up later on to deal with other issues, should they arise.
Planning ahead may also even let you enjoy your evening!
I have mentioned in earlier chapters that planning is an activity worth every second of time spent on it. Listed below is a basic framework (and template) of what to do and check before (and during) a busy shift – hopefully with this framework in mind, you can fine-tune your planning and preparation to deliver a smooth and professional night of entertainment to your guests.
If you are a ‘hands on’ frontline bar manager, the following guide is for you:
Before your shift starts
Before your shift starts, make sure you are personally ready to work your shift. Are you prepared with the tools you need to make things happen (A pen, waiter’s friend, beer opener, cigarette lighter, good mood, clean clothes etc.)? Make sure you don’t need to run back to your bag to get something you forgot when you arrived. Basically, before your shift starts, make sure you are 110% self-organised. Eat before you get to work, so you aren’t making decisions on a hungry stomach. Basically, lead by example and be prepared to start work as you expect your staff to be prepared.
Beginning of shift
At the beginning of your shift, complete the following tasks to ensure your team and venue are prepared:
- Check you have sufficient stock available to cover your shift (if you cannot get stock delivered over the weekend, check you have sufficient stock for the whole weekend). This includes:
- Dry stock
- Wet stock
- Disposable goods such as toilet paper, napkins
- Fill out a ‘shift management sheet’ which clearly explains which sections of your venue your staff will be working in (this is beneficial for staff who are cross trained)
- Organise any ‘specials’ or other promotions you are conducting, and be sure to communicate this to all staff. Write the details of each promotion on your run sheet, so staff can check details if they need to
- Check to see if you have any ‘out of stock’ items, and record on run sheet
- Check your toilets are clean, and operate correctly
- Check your licensing documents are in order (if applicable)
- Check your staff are ready. Check they are prepared (with the necessary equipment they need to complete their roles) and are aware of your specials/promotions and any out of stock items
- Try and have a quick meeting with all your staff (I understand this is hard to do sometimes, especially if you have staggered start times on your roster), and keep it positive. Tell a joke or do something to raise morale. Talk about the shift ahead, and raise any points you need to. If you have negative things to discuss, raise them at the end of the shift or at another time (You need your staff to be in their best ‘mood’ for the duration of their shift – trust me, they’ll work a hundred times better than if they had just been reprimanded or ‘growled at’). Try and ‘condition’ your staff to deliver the best customer service possible.
During your shift, keep an eye on the following:
- Cleanliness of bathrooms and toilets. Ensure all toilet paper and hand towel dispensers are full (a bathroom could be low on stock for a few hours before a customer informs you, and if it gets to this point you have already made many, many bad impressions – this is bad for your external reputation)
- Staff breaks (make sure your staff are having breaks, even if they are small ones)
- Cash (make sure you ‘sweep’ your cash drawers if they are even slightly full – this lowers staff temptation and possibility of theft)
- Tidiness of the venue (walk around your whole venue regularly, make sure everything is tidy and looks acceptable)
- Stock levels (make sure you have enough of everything – and if you think you are going to run out of something, act before you completely run out
- Ice machine and other machinery (in case they are showing signs of possible failure. Sometimes an ice machine will work less efficiently when it’s hot or humid, or if it collects too much dust on its air intake)
- Staff transactions (make sure your staff are not giving away drinks to their friends)
- Your ‘mental’ approach towards your venue and team. Stay positive, and remember to lead by example.
After your shift, remember you are still leading by example. Staff are still receptive to your comments and actions – try and keep your conduct appropriate.
Also, write yourself notes of things you need to do during your next shift, or anything else for that matter. Write it down while it is fresh in your mind (and remember to check your notes the next day).