It’s essential that drinks options are given the ammunition they need to sell themselves on menus, it’s also crucially important that the waiting staff in your bar are given the information required to make effective recommendations and upsell drinks prolifically.
Kealan Lafferty, manager at basement bar Original Sin in Stoke Newington, flagged increased staff knowledge as “the most important part of the new normal the on-trade finds itself in today”.
He said: “When it comes to making recommendations - whether it’s about pairings, beer, cocktails or food - to customers, regular staff training and a good working knowledge of what’s available on the back bar is key. The best tool for operators is well-informed staff looking after the tables.”
Staff should be updated regularly with helpful information surrounding the key points and flavours on offer in the drinks that you are trying to upsell. Given that customers are more curious than ever about the libations they are ordering presenting them with a few interesting facts or tasting notes featured within drinks, which mixer pairs best with which spirit and what complements certain dishes can make upselling premium variants simple.
With the ability to make good drinks suggestions depending on what the customer is looking for of growing importance, ask your suppliers what online training or information they can offer bar staff. You could also consider posting updates on the main drinks you’ll be focusing on in staff WhatsApp and Facebook groups or supplying them with regular cheat sheets via email to help expand and reinforce their familiarity with what’s on the back bar, ultimately improving your bottom line.
Simple service techniques can maximise spend
With good service ranked amongst the foremost consumer wants from the outlets they visit, subtly fine-tuning your business’ approach to table service in line with your drinks range and upselling it can really help raise takings in challenging times, according to bar veteran Sebastian.
“Something I see often in bars, even with total table service, is customers not being offered another round of drinks quickly enough once their glasses are almost empty,” he said. “Being attentive enough with drinks service in this way means that you could increase what customers are spending on drinks significantly over their visit. There is a fine line to balance obviously without being overbearing, but most customers are glad of improved and attentive service and feel that you are looking after them in my experience and this causes them to stay longer and, again, spend more.”
And better table service naturally brings an enlarged opportunity to promote more profitable drinks selections in your bar, he said.
“Frequently customers will ask for a simple spirit/mixer, such as a G&T, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to trade up, quite the opposite. Once staff start suggesting the different options available to them, if they have enough information to hand to sell them more expensive spirits, it can be super easy to increase the amount they spend on their drinks.”