In the bartending game, tips aren’t everything although that’s how so many approach the profession. In order to have massive success, you have to focus on a long-term strategy.
That means you are building supporters that will follow you no matter where you are or end up. So how do you build a bigger bartender following that will help you earn more income now and in the future?
It’s a combination of having a great personality, having the ability to multi-task, and being knowledgeable about drinks. But there may be more important things. Like relating to people, staying engaged with customers, and following up with them.
In part 1, we discussed some very important aspects to building a following that include:
- Establishing a great first impression
- Taking the profession seriously
- Learning and identifying your customers quickly
In part 2 we will take things a few steps further how you can build that following that will make you more money.
Give them a sense of who you are
People ultimately choose to do business with people they like. And everyone likes someone who appreciates them. When you appreciate others you will find that your relationships are stronger and your career and business will succeed beyond your expectations. This means more tips will come and your income will begin to grow.
In order for them to like you and for you to appreciate them, you need to give a little and let them know who you are and what you are about. That does not mean you give away all your secrets. It just means you have to allow them to know enough to support you in your effort to build more followers.
And you have to accept that when people sit at your bar and do it over and over again, there is a level of trust that is created. Once that happens, they accept a little something in return and that don’t imply sex. It just means that they expect for all the information they share, they want a little in return. Even therapists tell you a little something about their life.
Learn how to comp and why
One of the quickest ways to make a person happy and build customer loyalty is to buy them a drink. If you want to establish a base of regulars, it’s important to comp. They are essential to your rise in the bartending profession and will continue to pay off dividends over time. Comps do come with a price as they are not free.
You have to follow the rules of your establishment and understand that every person that you comp may not necessarily generate a return to your business. But if you don’t invest, you are hurting your chances of hitting a homerun by landing a regular that will bring in consistent money and refer others.
The question becomes how do you know who to comp? It’s important to take care of the customers that take care of you. Reward loyal customers by comping them as often as you are allowed. And with new customers, it may be a good strategy to comp them early and build the trust from the inception.
It also makes sense to comp during special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. There are various ways to go about comping, and the options are limitless. I always appreciate when a new bartender says, you had three drinks and the fourth one is on me. Good service is invaluable and comping is a big part of that, just be sure not to break the bar rules.
Build your Database
If you quit or got fired, how would your best customers get in touch with you? Sure some of them have your phone number or are your Facebook friend, but there are other ways to stay connected with customers.
Databases provide an efficient way to store, retrieve and engage customers. The goal in maintaining a customer database is to make sure you get customers to come back, determine your most valuable ones, and produce happier ones.
A strong database is how you stay in business and make lots of money over time. If you’ve made a great impression on someone, they will come back to see you over and over again.
But you can’t always rely solely on your charm, you have to do a little work to stay engaged with them. Don’t give out your phone number unless you have some invested with that individual.
Leave the door open for a return
Bartenders can make great money but on average they only make on average around $20,000 a year. In order to surpass those averages, you have to get the best customers to keep coming back. Start asking questions to get a sense of how often they visit the bar on weekly bases. Then get a sense of how often they plan to visit you on a weekly basis. From there you can determine the amount of money you can make weekly from this customer.
No matter where you work, whether it is a high-end bar or the local dive bar, getting the most out of your customers is crucial. Tell them your schedule if they don’t creep you out too much and make sure they know when you will be in the office. You may not think it but some customers will come to the bar even if they didn’t plan to drink that day just to see you.
Never underestimate the impact your good customer service and influence has on people. Use social media and any apps that allow you to stay connected with bar customers like the BOTY. You may not be at your current bar forever, so make sure you are doing all you can to keep and stay in touch with your customers. Keep the customers engaged, inform them about what you’re up to, let them know when you’re working, and continue to rake in the money now and ongoing.