Modern POS systems allow you to program specific buttons onto the touch screen for each product you sell. They also allow for the use of “open” buttons such as “Open Beer,” “Open Wine,” and “Open Liquor.”
“Open” buttons can be used in the following situations:
- When a drink is being made that doesn’t have an established button on the POS (for example, a customer requests a house margarita made with a specialty tequila)
- For one off promotions, managers will sometimes allow servers to use Open buttons rather than creating a dedicated button
By using an “open” button in these situations, your bartenders can account for the specialty order and charge the appropriate amount. However, the use of “open” buttons also creates potential issues for your bar.
The main problem with using “open” buttons is that they create the possibility for confusion and undercharging. After all, bartenders have an incentive to charge slightly less when possible. Undercharging a customer often leads to greater tips.
How to Determine Whether “Open” Buttons are Being Overused
In order to determine whether your bartenders are overusing these “open” buttons, you can run a product mix report (also called a item sales report) on your POS system. This report tells you how many times each button has been pressed. Pull your p-mix report for the past week, look at what is being pressed, and see how often the “open” buttons are being used. To make this evaluation easier, you can export this report to an Excel spreadsheet and use the search function to find all instances of “open” button use (press Ctrl + f within the Excel spreadsheet to use this find function).
Many of the bar owners and managers we work with tell us that they don’t think their “open” buttons are being used very often. However, when we run a P-mix report for them, we typically find that “open” buttons are being used much more than they realize. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you run a P-mix report by yourself in order to gauge how often these buttons are actually being used.
Troubleshooting Frequent “Open” Button Usage
At Bar-i, we recommend that you avoid using “open” buttons whenever possible. Instead, it is better to have specific buttons on your POS system for every drink that potentially will be ordered.
In order to determine which buttons need to be added to your POS system, place a log book behind the bar. Instruct your bartenders to log each use of an “open” button and indicate the reason it was used. This will help you understand the most common situations leading to “open” button usage, and you can create new buttons on your POS system for products and drinks which warrant one.
By reducing “open” button usage, you can save money in the long run. If you can cut down on the use of these buttons even by 10 times per week, you will reduce their usage by more than 500 times per year. If you lose $1 on average for every usage of an “open” button, you will save $500 a year not to mention other benefits such as being able to accurately track sales of specific items. The more you reduce the use of these buttons, the greater the savings.
While $500 a year isn’t exactly going to make or break your bar, it is money that is being thrown away simply due to laziness in how your POS is setup. You have a lot of money invested into your POS system and if it’s not programmed correctly, that investment isn’t paying you the way it should be.
Please contact Bar-i today or call us at 303-219-0196 for additional tips on how to make more money at your bar. We provide liquor inventory services to bars nationwide from our offices in Denver, Colorado.