Controlling Your Bar’s Pour Costs

When you own a bar or nightclub, one of the easiest ways you can lose profits is through heavy-handed pouring by your bar staff. Bartenders can pour too much liquor into a drink for a variety of different reasons, but most commonly it is due to inexperience or in an effort get a better tip from the patrons. Fortunately, there are some very simple things you can do to safeguard your precious liquor and start controlling your pour costs. By putting these simple checks and balances into place, you will begin to see higher profit margins and lower overhead costs within day or weeks of their implementation.

Unlike doing things to improve your sales that will take time to produce dividends, cutting your costs and increasing efficiency will have an immediate effect on your bottom line. Sure, you can do things like printing coupons in the local newspaper or buy sparklers for your bottles to hand out to each customer who orders a premium bottle of liquor, but those things won’t catch on right away. By eliminating excess pour costs, you can quickly get your business into profit.

Maintaining Control

You need to have a management staff in place to do physical audits on your bartenders and staff. While it can be tempting to trust you bartenders to self-regulate things, this is a foolish practice and rarely works.

Eliminate the Variables

You need to put systems into place that accurately track your pour costs and factor in variables that are part of running a bar or nightclub. Complimentary drinks will happen, so tracking these extra charges will allow you to manage pour costs effectively.

Spotting the Signs

You need to know when an intervention and audit are necessary, so knowing what signs to look for is crucial. If there is a sudden discrepancy that is very obvious, you need to deal with it immediately. Even if you can’t track down the source, the fact that you are alarmed will cause your staff to pay better attention to what they are doing.

Find the Shrinkage

By auditing on a regular basis, you can see exactly what liquors are falling victim to shrinkage. For instance, if you sell 25 ounces of vodka but 40 are missing after an audit, you have pinpointed and issue and can work to correct the problem.

Audit Schedule

Your frequency and schedule of auditing is directly impacted by your sales volume. If you are a very busy bar or nightclub, you’ll want to do audits a few times per week to maintain your controls. If you are just the local bar in a small town, weekly or bi-weekly audits may be a better choice. By auditing your bartenders regularly, you can save money and also make for a better drinking experience for your customers. You should constantly be working to improve your audit schedule to eliminate excess pour costs without needing to do too much work.

Too Low of Pour Costs

While you want to save money and keep costs in check, having too low of pour cost can be an indicator of something suspicious or that you are under-pouring your drinks. Some bartenders will charge patrons for more drinks than they buy so they can pocket more tips which can hurt business. Additionally, charging full price for a drink with half the amount of liquor as it should have in it will hurt business too. Any fluctuation either high or low on pour cost can be bad for profits, so being in full control is vitally important to owning a successful establishment.