Let’s face it – managing a bar is not an easy task. A successful bar operator needs to be proficient in all disciplines of hospitality. Bar management has the potential to call upon skills from some or all of the following fields of expertise:
- Business Manager (dealing with profitability, productivity and reporting to key stakeholders)
- Frontline Manager (delegating tasks, rostering staff, handling ‘people problems’, executing strategies, evaluating performance, basically: making things happen!)
- Recruiter (finding staff, interviewing, evaluating applicants)
- Interior Designer (setting the mood, creating atmosphere)
- Merchandiser (selling products, product knowledge, upselling)
- Teacher (passing on your industry knowledge, being a role model)
- Handyman (temporarily fixing odd jobs until a qualified repair person arrives)
- Plumber (fixing leaky taps, unblocking drains)
- Accountant (counting money, reconciling cash-up sheets)
- Asset Manager (counting stock on a regular basis, maintaining accurate inventory)
- Cellarmaster (rotating stock, moving kegs, maintaining stock)
- Cleaner (enough said)
- Crowd Controller (handling problems with patrons, ensuring safety of customers)
- Cocktail Creator (creating original cocktails)
- Top-Gun Waiter (the best)
- Five-star Host (the best of the best)
- Professional Bartender (at the top of your game!)
Reaching a position of leadership in your team is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll face, but when you earn the title of ‘leader’ instead of ‘manager’, your job will be exponentially easier.
Obtaining this position of leadership will take time, and when you get there, you won’t immediately realise it. When you are a leader, your team will perform tasks delegated by you autonomously and without question, and you no longer need the ‘badge of authority’ stuck on your chest (which will have been given to you, by your superior) to use as leverage when delegating a task. Authority is given to you, and can be given and taken away.
Leadership cannot be given, awarded, contrived, faked, transferred or taken away. Leadership must be earned. Invest time and effort into becoming a leader as well as a manager. Internal staff culture will prosper under your leadership.
Becoming a leader will make your job so much easier, and chances are you’ll make some lifelong contacts (and friends) in the process. If you take a look at a successful bar in your area, chances are it is driven by a respected and passionate leader.
Your role will become so much more easier if you become a leader instead of just a manager. As a general rule, if your bar management skills are advanced enough, becoming a leader will be much, much easier (you’ll gain respect faster, which is a key building block for leadership). Please keep this in mind as your career develops.
Enjoying your role will be the catalyst for a chain reaction:
1. If you enjoy your role, you become good at it.
2. If you become good at your role, your bar runs smoothly and efficiently.
3. If your bar runs smoothly and efficiently, the following may happen:
- Staff turnover decreases (i.e. Staff stay in the business longer)
- Profit increases (great for your business)
- Respect for you increases; you become a leader (great for you!)
- Doors open, opportunities knock and you learn valuable transferrable skills (which can be taken into other careers during your lifetime).
As your leadership skills grow, and respect for you increases, you will find your position much easier to execute – staff will work routinely and instinctively around you, using the systems and methodology you have implemented; this in-turn will give you more time to focus on the better aspects of bar management – marketing, branding, networking, venue development and the beautiful task of sitting back and watching everything run like clockwork. There is no better feeling than everything running like clockwork under your command. If everything runs autonomously in your venue, you won’t need to sweat the small stuff (although some degree of micromanagement will always be required in your role), and hopefully you’ll realise that the more you systematize, the less you will have to manually delegate tasks to your staff.